Sunday, January 31, 2010

Random Goings-On

Derrill cut Joy's hair. "Yay! I like having cut hair." It's a few inches shorter so it isn't as likely to drag on the ground.

Derrill got a rejection notice on a journal article. He sent it back out the same day to another journal. "Yay, Derrill"

We have broken 4 dishes this month while washing them: three cups and a bowl.

This week, Hyrum met Winnie the Pooh on television. Pooh books are in ascension as a result. Hyrum's Buzz Lightyear stock is down, though it may be making a comeback in heavy playing today. Bob the Builder reigns supreme. "To the point that he has to carry a Bob DVD case everywhere he goes." The Bob the Builder theme song has now had more play time than the Hallelujah Chorus, with "Bob Song" the number 1 two-word request.

Hyrum has begun using the word "more" when he wants more food in combination with the food he wants. Sometimes, though, it's just "m," as in "m Peachy." Today he ate 2-3 ounces of dark chocolate.

We finished books!
  • Harry Potter 6 - the family book
  • Talking for Two - a romance novel about a shy ventriilogquist who wants to do the Lord's work.
  • By Love Restored - a romance novel about a remodeler hooking up with a former beau whose house she is working on.
  • Doctrine and Covenants - family scripture study for 2009
  • Moving in His Majesty and Power - Elder Neal A. Maxwell's last religious book - finished the manuscript days before he died.
  • Finding Light in a Dark World - A collection of Pres. James E. Faust's talks, including some really 'political' material
  • The Infinite Atonement - Elder Callister describing many ways in which the Atonement is infinite and has the power to bless our lives
  • Mistborn - Brandon Sanderson, a unique fantasy work - unique world, unique magic setup, intriguing characters, minimal reliance on blatant archetypes, very difficult to predict
  • Joy is 1 week away from finishing the Old Testament and I'm thirdway to halfway through "Scoop," "Mansfield Park," and Easterly's "The White Man's Burden"
We both decided that we won Facebook's Cafe World and have largely stopped playing them. Joy has also given up on FarmVille and I've abandoned 3-4 FB games as well. I've also been enjoying (once a week) my new Tropico 3 game.

We really enjoy teaching a temple prep class for a couple friends getting married soon. It's fun to spend time with them, it's fun to spend time talking about temples, and I've been learning a lot of new scriptural insights as I answer questions. Our sacrament talks for two weeks and the temple prep classes have really dominated our scripture study lately, Joy notes.

Joy has returned to the Wii My Fitness Coach for exercise, leaving Hyrum to the VeggieTales Dance Dance Revolution or putting him in his playpen for getting impossibly underfoot.

Derrill has been greatly disappointed by the South Beach Diet the last month. We've been on level 1 - the fast weight loss section - for 3 of the last 5 weeks and I've got about nothing to show for it. We're back on level 2 and I'm kind of discouraged. "Joy is not discouraged."

We decided to start adding in-season fruits and vegetables to the diet "so that we might obey the Word of Wisdom more fully" and had three grapefruits. We enjoyed them with a few drops of vanilla and some Sweet and Low. We think the pink grapefruit won out over the white or red, with the red being Joy's least favorite. Tomorrow we will eat fresh beets and beet greens.

A Cold Adventure

Hi there. Hy here.

About midnight, Daddy came and woke me up. What's going on, I asked him with my eyes half shut. The furnace has gone out, Daddy explained. We're going to go sleep with James and Bruce. They're my best friends - I go over to play at their house every week. So Daddy bundled me up and put me to sleep in their kitchen. It was REALLY cold that night ... below -10 with windchill. I told Daddy, "cold."

I got to spend the whole day with James and Bruce! I was excited like Christmas morning! Mom was there too, but Daddy wasn't. He had to go talk to the Man with the Big Beard. The Man with the Big Beard told Daddy how to fix the furnace - there's a safety switch that somehow got toggled ... maybe by a 3' tall person running through the hallway? ... and when it was put back, the furnace turned on. It took 30 seconds, tops. Daddy said when he got home, he could see his breath making little clouds. Mom was really glad we didn't have to sleep at home.

