Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Editorial (that will never see the light of day)

Submitted to the Daily Universe re the flaccid state of BYUSA:

To the Editor:

A few of the recent responses concerning the latest BYUSA election have lamented the lack of student interest and involvement, and suggest that with more participation the organization could be fixed. Sadly, they are wrong. BYUSA is already overly "fixed" -- like my dog. All the involvement, money, and veterinarians in the world could not make my Labrador capable of siring pups. Similarly, BYUSA is a completely emasculated organization, unable to produce anything substantive. That is not meant as an indictment; it is merely the nature of the beast.

BYUSA is not a student government; they do not govern. They cannot effect change; they have no leverage with the administration because they derive their authority from the administration. They have no significant autonomy.

Thus, if students want to apply pressure to change policy, they must do it at the "grass-roots" level. For instance, do you think BYU Bookstore charges too much for text books? (Who doesn't?) Then organize a program or website that publishes booklists earlier so students can buy them cheaply online; arrange for students to advertise directly to other students the books they need to sell, eliminating Bookstore involvement.

Students can, in fact, be the agents of improvement at BYU, but they ought to understand the power dynamics behind the bureaucracy, which is by nature resistant to change. The only leverage they can bring to bear is making it less uncomfortable to change than it is to maintain the status quo.

If it gets published, I'll be quite surprised. And pleased.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Random dribbles

Wow, it has been a really long time since I've posted. Life has gotten crazy and I don't have nearly the time anymore. In any case, for my faithful readership (of one) I ought to scribble down a few things that I have been looking into recently:

I. Why do LDS ignore (largely) the psalms?
They are holy writ, and they can teach us amazing things about the gospel. For instance, take a look at one of Christ's last utterances in mortaility: My god, my god, why had thou forsaken me? Most LDS don't realize that this quote comes directly out of the 22nd (in the KJV reckoning) psalm. It is a prayer that begins with desolation, but ends aknowledging that the Lord will triumph. Christ wasn't just expressing his sorrow, but his ultimate confidence that he would be victorious. Most LDS would say that here, by quoting that phrase, Jesus was fulfilling prophecy, but to suggest that that was all he was doing would be to say that Christ was not aware of that scripture or its implications, which is surely not the case. Christ chose it intentionally for what it would teach his disciples, who were steeped in the OT.

II. What is a "vain repetition"?
CS Lewis suggests that our prayers are bound to become repetitious no matter what we do. (In fact, it is just as artificial to be concerned with always coming up with new phrases to express our needs and thanks.) We will use the same words, period. The only important thing, then, if that we are constantly pouring new meaning and immediacy into those words. What then is the problem with using traditional phrases in prayer? That is not to say that we should abandon the extemporaneous for rote prayer, but that there might not be a problem in "festooning" our prayers with ancient, traditional phrases, which have become, over time, packed with meaning. For more info read: Letters to Malcom, Chiefly on Prayer by Lewis.

III. Pattern of prayer?
In the church our pattern of prayer is very basic:
Address God.
Thank him.
Ask him.
Close through Jesus Christ.

Might I submit that we try a slightly expanded version? It is called the ACTS pattern, and it addresses somethings we often leave undone in out prayers.

Address God


Close through Jesus Christ.

This has been working well for me. Try it and see what you think.