Triplus, Number 3

I was looking back at some comments on previous posts, and on my post "Exchange No. 8" I was reminded by my friend Hannabeth about another painting by Ron Richmond that we both like a lot. This one is called Triplus, Number 3 and is also owned and displayed by BYU in their Museum of Art. Here's a picture of it:
For some reason it's coming up kind of small, but I can't think of anything to make it bigger that doesn't also over-pixelize it. Oh well. I'll have to describe it for those who have poor eyesight.

Once again, I love Ron Richmonds simple yet profound representations of the Atonement. In this composition, he has the white cloth overlapping the red cloth, just like in his Exchange No. 8, I think it is a reference to the cleansing power of the Atonement. On the white cloth are three bowls. The one closest to the viewer is filled with water, the second with blood, the third is empty.

My first thoughts on seeing this painting were expressed in an exchange between Christ and Nicodemus in John 3:3-5. It goes like this "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

That takes care of the first and last bowls. Being born again of water would be baptism. The act of baptism by immersion symbolizes this rebirth. We are immersed under the water as we are buried underground after death and then we are brought back out of the water in a representation of the resurrection. We are born again through our baptism. We are born again by the Spirit when we are baptised by fire, or given the gift of the Holy Ghost. After baptism we are confirmed members of Christ's church and given that gift. What of the blood then? I would say that we are born again through the Atonement as well. As we repent and forsake our sins, we are born again through the blood of Christ. As we accept Christ and his sacrifice on our behalf, we are made new creatures through him, we are born again.


I Hope They Call Me on a Mission

So I've officially decided that I'm going to serve a mission for my church. Well, that's not entirely true. I've known for some time now, but now I'm just shy of my 21st birthday and it's all become a much bigger reality for me. After Christmas break I start the process of getting my papers in. I had also made a decision not to talk about it because there seems to be a curse here at BYU that whenever a girl is set on going on a mission and tells everyone that that's her plan, she ends up getting married instead. I have a very good friend who had her mission call and was getting ready to head out in September. She got married in November. But it doesn't always happen. I have other good friends who served missions despite marriage prospects.

A lot of my friends this year are very recently returned missionaries and it's actually been good to hear their mission stories and experiences. It makes me a little less scared to go on my own mission. But only a little. I am by nature a very nervous person and the whole prospect of going out and talking to strangers has never excited me. Nor has the idea of sharing my testimony. Put the two together and I'm shaking in my Chucks (since that's what I'm wearing right now, not boots).

One of my very favorite scriptures is Doctrine & Covenants section 6 verse 36 where the Lord tells Oliver Cowdry to "Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." It is such a simple command and yet for someone like me it can be so hard. But at the same time it's a very comforting thought. The Lord is there for me in everything I do and especially in those righteous endeavors that were His ideas in the first place. If left to my own devices and decisions, I probably would be too scared to serve a mission. But because I know the Lord has asked me to serve a mission, I will do it. It is still my decision, but I'm choosing to follow the Spirit, the council of my family and friends and what my own heart is telling me is right. Just like Nephi said, "I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." I will have the support of the Lord on my mission. I need not fear, I need not doubt my decision.



Now, I don't speak a lick of German, but today I went to a German Christmas celebration at the Provo Tabernacle. Basically the entire program was in German: the songs, the introduction, the scriptures, the program. The only thing they told us in English was where the bathrooms were and that we need to turn off our phones before the program started. Even the group songs were in German, and I didn't know how to pronounce anything, but I sang anyway.

But I like that it didn't matter. Christmas is still Christmas no matter what language you are celebrating in. It doesn't matter what the traditions are, they all celebrate the birth of Christ. So even though I was lost in the language being used all evening, I understood the spirit of the proceedings. When we sang Stille Nacht it was still the same melody I knew by heart. and the angels were still singing on high even if the tune was a little different.

I'm not really sure what more I have to say on this topic, but Christmas has been on my mind a lot lately and I decided to share my thoughts. It's just neat to know that no matter where in the world you go, Christians still celebrate for the same reason this time of year.



I have a sinus infection. Ew, gross, I know. But they're basically a part of my life and I've come to accept them and live with them. So the fact that I'm constantly blowing my nose is nothing new. But the fact that my head is so, as the great philosopher Winnie the Pooh would say, filled with fluff, that I have hard time thinking, focusing and retaining information. Good thing finals are NEXT WEEK. Curses. Now I can't tell the difference between thiocyanate and Thessalonians. I'm not sure if I'm studying Romanesque art or ribonucleic acid. Is there actually a difference between balancing equations in chemistry and balancing grain in patterns? And I'm still working on separating transepts in architecture from transits in astronomy. Needless to say, my brain is a befuddled mess.

