Defending the restored church of Christ - I created this blog several years ago to provide an alternative to what I saw at the time as a lot of bad "Mormon blogs" that were floating around the web. Also, it was my goal to collect and share a plethora of positive and useful information about what I steadfastly believe to be Christ's restored church. It has been incredibly enjoyable and I hope you find the information worthwhile.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Smithsonian: How a unique tramway helped save Armenian monastery

( 7-7-18)

In the years prior to 2010, the historic Tatev Monastery in Armenia’s Syunik province was struggling. Visitor numbers were dwindling and the medieval building complex itself was in desperate need of restoration. At its prime, the 9th-century monastery was a thriving medieval university focused on both scholastic and spiritual studies, but at the turn of the millennium, the historic site, which sits perched on a plateau at the edge of the dramatic Vorotan Gorge, was very much up in the air. Few at the time anticipated the path to restoring the site’s ancient frescos and hand-cut stonework would be built first with 18,871 feet of ultra-modern steal wireand a Guinness World Records certificate, Smithsonian Magazine says in an article.

The feature goes on to read:

Though visually stunning, the monastery’s secluded setting posed challenges for its upkeep. “In the early 2000s, this part of Syunik, where the monastery is located, was one of the most deprived and difficult to access regions, with high unemployment and minimal opportunities to attract investment,” Yekaterina Poghosyan, head of public relations at the IDEA Foundation, told “In theory at least, Tatev had potential to become a key point on a tourist route that would connect Yerevan with Artsakh and South Armenia—but because of its remote location, there was little likelihood of it being included in organized tourism drives. Local authorities did not have the funds to reconstruct the road to the monastery and, given the harsh winters and sparsely populated surrounding villages, did not consider it worthy of being earmarked.”

In an effort to revitalize the monastery and the surrounding areas, Poghosyan launched the Tatev Revival project. Part of which was working with the Austrian-Swiss company Doppelmayr/Garaventa to build the cutting-edge Wings of Tatev tramway, the longest reversible cableway in the world. It stretches more than three and a half miles from Syunik to Tatev and floats about 1,000 feet above the Vorotan River Gorge. Visitors can now reach the medieval site in about 12 minutes, and with the tram’s introduction, tourism numbers have skyrocketed.

“Before the construction of the Tatev cableway, only a smattering of people would have braved the broken and rather dangerous mountain hairpin road,” Poghosyan said. “For example, during 2009, about five thousand tourists visited the monastery, [whereas] today it attracts about 20 percent of the total tourist flow going to Armenia. Wings of Tatev [has] in itself become a new attraction. More than 640,000 tourists, not only from Armenia, but also from Russia, the USA, Europe and Asia, have used the cableway since its launch.”

A roundtrip ride costs about $10 dollars in the summer months, and proceeds go, in large part, toward helping the monastery’s ongoing renovations. As the monastery’s popularity has grown, it has also attracted new public funding, and as a result, the IDEA Foundation now funds additional projects in the community as well. Since the cableway opened, locals have begun training in the hospitality industry to accommodate the 20-plus new bed and breakfasts that have opened in the surrounding town. IDEA helps those same locals prepare business plans and apply for loans. And the Wings of Tatev itself employs 50 local villagers.”

“Along with the various stakeholders,” Poghosyan said, “we are developing logistical, technical and educational infrastructure in the nearby villages: improving the water supply and street lighting system, improving road safety, building children’s playgrounds, repairing schools and pre-schools, opening engineering laboratories in local schools, etc. The thrust of our commitment is also environmental conservation: planting trees, rubbish collection and installing litterbins in settlements, and general upkeep of natural monuments.”

As a result of the Tatev Revival project, the monastery has been able to reopen its doors as a cultural center in the community, as well as a tourism destination. Church holidays are once again celebrated within its walls, and the Tatev Monastery Choir performs regularly. The facility also hosts theater performances, concerts, festivals and even sporting events.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Prophets and Apostles in the Sacred Grove

(by Kurt Manwaring 1-28-20)

Joseph Smith’s “First Vision” occurred in the Sacred Grove in New York in the spring of 1820.

Prophets and apostles of subsequent generations have had intimate experiences when visiting the sacred site. The stories of Spencer W. Kimball, Gordon B. Hinckley, George Albert Smith, Stephen L. Richards, and Orson F. Whitney are shared here courtesy of Dennis B. Horne.

Visit Truth Will Prevail to read the original post.

(follow the link for the rest of the article)

Why I object to the word “homophobia”

(by Dan Peterson sic et non blog)

Part 1

Responding to one of my recent posts on the general issue of BYU and homosexuals, a critic used the word homophobia to characterize those of us who don’t share his views.

I replied that homophobia is “a nonsense word.”

Now, why would I say such a thing?

I knew when I said it that I would need to explain myself.  So here goes:

First of all, anybody curious about my comment should probably understand that I am, as the title of a wonderful biography of James Murray and his Oxford English Dictionary puts it, “caught in the web of words.”  For decades, I’ve been caught up in the study and teaching and analysis of languages and texts.  I read books about lexicography for fun.  I care about words.  I pay unusual attention to them.  I have strong opinions about them.

Thus, for example, I’m bothered by sentences like A person should follow their own path.  (I constantly read them in student papers and elsewhere.)  No, A person should follow his own path.  Or, perhaps better these days, A person should follow her own pathA person is singular; their is plural.  Perhaps the safest option is People should follow their own paths.

