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Machiavelli-Hon P 201 paper (informal essay)
Jo-Pete Nelson
12/12/2001
Hon P 201
Informal Essay

How, ultimately, does Machiavelli justify the seemingly amoral nature of his treatise? Do you agree with his justification? Why or why not?

The main way in which Machiavelli justifies the nature of his treatise is by comparing the present circumstance of the Italians to well know stories that are considered legendary. In specific, he refers to Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt (Machiavelli, page 70). He does this because the actions of Moses are seen as being divinely appointed and beyond dispute. In order to make his argument stand independently of any specific religion, Machiavelli also refers to Cyrus’ leadership over the Persians and Theseus’ involvement with the Athenians (page 70). Machiavelli also states specifically “war is justified when it is necessary” (page 70). The specific examples that he lists are there to show examples of when war was necessary. Naturally, the justification is only valid if the assumption is correct that the state of the Italians is at such a low as to compare it with Athens, Persia, or the Israelites in Egyptian captivity.

In choosing the three examples he chose, Machiavelli also shows his education as both a Christian and a humanist. The first example, Moses, is a biblical figure that any religious person would except as a good example of how a leader should behave. The other two examples are from the classical era, which would convince a humanist that Machiavelli’s principles are not only just, they are also logical. The combination between the two categories encompasses a vast majority of Italy’s thinkers. In this way, all Machiavelli’s contemporaries can accept his treatise.

I must agree with Machiavelli’s justification. The Italians are in a fairly sad condition, with several countries warring over their lands. It is necessary for something to happen to bring the Italians out of their bad state. Machiavelli’s treatise might be a little extreme, but the important thing to him is to find someone for Italy to unify under. As long as they are decentralized, they don’t stand a chance against the other countries. Unfortunately for Machiavelli, there isn’t any truly strong leader for Italy to unify under. There is a specific family, the Medici family, which is reasonably powerful, but the most influential Medici, Lorenzo the Magnificent, is dead. Because of this, Machiavelli is left with a potential leader that needs a lot of help. If the Lorenzo that Machiavelli addresses this book to were a better leader, perhaps Machiavelli’s tactics wouldn’t be called for.

Finally, the people are all anxious for someone to lead them against the other countries: “Italy has been waiting too long for a glimpse of her redeemer” (page 72). The one thing that makes Machiavelli most justifiable is that he is not seeking to put himself into power, but to increase the unity in all of Italy. If he were writing this saying that these are all things that he should do, it would be improper because then he would be a self-appointed “redeemer.” Instead, he looks to someone else and says that they are the right one to do the job of unifying Italy. This makes the entire treatise more objective, and therefore more justifiable.


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Second Shepherd's pageant-Hon P 201 paper (informal essay)
Jo-Pete Nelson
12/3/2001
Hon P 201
Informal Essay

A Poor Man’s Christ



What is the purpose of the extensive sub-plot in the “Second Shepherds’ Pageant”?

It is apparent that the sub-plot in the “Second Shepherds’ Pageant” is crucial, if for no other reason than because of the fact that it occupies over three fourths of the story. Were it not for the purpose of the pageant- that is, to celebrate the stories of the bible, especially those relating to Christ- we would assume that the Virgin Mary is the sub-plot. Because this sub-plot is obviously so important, we must now ask ourselves why. The answer is simple: the “Second Shepherds’ Pageant” is written to show us that Christ came for the poor man.

At the time that this was written, everybody certainly knew the story of the shepherds who were visited by an angel bearing news of Jesus. Because the story itself was already known, the task of the author was to emphasize important aspects of the story rather than simply retell it. In this story, the author chooses to emphasize the pathetic condition of the shepherds who were first invited to come see the baby Jesus. The introduction of each of the shepherds shows how poor they are. The first shepherd says, “We are so hammed/ Fortaxed and rammed/ We are made hand-tamed/ With these gentlery-men.” (lines 15-19) He says here that the general condition of the shepherds is rather sad. In the course of the conversation between the three shepherds and Mak, we find out that they are oppressed by the noble class (lines 17-27), exposed to the weather (lines 57-63), and underfed (line 352). All in all, they truly are a miserable lot.

