Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I can tell you I was not looking forward to blogging. I am not that technologically savvy. I prefer the texture of pages, the smell of old books and the warm, natural lighting of the sun upon words. Don't get me wrong, I am very grateful for technology! I've been able to keep in contact with my family across seas because of it! It's just that some things I like to keep old and simple.
I enjoyed reading others' blogs. Though I was not particularly fond of writing in my own, I did love reading what others had posted. You see, even as I look at others' final conclusions, I admire their wit and creativity. I have simply titled my post CONCLUSION (with all caps, so as to be radiate importance). Perhaps blogging isn't exactly the thing for me, but I've enjoyed the chance at writing. I've also kept a journal for BOM for more spiritual aspects of my life, so combining the two I think would be an interesting project!
Over this semester I've been extremely busy. I think if I had more time I could appreciate and begin to experiment with the blog. I liked playing with the design. Visual rhetoric is something I am very interested in. (My mother is an interior designer). I was thankful for the chance this semester gave to be introduced to blogs. Hopefully sometimes in the future I will pick it up again and be much more consistent. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Innocence of Children

Over the weekend I had the sweet pleasure of celebrating Thanksgiving with my cousins and their children. Adorable and all blue eyed, they radiated innocence and sweet testimonies. I have never felt such joy then when I hold little Brooklyn in my arms. About 9 months old, she is the epitome of perfection and I   marvel at her little spirit. She seems to be so connected to her Father. My mother has often confided in me her belief that infants are not kept within the veil. As they grow older, that distinction grows, but newborn infants still seem close to heaven.
    I've recently read in Moroni about the abomination of infant baptism. As I peer into the blue eyes of my little cousins, I know they cannot sin. They are without fault and they radiate Christ's love. I've often wondered how it is one should become like little children. I've realized now that they possess so many qualities of a great disciple. They are humble and teachable, but also curious and eager to learn. They do not pass judgments, but rather love as Christ loves.

All the Leaves are Brown

All the leaves are brown.
And the sky is gray.
I've been for a walk, on a winter's day.
I'd be safe and warm, if I was in L.A (or Thailand)
CALIFORNIA dreamin' on such a winter's daaaay.

Stopped into a church
I passed along the way.
WELL, i got down on my knees
and I pretend to pray.
YOU KNOW THE PREACHER likes the cold. He KNOOOWS I'm gonna stay.
CALIFORNIA dreamin' on such a winter's daaay...

(California Dreaming, The Mamas and the Papas)

The Mamas and The Papas have it right. WHERE ARE ALL THE COLORS? it's so GRAY and FORLORN here. I look outside, everything is DEAD. DEAD I SAY. There is no LIFE. I feel my own life being sucked away greedily. I cannot stand a world without color. I once had a dream that was in black and white. You may think it would have been fascinating. Nope. Rather, it was just depressing. Much of my happiness is dependent upon the sun. But where is it? What is this layer of smog doing here anyway?! Gaaahhh...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Isaiah- Look Through New Eyes

    It shames me to say that I’ve only read the verses of Isaiah sparingly and rather grudgingly at that. Though Isaiah was brilliant, for a young mind like mine he was quite impossible to understand. Just reading about him in the Book of Mormon was enough for me. Fortunately, my ignorance regarding the wisdom of Isaiah would soon be revealed. In just 45 short minutes, Sister Ann N. Madsen changed my perspective of the enigmatic Isaiah.
 Sister Madsen conveyed such love for the book of Isaiah. It was infectious, I must admit. As she positioned herself upon the pulpit, her grandmotherly eyes seemed to see all. “It’s quite a challenge to open Isaiah in 45 minutes,” she stated “but let’s scratch the surface.”  She began by stressing the importance of noticing the related history and politics of Isaiah’s time.  Isaiah draws from his environment and prophesies to the people of his time, using experiences available to all.
     Isaiah speaks using metaphors. He prophesies boldly and in poetry. Unlike English poetry rhyming merely words, Hebrew poetry has rhyming ideas, also known as Chiasmus. When one reads Isaiah, imagination must be used. As Sister Madsen said “[The book of] Isaiah is a repository of gospel truths revealed to a man of great intellectual power who uses symbols to make it accessible to all.” Metaphors speak to people on an individual level. Experience alone can change the understanding one takes from a metaphor.
     I delighted in Sister Madsen’s explanation of Chapter 6 of the book of Isaiah. At this point, Isaiah has seen Jesus Christ. From that moment on, you can feel Isaiah’s deep devotion for his Savior that can never be shaken. Isaiah is a prophet of hope, and he invites his people to “walk in the light of the lord.” Like all prophets, Isaiah must call his people to repentance. However, he does not despair as, Sister Madsen jokes, Jeremiah does in Lamentations.
    Though I cannot write all that I have felt in this great lecture, I felt the spirit so strongly in that room. As Sister Madsen said, “the adversary will tell us to not read the book, but if we don’t open Isaiah then we are kept from his marvelous witness of Christ”