And so I sit here in the computer lab on campus, silently bemoaning my poor state of mental affairs, and I look over at the wall and see this picture:

An interesting choice, I thought, for a computer lab. I think you can take this two ways:

First, as a representation of Matthew 7:7 where it says, " Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" Christ is knocking at the door and giving an example of what he has invited us to do. Here we are in a computer lab with a wealth of information literally at our fingertips. All we have to do is put in our keywords and there we go.

Second, and I think this is a little more applicable to my situation and you're welcome to take or leave this application, is that Christ is bringing us answers. He is knocking at our door with answers and we need only to open the door and let him in. I've seen this painting enough times to remember that there is no doorknob on the door. Logically that would mean there is only a doorknob on the other side of the door. That's the side of the door we would be on. Christ brings us answers but we have to choose to open the door and accept what he offers us.

I would like to take that interpretation both spiritually and academically. Christ can bring us answers pertaining to our spiritual welfare, but he knows everything, so why not let him help us through finals as well? My patterns teacher often reminds us that "the Holy Ghost is really good at pattern making." And it's true. God does not profess to be omniscient in only a few select subjects, but as the God of everything, he knows everything. He knows how to name my pesky coordination compounds in chemistry and he knows how much ease to add to the waistline of my draped skirt pattern and what the differences are between the Romanesque and Gothic periods. Certainly, I still plan to study, but it's a lot of information and I personally like the idea that I can ask someone to help me remember what I have studied. Especially when my brain feels like mashed peas.


Paper, Papyrus and Printing

I think blogging can be fun, if you actually have something to say. It becomes somewhat less fun when you realize that you have nothing to say and have to post that nothing in order to get the grade in the class. And so here I post my nothing.

But seriously, I've been thinking back to when we went down to Special Collections for the mini seminar on the evolution of printing and publishing and how interesting it was. We got to hold cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia and look at old texts written in monasteries from way back when. It was especially neat to look at the illuminated manuscripts since we've talked about the technique and style of many of those in my art history class. (I actually mentioned a class other than astronomy or D&C!)

I'm not sure what exactly I wanted to say about the seminar, but I can certainly see the impact of this history of publication on the ultimate printing of the Book of Mormon. It wouldn't have been very practical for Joseph Smith to try and publish the Book of Mormon on clay tablets or papyrus scrolls. He needed the technology of bound books printed on paper. That made the book cheap enough to (somewhat) mass-produce. First printing in 1830 was 5,000 copies. Granted, it was still pretty expensive ($3,000-Martin Harris mortgaged part of his farm to help pay for it), but imagine how much more expensive it would have been to hand letter each and every copy on vellum. Exactly. I don't think it would have seemed worth it.

A couple summers ago I had a chance to go to Palmyra, NY and we went to the building where E.B. Grandin's print shop was. It is now a church-owned museum that goes though the history of printing the Book of Mormon. Here's a picture I took while I was there. This part is set up to look like the store that Grandin himself would have run. You can see some copies of the Book of Mormon on the shelves behind the counter. (You can click on the picture to see the whole thing.)

They also had a workshop set up with a printing press and all the various and sundry accessories they would have needed to run a print shop. There's also a museum here in Provo, the Crandall Museum, that talks all about the history of printing and publication and how it influenced the publication of the Book of Mormon. It's fascinating.

How grateful I am that they had that technology at the right time! The Book of Mormon truly is an inspired book and I am grateful that Joseph Smith had the faith, courage and means to have it published. Turns out I had a lot more than nothing to say after all.


Contemplating Infinity

This is the first time I've updated my blog from a computer other than my own and I noticed that the font for my title doesn't come up properly. That's too bad. It's a cute font, too. I have nothing against courier, but it's just not the look I wanted for my blog. If you know what I mean. But that's not what I came here to blog about.

What I wanted to blog about was how crazy it is when I have two totally unrelated classes that start talking about the same thing at the same time. Like my freshman year when we were talking about proteins in Biology at the same time we were discussing the protein structures of wool and silk in my textiles class. Yeah, it was cool. I felt like I knew what everyone was talking about. This time around it's my astronomy class and my Doctrine & Covenants classes. I feel like those are the only two classes I talk about, but I guess they're just the most pertinent to this blog.

