Friday, September 28, 2012

For Latter-day Saints in the 21st Century:

I'm starting a new project.

I'm doing it because, like so many others, I see the injustice and error that surrounds us.

I see imperfection in the world.
I see imperfection in religious organizations.
But I see something more than that. There is something more than that.

I see troubling things and hear troubling stories, and I get the feeling that I am only getting half the picture. I'm only hearing one kind of voice. The voice of informed criticism abounds, but something tells me that we are doing ourselves an injustice.

There are two Mormon voices that abound on the internet:

1. Eager, missionary monologues
2. Thoughtful, sometimes very passionate, criticism

Where is the third voice? Where is the voice that recognizes flaws, speaks openly, and at the end of the day, still invites faith in his/her church? Where is the informed, open, missionary dialogue? Where is the defense of truth, or the lauding of goodness? Undoubtedly it exists and I have not yet seen it. But we need more of it. We need Mormons that are so good, so loving, so studious, so humble, and so faithful, that they can talk about the hard things, recognize mistakes, and despite it all, see beyond. There is more here.

Spend more time in the scriptures. Spend more time in the temple. Spend more time with inspiring and loving leaders and friends. Seek out people who have more wisdom than yourself. Find a mentor. There are people, older people in the church, who are not out of touch, who do not shy away from "taboo topics," who are very much concerned with the injustice and wrongdoing that surrounds them. Talk to these people. Learn from them. Become one of them, because God knows his church needs more of them.

Faithful Mormons can be missionaries.
Open-minded Mormons can be understanding critics.
Truly great Mormons are both.

Let's aim higher.

Electronic Music - Day 4

What if electronic music got... jazzy? Like, instead of grading techno beats from the rave, it had cool bass lines and textures that belong in a hip hop/jazz club?

Interested? Then check out Flying Lotus. Fans like to point out that Flying Lotus is the great-nephew of Alice Coltrane, jazz pianist and wife of John Coltrane. They say there's a connection or something. I mean, you know how influential those great aunts are. But seriously, maybe there's something there. Flying Lotus is creative and inviting. Sit down, grab a nice pair of headphones or a good soundsystem, and have a listen.

The artist who did the cover art shown in the video admitted that he has a thing for creation stories. Now take another look, and tell me it doesn't look similar to this:

File:Paradiso Canto 31.jpg

That's the Empyrean from Dante's Divine Comedy, as illustrated by Gustav Dore. According to the Divine Comedy, the Empyrean is the highest heaven, the dwelling place of God, the source of light and creation. Maybe the artist was drawing on some very old inspiration? Or, does everyone fascinated with creation end up drawing big balls of light?

Well, you can forget that deeper meaning mumbo jumbo if you want. I'll shut up, and you can play the hits.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Electronic Music - Day #3

Are you ready for this? I'm going to disco. The 'disco' label for "I Feel Love" may be misleading because it doesn't have that over-the-top orchestral/brass background that commonly characterizes the genre, but it is still has the disco fun at its core.

This song has many versions, but the original that I include here deserves a listen. The production quality is excellent, the vocals are ghostly and original, and the sound effects are innovative enough to keep you listening for the entire eight minutes. Listen and enjoy one of the first crossovers toward Techno!

Very few songs grab me right away, but this one did. I hope you enjoy it too. 

Donna Summer: "I Feel Love"

Monday, September 17, 2012

On Freedom and Indebtedness

The more I serve, the more I am indebted to God and Man. Any attempt to pay the balance increases my indebtedness, as my every attempt is generously rewarded. It seems there is no way to reduce the debt, though I suppose I could stop the growth by throwing myself into the nearest river. And yet, even then, when I see that my life is not ended, and when I receive my body again, my debt will increase immeasurably still.

I suppose that one who avoided much indebtedness was Lucifer, but even he - a son of the morning - probably did not leave God's presence without considerable debt.

This talk of permanent and ever-increasing debt suggests to me that in social/spiritual matters (excluding matters of financial indebtedness), a reevaluation of freedom is due. I believe that in cases social and spiritual (which perhaps are not so different), freedom is not thwarted by, but rather results from being faithfully bound to another. In some cases the other is God and in some cases it is Man, but in every case it is God, and in every case there is freedom.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Electronic Music Day 2 (Birthday Edition)

It's September 14th, and it's a good day for a birthday. It's also a good day to listen to this song from the 80's Belgian electronic group, Telex.

This song is fun and pretty darn catchy. I hope you enjoy it, and maybe remember it the next time there's a birthday in your life. Just imagine - the next time your friend is sad about getting older, just play this song and say, "Hey pal, you know, we're all getting old!" There's nothing more comforting than the realization that we are all going from dust to dust... except maybe the promise of delicious birthday treats.

That's all i have to say today.

- mlw

Friday, September 7, 2012

Electronic Music - Day 1

I recently started a master's program in sociology. You might think that electronic music and sociology have pretty much nothing in common, and you wouldn't be too far off. The only connection I can think of is that after reading through a bajillion books and articles every day, repetitive electronic music starts to sound pretty good. There's that, and the fact that one of the students in my cohort is from Michigan, where electronic music has some roots.

I sometimes tell people that I like electronic music, but the truth is that in true hipster fashion, I just say that because I like LCD Soundsystem and Daft Punk. I realized how little I know after talking to my Michigan friend. In order to remedy this, in a half intellectual half pleasure-seeking sort of way, I'm going to spend some time each week finding and posting what I think is excellent. 

Here's the first song: "Mean Old Devil," by Bruce Haack.

I chose this track for a variety of reasons. First of all, Bruce Haack was one of the pioneers of electronic music. His music, especially this one, busts some stereotypes about electronic music (aka, it's not all techno/rave/dubstep). In fact, Bruce Haack made a bunch children's records and books on record (with his own soundtracks) before he made any other record. And yes, he did appear on The Mr. Roger's Show.

Enjoy this cool old gem! Also, check out the post next Friday for the special birthday edition!