Then the Man said that he could smell an odorless gas coming from the furnace. ... I don't understand that either, but it does smell kinda funny. So Daddy went to the store to get some tools to clean the furnace, hoping he wouldn't have to buy a new one. He also picked up some tools to fix the screen door and the front door locks, and he borrowed a ladder so he can clean the drains when it thaws. He tested the furnace and found NO invisible gasses that could kill us all. That's good.

Daddy thinks it's a good idea for families to have carbon monoxide and radon testers normally to keep little kids safe. They only cost about $20, and that's worth it to make sure I'm safe, he says. Maybe it's time for you to get a testing kit from your local hardware store. My name is Hyrum, and I approved this public service announcement.

Daddy was really tired when he got back. He had been sick on Friday but couldn't rest on Saturday. He laid on the couch and read to me and James for a while. Then he put me to bed and played Dominion with Mom and James' parents. Then they woke me up and brought me home.

I'm glad to be home again. I told Daddy, "home. home." Even during the day, I told Mom, "go home." I also told Daddy, "kitty" because I like to go to sleep with my white Christmas kitty this week. Mom is really happy to be home too. She never realized that without heat, it doesn't even feel like a home: just four very thin walls.

I needed to go to bed early tonight. Daddy thinks maybe it's time for me to do a lot of sleeping so I can grow really fast. Daddy said he wants to go to bed early tonight too. Maybe he wants to grow really fast like me!

Nibley on the Infinite Atonement, the Existence of Life, Temples, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics

Hugh Nibley, "The Meaning of the Temple," Temple and Cosmos, Ch. 1:

This post used to contain excerpts from the above article. It has been a popular one over time. However, we'd like to keep this family blog a touch more private while still providing this information to the world. So we have moved it to our public blog. You will find it here. -- DW

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hyrum fills in the blank (a Joy post)

Hyrum has been enjoying almost daily the books the aunt Emilee and Uncle Steve gave him for Christmas (left). He really loves the 2 books that have numbers under each flap and identifies them correctly. When we turn a page I have to hold the flap down to have time to read the page (only about five words long) then he opens the flap and says the number while he smiles and turns the page quickly agian. After the book is over (numbers 1-5) he asks for it again immediately. The time we usually read them is around nap time.

Another favorite book lately and highly requested is called I Like Me. Fill in the blanks for this book are like so (what Hyrum says in parentheses): I like ______ (me). I have a best friend. That friend is __ (me). I draw beautiful (pic)tures with (me). When I fall (down). I pick myself (up). I ride (fast). I try, and try a(gain).

Is your Mama (friend) a Llama? He like to say (bat), (cow) and (moo) and oh for me when the llama does before I even say it.

Scriptures are starting to be fun to read together. When we read And it came to (pass). Hyrum says the pass. That is the only one he really predicts, but he is starting to echo words we say that he recognizes while we read the scriptures (God) (faith) (church) (I) Ne(phi), (Alma) (night) (light)

Hyrum also fills in the blank for songs that we sing to him. It is really fun. He says (night) for Silent Night and (day) when a phrase ends with day. He also will help sing Old McDonald saying (farm) and Oh for the end of Ei Ei (oh). A song that daddy sings with him is I feel my Savior's Love as follows: I feel my saviors love in all the world around (me), his spirit warms my (soul) through everything I (see). He (know)s I will follow (Him) give all my love to Him. I feel my Savior's love, the love He freely gives (me). Daddy also sings a song about the beauty's of the world God has made, which Hyrum fills in with words like (blue), (wings), (eyes), and (see), and of course the ever-present (me).

Hyrum conducts Bob

Can we conduct it? Yes, we can!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Nastiest Cracker Award

When I last went to Sam's Club (aka my new best friend) Joy - my forever best friend - told me to get some really whole grain salty crackers.

"It said Wheat Thins. You just didn't notice" she avers.

It looked like it said Things as the heading of the list and below it, wheat crackers. And we had talked about it.

So anyway, I bought these Crunchmaster Multigrain Crackers, certified Gluten Free! All Natural! Crunchy Oven Baked! 100% whole grain! Cholesterol Free! Low Sodium! Ingredients: brown rice meal, sesame seeds, potato starch, quinoa seeds, safflower oil and a few more seeds. Good stuff.