To make matters worse, the three shepherds have a thief in their midst. Mak steals their sheep, which is a very bad situation for them. The first shepherd says “Alas, that ever was I born! We have a foul blot- A fat wether have we lorn.” Their losing a sheep is not something that is easy to make up. They are too poor to take the consequences. This is why the first shepherd curses the day he was born. The sheep are their livelihood, and so losing one is a horrible event.

After the dire circumstance of the shepherds is shown, we finally see the baby Jesus in the final scene. When the shepherds see the condition that Jesus is in, the third shepherd cries about his pathetic situation: “My heart would bleed to see thee sit here in so poor weed, with no pennies” (lines 730-732). The author uses these most pathetic shepherds to show that the state in which Jesus was born was equally, if not more so, pathetic. Also, in the angel’s speech, we see another tie between Jesus and the poor man: “God is made your friend now at this morn” (line 641). The angel came to the poorest of the poor, the most wretched of all mankind, and said that God is their friend. These are the very first people that the angel visits- not some king, but members of the lowest class in society.

The final impact of the “Second Shepherds’ Pageant” is that God cares about the poor people. This would be an important thing for the audience of the pageant. These weren’t the nobles in a theatre; they were the average person on the street. They did not really care about the way that God works with the rich people. They wanted to hear how it applied to them. In the “Second Shepherds’ Pageant,” the common person is given a pleasing view of God’s interaction with people like themselves.


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Dante 2-Hon P 201 paper (informal essay)
Jo-Pete Nelson
11/26/2001
Hon P. 201
Informal essay on Dante

Compare Buonconte da Montefeltro’s narrative of his death (in canto 5) to his father’s (recounted in Inferno 27), noting both similarities and differences. What is the purpose of this juxtaposition of stories?

By telling the story of both father and son, Dante is able to accent the similarities and the differences between the two stories. Because of this, Dante is also able to show us why Buonconte resides in purgatory, but Guido was sent to hell. The reason that the father did not want anybody to know about his last days was because he had good reason to be ashamed. The son, on the other hand, was fortunate enough to begin repenting before he died.

During life, it seems that Buonconte was a military leader (footnote on pg 221), much the same as Guido, who was a “man of arms” whose fame “spread to the farthest limits of the earth” (Inferno 27:67, 78). It also would appear that Buonconte wasn’t the most upright person, since “Hell’s fiend” (Purgatory 5:104) tried to make claim to his soul and took his body. It is known for certain that Guido wasn’t an honest man. He himself says “all my actions were not those of a lion, but those of a fox.” (Inferno 27:74-75). Guido attempted to make restitution in the final hour by becoming a friar. The problem came in when Pope Boniface VIII asked him for help. Instead of keeping his vows, Guido turned again to the sneaky practices that he engaged in the rest of his life. In this, he condemned himself all the more, even though his council (“ample promise with a scant fulfillment”- Inferno 27:110) was very miniscule in itself. Buonconte also attempted to make restitution at the last hour, but his attempt was more innocent and sincere than the contrived plot of Guido. He did not try to think of a way to win his way into heaven at the final hour. Instead, he simply and sincerely turned to the mercies of Mary as he died.

The other similarity between the two stories is the conflict between angels of light and angels of darkness. When Guido died, Saint Francis came to retrieve his soul, but a “black Cherubim cried out: ‘Don’t touch him, don’t cheat me of what is mine!’” (Inferno 27:113-114). In a similar manner, as Buonconte was being escorted to heaven, “Hell’s fiend cried: ‘O you from Heaven, why steal what is mine?’” (Purgatory, 5:104-105). In both cases, it should be noted that the devil’s servants claimed possession of the men’s souls. Even though Guido was a friar, there was not much of a debate over the truthfulness of the devil’s claim. He had knowingly joined sides with a corrupt pope, so he would not escape his punishment. There was, however, a debate over Buonconte’s soul. The angel that was sent to escort Buonconte home did not relinquish his soul. The devil did not leave it at that, though. The devil took Buonconte’s body and hid it so that the final rites could not be performed. By doing this, the devil kept Buonconte from reaching heaven.

The major difference between the two men was their sincerity in repentance before they died. When Guido turned to the holy order, he did not truly wish to repent. If he had, he would not have given in to Boniface. In turning back to his old ways, it was shown that Guido did not truly change as he said he had. Buonconte, on the other hand, did not have time to turn back to his old ways. He repented at the very moment of his death. This is the reason why there was some debate between good and evil concerning Buonconte’s fate. He did not have time to prove that he was devoted to Mary. Instead, he simply “won [his immortal part] for a measly tear” (Purgatory, 5:107).

