Houston, you have a problem.

Houston, you have a problem. August 19, 2023


Greater Houston
Friendswood is located in the lower right corner of this map. (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


The following note has now gone out to members of the Friendswood Texas Stake — Friendswood is in the greater Houston area, and is situated in the northwest corner of Galveston County — and I’ve been given permission to share it here.  All are welcome and invited to attend:

Dear Sisters and Brothers,
All members of the Friendswood Stake are cordially invited to a special Stake Fireside on Saturday, September 9, 2023, at 6 PM at the Stake Center. The Fireside will feature Brother Daniel C. Peterson, a distinguished professor emeritus of Islamic Studies and Arabic at Brigham Young University. Brother Peterson’s talk will deal with six climactic days in August 1844, during which one of the most charged events in the history of the young church took place and how the hand of the Lord was manifested in power to make His will known as to whom would guide His church. The title of Brother Peterson’s talk is “6 Days in August: The Twelve’s Rise to Leadership.”
Dr. Peterson and his wife Deborah were the Producers of the acclaimed Latter-day Saint film “Witnesses” which tells the story of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon and to the follow up film, “Undaunted: Witnesses of the Book of Mormon.”
He is also the founder and president of the Interpreter Foundation, which provides resources and scholarship for Latter-day Saints seeking answers to questions about the Church and its doctrine.
This will be a great opportunity to invite friends, family, and others to learn more about the beliefs and history of the Church. Below is additional biographical information about Brother Peterson.
We hope to see you there!
Presidents Peterson [no relation], Rasband, and Owens, The Friendswood Stake Presidency

If you’re in the greater Houston area, please drop in!


Bertelink's Hadean Earth
An artist’s impression of the Hadean period of Earth’s history, by Tim Bertelink
(Wikimedia Commons publid domain image)  Candidly, it looks just a tad uninviting.


I want to share with you now a couple of passages from John Cottingham, How can I believe? (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2018), which I picked up during our recent visit to the United Kingdom.  The author is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Reading, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Roehampton, and an Honorary Fellow of St. John’s College, Oxford:

It would be absurd to say that an atheist’s life life cannot contain many worthwhile and meaningful activities.  But for the religious believer, human life is typically seen as having an additional significance that is the key to its ultimate meaning — what might be called a cosmic significance.

The best way to see what this involves is to set it against the opposite view.  If the modern scientific materialist conception of the cosmos represents the final truth, then human life, together with love, consciousness and all that we value and treasure, is the result of inexorable physical laws operating blindly, without plan or purpose.  It is of no more ultimate significance than an evanescent vapour that coalesces on a planetary rock for a while, as long as certain chemical configurations happen to arise, but is destined sooner or later to vanish, just as the rock itself will vanish, engulfed by the dying embers of the star around which it revolves.

Perhaps, by resolutely pursuing our own chosen activities and projects, we can salvage what meaning we can from this terrifyingly blank and indifferent cosmic backdrop.  But however we construe it, our human existence will still be no more than a strange cosmic excrescence appearing and then disappearing without any more ultimate point or purpose than any of the other relentlessly unfolding events — shifting of tectonic plates, collisions of meteors, explosions of supernovas, spinning of galaxies — that mark the slow and inevitable running down of the universe towards the final stasis of total entropy. . . .  (6-7)

Professor Cottingham contrasts this bleak picture with that offered by what he calls, speaking very generally, “a religious outlook”:

It is this kind of vision, this sense of ultimate ‘groundedness’, that led the great twentieth-century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein to speak of a religious outlook as involving the feeling of being ‘absolutely safe — I mean the state of mind in which one is inclined to say “I am safe, nothing can injure me whatever happens.”‘  Wittgenstein certainly did not have in mind the naive or superstitious belief that God will protect us from the ordinary dangers of accident, aggression, weakness and failure that are inseparable from human life.  What he may have meant was something closer to what has been called a sense of ‘ontological rootedness’ — a sense that, for all its difficulties and dangers, the world we inhabit is one in which we can feel ultimately at home.  (8)


DR Congo on a river, from. James Jordan
An evening view in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in a photograph taken a few months ago by James Jordan, one of the Interpreter Foundation’s principal filmmakers


But enough of such blather.  Are you an angry atheist?  Do you take obsessive satisfaction in mocking and attacking the faithful?  Are you hungry for fresh examples of the evils wrought by religion and religious believers?  Do you crave more fuel to feed your continuous anti-theistic indignation?  Let the Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File™ help you!  Here are four gratifyingly horrific links from the Hitchens File™ that will enable you to stoke your righteous rage:

“How the Church of Jesus Christ and UNICEF Are Keeping Mothers and Children Healthy and Safe: The US$10 million contribution from the Church aims to decrease maternal and newborn mortality in the Central African Republic (CAR), Haiti, Mali and Mozambique”

“Computer Donation Brightens Lives of Students in ‘Liberia Camp’ in Buduburam, Ghana: Church donates to Matthew Cares Foundation School”

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Donates a New Bridge in Kinshasa, DR Congo”

“Lahaina Latter-day Saints gather to draw strength after Maui wildfires: Church members in Hawaii mourn losses from devastating wildfires and look to the future with hope in the Savior”



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