"If they're good for your health, our health wasn't ready for them." Joy told me the other day she had tried them and that they weren't agreeing with her - that she was still tasting them, in fact. So I figured this needed a man's stomach as well. "Your stomach's worse than mine!" Yes, it is.

I tried one. It wasn't that bad. It had a very distinctive taste. Quite a focaccia bread flavor.
I tried a second. It wasn't that good. There's this funny aftertaste....
I tried a third. It was NASTY. I threw the fourth one I had grabbed away.

Joy ate five. Hooray for my discerning palate. The crackers spoke to us both, from every orifice "and woke me up in the middle of the night!" And both of us happily bid them a fond farewell today as they were introduced to a watery grave.

Joy's best comment was, "If we don't return them, I want to set them on fire ... only the fumes would probably be toxic."

We are not paid by the yummy Wheat Thins, nor by the rip-your-guts-out Crunchmasters.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The End of the World

I've been meaning to talk about this for a few weeks now: the chance that you or I could be killed this weekend on Channel 9. Okay, not really.

(You may want to stop the video at the end of the song - even the ads for College Humor's other fare can be quite inappropriate. Courtesy Today's Big Thing. Contains zombies.)

But when I watched this, it got me thinking about The End of the World As I Knew It. (Funny thing, that). I realized that the world as I knew it has ended quite frequently. The last time the world ended was in September. When the world ends, it's not just a change in lifestyle, but a near-permanent rearranging of everything. It affects who I think I am and how I relate to the world, not just narrow confines. Adam would call it a shattering as you try to rearrange the pieces and create a new person from the old.

Though that reconsitution is never easy, the end of the world can be a good thing! Hyrum's birth ended the world as I knew it. Joy's too. It's a more complex, physically and emotionally-draining world, but a world with much greater sweetness and delight in little things.

Most of the time, the world ends without warning. The world as I knew it ended 6 years ago next week when I met Joy. It ended again shortly after we were married as my dissertation was shot down and I began doubting myself from the center out. It ended with little warning in the rain on the streets of East Germany while I lay waiting for an ambulance. It ended the night my date reached up to try to kiss me and I discovered for the first time there was hope for even me. ... Other people seem to have a lot to do with the end of the world.

Sometimes, though, the world ends on schedule. It ended on graduating from BYU and to a lesser extent from high school, but oddly enough not when graduating from Cornell - what really changed? not much. I expected a lot more to happen concurrently that didn't. I had fair warning when my missionary world was going to end and Hyrum came right on schedule.

The world can also end so gradually, you don't notice. Per was going to end the world and invite me into several new ones, though I had no idea of that when I met him. The world slowly ended while I sat on the nursery room floor to play with and teach the 2 year olds in our church. Regular temple attendance and repentance have continually changed the world as I knew it - always for the better, seldom obviously at first. The world ended one day studying the scriptures as I decided whether to go in to economics or German, but I had no idea what I was doing to the thin-spread, multi-majored undergrad Derrill.

Will moving to the ward be the end of the world as I know it? It felt like it last night after my last branch presidency meeting. But probably not. Then again, my Dad's first comment just happened to be mine also when we learned about it: "Time to grow up." Maybe it will all just be part of the gradual end of the world as I move from student to (someday) teacher - a consummation devoutly to be wished?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Diaper Review

We started putting Hyrum in Luvs and they were alright - "better than store brand." But when we tried out some Pampers, they held better and we had fewer blow-outs for the same size. So we spent a few cents extra per diaper.

The next diaper brand "up" the pole was supposed to be Huggies, but we were pretty happy with Pampers. When we went to Sam's Club for the first time last December, though, they were selling Huggies for about the same price, so we thought it was time to try it out.

We are greatly disappointed. Lots of blow outs, they don't hold on right, and the other day the diaper let some escape - which he promptly decided to throw out of the crib around the room.

So looks like Pampers wins for us. And Hooray for I am also informed that they are marketing to mothers by donating vaccines for each diaper purchased. If only they didn't have Elmo on the diaper!

The Powers That Are Too Full Of Themselves decree that we must tell you: no, we do not have a financial interest in any of these companies.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sacrament by bloggers

Joy and I have been asked to speak in both our out-going and in-coming church units in back-to-back weeks, and they've nicely agreed to let us talk about the same subject each week: "Choose ye this day."