The purpose of the juxtaposition of the two stories is to show that true repentance can overcome all manner of evil, and also to show what true repentance is. The black Cherubim that came to retrieve Guido said “one cannot be absolved unless repentant,” (Inferno 27:118) which implies that repentance absolves sin. He also said “nor can on both repent and will a thing,” (Inferno 27:119), which shows the reason why the son did not fall into hell, but made it to purgatory: when Buonconte repented, he did so whole-heartedly, not with contradicted desires. By showing the fate of both men, Dante shows us the fine line between repenting with purpose and repenting in deception.


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Dante-Hon P 201 paper (informal essay)
Jo-Pete Nelson
11/14/2001
Hon P 201
Informal Essay


In creating punishments in hell, Dante uses a principle that he calls contrapasso, which means, loosely, that the punishment fits the sin. What evidence do you see for this principle in the punishments of the three groups of sinners presented in cantos 3, 4, and 5?

In Dante’s Comedy, we are introduced to the principle of contrapasso even before Dante steps foot in hell. Virgil, who we are introduced to in the first canto, is himself an example of contrapasso. During his life, Virgil was a good man and a leader of other men through his writings. It is very fitting that his mission after life is to lead a man through the depths of hell. Of course, since he did not accept Christ during his life, Virgil couldn’t possibly be accepted by Christ after death, so he will not be leading Dante to the final destination. This example of contrapasso will be examined in more detail presently.

As we begin to follow Dante the Pilgrim to the underworld, we are immediately shown the second contrapasso. At the very beginning of the descent to hell, we see those that the bible referred to as “lukewarm” (Rev 3:16): those that did not serve any master, “who undecided stood but for themselves” (Dante, Canto 3 line 39). They are forced to spend an eternity chasing after an ever-elusive banner, symbolizing the banner that they never carried during their own lives. Because these people never made a decision to serve one master or another, it is fitting that they are doomed to never fully meet their fate in either hell or paradise. Thus, the punishment truly does fit the sin.

Those that inhabit of the first circle of hell show the third contrapasso. Because “they did not worship God the way one should” (canto 4, line 38) during their life, they do not have the right to worship God in the spirit world. Therefore, they are doomed to spend the eternity “cut off from hope, [to] live in desire” (canto 4, line 42). This is not to say that they are specifically being tormented. In fact, they are left to their own “untormented grief” (canto 4, line 28). Those that were superior thinkers and leaders of men do receive some reward for their good deeds. They take residence in the castle and live their eternity in the light. This, however, is not comparable to the beauty of God. They receive the full light that reason and good works can give them, and they are still left with desire. The light that they do have is shown all the more clearly when put in contrast with the “place where no light is” (canto 4, line 151)

The second circle of hell is reserved for “those who make reason slave to appetite” (canto 5, line 39). Here, the darkness is fitting for two reasons. First, these souls do not have the light of reason with them, for they sacrificed that for their bodily pleasures. Second, the lovers cannot ever see the object of their affection, which would drive any lovers to insanity. Another evidence of contrapasso is in their being driven before the stormy wind. This symbolizes their inability to stand against the storms of passion. Obviously, they are also separated from the Lord. This punishment fits the sin because they set another human before the Lord, so they will now never be given access to the Lord. This is shown true by the statement made by one of the damned: “if we could claim as friend the King of Kings, we would beseech him that he grant you peace” (canto 5, lines 94-95). This verifies that the souls of the lustful men do not have access to God. Here again, the punishment fits the sin.

One interesting thing to note is that the punishment does not steadily get worse as Dante goes along. Out of the three areas that Dante has been so far (the exiled “lukewarm” souls and the first two circles of hell), the exiles suffered the most. This is because of Dante’s concept of contrapasso: the exiles suffered most, partially because they were not allowed entrance into hell. This does specifically not mean that they committed a worse sin than those in the first two circles of hell. It merely means that the punishment appropriate for their sin (not being allowed to enter heaven or hell) happened to be the one that was the worst. In all things for Dante, the punishment fits the sin.


