Modern Day Parables

In His parables Jesus used everyday items to teach spiritual lessons. The world we live in has changed significantly in the last 2000 years so some of the parables require explanation to fully appreciate. Not many of us can personally relate to lost sheep in the literal sense as the people of his day did. In the parable of the good Samaritan we need to know that Jews considered the Samaritans as inferior people. I find it fascinating to try and come up with gospel parables or allegories that relate to the modern world or the world of science. I have collected them here even thou some of them are also part of talks at this site.

Joy

It is always hard for me to want to believe that in order to have joy we have to have misery as it says in 2 Nephi 2:22-23 and Moses 5:11. Yet that appears to be how the world works. There are countless examples in nature of the need for contrast. Our eyes and brains adjust the colors that we see so as to increase contrast. Autumn leaves appear much more brilliant if they are in an area that also has green grass or some leaves that have not turned. The principles of thermodynamics tell us we can get useful energy from heat only if we have contrasting temperatures. For example the surface of Venus is very hot, yet a lander can not use that heat to produce electricity because there is no cold sink. All matter gives off infrared energy or light depending on the temperature. An infrared camera can see a person in total darkness, but can not see any details of a room if everything is the same temperature (see blackbody cavities).

Scriptures

We have the scriptures, but have they become a part of our lives? Have we taken Christ's words in the scriptures and applied them. Anyone who has every tried to translate knows that you can't just translate word for word from one language into another language. The ideas have to be understood, and then these same ideas can be expressed using the words and word order of the new language. In an analogous way, we must first study and learn the doctrines and ideals taught in the scriptures, then we work to apply them to the circumstances and situations we each face in our lives. So what is the most important translation of the Bible for each of us? Not the King James version (even though it is the Bible we use in the Church) but the translation we each make of Christ's teaching into a Christen life, our own lives.

Work

Atoms or molecules have different energy states with the lowest state being called the ground state. A molecule in the ground state has a minimum of motion. In order for a parable to be useful, it need to be possible to relate it to our lives. The analogy for the ground state is the "couch potato" The largest motion is clicking the remote on the TV or reaching for another snack. Atoms do many interesting things such as give of light, conduct heat, or react chemically with other atoms. Fire is an example of a chemical reaction. However, they don't do any of these exciting things and remain in the ground state. In the analogy there are many wonderful things we can do and become, but they won't happen if we stay in our "couch potato" state. There are a number of way that an atom can get out of the ground state. They can absorb light or collide with an other atom that has more energy. In our analogy we can be lifted from "our ground state" by absorbing light and truth from the gospel or sometime we need a little push from those who are on a higher plane. There is one important difference between us and the atoms. That is (as far as we know) the individual atoms have no choice in which atoms stay in the ground state and which ones move to a higher energy state. But with us we make the choice to stay in our ground state or make something more of our life.

Feeling for others

An object lesson that illustrates how easy it is to let your own rights and need overshadow those of others can be seen with a couple of quarters. For this object lesson you will need a partner. You and your partner stand facing each other and each holding up one of the quarters. Who's quarter is bigger? Of course all quarters are the same size, but they don't look the same size. Your quarter is almost big enough to cover your partner's face, while his quarter is only about as big as his eye. As you move further apart or as you bring your quarter closer to you face it's size grows until it can completely block your partner from view. In order to see your partner you have to push your quarter to the side a bit and peer around it. The quarter represents our rights and needs. It is only natural that our own needs appear larger than the those of other people. The further we are emotionally from an other person or the more we become fixated on our own needs, the smaller other people's needs appear to us. We have to make a conscious effort to see past our own needs to see the needs of others.

Perfection

Einstein's theory of special relativity say that nothing can move faster than the speed of light and that there is no special frame of reference. A frame of reference can be thought of as an observer that is moving at a constant speed (the speed can be zero). Now for an example: Say we are moving at 5 miles an hour and exerted our selfs to increase our speed by 5 miles an hour. We are now moving at 10 miles an hour as seen from both the reference frame at rest and the frame moving along with us. Now if we were moving close to the speed of light things would appear differently for the two observers. It would appear to us that we had increased our speed by 5 miles an hour just as before, but to the observer at rest it would appear that we had hardly increased our speed at all. There is an analogy to the way we speed toward perfection. When people first start on the road to perfection it is clear to everyone what rapid progress they are making. In contrast for the person who has overcome most bad habits, it can take considerable effort to overcome one more small bad habit or let go of a small favorite sin. Yet to the outside observers the effort is completely unnoticed.

Obedience

By applying the laws of Physics and Chemistry mankind has truly revolutionized the world which we live in. These laws must be followed with exactness if the desired outcomes are to be reached. Nearly everyone who has worked with science has experienced failures because of a lack of understanding of physical laws. Usually the failures come from trying to take short cuts instead of really figuring out what is going on. I think one of the reasons science is so unpopular with many people is because it is so unforgiving of mistakes and misunderstandings. When it comes to spiritual matters people feel that things should work differently. They want the world to work in the way that makes sense to them instead of searching to know God's will. In the same manner as following natural laws allows people to create many wonderful things, following God's laws helps us reach our God given potential. Spiritual laws instead of being limiting, guide us to true progress, satisfaction, and happiness.