Thursday, April 5, 2007

drex, pots, and heroes

First off, today I explain where the name 'drex' comes from, because a few of you have asked. When I was in sixth grade, some friends and I decided that we were going to make a video game. We created concepts for the world, characters with backstories and subplots, and overarching plot to drive the storyline, a magic system, a battle system, and even went so far as to compose character themes and overworld music. Yes, we were nerds in the greatest sense, attempting to put together an RPG. Of the characters created, we each created a character that were essentially avatars of ourselves. My character was named Drex, a shortened form of a street near where I lived, Drexel Drive. Since that time, I have used Drex as my online moniker everywhere I go. I have a significant presence in some circles, and my name is widely known. In some ways it's a 'risk' attaching it to this blog, but I've determined that the barriers between my many lives or personalities ought to be more blurred than I've kept them. For years I maintained a real life persona, and online persona, and my secret gay persona. There are aspects that I like and value in each of those personalities, and there are aspects that I don't care for all that much. I've been trying to reconcile it all and pick out the best parts and make them mine, so I can be one full me. It seems to be going fairly well, for the most part.

I'm so glad I didn't skip my philosophy class today. My teacher invited an eccentric teacher friend of his to come in and speak to us, showing how philosophy can be more a way of life than a method of thinking. This man was weird, but he was incredible. He's a potter (he's been commissioned by the Church to do pottery for some of the historical sites and such, so the next time you visit a church history site and see pottery up on the walls or a glazed porcelain pitcher on the heavy wood table, think that he might have made it) in addition to being a high school teacher (and he taught at BYU in the 70's), and he brought his pottery wheel to include sort of an object lesson. He spent some time shaping clay, showing us different forms of clay, explaining differences between clays and what has to be done to create something out of clay. He was extremely adept with his hands, did some beautiful work, and ended up making a really spiffy pot with a cobalt glaze along the outside.

One of the things he touched on was the difference between the clay that makes porcelain, stoneware, and earthenware. All three types of clay are formed over ages, with erosion taking off microscopic pieces of granite and accumulating together. Clay cannot be made by man, because we simply can't form pieces of granite a quarter of a micron thick. At least I think that was the measurement he quoted. Anyway, all three types of clay are the same material. The difference is how far they stray from the rock, and therefore how many contaminants are with them. Primary clay, used to make porcelain, remains close to the origin and has few contaminants; the clay that makes stoneware has more contaminants, and the clay that makes earthenware has many contaminants. And I hope I'm spelling that right. Anyway, earthenware is heated to 1800 degrees to bake, stoneware to 2100 degrees, and porcelain to 2400-2700 degrees. If earthenware is heated above 1800 degrees, it melts into a puddle. Likewise, stoneware heated above 2100 degrees melts. The correllation isn't too much of a stretch - as we stray from the rock, our origin, we pick up contaminants, and those impurities means that we cannot withstand greater heat and end up as lesser forms of what we could have been. Porcelain can be heated to lower temperatures, and so celestial beings can minister to lesser beings. Earthenware melts at porcelain temperatures, and so telestial beings cannot withstand the glory of the celestial kingdom.

This wasn't discussed in class, but the beauty of our situation, mirroring the clay example but straying a bit from the strict analogy, is that the Atonement and repentance can rid us of impurities. Christ has made it possible for those of us who stray to be able to pick ourselves up, rid ourselves of our contaminants, and move ourselves back to the source.

That's where the analogy ends and I opine some more along some lines that Hidden talked to me about a few months ago. Sometimes we see SSA as a trial, and other times as a blessing. Another perspective is that it is expanded agency. We are given an entirely different set of choices that the 'normal' person doesn't have. Granted, a faithful Latter-day Saint views the choices that are opened to us as inherently wrong, but the choice is there. Heavenly Father entrusts us with more choices, and it is up to us to choose liberty and eternal life through Christ or captivity and eternal death through the devil. We know what God wants us to do, what He hopes we will choose. We were given the choice because we have the capacity to choose right. And yet we are not compelled to act, and compulsory means are not used to force our hands. We are trusted. It is understood that sometimes we will falter, and occasionally some may fall off the strait and narrow path, but that is the purpose of the Atonement - to lift us up out of the mists of darkness, to dispel the misunderstanding, to clean us off and place us right back on the path of righteousness. The way is simple, though not always easy. We even have an iron rod to remind us where we're supposed to go and to help us put one foot in front of the other. I know I'm mixing some metaphors, but it makes sense to me.

O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions? (2 Nephi 4:26)
Sometimes I need days like today and glimpses into eternity like this to keep me going. I didn't think I needed it today, but if the Lord sees fit to distill some dew and grant me some understanding, however faint, I'll take it.

~drex

PS, we have heard back from a handful of you about our Heroes marathon, and those of you whom we have met and added on Facebook have been invited on there as well. We'd love to see even more of you, so if you have the time to drop in at any point between 4:30 and 1:30, feel free. We've got 14 people for sure coming at some point (I think 5 or 6 of those are only coming for portions), with 2 maybes. If I'm remembering correctly. At any rate, it'll be fun times. We will be starting from episode 10, but we'll preface it with a recap and interpretive dance so anyone who hasn't seen the first 9 can be up to speed.

1 comment:

Gimple said...

It was a lot of fun, but I still need to meet you...