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Augustine-Hon P 201 paper (informal essay)
Jo-Pete Nelson
11/5/2001
Hon P 201 Sec 401
Informal Essay

Compare Saint Augustine’s account of his life with that of Socrates in The Apology. What, for each is the ultimate purpose of human existence? How does the autobiographical narrative reveal that purpose in each case?

For both Augustine and Socrates, the ultimate purpose of human existence is to find wisdom. The difference between the two is that Socrates believes that wisdom comes from a man (as evidenced by his constantly searching for a man wiser than he) and Augustine believes that wisdom is found only in God, and man can only have wisdom if he fears God, for “wisdom is fearing the Lord” (Augustine, 95). This difference is taken further by observing that Socrates never finds the source of wisdom, and decides instead that wisdom is when a man “knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing” (Plato, 6). Notice here, that instead of accrediting wisdom to any specific source, Socrates implies that wisdom is a paradox, and that no man can believe he is wise and be wise. Augustine, on the other hand, says, “Which of us has anything that does not come from [the Lord]?” (Augustine, 23). For Augustine, the source of truth and wisdom is clear: it is the Lord.

Both Socrates and Augustine use their autobiography as evidence for their opinions on the purpose of human existence. Socrates shows that his pursuit for wisdom is fruitless and thereby proves that wisdom is not found in those that consider themselves wise. By showing how extensively Socrates pursues wisdom, he shows that wisdom is obviously a very important, if not the most important, thing in life. Augustine uses his evidence from his life in a negative way. Instead of showing his life as the correct way to act, he shows that his life is the exact opposite of what man should do. In so doing, Augustine shows that the source of wisdom could not possibly be man, as he once believed, but must be God.

One thing to note when examining the relation between the two men’s autobiographies and their arguments is that in both cases, there biography takes second place to their argument. In fact, the biography is only shown because it is essential for their argument. In the case of Socrates, we only see a very limited section of his biography, because that was all that was needed to show his case. We did not need to know anything of his childhood to understand why he searched for a man wiser than he. For Augustine, however, a full biographical account was necessary to prove his point. He was not trying to show that God is all-powerful when a man has reached adulthood. Instead, Augustine was trying to demonstrate that God has control over every facet of a man’s life, including his childhood. This is why he tells of his schooling and of his young adult years. In both cases, however, the biography is only shown as evidence for the truths they are trying to prove. Neither man set out to write a biography, so it would be obvious that the biography was written strictly to prove a purpose.

Because both men were seeking for wisdom, it is interesting to compare their tactics in finding wisdom. Although both men appeared to be humble, Socrates was very proud in the fact that he believed his own ideas were superior. Augustine, however, believes that his qualities, including his apparent wisdom, “were all gifts from God, for [he] did not give them to [himself]” (Augustine, 40). This is a sign of true humility, that Augustine did not even take credit for his own ideas. Instead, he says that all things are gifts from God.

Although the two men did not share a common belief, it is surprising how similar they truly were. They might not have looked in the same place or in the same manner, but both men were looking for true wisdom. Furthermore, they both were able to use their own biographies as evidence of their source of wisdom. In this respect, Augustine and Socrates were very similar.


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works-Hon P 201 paper (informal essay)
Jo-Pete Nelson
10-23-01
Hon P 201
Informal Essay

Paul on Works



Many Christian theologians (most notably Martin Luther) have viewed James as opposed to Paul. What, in your view, is the relationship between Paul’s epistle to the Romans and the epistle of James? Is there a way to reconcile their views of faith and works?

A careful analysis of “Paul’s Epistle to the Romans” shows that Paul does not believe anything different than James. Those (like Martin Luther) who focus on any single chapter in a book full of scriptures are not going to see the full point of the scriptures. In this case, Martin Luther examines chapter 3 of Romans to the exclusion of the rest of Paul’s writings. Instead of trying to “reconcile” the views of James and Paul, I am going to demonstrate that Paul does, in fact, believe that man must perform righteous deeds in order to make it to heaven, much the same that James says “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone” (James 2:17).

Let me begin by reemphasizing what was pointed out in class about the wording of Romans 3:28. “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (emphasis added). The law that Paul is referring to here does not mean rules or righteousness in general, but rather a very specific law: the Law of Moses. What Paul is saying here is something that every modern Christian already believes: the Law of Moses is no longer the path to heaven. Reading in Romans chapter seven shows this meaning of the word “law.” Paul uses a parable to compare the Law of Moses to a dead husband, and the new law of Christ is the man that the widow marries. It would be unlawful for a woman to marry both men, “but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.” (Romans 7:2). Paul goes on to say that we are “become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead.” (Romans 7:4). Here, we are shown the new law that we must follow in order to be saved. Christ has his own law, much of which is described in his Sermon on the Mount. If he were to say that a man’s works do not matter at all, why would he spend so much time telling people what they should do in order to be saved?