I don’t like the common confusion of infer and imply, and the recently frequent use of a new verb to advocate for when to advocate would suffice perfectly well without the for.  I object to using beg the question for raise the question.  I heartily dislike seeing the word literally used – as it very often is — in situations where it just can’t be taken literally:
I was literally starving to death.

He was literally twelve feet tall.

I could literally eat a horse.

I was literally dying.

She’s literally a witch.

And I’ve been on a crusade for many years now against the term helpmeet, which is itself a “nonsense word”:

I like precision.  Accuracy.  Proper use.

Words matter.

So, yes, of course I have a problem with the word homophobia.

Etymologically, for one thing, it’s a bit ambiguous.  Given the elements from which it’s made, it should probably mean something like “fear of the same,” “afraid of sameness.”   And yet, very obviously, that’s not how it’s typically (if ever) used today.

But that’s scarcely my principal objection.  In fact, it’s not really on my list of objections.  It’s simply an observation for the sake of completeness.

Part 2

The term homophobia is modeled upon familar predecessors such as agoraphobia, acrophobia, arachnophobia, and claustrophobia.

I’ll take them in turn:

The word agoraphobia is from the Greek ἀγορά (agorā́), which refers to a “public square,” a “public space,” or a “market,” and φοβία (phobía), which means “fear.”  It denotes an extreme, irrational terror of public spaces.
The term acrophobia is from the Greek ἄκρον (ákron), meaning “peak,” “summit,” or “edge,” and φοβία (phobía), which, again, means “fear.”  As might be expected, it refers to an extreme or irrational fear of heights.

Arachnophobia is an intense and unreasonable fear of spiders and other arachnids such as scorpions.

The term claustrophobia comes from the Latin claustrum (“a shut-in place”) and, once again, Greek φοβία (phobía), or “fear.”
In my judgment, to use the term homophobia to characterize any and all resistance to every “gay rights” proposal (e.g., the redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples) suggests that resistance to the normalization or endorsement of homosexual behavior is an illness — an excessive and irrational terror, a psychological defect needing to be treated and/or eradicated, rather than an opinion to be discussed and debated.

Those who have objected to homosexuals being branded as “perverse” and “sick” should think long and hard before they turn that same strategy against everybody who disagrees with their legal and cultural agenda.  It disrespects opponents.  It dehumanizes and demeans them.  It is, in that respect, merely yet another example of the terribly divisive discourse of our time.   Those who disagree aren’t mere opponents with whom we disagree; they are evil, depraved, sick, even subhuman.

Now, there may be some who actually “fear” homosexuals.  If so, perhaps the word homophobia might fit them.  There may be some whose opposition reflects their fear of their own repressed homosexual tendencies.  Maybe it would fit them, as well.  But the numbers of such people cannot be very large, not absolutely and surely not proportionately.
For people like me – and there are several other people, perhaps millions of people, like me – resistance to the regularization of homosexual behavior doesn’t even arise, in the first instance, from homosexual behavior itself.  It flows as an entailment from a more general worldview that is not specifically focused, even secondarily, on homosexuality.  And that worldview may or may not be religious.
 In my case, it is a compound of both religious and secular considerations:  I don’t particularly wish to re-litigate the question of same-sex marriage, for example.  But, to my mind, marriage between men and women is prior to the State, both logically and chronologically.  Thus, given my strong belief in very limited government and a minimal State footprint, I’m not convinced that the State has the right to redefine marriage — especially via a one-vote majority in a court decision.  I remain specifically unconvinced, too, that the Constitution of the United States, reasonably interpreted, demands gay marriage.  (My political philosophy includes such concepts as “strict construction” of the Constitution, with close attention to “original intent.”)  On the other hand, in fact, I strongly favored civil partnerships that would have granted homosexual couples the legal rights (e.g., hospital visitation and inheritance) typically associated with marriage.  Other than my deep sadness when homosexuals forsake the Church, I’m quite uninterested in their private sexual arrangements; I’ve been working harmoniously and respectfully with gay people for decades and will continue to do so.
I won’t approve the suggestion that people holding my views are “sick,” that we would, in principle at least, be suitable candidates for “re-education camps” or reparative therapy.  I disapprove of the term homophobia for the same reason that I object to claims that people who are insufficiently enthusiastic toward our Dear Leader suffer from a supposed illness called “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” or that liberal Democrats are indistinguishable from Communists.  Such rhetoric is, to put it mildly, unhelpful.

I reject the term homophobia in its wide application for the same reason that I reject charges that failure to support same-sex marriage is evidence of “hate.”

In fact, my objection to the word homophobia isn’t really about homosexuality as such.  It’s about civil, respectful discourse.  To the extent that there really are anti-gay bigots — and I accept that they still exist — the proper term for them isn’t homophobe.  It’s bigot.  And to the extent that a person really hates gay people, his attitude should be termed hatred, not homophobia.  But such terms should be used accurately, not sprayed about indiscriminately in order to gain unearned rhetorical advantage.  They should not be deployed in order to dehumanize opponents.

For relevant further reading, see William O’Donohue and Christine E. Caselles, “Homophobia: Conceptual, definitional, and value issues,” Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment 15 (1993): 177–195.