For fun, I thought I'd see if I can harness the awesome power of Web 2.0 here: what comes to your mind with that topic? What have you always wanted to say about it? What would make you roll your eyes and mutter, "here we go again" if it was said? We already have ideas of our own, but this could be fun.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Something of note

Hyrum's drawing skills recently improved a lot. Previously when he said, "D'aw" he wanted to scribble relatively aimlessly over any piece of paper with writing or a picture already on it. This week, he decided there are two shapes he wants to draw:

"Notes." He wants to draw musical notes (right). He first asks Mom or Da to draw some notes for him, which he then scribbles over before applying himself to drawing tight circles. Every few notes, he looks up at us and says, "Notes."

"Car." Cars are big ovals with a few smaller circles around them. Mom tries to draw him 2-D practice cars, and they were pretty impressed with Da's feeble attempts to sketch 3-D cars.

Drawing keeps Hyrum happily, reverently occupied for most of sacrament meeting. Mostly he draws on our church program, on earlier drafts of my dissertation, or in this pretty Disney Princess notepad I/Santa got him for a dollar for Christmas.


Hyrum got sacqued. And he's lovin' it.

For a little over a year, Joy has been crocheting this sacque for him to sleep in at night. As an infant, he needed to be tightly bundled to fall asleep, and his little sacques were a great help in that regard. He outgrew them or busted the zippers pretty quickly.

So Joy crocheted this ginormous sacque that will hold him for a good long while, keep him warm, provide a little comforting weight so he sleeps better. He really enjoys it - smiles really big as I drop him in the top at night.

"I'm so glad he can use it now. It still needs buttons" on the top so it will close. "Hopefully it'll get buttons before he's done using it. Thanks for all your help, Mom. And Derrill's help, helping me adjust the pattern when Mom wasn't around."

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Art of Leisure

Enh, Chuck Norris can do all that in his sleep

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Responses

CNN coverage here.

We express our sympathy and prayers on behalf of the citizens of Haiti following the recent devastating earthquake. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is immediately shipping humanitarian relief, including personal hygiene kits and supplies for newborns. Efforts are underway to determine further humanitarian response in coordination with government and disaster relief organizations. Donations for relief efforts can be made at

You have probably read about the devastating quake in Haiti. The FP blog names a number of place you can give to help. Normally I would not chime in, but sometimes I have a personal connection to an NGO that really makes a difference, and people appreciate the pointer to an organization they previously would not have known.

My brother Kent started an organization called Haiti Partners with several Haitian colleagues. It has one of the most fantastic operating cultures I know. They have an Earthquake Response Fund.

If you want to give to a place that you know will be effective (especially because so many funds will be choking the main pipelines) consider that one.

Marginal Revolution:

Just two days ago I was trying to convince a group of my colleagues to come to Haiti with me for a three-day weekend outing. Had we gone, we would have stayed in what is now the epicenter of the earthquake. The hotel I had in mind...I believe it does not exist any more but has fallen down the hills into oblivion. It is difficult for me to fathom what must be going on there and how it will continue to play out. In addition to thousands of lives, much of the Haitian cultural heritage has been destroyed. Here is an image of Simbi, god of healing.

Here is one reputable place to donate.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Stuff You're Glad You Didn't Get for Christmas

The Airline Screening Playset. The website for this (done back in '05) is a hilarious description of one frustrated person's morbid playtime. I wonder if the latest version includes a full body scanner. Hat tip to Marginal Revolution.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Baby Fact of the Day

Babies are learning your language in the womb and come out crying differently depending on what language they hear.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hyrum vs. Snow

I shoveled out our measly 18" of snow yesterday and had fun with my accompanying little one. He started plunging into the snow, but only made it one step before slipping and calling out for "he'p". I rescued him twice, and then he gave up and just followed in the area I had shoveled.

I asked him where our car was. He seems a little confused. After this he tried to help me uncover the car by brushing off the snow.

Joy has mentioned that he likes having snow dumped on him, though I didn't find that near so much. He did enjoy it the one time I plopped an entire shovelful on his hooded noggin.

Once the necessary paths were made, we played a little. I tromped out into the yard and asked him to come to me. He was apprehensive, but started in. After each step, he looked up at me and kind of whined that this was hard and he couldn't do it and needed help. The snow was up to his waist, for pity's sake! But I know my Hy. I called to him and encouraged him step by step until he was at my side. I was very proud of him.