Another point to consider is that when Christ was on the earth, he often rebuked the Pharisees for paying too close attention to the small matters of the law instead of the important principles. Paul could be saying a similar thing here. A person shouldn’t be more concerned about what the law says as opposed to what is right. Instead, Paul seems to say that we need to do the right things for ourselves (or for Christ) instead of simply because it is the law.

Chapter six is the crucial chapter in Romans. This is where Paul turns his attention from denouncing the old law to preaching the new. It starts out “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid!” (Romans 6:1-2). Here, Paul states very clearly without question that grace does not cover those who are committing sin. By logical reasoning, we can conclude that if we are not supposed to sin if we hope for grace, then we must follow some commandment. This in itself is a man’s works, for the point of commandments is to keep us out of sin. If we are performing good deeds, we cannot perform evil ones. Paul goes on to ask another question: “shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid!” (Romans 6:15). Here again, we must logically conclude that the act of not sinning is the act of performing good works.

The final, and perhaps most convincing passage of scripture is Romans 13:4—“But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain.” Paul does not say anywhere before or after this statement “If you have faith, then you need not fear the sword.” Rather, he is making a definite statement that if you don’t keep the commandments, you will suffer. Of course, faith and belief are integral parts to the teachings of Paul. I do no deny this. In fact, James says the same thing: “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” (James 2:22, emphasis added). This simply demonstrates that Paul and James agree completely. Faith is not enough for salvation alone, but neither is works. Both men truly testify of this, in perfect agreement with each other.


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Sermon on the Mount-Hon P 201 paper (informal essay)
Jo-Pete Nelson
10/15/2001
Hon P 201
Informal essay on Matt 5-7

How do the ethical principles taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) compare to Greek ethical teachings of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle? To the Old Testament?

A comparison between the teachings of Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount and the teachings of the three Greek philosophers mentioned (namely Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle) is a contrived comparison. In other words, the comparison does not truly arise naturally based upon the teachings of Jesus compared with their teachings. Part of the reason why the comparison does not arise naturally is because the purpose for speaking is different for Jesus than it was for any one of the Greek philosophers. Jesus taught for no reason other than to convince man to become better and more fit for the kingdom of heaven. Socrates, on the other hand, taught mostly in criticism or to show people how foolish they are. Plato taught in order to show that man is ignorant (as in his Allegory of the Cave). Aristotle was more concerned with the present state of man as opposed to his eternal destiny.

Naturally, while Jesus did not truly reflect any of the ideas that were taught by the Greek philosophers, certain parallels can be made between their teachings. This fact does not diminish my original statement. Rather, it shows that no statement made by any man is absolute. The first similarity, and perhaps the most prominent one, is between the purpose of Plato’s writings and the teachings of Jesus. Both taught in terms of absolutes, Plato in the matter of “forms” of objects and ideas and Jesus in the matter of human morals and ethics. Plato spoke exhaustively on the subject of why what we see is not reality, but an imitation or shadow of reality (see Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and Mimesis). Jesus spoke of an absolute in relation to human conduct, especially in Matt 5: 21-6:23. Here, Jesus makes a rather lengthy list of former law, compared with a “higher law” of absolutes. For example, he says that the lower law said not to murder a man, whereas the higher law says to not even be angry with a man (Matt 5:21-22). The difference between Plato and Jesus is that Plato’s teachings do not have any thought on how a man should act. Instead, Plato focuses on what is “reality.” Jesus, on the other hand, focused almost exclusively on human actions (and thoughts).

