Friday, October 31, 2008

Symbols in Art

This week in my New Testament class we had a presentation on the religious art in the BYU museum of art. We talked about symbolism and the importance of understanding symbols.

As I looked at the different paintings, I took a little more time to observe different details and to look for symbolism. I found the experience to be pretty rewarding. There's so much to get out of an artwork, especially religious artworks, if you take the time to study them.

When I was looking at this particular piece by John Rogers Herbert R.A. titled Our Savior subject to his parents at Nazareth, I noticed something I hadn't noticed before. The pieces of wood in the center are arranged in the shape of a cross and Mary looks as though she has just realized something. Maybe she is thinking of Jesus' divine mission. Jesus is holding what appears to be an empty basket. This reminds me of the miracle of Jesus feeding the five thousand with five loaves and having twelve baskets of bread left over. I'm not sure what the significance of the basket is in this case and I'm curious to know what the painter had in mind. I wonder, was Jesus aware of his mission at a young age? I think he probably was. In this painting he seems to be aware as he meekly performs his chores, growing up in Nazareth, preparing for his ultimate act of meekness and love: the atonement.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Heavy vs. Light Burdens

As I was reading in Matthew 23:4, I made an interesting connection. In this verse, Jesus describes the hypocrisy of the scribes and the Pharisees, saying that they "..bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders.. In the previous verse, Jesus tells his disciples to do what the Pharisees tell them to do because they sit in "Moses' seat." However he warns them not to do as the Pharisees do -- saying but not doing (being hypocrites). Returning to verse 4, he continues to say that "[the Pharisees] themselves will not move [the burdens] with one of their fingers." Thus, the Pharisees of whom Jesus spoke expected others to do things that they theselves did not do, or that they did not assist with.

As I read this verse, it reminded me of Matthew 11:28-30. Here Jesus tells us to take his yoke upon us for "my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." A yoke is used to join two animals so that they can carry the same load together. So, when Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon us, we know that he will help us. He isn't asking us to do anything that he hasn't done already or that he wouldn't help us with. Contrast this to the load of the hypocrites. While the hypocrites give burdens to men, they themselves do nothing to help or don't lift the burdens themselves and the burdens are heavy. However, Christ's burden is light. Because of the atonement, we are free from the chains and the load of sin. Our burden in that sense is lighter. The burden of following Christ is also lighter because as we do so, we will have clean consciences and we won't be wieghed down by the effects of sin. We will be light and joyful because our master is gentle and kind and does not expect us to do things without his help "for the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepaer a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them" (1 Nephi 3:7 (in the Book of Mormon)).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Some Good Movies

Children of Heaven
Amazing Grace
Singin' in the Rain

The first three are probably a little obscure, and unfortunately so because they are so good. The cinematography is really good and I found them to be pretty moving. My friend once told me if a movie has leaves on its cover, that means it's a good movie. 'Bella' has several leaf things and I think 'Children of Heaven' does too. So, pretty much they are must sees. The others ought to have leaves if they don't.


I am cohabitating with box elder bugs-- there are many of them.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Man of Perfect Understanding

When Jesus taught his disciples, he didn't teach as the scribes who quoted scripture, but "as one that had authority." When he taught, he expounded the law taking it down to its core meaning and intention. Thus, many of his teachings were radical compared to what the Jews had been used to. One such teaching in the Sermon on the Mount expounded upon the definition of adultery. According to tradition, women were considered at fault in the committing of adultery. However, Christ taught that "whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matt. 5:28)."

When I first read that verse, I thought it was a little harsh and felt bad for the man who should be brought under condemnation so easily and I wondered why a similar saying shouldn't refer to the woman who might look on a man to lust after him. But, when my New Testament teacher explained the cultural view of adultry at that time, I undertood better the meaning of Jesus' words. According to Christ, women were not to be blamed for adultry; they were not to be considered the temptresses that they had traditionally been viewed as. True, in some cases women do act as temptresses, however, Christ's teaching offers a better understanding of the general situation.

This to me is a great example of Jesus as the perfect judge. He understands everything so completely and therefore can offer a perfect judgement. We being imperfect are often unable to judge a situation or person because we cannot see the entire situation; we lack the perfect understanding needed to judge well and often when we do judge we judge poorly because of our lack of information. Hence the warning in Matt. 7:1-2, "Judge not that ye be not judged.." I am grateful for a Savior who understands me and is merciful in his judgement. He knows the intentions of my heart and judges accordingly. Because of his mercy, it would be ungrateful of me to deny others that same mercy in my judgements. So, to all, the benefit of the doubt!