Then we went up to the mound of snow I had piled up on one side of our parking spots and took some pictures of us having fun, including the first time Hyrum was buried in the snow (left). He enjoyed it and stayed dry.

Hyrum vs. Rook

And, yes, I shuffled the cards a little to make it a bit more difficult.

Hyrum's New Hobbies

Hi there. Hy here.

Since coming back from Christmas, I've discovered some of the finer things in life. One of them is eating play-dough. Note, it's not Playdo, but play-dough. It's the first floured product I eat. It used to come out of a little cylinder, but now it comes out of the fridge. I'm not sure why that changed. I just started eating it, and now it comes out of the fridge. Mom makes it. Mom used to say no, and now she asks me if I want it for lunch!

I really like making hearts out of it. I have a heart cookie cutter that I use to make hearts. Or Mom makes me a Buzz or a car out of it, and then I eat Buzz's head or the front of the car or the pieces from around the heart. Sometimes I just put the whole thing in my mouth and cough it out again. Then Mom mixes it up again and we make more hearts.

I also discovered dancing. Mom got a VeggieTales DDR game. She used to only do it when I was sleeping, but I caught her one day. Now I dance on it too. Here you can see two videos of me dancing with my mom. We need to learn how to share better. No toddlers were harmed in the making of these videos.

Mom and Dad took videos of me having fun and I ask to watch them over and over again. I have Grandma Boo to thank for getting Mom the VeggieTales. She thought it would be a way for Mom to exercise while I was distracted by Bob or something else. But how could I resist?? Grandma Boo also taught Mom how to make the playdough. Thanks, Gamma Boo!

#1 on the Hy Hit Parade is the "Bob the Builder" theme. For a rocked out version, see this. The Hallelujah Chorus is still #2, and Old MacDonald has come up to be #3. In other musical news, Dad has given up trying to read me a story at night. Instead he performs Operettas and I ask "again" after every song. It makes Dad feel good that I ask to hear him sing again and again. I love it when he sings the girl parts falsetto and then drops down to the bass-ment to be the Pirates of Penzance.

Dad also started a new fun game with me. We count together! He'll start and then I realize that he's counting and say the numbers after him. As we get higher, I get excited and say the numbers before him. I really like ten. Ten is great. Ten means something fun happens. It's like three, but better. I also ask for ONE spoon of food this week instead of TWO! One! Two! Two! Won-ah!

Coming Soon to a Chapel Near You

if you live in Ithaca, anyway.

"So, if this is a surprise to you, don't worry: it was a surprise to us too. We only started discussing it yesterday and decided today."

I was trying to avoid thinking about it for several weeks, but the Spirit kept bugging me. So last night I prayed in our family prayer - the first Joy heard of it - to know if it was time for us to head over to the Ithaca Ward. Joy was surprised and excited, and dared not hope that it might be so.

"I have nothing against the branch. But I've had some family wards I've really enjoyed and have been in branches or singles wards for ... more than a decade."

Nursery is the big reason. It's been different for Hyrum in the ward nursery in a very good way. I noticed and was impressed every time I came to pick him after or check his diaper during. Their nursery has been good for him. ... It's what he needs.

So we talked to Pres. Horrocks to ask his advice. It turns out, the Spirit has been ... "nudging him also in the same direction." He was trying to avoid thinking about it also. But when I came in to counsel with him, it seemed pretty clear what we need to do.

We're not sure just how long the transition over will be - I have some things I need to do before I can move over calling-wise, but Joy and Hyrum will start attending the ward regularly now.

"I told Derrill that I think it's what I need right now - after we made the decision. I didn't want to say it before we made the decision in case he didn't feel like it was right to. But when Derrill suggested it to me, I just immediately felt like that was the right thing to do. But I cried because I thought maybe I was being selfish. Derrill then told me that he thought that part of the reason was for what I need too - to have so many sisters older than I who have already travailed and succeeded in the noble cause for which we are trying to succeed in our family."

So that's what's new. "And we're excited and we're nervous" and we feel the hand of God nudging us this direction.

