Greatest Talks, Etc.: “The Joy of the Penetrating Light”

The talk “The Joy of the Penetrating Light” was given at the October 1984 General Conference by F. Enzio Bushche, then a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.  Though it is not related to this specific talk, the October 1984 General Conference also featured a talk entitled “The Gospel and the Church” by Ronald E. Poelman, also a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.  Apparently someone higher up than Poelman was not happy with the contents of his talk, and he was made to alter and re-record it after the fact for the official record.  (In 1984, in case the irony was not apparent.)

In any case, “The Joy of the Penetrating Light” is about an alleged new convert to the LDS church who is reflecting on how wonderful life is since he met the missionaries and joined the Church.  He has learned that God loves him, how to really pray, that the light of Christ is wonderful, etc.  I suspect that I liked this talk at the time I read it for two reasons: firstly, I was a missionary and missionaries introduced this person to the gospel and I could, too!  Secondly, it goes on and on about how wonderful our lives are when we have the truth of the gospel, and that was a message I was always ready to reassure myself with, because I often felt I wasn’t really good enough, for reasons I’m sure I’ve gone on about before.

Now, however, this talk comes across as containing contradictory messaging, backhanded holier-than-thou jabs at those who don’t belong to the Church, and of course an obligatory reference to tithing.  (“Obligatory” being hyperbole, naturally, but I think the tithing reference was really shoehorned in here.)

First, prayer.  The new convert remembers when he “learned… how to truly pray—not to say just a few nice words, but to open up his heart in sacred communication with his Heavenly Father.”  Later he “understands… that the words of his prayers became fewer and fewer until he became quiet and was changed from someone who was speaking to someone who was listening.”  So he isn’t supposed “to say just a few nice words” but rather “open up his heart,” but really he’s only supposed to say a few words and listen instead of speak.  Which is it?

Next, worldly people aren’t as good as he is, but he can “love them anyway.”  The thoughts are not directly connected in the text, but it’s difficult to ignore that he is referencing the same group of people:

He sees the people of this world as they are—running around in their vanity, in their vain ambitions, and their lack of awareness of the greatness of God and His plan of salvation.

[He] is not afraid of what is his friends and relatives might think of him now that he has taken upon himself Christ’s name.  Perhaps they will not understand, and maybe they will make fun of him.  But he feels now how easy it will be to love them anyway, because he understands them better than ever before; and he will do everything that is in his heart to show real interest in them, that they might be filled with light to penetrate the darkness of their lives.

And remember, before he was baptized he was a person of the world, by definition.  So when he says, “I always thought I was not a big sinner.  I have always provided for my family.  I was a good father, and I was a good husband to my beloved late wife,” those are good things, but not good enough.  In fact, he’s still not good enough, because of the “need for constant repentance” and the “need for a constant change of heart.”  But now that he is a member of the Church, he “feels with each new day as if the sun of a beautiful spring morning is quickening and refreshing his soul after a long, dark, Arctic night.”  (By the way, that is silly imagery.  If you’re in the Arctic, you aren’t waking to any fancy spring morning.  It’s just lighter, but guess what?  Still cold.  Maybe that’s why the gospel is so miraculous?)

Next, sin only comes from laziness, and it is the only reason to feel bad about anything in life:

[The] only burden, the only pain, and the only frustration of a human being is the burden of wrongdoing—the burden of sin… no matter how numerous the sins of a human being can be they can all be traced back to one single source or origin—the laziness, complacency and blindness that keeps us from looking and searching for our God and King in every phase of our lives and becoming totally his disciples.

This is terrible logic.  Let’s say you break up with your girlfriend because she cheated on you.  You are (naturally) sad and frustrated, therefore you sinned, therefore you are lazy and/or complacent.  Possibly your laziness forced her to cheat on you, so really, it was your fault, you filthy sinner.  But don’t worry!  Because you have gospel knowledge like this new convert, you possess “awareness of the need for constant repentance,” and are “able to fill all the hours of [your] life with the presence of this Spirit and, therefore, with great joy.”  Be happy she cheated on your sorry, complacent butt.