The parallel between Jesus and Aristotle is also interesting. Both their teachings are directly related to human action as opposed to philosophical meanderings like in Plato’s writings. In Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, he says (in short) that all our actions should lead toward the greatest good, which is happiness. Jesus’ teachings were similarly action based. In his teachings, Jesus tells several ways that a man should act in order to achieve the greatest good, which is eternal life. A few brief examples include being “merciful” (Matt 5:7), “meek” (Matt 5:5), and “pure in heart” (Matt 5:8). Each of these actions has their own happy result, which is outlined in the text. The difference between Aristotle and Jesus is that Aristotle focuses only on happiness in this life. In fact, he states directly “do we mean that [man] actually is happy after he is dead? Surely this is absurd, especially for us who say that happiness is a kind of activity or life.” (CP, 37) This goes in direct opposition with Jesus’ teaching “rejoice, and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven” (Matt 5:12, emphasis added). Note that Jesus very clearly states that the ultimate happiness relates to the state of man after his life is over. This would be more in accordance with the Roman philosopher Cicero, who said, “Can you not understand that the earth is totally insignificant? Contemplate these heavenly regions instead!” Aristotle did not think much of the afterlife in terms of human happiness.

As with the other two Greek philosophers, there is also a parallel between Socrates’ and Jesus’ teachings. The clearest parallel is not in the Sermon on the Mount, but rather in Jesus’ overall life. Neither man was afraid of death, and they both believed that telling the truth was more important than worrying about life. Socrates said, “The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness.” This is very similar to Jesus’ later teaching that “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” (Matt 10:39). The importance for both men is not whether you live or die, but rather how well you live. This is shown even more so in Jesus’ sacrificing his life for his cause, much like Socrates threw his own life on the line rather than give up what he felt was true. The difference between Socrates and Jesus is more important than their similarities, however. Socrates’ teachings where full of contention. He intentionally set himself as a “gadfly” to provoke others. Jesus, on the other hand, said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matt 5:9)

Finally, we come to the discussion of the final comparison in question, namely the similarity between the Old Testament and Jesus’ teachings in his Sermon on the Mount. The comparison is a very normal one, since Jesus is a Jew, and the Old Testament was written for the Jews. At the time of Jesus, what we now call the Old Testament was the teachings of the recent prophets. Jesus was most certainly raised learning about the books of Moses, and he loved to quote the words of Isaiah. The teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, however, are not those that are taught in the Old Testament. Jesus takes each of the principles that are taught in the Old Testament (i.e., thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, etc) and expands them to include a wider range of human activity. Jesus is not telling about what the Old Testament is teaching, rather “he taught them as one having authority” (Matt 7:29). In other words, he was teaching the people new concepts and ideas rather than limiting himself to the teachings of the Old Testament.

All of these things considered, Jesus was a rather revolutionary teacher. He did not simply restate what others had said previously, but told things the way that he thought they should be. Naturally, a lot of his teachings are taught in different words by other people, but that is simply because the common sense that he tells about loving one’s neighbors is a universal teaching, not just one person’s view of life.


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The Dream of Scipio-Hon P 201 paper (informal essay)
Jo-Pete Nelson
10/8/2001
Hon P 201
Informal essay on “The Dream of Scipio”

"The Dream of Scipio" presents a view of the afterlife. What is that view? How does it compare to your understanding of a Christian view of the afterlife?

The most significant aspect of Scipio's view of the afterlife is that it is a heaven for outstanding statesmen and those who performed a great service to the state. On page 344, Africanus states "Every man who has preserved or helped his country, or has made its greatness even greater, is reserved a special place in heaven, where he may enjoy an eternal life of happiness.” The other important aspect of Scipio's afterlife is that it is more eternal than any length of time on this earth. This is demonstrated in the lengthy discussion about how insignificant fame on earth is, when compared to the afterlife: "But can you not understand that the earth is totally insignificant? Contemplate these heavenly regions instead!"

The Christian view of the afterlife is not so different, except when considering the first aspect outlined above. Compared to this first aspect of Scipio’s views, the Christian's path to enter the afterlife is more personal. It is not based on whether he is a statesman or major contributor to society. Of course, these things do not hurt in the Christian's attempt to attain the afterlife, but they are not essential. Instead, the important thing for modern Christians is how he actually lives his daily life. If he is true to certain laws and "commandments," then he has the opportunity to reach the afterlife. As for the second aspect described above, the Christian view is more agreeable to Scipio's view. For a Christian, the amount of praise and glory received here on earth does not have a direct impact on whether or not they will be able to go to heaven. The two do have a strong correlation, but that is just because a lot of the people who do receive praise on earth are doing the proper things to reach heaven.

