Monday, October 29, 2007

Strange Friends...

I have a really good friend. We met in high school, and we’ve remained friends ever since. We sat next to each other in our American History class, and we used to play chess on paper during the lectures. We were in the Model UN conferences together. We did all the high school geek stuff.

Then, in college, we’d debate. Philosophical stuff. The nature of truth, reality, etc… I from my own Mormon perspective, he from his own point of view.

He joined the Army, and we saw each other a time or two after that, but then there was not a whole lot for a lot of years.

Finally, and I don’t remember how, we hooked up via IM and started chatting on the ‘net. We still talk religion and philosophy, and, aside from a few bumps early on, we’re both pretty respectful. In the process I learned that what was going on for him in those late high school/early college years was that he left Christianity and became a Wiccan.

In the process of our discussions now, we talk a lot about what we each believe. He’s much more reflective and respectful of Mormonism, and I’m a lot less “afraid” of Wicca.

Recently he took some time to tell me his “conversion story” of his path from Catholic, through evangelical Christianity to Paganism. I was surprised to find a lot of similarities in my own experience. I found it interesting to realize that his experiences led him away from a belief in Christ, where mine brought me deeper into it. As I revisited and remembered my own experiences, they became real again for me.

I mention all this because he blogged about me about a week ago, and had some kind words to say. Even though he used to bait me into arguments like he tends to do with Christians, there was a part of me that enjoyed the banter. First of all, he asked me a lot of the tough questions, and as I answered them, it became much clearer to me what the real answers were. Also, I enjoyed it because he would often approach his questions from a mainstream Christian perspective, and then be surprised to find that question answered by Mormon Christianity.

Of course, there were still a lot of things that we simply ended up agreeing to disagree.

Still, I remember at one point ribbing him that he’d make a good Mormon. The ironic part of that is that this Wiccan has made me a better Mormon.

Mark Hansen

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Five Years!

I was checking out my archives here at Mo’Boy the other day. Sometimes I like to play the “What was I thinking a year ago?” game. It’s so much more pleasant that the usual “What was I THINKING?” game I usually play.

Anyway, I noticed that my first ever posting was on October 29th, 2002. That means that I’ve been blogging here for just a few days under 5 years!

That’s a long time in the bloggosphere. It’s a very long time in the bloggernacle. But I’ve been at it, and though at times I’ve not been as prolific as others, I’ve never let go. It’s just too much fun. Yeah, it takes time, but I really enjoy it.

Let me pick a few of my favorites:

Those are my picks. What are yours?

Mark Hansen

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

To Coin a President…

I’ve started collecting the presidential “gold” dollar coins. I’ve been pretty excited about them. After the state quarters, and the historical nickels, this is pretty cool. They’ll make one new coin every quarter (quarter year, not 25 cents), until they’ve minted all of the presidents. Of course, the only ones that are eligible are the dead ones. The ones that are still living won’t be minted. Until they die, I suppose. Which is still not much of an incentive to pass on, in my book. You know, "Keep on living; have my face on a coin. Keep on living; have my face on a coin... "

Easy call, in my book.

But anyway...

One of the cool things I’ve been doing is that when a new one comes out, before (or soon after) I get it, I read up a little on that president. That way, I get to see what happened in his presidency and know more about our great history.

The latest one is James Madison. The big historic even that went down in his administration was the War of 1812. Sometimes that war is called, “the second revolutionary war” and also “Madison’s War”. It was originally started for economic reasons. The British and the French were at war, and while America tried to stay out of it, the British started raiding American trade with France. They also tended to stop American ships and press “British subjects” aboard into the English Navy.

Apparently, it was tough for Madison to convince Americans at the time to go to war. And, in the end, while it did solidify our international standing as an independent state, the borders of the country didn’t change.

It kinda made me think of the Iraq war, and how history will perceive it 100, even 200 years from now. Will it be called, “Bush’s War”?

Madison originally started his public life as a strong proponent of state’s rights, and an opponent of a strong central federal government. But as the war progressed, and he saw how difficult it was to fight a national war with state militias, and fund it without a federal bank, his position shifted, and he established a standing federal army and a National Bank.