Last, the tithing reference:

He understands, in the light and the power of the Holy Ghost, what a privilege it is that the Lord allows and commands us to pay a full tithe and invites us to give service, that we can show through our actions every day how much we love our Heavenly Father.

Without the tithing insert, that’s a great sentiment: “I love God and His children, and I want to show it by helping out where I can.”  However, note that he said we are invited to give service, but allowed and commanded to pay tithing.  “Go ahead and help out, I guess, but don’t forget how awesome the Church is for letting you give us money, so make sure you do!”

The talk closes with an invitation to the membership to reflect if they, too have been truly converted, and are doing everything they are supposed to be doing, citing verses from Alma chapter 5.  After everything I just read about how much better the Church members are than the poor worldly people, though, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Zoramites on the Rameumptom.

I no longer consider this a Greatest Talk.

Media Update January – March 2016

January

Movies

  • Jupiter Ascending
  • Star Trek: Generations
  • Star Trek: First Contact
  • Star Trek: Insurrection
  • Star Trek: Nemesis

TV

  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – 4 episodes
  • The Big Bang Theory – 2 episodes
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine – 3 episodes
  • The Flintstones – 7 episodes
  • Heroes Reborn – 3 episodes
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – 50 episodes
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation – 9 episodes
  • Star Trek: Voyager – 8 episodes
  • Transporter: The Series – 2 episodes

Video Games

  • Metroid
  • Metroid Fusion
  • Metroid: Zero Mission

February

Movies

  • 007: Spectre
  • Fantastic Four
  • The Good Dinosaur
  • The Martian
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

TV

  • The Big Bang Theory – 4 episodes
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine – 4 episodes
  • The Flintstones – 7 episodes
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – 14 episodes
  • Star Trek: Voyager – 25 episodes
  • Transporter: The Series – 8 episodes
  • True Blood – 1 episode

Video Games

  • Metroid: Other M
  • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
  • Super Metroid

March

Movies

  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  • Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
  • Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
  • I Love You Phillip Morris

TV

  • Agent Carter – 10 episodes
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine – 2 episodes
  • The Flintstones – 12 episodes
  • Phineas and Ferb – 3 episodes
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – 21 episodes
  • Star Trek: Voyager – 18 episodes
  • Transporter: The Series: 1 episode

Video Games

  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

Goals for 2016

Books to Read

  • The Chronicles of Narnia books 4 – 7 (The Silver Chair, The Horse and His Boy, The Magician’s Nephew, The Last Battle)
  • The Ender Quartet (Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, Children of the Mind)
  • The First Formic War Trilogy (Earth Unaware, Earth Afire, Earth Awakens)
  • The Science of Discworld III: Darwin’s Watch
  • The Science of Discworld IV: Judgment Day
  • Raising Steam
  • The Shepherd’s Crown
  • As many of the other Discworld books as I can, for there are many

TV Seasons to Watch

Haven’t seen before:

  • The Flintstones (seasons 1 – 6)
  • Fraggle Rock (seasons 1 – 4)
  • Iron Man: Armored Adventures (seasons 1 – 2)
  • The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show (season 1)
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation (the rest of season 7)
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (seasons 2 – 7)
  • Star Trek: Voyager (seasons 1 – 7)

Have seen before, but haven’t yet watched my BDs/DVDs:

  • Justice League: Unlimited (seasons 1 – 2)

Have seen before:

  • Alias (seasons 1 – 5)
  • Life (seasons 1 – 2)
  • Pinky and the Brain (volumes 1 – 3)

Currently airing/will air this year:

  • Agent Carter (season 2)
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (the rest of season 3)
  • The Big Bang Theory (the rest of season 9)
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine (the rest of season 3)
  • Castle (the rest of season 8)
  • Daredevil (season 2)
  • Homeland (season 6)
  • Jessica Jones (season 1)
  • Major Crimes (the rest of season 4)
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (season 2)

Movies to Watch

From last year:

  • 007: Spectre
  • Creed
  • Fantastic Four
  • The Good Dinosaur
  • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
  • Jupiter Ascending
  • The Martian
  • The Peanuts Movie

From previous years, already seen or not:

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mid
  • Finding Nemo
  • Interstellar
  • Jurassic Park
  • X-Men
  • X2: X-Men United
  • X-Men: The Last Stand
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine
  • X-Men: First Class
  • The Wolverine
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past

New this year:

  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  • Bourne 5
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Deadpool
  • Doctor Strange
  • Finding Dory
  • Ghostbusters
  • Kung Fu Panda 3
  • Star Trek Beyond
  • Suicide Squad
  • X-Men: Apocalypse
  • Zoolander 2
  • Zootopia

BDs/DVDs I [try to] watch at least once a year:

  • The Avengers
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Batman Begins
  • The Dark Knight
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • The Bourne Identity
  • The Bourne Supremacy
  • The Bourne Ultimatum
  • Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
  • Firefly
  • Serenity
  • (500) Days of Summer
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • The Matrix
  • The Matrix Reloaded
  • The Matrix Revolutions
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
  • Spider-Man
  • Spider-Man 2
  • Spider-Man 3
  • Superman Returns
  • The Truman Show

BDs/DVDs I [try to] watch at least once every other year:

  • The Amazing Spider-Man
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • The Incredible Hulk
  • Iron Man
  • Iron Man 2
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Star Trek
  • Star Trek Into Darkness
  • Thor

BDs/DVDs I haven’t watched since 2012 or before:

  • Across the Universe
  • As Good as it Gets
  • Bambi
  • A Beautiful Mind
  • Beverly Hills Ninja
  • Big Fish
  • Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
  • Black Sheep
  • Brave
  • Castle in the Sky
  • Chicken Little
  • Cinderella
  • Daredevil
  • Ever After: A Cinderella Story
  • Fantastic 4
  • Fever Pitch
  • Fun With Dick and Jane
  • The Great Mouse Detective
  • Happy Gilmore
  • Hulk
  • Jumanji
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park
  • Jurassic Park III
  • The Karate Kid
  • The Kid
  • Kung Fu Panda
  • Kung Fu Panda 2
  • Lady and the Tramp
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
  • A Lot Like Love
  • The Mask of Zorro
  • The Legend of Zorro
  • Meet the Parents
  • Meet the Fockers
  • Mr. Deeds
  • Muppets from Space
  • The Muppets Take Manhattan
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
  • Newsies
  • Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
  • A Night at the Roxbury
  • Pete’s Dragon
  • Pinocchio
  • Pocahontas
  • The Rescuers
  • The Rescuers Down Under
  • Rocky
  • Rocky Balboa
  • The Rundown
  • Sherlock Holmes
  • Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
  • Signs
  • Stardust
  • Star Trek: Generations
  • Star Trek: First Contact
  • Star Trek: Insurrection
  • Star Trek: Nemesis
  • Tommy Boy
  • Waterworld
  • The Wedding Singer
  • Whisper of the Heart
  • The Whole Nine Yards
  • Yes Man

Video Games to Play

First-time Plays:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD

Replays:

  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
  • Metroid Fusion
  • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
  • Metroid: Zero Mission

Other

  • More poetism commentaries
  • More “Greatest Talks, Etc.” entries

Stuff not from my 2015 goals

Sometimes it feels like I did more stuff outside of my goals list than inside, I might copy previous blog entry introductions, there may be commentary, etc. Not included here are movies from my 2015 favorites list.

TV

Hadn’t seen before:

  • Agent Carter (season 1)
  • Daredevil (season 1)
  • Freaks and Geeks (season 1/the complete series)
  • Heroes Reborn (most of season 1)
  • Parks and Recreation (seasons 1-7)
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (season 1)
  • Toy Story That Time Forgot
  • The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (season 1)
  • Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (season 1)

Had seen before

  • Heroes (seasons 2-4)
  • It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

I’m a sucker for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so Agent Carter and Daredevil were no-brain watchers for me.  I really enjoyed both of them, and am looking forward to the second seasons in 2016.  The hallway fight scene from the first or second episode of Daredevil was a standout moment of pure awesomeness.

