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It ruins it!

Around the first snowfall each winter, we watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy. We do it at the first snow to keep my kids from pestering me about it before then. They really enjoy those movies.

My kids sometimes do their best Gollum impressions, and one of their favorite quotes is what Gollum says to Samwise when Sam takes the rabbits Gollum catches for Frodo: "It ruins it!" Gollum can't understand why anyone would want to cook rabbit, strongly preferring the taste of raw meat.

Sometimes, ruining something is a good thing.

Good software ruins bad software

At work, my team is building a software platform that will revolutionize the way certain chemists spend about 50% of their time by vastly increasing how quickly they are able to apply their understanding to the datasets they analyze in order to extract pertinent information from them. While a lot of technology works behind the scenes to make it possible, the primary difference they will notice is in the interface between them and the computer. The software is purpose built to facilitate exactly what they need to do.

Although we built the software by designing streamlined workflows to expedite throughput, an interesting side effect is that by designing better ways of doing what they have always had to do, we have revealed how terribly ineffective and unpleasant the old ways are. A side effect of using the software is that all who do will become terribly dissatisfied with what they could tolerate well enough until now.

One thing I've noticed in sales calls is a fast and easy indicator for whether the person will see the value in the software. Those who will not will respond to a demonstration of the software by asking how they can replicate the old process in the new software. These people have lost sight of why they do what they do, and can only see and think in terms of what they do, even if what they do is not the best way.

And so it is with nearly every religious person.

Good"movies" ruin bad movies

In general, I detest watching scripture movies, listening to religious music, and viewing religious art. It's been this way for a while. Having seen and heard things from heaven makes it impossible to enjoy things that are obviously opposite to them. For instance, I abhor the popular show "The Chosen." I watched one episode, and all I could see were the effects such a high volume of error would cause in the lives of all who watched such a show. All I could think of was how much better off they would be reading the scriptures instead. I couldn't help but think how much harder it would be to see the things I have seen if my head was full of such nonsense.

I used to have a few exceptions that I could tolerate, but now I fear that the volume of my experiences has forever ruined even those.

I have long lamented that we don't hold all artists to the same standards we do writers. If someone were to come out with new scripture, we would hold them to exceedingly high standards. They'd better be in direct communication from God, directly conveying to us something they know personally from heaven. 

For some reason, when it comes to other artists, we have a much lower standard. How much better would the world be if the only depictions we had of these things were from people who had actually seen or heard them?

The Christian world does not compare scriptural movies or visual art to heavenly visions or religious songs to the heavenly choirs. The Christian world does not do this because the Christian world does not have heavenly visions and has not heard the heavenly choir. I compare them to these standards because I have, and because I have, I have an idea of the damage done by artists imagining things that are nowhere near what they ought to be.

I find it much more enjoyable to experience art that conveys worthy themes without pretending to be an accurate depiction. It is interesting that you can get a much more accurate picture of heavenly things from sources that make no pretense of depicting them than you can from sources that claim to represent the real thing. This theme reverberates far beyond the subject. For instance, you might learn far more from five minutes in nature than if you were to spend five years in one of today's churches.

Good doctrine ruins bad doctrine

You won't see how crippling your present doctrine is until and unless you find something better. Once you do, however, you will cringe to think of what garbage you believed before, how much it limited you in ways you could not yet see, and how tightly you clung to it in spite of sufficient reasons to let it go.

One tactic to see these things is to enumerate current problems you don't have the solution for, or promised blessings of the gospel you have not yet encountered. If your current path doesn't deliver the goods, you should look for a different path. And, like a person who wants to get married who continues to date a person they aren't going to marry, you should understand that continuing to walk in the wrong way will prevent you from walking in--or even seeing--the right way.

Recognizing and removing the bad as the good comes

In the allegory of the olive trees, the Lord of the orchard instructions his servant to "ye shall clear away the bad according as the good shall grow, that the root and the top may be equal in strength, until the good shall overcome the bad." (Jacob 5:66) Here, the Lord is Jesus and the servant is the end times servant. The root of the tree in the allegory is the top of the heavenly hierarchy (God), and the graft is the connection between heaven and earth in the form of a man. 

The idea of gradually replacing the bad with the good is an important one. It applies to ideas, people, and places. In the end times--which we are in--we will see better ideas coming forth, people responding unequally to them to their advancement or displacement, and dramatic changes to where and how people live as a result.

We are plainly told here that as God unfolds the fullness of truth in the end times, he will do so gradually, because if he did so all at once, no one would receive it:

And as they begin to grow ye shall clear away the branches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to the strength of the good and the size thereof; and ye shall not clear away the bad thereof all at once, lest the roots thereof should be too strong for the graft, and the graft thereof shall perish, and I lose the trees of my vineyard. (Jacob 5:65)

If God revealed all things to the earth in the same way he does for the end times servant, the end times servant would be the only one to be saved, because no one else will be able to receive it in the same way.

...And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming. (JSH 1:39)

Knowing these things, it is of supreme importance that all of us acquire the ability to view increasing value: to acquire what is better than what we already have and let go of what is revealed to be less than what is best.

Holding to the bad even after better things have come

Unfortunately, we tend to impute value to ideas, people, and places merely because we already have them. So many things are mutually exclusive. We stand with both hands full, and wonder why the Lord will not give us what we ask. Or, even worse, we receive what he gives but insist on limiting its value to what fits within our prior paradigm.

16 No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse.
17 Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved. (Matthew 9)

It is interesting to note that Jesus stated these things just after proclaiming that the day would come when he would leave his disciples, suggesting that they were the ones who refused to see him for what he was, insisting on squeezing him into the narrow window of their prior paradigm.