Yay for women!

The other day I was talking to a friend about her choice to major in astronomy. I asked her what she wanted to do with it and her response pleasantly surprised me. She said that she hoped to be an educated mother. She said it so matter-of-factly, comfortably, and without hesitation or self aggrandizement, for which I greatly admire her.

It's funny to me how I used to be uncomfortable with the idea of deciding on a major because I had no idea what I wanted to do as a career other than be a mother. Now I've become accustomed to the idea of going into graphic design and when people ask what I want to do with it, I tell them I'm interested in web-design, and when they ask why I chose graphic design, I tell them I chose it because I thought it was a good way to apply art. But, what I don't usually tell them is that I also chose it because I thought it would be a mother-friendly job if I find myself needing to work as a mother. And, I probably would never have thought of the response "so that I can be an educated mother." So, to my friend who most likely will not be reading this, I salute you!

Women are and have been under a lot of pressure. There used to be more pressure for women to stay at home and raise children. However, now I believe there is more pressure for women to go out into the career world and prove to the world, that had once been so warry of accepting the accomplishments of women outside the home, that they can make as much of a difference as men.

I think it's great that women have achieved more acceptance in the working world and I think that they have impacted and continue to impact the world in a possitive way with their increased involvement in out-of -home affairs. However, I think it is sad that in many cases, out-of-home achievements are viewed as far superior and more important to those achievements in the home. I think that while women's achievements outside of the home merit acknowledgement and praise, they should not overshadow or replace the importance of motherhood.

It is my belief that no woman has more influence in society than through raising her children in the best way possible. Motherhood is such an incredible responsiblity and by no means should it be demeaned or belittled.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Urgency to Do Good

I'm like a hobbit: I don't like to do things quickly, I like to take my time and am consequently slow. I can hurry when I have to, but I don't like to hurry. I also tend to get distracted easily and somehow my time slips away without me noticing. However, recently I've decided (not for the first time, but this time with more determination, so I think I will follow through) that I will use my time more wisely and cherish each moment as a precious gift that I mustn't waste.

I've made this resolution as a result, in part, of something that impressed me in my New Testament class. The last few weeks we've been studying in Mark and an aspect of Jesus' ministry that Mark emphasizes is the sense of urgency with which Jesus started and carried forth his ministry. For example, in Mark 1:18, 20, and 21 notice the repetition of the word "straightway": "And straightway they forsook their nets....and straightway he called them... and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught."

It makes sense that the savior would know better than anyone else the urgency of his mission and it reminds me of those times when I have felt the spirit and I feel uplifted and excited to do good and I realize the importance of God's work, to bring salvation to his children and I feel the urgency of it. But, sadly, that feeling often wears off and I am left feeling tired and unmotivated. Yet, when I commit myself to following through with my good intentions and perform that service or good work that I had initially felt so excited about, the excitement returns and I become excited about doing more.

So, I hereby resolve to more urgently use my time better because it slips away quicker and quicker every day, and to more urgently do good as Jesus did. His work continues, and I can contribute so much more if I just use my time more wisely. I don't want to reach my dying bed wishing that I had done more. It's comforting to know that I've been given enough time; I just need to see that I use it well.

(Some motivating verses: Moroni 9:6, Alma 12:24, 34:32-35)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

I claim the right of way! (even if it's not mine)

So, I almost ran over some pedestrians today as I was cruising down a hill on my bicycle. It made me upset to think that I would be required to stop for them. Yes, there was a crosswalk and a blinking orange light, but it's just so inconvenient to stop on a bicycle. Especially when you are riding at a high speed down hill. And your breaks squeal obnoxiously. And you just want to get home as fast as possible. And you're tired. And your back is breaking under the weight of your backpack that you shouldn't have packed so heavily. And your bike seat has gotten loose and is determined to tip you off of it (I really need to fix that). It's so much more difficult to start and stop on a bike than it is in any other mode of transportation, and more dangerous, I might add. My mom has told me of a man who died when he stopped suddenly on his bike and fell off of it (I think he was even wearing a helmet). So, even though the pedestrians had the right of way in that instance (I looked it up in the traffic code, and unfortunately, they did have the right of way), I think it ought not to be so. Either that, or I just need to pay better attention when I'm riding my bike. And maybe I should invest in a better one that has nice breaks and a comfortable seat.