I had heard good things about Freaks and Geeks, though I don’t recall from where.  My wife and I watched it on Netflix in the fall and it was pretty great.  It was fascinating to see a young James Franco and Seth Green, and especially John Francis Daley.

I decided one day that as I had put off The Office, so had I put off Parks and Recreation, and it was time to watch.  I binge-watched the whole thing in about 3 weeks and it was absolutely fantastic.  It took me some time to warm to some of the characters, but somewhere in season 2 I just began to love it all.  I think it’s a show I could watch again in a couple of years.

It’s been my intention to watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager for a while, it just took some time to get to.  I’m attempting to watch them more or less in continuity order, which means I started DS9 in the middle of Star Trek: The Next Generation season 6.  It hasn’t captured me like TNG yet, but I hear it gets pretty good, so here’s hoping.

I decided to watch Kimmy Schmidt based on Tina Fey’s involvement, and wow, what a funny, funny show.  I am eagerly awaiting season 2.

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp is a Netflix original show; a prequel to the film from some years ago.  It was spotlighted whenever I would start up Netflix, and the cast of the film sounded good, so I watched it, liked it, and then watched the show.

I watched my DVD set of Heroes season 1 and decided to watch the other seasons on Netflix since Heroes Reborn was to premiere in the fall.  I still think season 1 was by far the best, but the others were still pretty good, and not as bad as I remembered.  Heroes Reborn is great whenever Jack Coleman, Masi Oka, or Zachary Levi is on screen, and generally okay otherwise.  I’m looking forward to the final three episodes.

Movies

Hadn’t seen before:

  • Braveheart
  • Bridesmaids
  • The Cat Returns
  • Chasing Amy
  • The Interview
  • Kill Me Three Times
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service
  • Maleficent
  • Mission: Impossible II
  • The Painting
  • Paranorman
  • Planes: Fire & Rescue
  • Pom Poko
  • Porco Rosso
  • Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
  • Shakespeare in Love
  • Tales from Earthsea
  • Wet Hot American Summer
  • Witness
  • The Wolf of Wall Street
  • The World’s End

Had seen before:

  • The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad
  • Aladdin
  • Batman
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
  • Cars Toon: Mater’s Tall Tales
  • Despicable Me 2
  • Dumb and Dumber
  • Forrest Gump
  • Ghostbusters
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Hot Fuzz
  • Hot Rod
  • Jurassic Park
  • Justice League: Doom
  • Love Actually
  • Mulan
  • Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
  • Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 1
  • Pixar Short Films Collection Volume 2
  • The Princess and the Frog
  • Puss in Boots
  • Robin Hood
  • Spirited Away
  • Superman: The Movie
  • Superman II
  • Superman III
  • Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
  • Superman: Unbound
  • Superman vs. The Elite
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past

Video Games

First-time plays:

  • Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
  • Pikmin
  • Yoshi’s Woolly World

Replays:

  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
  • Metroid Prime
  • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
  • Pikmin 3

We enjoyed the Captain Toad levels in Super Mario 3D World, and so when I found Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker for a good price during the summer I bought it and the whole family has enjoyed it.  A few of the levels were quite challenging.

Having thoroughly enjoyed Pikmin 2 and Pikmin 3, I bought the original Pikmin when Nintendo was selling refurbished copies $15.  Pikmin 3 still remains my favorite, but they all have wonderful charm.  I really hope Pikmin 4 sees the light of day in 2016.  Our family has also started collecting action figures from the World of Nintendo line and we’ve been lucky/determined/insane enough to each pick up Olimar action figures for myself and the three kids, plus a combined total of 30 Pikmin of various colors.  We also have various action figures from the Mario, Zelda, Metroid, and Donkey Kong lines, and some of the plushes–mostly Pikmin.