"And if there's anyone in the branch that's reading this, we want you to know it's a hard choice because we'll miss you." Yes.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Religious Thought of the Day

There never was any person over-saved; all who have been saved, and that ever will be in the future, are only just saved, and then it is not without a struggle to overcome, that calls into exercise every energy of the soul.
-- Brigham Young (Discourses, 387)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Hebrew in the Book of Mormon

Three cheers for the guys and gals in comparative lit.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hyrum's other December adventures - a Joy post

Meal time has really progressed into something fun which I had never supposed possible. Hyrum will go to take a bite and then wrinckle up his face and say “oooooooo” . I will then laugh, he will give me an adoring grin and laugh too. What comes next is just as funny. He will purposely try to get me to laugh again, but his laugh becomes more fake the more times he tries it. But, although fake sounding it still produces his desired affect, because I will laugh even harder at the fake laugh than I did at the real one.

Fun new words for Hyrum are ‘clean’ when he wants his hands clean, and Fanm for Farm (old McDonald) He loves that song. Additionally Hyrum now says song as a way to request music, which is great, because music is his most requested item, besides Buzz Lightyear or Bob Builder.

So speaking of Buzz, a new game that Hyrum has replicated a few times is to put a toy on dad’s office chair (stand it up or put it in a specific place) and spin the chair. The game started by Hyrum being in the chair and mom spinning him, then he progress to spinning balls and now the special subject is Buzz. Buzz have only one rule the he is supposed to follow. Hyrum wants him to remain standing. As you can imagine, this is a little difficult for Buzz, but they are sometime successful in playing it according to the rules.

Yesterday Hyrum took apart his spiral ball toy. We didn’t stop him, but I didn’t rush to fix it for him. Infact I didn’t rush so much that Derrill got to putting it together before I did. It's the toy Derrill mentioned in the other post about frogs.

So now that the holidays are finally over it has been time for me to sanitize the house again. This means putting all of his toys in plastic bags or something so that he has to interact with me to get to them. It encourages social and language interactions and make me look like a big ‘chocolate chip cookie’ as the behavioralist that was over a couple conferences that I went to explains. Every time we spend time together we have fun and it has really improved our relationship. If he has free access to all of his toys he just plays and ignores me a lot. This technique has really stoked up his language quickly.

Hyrum has become a very persistent counter. He sits in his crib during nap time and practices saying ‘OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOne-ah, Twoooooo’ and he uses all his little energy in each word and spits with the Two. He is also quite fond of 9 and 10. When we finish time out we always count out the last 10 seconds and about 7 or 8 (or during the whole thing) Hyrum with say, ‘ni, ni, ten!’ by the time he say said he is in a pretty good mood no matter how bad timeout was. What I find fascinating is that he has already generalized counting into conducting. Because when he conducts the Halleluiah chorus, he says ‘1, 2….. 1, 2’ but when he points each object gets both a 1 and a 2 in quick succession.

Another fun number thing with Hyrum is while eating. He will tell us his word for each food that he likes to eat as his request. The beginning of December Derrill started a new game with Hyrum that he loves. After Hyrum lets us know what kind of food he wants to eat, then we ask him how many. He usually responds with ‘TWO!’ and we give him 2 spoonfuls. Sometimes he will just say the number and not type of food, but we wheedle it out of him.

Two new favorites for Hyrum of books are Hands are Not for Hitting and Germs are not for Sharing. There is book that we read with Hyrum that he almost always giggles when we read it. It is ‘Red Hat, Blue Hat’ and because of the book he has started to say Ooops all by himself. It is a riot, as you can see in the video.

And news flash, Hyrum will finally wear a hat, on occasion. Some of the necessary requirements are that it is HIS idea and that the hat go on and off when he wants it to. He is pretty proud of himself for putting it on. He is mostly interested in hats that dad has been wearing recently.

Playing with blue play doh has also become a must, infact at the beginning of a meal yesterday he was so determined to play with it he told us he was all done eating after only a couple of bites. We told him he could be all done, but he was going to a nap and not playing with playdoh, he finally was willing to eat his lunch, but it took a while to convince him we were firm on that decision.