It’s his work before his presidency for which he is most admired, that being that he was one of the principal authors of the constitution, and also the Bill of Rights. It’s also interesting to note that initially, he was opposed to a separate bill of rights, saying that those rights were already in the constitution, and that various state constitutions had shown that the paper was really not that effective in guaranteeing rights and liberties anyway. But later, he became a big promoter of it, and worked hard to get it ratified.

Anyway, it’s pretty fascinating. Sometimes we think of the “Founding Fathers” just as inspired men who put together this nation as it is, and we forget that they had to deal with politics and conflicting opinions just like we do.

Mark Hansen

Sunday, October 07, 2007

MoTab Rocks

There was some really cool things said in the Sunday morning conference session. I was really impressed. I’ll blog about them, for sure.

But that crowning moment for me was listening to the choir sing “How Firm a Foundation”.

As our own ward choir director, we did it (straight from the hymn book) about a month ago. It’s long been one of my favorite hymns. I thought our choir did a great job. This song is one that carries me through my trials more than any other.

The Tab choir did the third verse a capella, and the harmonies were glorious!

"Fear not I am with thee, O be not dismayed

For I am thy god and will still give the aid

I'll strengthen thee help thee and cause thee to stand

Upheld by my righteous omnipotent hand."

Wow. What a sound, and what power. Then they sang the last verse in unison, with only the organ providing the harmonies. It just filled my soul, my eyes, and gave me chills. Especially the last verse:

“That soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose

I will not, I cannot desert to his foes

That soul though all hell should endeavor to shake

I’ll never no never no never forsake”

They rock!

Mark Hansen

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The One-Two Punch

This afternoon, I was cleaning my house while listening to conference. We often do things like that, while listening to the speakers. But when Elder Holland came on and started his speech, I was transfixed.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard anyone take a stand like that and declare those kinds of truths with that kind of conviction. This was not simply a man bearing his testimony, though it was that as well. This was a man, with authority from a prophet of God, spelling out in clear terms that the world can hear, that we believe in a Godhead, rather than in the “traditional trinity”, and that the scriptures bear that out as truth. I can’t remember how many times in his talk I almost busted out crying.

Then the next speaker (I don’t remember his name) clarified the need for an open canon, and ongoing revelation. While not as forceful in tone, he also spoke with authority, and clarified that we do believe in the Bible, and that the additional scriptures we accept as truth support and clarify the Bible.

In recent years, there has been a certain amount of effort to join the world religious community. We’ve spent considerable effort trying to show that we’re pretty normal people who like to blend in with society. That’s all well and good, but, wow, if felt great to hear someone really shake it up and lay it down!

I imagine it’ll ruffle a few feathers in Traditional Christendom. I’ve already seen it ruffle a few feathers in the bloggernacle. It sure encouraged me to take my own stand!

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I’ve got a couple of amazing kids.

I’ve just been thinking about that more and more lately.

The other day, I was talking with a friend. He had come out to my home for a birthday party about a month ago, and he commented on Jacob’s growth. I live with him every day, and so I don’t always see the progress.

Jacob, for those that don’t know has quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and Cystic Fibrosis. He has very limited control of his hands, or his feet, for that matter.

So, my friend sat and with a little bit of wonder, watched Jake playing “Toontown” on the computer. Now, this is essentially an MMORPG for kids. While it’s not like Halo or WOW, it’s actually a fairly complex virtual world. And yet, he gets around and interacts in it just fine. He can’t shape his hands to use a normal mouse, but we got him a keyboard with a touchpad, and he can work it like a pro (albeit not quite as quickly).

He can’t draw a letter to save his life, but at school the other day, he sat at the computer and typed his way to a 100% score on his second-grade spelling test. He did tell me that he missed one, but got the bonus right, so he still got a hundred. That works!

Brendon got this science kit for making crystals at a yard sale, and for quite a while, he’s been bugging me to help him do it. So, I finally had the time at the same moment that he was bugging me and we set it up. It’s been sitting on the counter ever since, slowly growing sparkly blue crystals. Then, last Saturday, it snowed, and we got to talk a little bit about how snow is basically ice crystals, formed by essentially the same process as was going on in his jar on the kitchen counter. He was pretty fascinated by that thought.

They drive me nuts much of the time. But they’re still the greatest.

Mark Hansen


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