We also started collecting amiibo, first just a couple of characters to scan while playing Hyrule Warriors, now a sizeable collection with multiple duplicates because the kids have crossover character interests.  Yoshi’s Woolly World is a game we bought sort of on a whim during one of our “amiibo expeditions,” which included the game and a Green Yarn Yoshi amiibo.  We, of course, bought the other two colors of Yarn Yoshi as well (and eventually one of each color for each child).  YWW turned out to be really fun, and really difficult at times (or it would have been really difficult had we not played on “mellow” mode).

Early in 2015 Nintendo released a couple of Wii titles for the Wii U Virtual Console.  One of the first was the Metroid Prime trilogy for a price of just $10.  I don’t really like the controls introduced in Metroid Prime 3, which were carried over to the trilogy re-release of MP and MP2, but I wanted to experience the widescreen presentation of the original games, and for the price I figured why not.  So I played through the first two games, which remain my favorite Metroid games, and somehow didn’t replay the third.  I guess that’ll be on the 2016 list along with Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Zero Mission.

Sometimes old school is the best school.  I remember first playing A Link to the Past at around 12 years old.  I replayed it on the Wii U and it’s a lot harder than I remember it being, but still one of the great Zelda games.  The Minish Cap was released some time ago for the Wii U Virtual Console, and I finally bought it and played it a couple of months ago.  I had played it some years back on a Gameboy Advance emulator, but remembered very little about it.  It was fun, and I hope to enjoy more Zelda goodness in 2016, with Skyward Sword, possibly more Hyrule Warriors content, and hopefully the new Wii U Zelda title.

2015 Goals Update

How did I fare with my goals for 2015?

Books to Read

This was a low-scoring category, with me only reading The Lord of the Rings.  I think we can all agree that this was an important accomplishment, but I can do better.  I’m going to try to be ambitious and not only bump the rest of the list to my 2016 goals, but add other books to it.

TV Seasons to Watch

Haven’t seen before:

Another low-scoring entry, with only 1/5.  I watched DuckTales early in the year, and never found time for the rest.  I’m hopeful, as I always find myself in January, that I will be able to complete this section in 2016.

Have seen before:

4.9/8.  I missed Alias, Life, and Pinky and the Brain.  Watching Star Trek: The Next Generation took the entire year, and I still didn’t finish the last few episodes until the first few days of 2016.  The reason TNG took so long is because I watched it together with my children, which was a highly rewarding experience.  My daughter now loves Star Trek and it was wonderful to share a show I loved as a teenager with my kids now.

Currently airing/will air this year:

Watched them all, with the exception of Major Crimes season 4.  I’ve seen the first half and will watch the second half in 2016.

Movies to Watch

From last year [2014]:

Watched them all.

From previous year, already seen or not:

Watched them all.

New this year [2015]:

8/13, missing 007: Spectre, The Good Dinosaur, Fantastic Four, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, and Justice League: Gods and Monsters.  I plan to watch the remaining movies in 2016.

BDs/DVDs I [try to] watch at least once a year:

Watched them all.

BDs/DVDs I haven’t watched since 2011 or before:

46/50, about 4% better than last year’s 39/44.  The ones I missed were the Star Trek: The Next Generation movies, which I (finally) expect to watch in 2016 now that I’ve finished the TNG TV series.  They’ll be joined by others, becoming since 2012 or before.

Video Games to Play

First-time plays:

3/4.  Hyrule Warriors really drew me in and sucked up obscenely large portions of my time.  Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was at times frustratingly difficult.  I couldn’t muster up the interest to play The LEGO Movie Video Game.  Maybe this year, but I doubt it.

Replays:

1/2.  I’m surprised that I played Ocarina of Time but not Skyward Sword, but it may be that Hyrule Warriors exhausted my Zelda-playing for a while.  Skyward Sword will definitely be on the 2016 list.

Other

I did some minimal work on both entries; that is, two poetism commentaries and two entries in my new “Greatest Talks, Etc.” series.  I hope to continue both of them in a slightly more productive fashion in 2016.