Professor Megan Sanborn Jones- Lecture on Shakespeare

       I sat upon the balcony early this Thursday morning. Peering down at the heads of those seated below, I saw in the corner a woman seated erect and confident. Professor Megan Sanborn Jones spoke with power and spoke to her audience. Her lecture was titled “Shakespeare: form Pages to Stages” and within it, she illustrated the transformation of Shakespeare throughout the ages.
       Professor Megan Sanborn Jones began her lecture quite unlike most others. Quotes were distributed throughout the audience, and Jones would call on them to heighten the interaction between audience and lecturer. Professor Jones inquired about our views of Shakespeare; what comes to mind when his name is heard. Much of society’s respect for Shakespeare exists simply because it is what we were taught. For those who admire Shakespearean work, are merely echoing the thoughts of the generation before. Is Shakespeare truly the master we know him to be? And what is this universality that demands our upmost respect? As Professor Jones demonstrated, Shakespeare was just another writer scraping to get by; the equivalent to today’s sitcom writer. So what exactly happened to transcend this man above the ranks of mere mortals?
The canonization of Shakespeare was brought about by many events. The gathering of his works, undertaken by Ben Johnson, legitimized Shakespeare’s work. Prior to this, Shakespeare’s plays were written on sides in haste. What we have today is a selection and alteration of lines and may in no way reflect the original contents. Shakespeare was not celebrated until the Germans picked up his writings during the German Romantic period. England, upon seeing the popularity Shakespeare obtained in Germany, ‘reclaimed’ Shakespeare in the mid 19th century. A national movement commenced, and Shakespeare became England’s export.  Essentially, because we were taught that Shakespeare was great, we believe it.  Though there was much more to Jones lecture, I admired her words and her intelligence. Professor Jones was passionate about communication through performance and allowing the audience to find meaning. Professor Jones practiced what she preached. Her lecture was an incredible performance, encouraging each present to find meaning. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Personal Narrative