Snow time is fun too. Hyrum calls it Sonow. I go out to shovel and he goes out to tromp, fall, and get hit with the snow that I shovel over his head. It is all in fun. It really started out as a technique to keep him close to me and out of the road and has turned into a game. I get a large shovel full of snow and say ‘up…. And over’ as I pick it up and thrown it on to the nearest pile. Well, Hyrum started trying to get close to me as I was doing this so I would throw it over his head, which he get the biggest kick out of . But he likes it even more is a little snow falls him on the way over. He also helped me sweep some snow off of the car.

He is a fascinating kid in every way.

Fasting, Joy, and Gifts

This post has been moved to our new family blog.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Socioeconomic Status in the Early Church

The .Plan brings you Rodney Stark in the journal Faith and Economics, with an interesting hypothesis:

Tradition has it that early Christianity recruited most of its initial supporters from among the very poorest and most miserable groups in the ancient world. ...

All discussions of the social standing of the first Christians would seem to have been settled by Paul's "irrefutable" proof text, when he noted of his followers that "not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth." (1 Cor. 1:26)

It is amazing how many generations of sophisticated people failed to see a very obvious implication of this verse. Finally, in 1960, the Australian scholar E.A. Judge began an illustrious career by pointing out that Paul did not say "none of you were powerful, none of you were of noble birth" (Judge, 1960a, 1960b). Instead, Paul said "not many" were powerful or of noble birth, which means that some were! Given what a minuscule fraction of persons in the Roman Empire were of noble birth, it is quite remarkable that any of the tiny group of early Christians were of nobility. This raises the possibility that like the many other religious movements, Christianity also began as a movement of the privileged. ...

Consider the twelve apostles or disciples. It is widely assumed that they were all men of very humble origins and accomplishments. But is it true? ... When James and John abandoned their fishing boat to follow Jesus, "they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants" (Mk. 1:20). ... Since, according [to] Lk. 5:10, Peter (Simon) and Andrew were partners of James and John, it can be assumed they too were somewhat affluent. In fact, it is quite possible that Peter owned two houses, one in Bethsaida and another in Capernaum. Mark's mother owned a house in Jerusalem that was sufficiently large to serve as a house church (Acts 12:12). Moreover, Andrew had previously had the leisure to be a disciple of John the Baptist. And then there was Matthew (or Levi) the tax collector. Tax collectors were hated, but they were powerful and affluent. ...

Remarkable evidence of Paul's association with the privileged comes from Judge's calculation that, of ninety-one individuals named in the New Testament in connection with Paul, a third have names indicating Roman citizenship. Judge called this "a startlingly high proportion, ten times higher than in the case of a control group" based on epigraphic documents (Judge, 2008, pp. 142-143). If this were not enough, there is evidence in Paul's letters that there already were significant numbers of Christians serving in the imperial household. Paul concluded his letter to the Philippians: "All the saints greet you, especially those in Caesar's household." Paul sends greetings to "those who belong to the family of Aristobulus" and to "the family of Narcissus." Both Harnack and the equally authoritative J.B. Lightfoot (1828-1889) identified Narcissus as the private secretary of the Emperor Claudius and Aristobulus as an intimate of the emperor...

It is instructive that [1 Timothy] offered so much advice about what to preach to the rich members: "As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be haughty" (1 Tim. 6:17-19). Timothy was not advised to tell his rich members to cease being wealthy, but "to do good, to be rich in good deeds." In addition, 1 Tim. 2:9 advises that "women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire." This advice is silly unless there were significant numbers of rich people in the congregation at Ephesus.

Did early Christianity also attract lower class converts? Of course. ... The point is that early Christianity substantially over-recruited the privileged. ...

In 112 CE, Pliny the Younger wrote to the Emperor Trajan for approval of his policies in persecuting Christians. He informed the emperor that the spread of "this wretched cult" involved "many individuals of every age and class."
--Rodney Stark, "Early Christianity: Opiate of the Privileged?," Faith and Economics, Fall 2009

Childhood Trauma (or Like Father, Like Son)

Kids normally go through a stage of babbling random consonants as they practice sounds. Over time, these babblings start to sound like words. Then they become words. We've been trying to figure out this one sound Hyrum LOVES making. What could he possibly be saying? We haven't agonized over it, but it has occasionally given his father some consternation.

Joy figured it out last night and as she told me, I leaned my head against our coat racks and relived an event from a couple decades ago..... (wavy flashback effect)