Tuesday, September 23, 2008

In Pursuit of the Ultimate Sin

Weather looks not too bad this morning. Early appointment was canceled, which has been a pattern lately. So I could go for a walk before starting to work on other things.

It has been a spell since my last post. There have been some events. I taught some classes which felt good, some not so good. I've been struggling with a Tetris habit. You know Tetris? The falling bricks game from the early 1990s? Well, It's been something I've been playing several times a day for a while. But not today. I've kicked this habit several times in the past, each time with what I remember to be positive results. In fact, this blog entry is brought to you by my decision not to play.

Other events have included two shindigs put on by the Budapest Business Journal, the newspaper I have worked with for the past three years or so and have been associated with for some more years than that. (Read my latest.) The first was an initmate little thing at the posh "Design Hotel" introducing the new BBJ editor, a distinguished international newsman named Peter Ipper with whom I hope to have a successful and storied working relationship. The second was an open event, a "business mixer" held at the Mariott by the Danube. Great atmosphere, gourmet food, endless bottles of the tastiest wine I've tasted since my days in Strasbourg in 1990. I hung out with the Turkish trade ambassador to Hungary who came as my guest and with former BBJ editor and current megablogger Erik D'Amato. A student of mine, the promising young Chelsea Blair, came along too, also at my invitation. Other old friends were there. It was nice. I regret slightly that I didn't make my way to the Barack Obama love fest at the (relatively) nearby Merlin where my grad school housemate Frank Zsigo was playing guitar and singing his catchy tunes as Mookie Brando.

Before all this was the amazing concert at the big synagogue by Shlomo Bar and the Fellegini Klezmer band, featuring my dear friend Balazs Fellegi. Shlomo was born in Morocco and came to Israel in his youth. He and I spent several hours together at a garden party the day before the concert and had some deep discussions about a great many things. On one foot: "the kingdom of God flows forth from within!"

Lucia has been practicing a lot of Yoga lately at home and looking most scrumptiously attractive as she has done so. She's been unhappy with me lately for not mind Eldar better after he comes home from school, managing his homework, getting him to bed, etc. So I plan to improve that bit. She's been angry, which I don't approve of. But I know things can and will be better once I improve.

We went to the Mormon Church this past Sunday for the first time as a family in a while. A longstanding Hungarian member of the International Branch, a single woman in her thirties named Niki, was the teacher at Sunday school. She had also given a talk during the sacrament meeting in which she spoke of how her experience with the Church had taught her English and Russian (both solidly learned during her church mission to Ukraine) and her employment (she currently works at the International Law Enforcement Academy, which until recently had been under Mormon managment for several years).

In Sunday school, she gave a lesson that covered the Mormon vision of the afterlife and how one's life in this world determines one's existence in it. The vision appeared to describe an endless ladder to perfection. The highest rung she mentioned was reached when one was free from all imperfection and received a perfect body and could go to work as a messiahnic figure in another world. The lowest rung, however, was internment in "spirit prison." Talk of the spirit prison got rather animated. Niki said it was populated by "pretty wicked guys." An older gentleman clarified that the prison's inmates were simply those who had not yet received the proper divine instructions and put them into practice, implying that it was more of a reform school than a prison. There was a bit of contention over whether missionary work was being performed in the prison. But this was cleared up either by the gentleman or a young missionary who explained that during Jesus' absence in the time between his death on the cross and his ressurection he actually visited the inmates of the spirit prison to deliver his divine message and that the Mormon ritual of performing baptisms on behalf of the unbaptised dead was part of the process of lightening their sentences in the prison. Moreover, it was added, that there was indeed missionary activity in the spirit prison.

A Russian woman anxiously asked questions about life in the prison and what one had to learn about avoiding a sentence there which prompted an older woman to interject that all Jesus wanted us to do was to be like him, kind and forgiving and serving to others. While no one shut her up, the rest of the discussion seeked to affirm this doctrine of the spirit prison while at the same time offering hope.

"Everyone is ressurected," said an attractive yet serious North American woman, adding that some of us have different spiritual needs than others. We can't fully understand how this works, but God cares about each and every one of us and is preparing a suitable path for us toward perfection.

"There is just one unforgiveable sin," said Niki. The sin of receiving the divine teaching, recognizing it as divine, and yet defying it all the same. We ran out of time before getting to the punishment, but I gathered it would be pretty severe.

I tried to explain that people are made of dust and therefore fallible and that we all know how clever the "adversary" can be. Would it not be possible for one of us to receive divine teaching and then forget it about it in the face of great temptation.

My hypothsis was dismissed. The only historical example anyone could produce of such an extreme sinner was Judas Iscariot, the guy who betrayed Jesus to his crusifiers.

Wow, I wonder what happened to him!


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