All too quickly, sacrament meeting had ended. My mother hugs me fiercely, stifling my futile pleas for home. With a whisper of support and a kiss on the cheek, she sends me on my way, like a lamb to the slaughter.
I enter the menacing hall. It overflows with saints searching for class. I look to the shrinking figure of my mother. She seems so far away and with each passing second, I feel more alone and forgotten. Fighting back my fervent tears, I lift my chin and gulp back a cry of despair. Not this time, I tell myself. Not this time. As the reality of my decision sinks in, I quickly glance to a nearby window and assess my swollen, puffy eyes. Scrubbing them with shaking hands, I turn to face the throngs of searching people.
Like a piece of driftwood carried by the current, I am born by endless ebbs and flows of the river of people.  Disoriented and frightened, I struggle in vain. I am carried to a door: the door of my class. With a sigh of submission, I glance inside to the room that haunts my Sundays. Sheer horror fights for control of my body. I want to run and never look back. Scarring memories of Sundays past seep to the surface and I struggle to maintain composure. Others push past me, unaware of the turmoil that rages behind my blue eyes. It takes all of my courage to step into that room- courage that drains me dry.
I stagger into the room as the clock rings twelve. Its chimes echo in my skull. A picture frame hangs alone. Nailed to the wall, the Savior’s eyes stare down at me, searching my very soul. I look away, ashamed of myself.
Amongst the flawless faces, my own smeared makeup and runny nose stick out like a sore thumb. My heart begins to sink. Why did I come? I demand of myself. Deeper into the pits of despair I plunge and wallow in self-pity. My lips quiver traitorously, but as I look around at the faces that surround me I realize I’ve assembled an audience. Aware of others’ eyes, I meekly smooth my dress and gather my disarrayed hair. Desperate to be ignored once again, I maneuver myself through the plethora of chairs and sit myself down far in the back.
My eyes return to the picture of the Savior. If He knew the thoughts that lie behind my weary eyes… he would not be so willing to atone for my sins.
The door shuts abruptly, releasing me from my thoughts. A pink vision has entered into the room.
“Good morning, my beautiful young women!” gushes the radiant being. Outfit styled meticulously and hair pinned to perfection, she exudes confidence. I shrink mournfully into my seat, fiddling with my frizzy mop of hair. Surely she doesn’t mean me. I’m no beauty. She looks eagerly upon the young faces that shine back at her. “Our lesson today is about…” She pauses for effect. “Individual Worth!” she cries, throwing her arms elegantly into the air.
Excited voices ring throughout the room, like silver bells on a winter’s day. Inviting words float to my ears but I keep to myself, unwilling to comply. Like an ugly duckling, I sit awkwardly amongst the beautiful swans. The giddiness continues to amplify and though I worried my silence would be sensed, I am quickly ignored.
A question is asked, but I am deep within myself, too downtrodden to notice. My cruel mind degrades myself further and further as deeper and deeper I sink. In the pits of despair, my happiness is silenced and I sit quietly, defenseless against my own thoughts.
Playful banter continues to erupt from the young women throughout the lesson, their smiles gleaming on their faces. My head falls forward and I tuck my body in tight. No one must see my tears.  
 “Remember, the worth of souls is great in the sight of our Lord,” answers a nearby miamaid.  Tears form in the corner of my eyes as I count the minutes until my deliverance.
I am worthless. I am worthless. I am worthless. The thought echoes cruelly in my soul. God does not watch me. He doesn’t even know I exist.
The teacher comments upon how we must look at ourselves through God’s eyes.  “Imagine God’s eye.” she sweetly hums. My eyes mist over as I enter the realms of my imagination. 

Imagine God’s eye.

In a flash, my thought would transcend the heavens to rest upon the ear of my Father. With care and compassion, His watchful eye would turn to seek me.


With a blink, our universe would come into view. The size simply inconceivable to even my imagination, it gently swells and billows, forever extending its reach. The supernovas scorch, the black holes devour and all abides as it should. There it sits, peacefully tended by an omnipotent observer.


The benevolent figure would then focus upon a single galaxy. Our Galaxy. A particular spinning mass then catches the eye of the omniscient being- Earth. Our giant blueberry suspended in space. Inhabited by 6,697,254,041 people and counting, my Father would lovingly search for just one.


The observer then zooms in and rests his eye upon America, the Land of the Brave. With a gentle smile, He watches the workings of the young nation. Great battles, strong men and blessed land, he savors the growth of the people.


The mighty observer would not stray from his task, though, for he is needed elsewhere. With love, he continues in his search. His watchful eye soars through hills and plains. Ever vigilant, the Heavenly Being seeks. 


Buried in the chapel, he enters the Young Women’s room. He passes the rows of faithful daughters and finds the doubting soul seated at the very back. His quite, gentle voice whispers softly in her ear, “You are mine, never doubt your worth.”


With a start, I blink into awareness. The girl seated next to me held out a handout tied with ribbons and bows. Her caring eyes ponder my silence as her hand gestures again.
“You okay?” she asks, sincerity and true concern touching her voice. I mumble a fitting response and grasp the handout. I am a bit shaken by my imaginings. It seemed all too real.

 A prayer is quickly said and the girls begin to stand. Class had ended. I can go home. Relief floods my system and I hurry to find my mother. As I gather my things, I look down at the ornate piece of paper.

As my eyes glance at the paper, my heart leaps in recognition at the words written near the bottom. Etched in simple black letterings were the tender whisperings of my Savior; You Are Mine. Tears form in my eyes. These are different from the sorrowful tears before, though. These are tears of joy.

The teacher, seeing my state, comes to my side and wraps her arms around me. “Lauren,” she whispers, “I had a strong feeling I needed to give that lesson today. I’m not sure why, but I think somebody special needed to hear how much they’re worth.”