Anyway, in astronomy we've been talking about the universe (surprise!) and cosmology and all that jazz and we've been talking about how the universe is infinite and and rather huge. Here's a picture of the universe:

Just kidding. That's just a representation of the universe in jelly beans that I found and thought was funny. This is the universe for reals:

Consider: each dot of light is not a star (unless it has a refracting cross through it), rather it is a galaxy which contains somewhere on the order of 10 million to one trillion stars. There are an estimated 100 billion galaxies in the known universe. That's a lot of stars. That's a lot of potential planets. That's a lot of creation.

Now consider this: Christ performed an infinite atonement. My D&C teacher made a really great point regarding this the other day in class. He asked, Did the Atonement cover someone born half an hour after the crucifixion? Yes. Ten years? Yes. Three centuries? Yes. What about distance? Does the Atonement cover someone standing in Jerusalem? Yes. In California? Yes. On the other side of the Milky Way? Yes. 15 billion light years away? Yes. The Atonement spans all of space and time and so the entire universe.

It was an interesting concept that I hadn't really considered before. Of course it makes perfect sense, but I had never stopped to think about it. Christ is the Savior of all that he created. And that's a really big creation. It's so big we can't even begin to comprehend how big it is. We talk about infinity and eternity and our mortal minds blow a fuse. My brother and I agreed; the best way to contemplate an infinite universe is to accept it, and move on otherwise you'll get an astronomical headache.


Exchange No. 8

Keeping with my normal way of doing things, this blog post is a little after the fact, but what can you do, right? I'm very good at procrastination, usually to a fault. But this isn't a confession of my shortcomings, rather, I wanted to talk about this painting from when my Doctrine & Covenants class went to the BYU Museum of Art's current exhibit of religious works.

This painting, Exchange No. 8, by Ron Richmond was one of my favorites in the exhibit; the simplistic symbolism of this painting really caught my eye. The painting brings to mind a couple scriptures. First is Isaiah 1:18 which says "...though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." For anyone who has accidentally washed a red sweater with their whites knows how hard it is to bleach your clothes back to the sparkling white they were before the mishap. And yet we, who sin so often, are able to be made pure and white again through the Atonement of Christ. It's like the best OxyClean you'll never be able to find in stores.

The second scripture is found in Alma 13:11 and says "...they were called after the holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb." I've always loved this scripture. As someone who works with fabric a lot, I've bled on a lot of projects. When it comes to getting blood out of white projects it can be pretty tough. Especially when it's a larger quantity of blood than a simple pin prick. It takes a lot of work to get the blood out, but it can be done. The thought of washing something white through blood instead of large quantities of cold water seems counter intuitive, but in this context seems to make perfect sense.

I see the red fabric on the front chair representing the sin and the corruption of our mortal state. But this fabric is on the chair that has been toppled over. Through the Atonement, Christ overcame death and sin and I see that represented here in the overturned chair. The rear chair is draped in the pure white cloth and stands as a symbol of Christ's seat of authority. Either as King or Judge, Christ reigns because he was the only one able to perform the Atonement for us.

This is not just an intense game of musical chairs, this is a metaphor for our lives. We can either choose to trip over our sins, letting them remain a stumbling block in our lives, or step over the overturned chair and move toward Christ and his infinite mercy.


For the Beauty of the Earth

As I've mentioned previously, I'm currently in an astronomy class. But I don't think I've mentioned just how much I love it. I love my astronomy class. Despite the people who constantly feel the need to ask questions that the teacher just answered about three seconds ago, I still love the class. My teacher is a huge nerd which is awesome. But I love that we can be talking about stars exploding and suddenly my teacher's next slide in his power point is quoting Moses 1:35 when the Lord tells Moses that "many worlds have passed away by the word of my power." Or Abraham 3:24 when God says "We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell."

And you say, OK, nice scriptures, but why are they popping up in astronomy instead of your religion class? Think about it. Where does all the material come from that creates objects in space? From supernovas. We have elements heavier than hydrogen only because they are created by dying stars. Scientists estimate that our sun, Sol, is a fourth generation star. Just like God told Moses, many worlds have passed away in order to create the materials that were used to create the Earth. And all that unorganized matter was just asking to be created into something wonderous by the Master Creator.

Someone I know once said to me that perfect science and perfect religion mesh perfectly. Certainly we don't know everything about the creation of the universe, but we have the fullness of the gospel and even with the gaps in our scientific knowledge it's so cool to see how they fit together so well.

I'm so grateful to be attending a university where we can combine religion and learning so freely. It really helps bring everything together and makes sense. It really puts Christ where he belongs: at the center of everything.