I manage a simple ‘thank you’ and turn to look into the eyes of my teacher. For a brief second I am transported back into my imaginings. My teacher’s eyes now become the eyes of my Savior, gentle and loving. In a flash, the vision is gone and I am looking again into the youthful face of my Sunday school teacher. She gives me a hug goodbye and as I watch her go, I feel her arms around me still: a vestige of her warmth.

With tears cascading down my cheeks, I turn to the picture on the wall— the picture of Christ. He smiles at me sweetly and seems to whisper, “You are mine.” For a blessed moment, I seem to be enveloped in his arms. Nothing can harm me when I am held by my Savior.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Carl Bloch's "Garden of Gethsemane"

Christ’s atonement is a delicate matter to paint. Sacred and powerful, it is has the potential to be expressed beautifully or simply fail to inspire. Viewings of Christ’s atonement have seldom been depicted in accordance to my own understanding.  At times Christ manners are lacking in grace and form, while the blood that some artists feel necessary to include take away from the holiness of the act. Though none know exactly how the sacrificial act was completed, I’ve never been more touched by an artist’s depiction than I was by Carl Bloch’s. “Christ in Gethsemane”, painted oil on canvas in 1878-79, is a portrayal of the great Redeemer’s atoning act of love. As written Luke;
And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (22: 43-44)
In a traditional depiction, the angel Luke speaks of would be bringing Christ the bitter cup. Bloch, however, paints with greater sensitivity. The anger, full of tenderness and compassion, embraces her Savior.
            The composition of the piece enhances the power manifested to the audience. Carl Bloch portrays Christ in a state of submission and frailty. The Savior’s hands are folded in submission and his eyes are weary from exertion. Dressed in red, Carl Bloch delicately conveys the blood shed by our Savior. Christ leans in weariness to the lustrous angel. Seeking strength and comfort, the Savior seems collapsed upon the heavenly being. Both positioned on a rock formation, Carl Bloch alludes to Psalm 95, “let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation” (1). Bloch does not belittle the Savior’s atonement, but rather continues to touch upon Christ’s power and redeeming goodness.
Furthermore, in contrast to the wearied Christ, the angel exudes power and strength. The angel comforts Jesus as best as she can, with her hands holding up his limp hands and her head laid upon his weary brow.  The illustrious being’s face is serene and heavenly- it’s purity enhanced by its glow. Crowned with golden hair and dressed in flowing garments, the angel’s attire contrasts from the Savior’s blood red garb.  Light cascades down upon the angel. Her wings are lit by a tangible aura- the illuminating goodness of the atonement.
Though not as paramount as the relationship between Christ and angel, Carl Bloch depicts masterfully the background of the Savior’s atonement. Dark and despairing, the scenery depicts the darkness closing in upon the two. Christ is the light of this world, and Bloch enhances this idea in allowing all light to shine upon the pair and the pair alone. Carl Bloch refers to the wickedness of the world around Christ in his depiction of the natural background. There is little vegetation around Christ and the angel. Nothing grows or flourishes as though corrupted by the wickedness of society. What life does exist is shriveled and dying. A twisted tree is split above Christ. Its ominous and warped nature mirrors the disposition of Satan, wicked and corrupt. Christ takes upon him the sins of all mankind. As the darkness encloses upon him, the struggle between good and evil becomes ever more pressing. All who view Bloch’s painting watch in pain as our Savior battles the sins of all. Moreover, to the lower right, a faint gleam of fire flickers foreshadowing the Romans coming to take Christ away. Stars glitter in the night sky as though other angels look down upon Christ and long to strengthen him as well.
Carl Bloch offers a depiction of the upmost power and beauty. Christ, who is our support has given of himself fully. This poignant portrayal captures my very perception of Christ. My Savior embraces me daily; much like the angel supports him. His atoning sacrifice shines upon me despite the darkness of the world.  I feel such gratitude for my Christ. In this depiction, all I long to do is embrace and support my Savior. He has been my constant support and I long to help in anyway I can. My heart aches at Bloch’s portrayal of my struggling Savior. I must do all I can to not allow his suffering to be in vain.
As I sit in the presence of this powerful painting, I never want to leave. I want to sit in the glory of my God and bathe in the love that emanates from the pair. I wonder and hope that angels are present strengthening me.