An interesting parallel between Scipio’s view and the Christian view is the commentary on the soul. Africanus states, “Your real self is not that corporeal, palpable shape, but the spirit inside.” This agrees with the common Christian view that the eternal soul is more important than the body that it possesses. This Christian view is seen in Matthew 16:25-26: “whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” This parallel also continues into LDS views with Africanus’ next line: “Understand that you are god. You have a god’s capacity of aliveness and sensation and memory and foresight.” It is doubtful that Africanus actually meant that we have the power to become like our Father in Heaven (as we believe), since he goes on to say that man is god over his body in the same way that God is over the universe. The similarity, however, is astonishing since there are not any other major modern religions that believe in the same divinity and here it is stated over two thousand years ago.

Another interesting relation between Scipio’s view and Christian views is their opinion on suicide. In both views, suicide is not an acceptable behavior. Indeed, when Scipio was ready to leave this life “with the utmost possible speed,” Paullus told him that this was not acceptable: “For unless God… has freed you from your confinement in the body, you cannot be admitted to this place.” Paullus goes on to say that God made us to inhabit the earth. This is in accordance with Christian views that to take one’s own life is evil.

In reality, Scipio’s view of the afterlife is rather similar to the view that is held by Christians. Obviously, the astronomical observations are considerably different, but the heaven that Africanus and Paullus show is rather similar to the heaven that Christians strive for.


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Job-Hon P 201 paper (informal essay)
Jo-Pete Nelson
10/1/2001
S-Hon P 201
Informal Essay

What do you make of the Lord's response to Job in chapters 38-42? Does the Lord ever answer Job's questions? What is the point of the Lord's speech?

In Job chapters 38-42, the Lord is essentially telling Job that there is no reason for him to know all the mysteries of God, and that God's work and will are beyond comprehension of mere mortals. In this response, he does not really answer any of Job's questions directly, although he does respond to a few of them. Unfortunately for Job, he generally responds either in a negative sense, or with more questions. In either case, the Lord does not say what Job wants to hear.

Job's first questions have to do with why he was even born to begin with. He asks "Why died I not from the womb?" (Job 3:11) because he feels that his life is a disappointment that could have been prevented had he not even lived to begin with. In response to this, the Lord asks, "Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth... Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born?" (Job 38:18,21). This is very simply stating that man does not know the reasons for life and death. No matter how old a man is, only the Lord can know all the mysteries of the earth. This includes the mystery of the purpose of a single man or, for that matter, the purpose of mankind. This is a common theme throughout the Old Testament: God's mysteries are not meant for man to fully understand.

Perhaps the most important question that Job asks relates to forgiveness: "And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity?" (Job7:21) Because Job does not understand why he is being treated so harshly, he assumes that he must have committed some sin. He also feels that he has properly repented and should be forgiven. To this, the Lord responds "Wilt thou disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous?" (Job 40:8). Here, the Lord reaffirms that he is the maker of the law, therefore his word and will is the law. A man such as Job does not have any right to counsel the Lord and tell him what is righteous, since the Lord is the one who makes the decision as to what righteousness is. Furthermore, if Job assumes that he is right, then that must mean that God is wrong. This, of course, is completely unheard of in the Old Testament. God is always right, even if his actions seem to be somewhat inconsistent.

The point of the Lord's speech is to show to Job (and all men) that the Lord is all-powerful and that his ways are not to be questioned under any circumstance. In a series of rhetorical questions in chapters 39-41, the Lord states that God created all the wonders and powers of nature. Therefore, God must be even more powerful than the unicorn, behemoth, and leviathan combined. Man, in comparison, cannot control even the simplest acts of nature. As a result of these chapters, Job comes to face his true insignificance. He says "therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not" (Job 42:3). He knew by the end of the Lord's speaking that he did not know anything compared to the Lord. His questions were insignificant, since he could never understand the true nature of God.

What is ironic in the speeches of both Job and the Lord is that they both speak as though Job actually had done some evil to deserve the treatment he was receiving. In truth, Job had not done anything, but was just being tested. Job, however, had enough sense to humble himself before the Lord, even if he hadn't done anything to begin with. If he had not shown his humility, then the Lord would have had reason to condemn him. If that were the case, then the story most certainly would not have ended as happily as it did. By opening himself to the concept that the Lord is always right, Job ends up receiving his full glory again, and he lives a full life after his trials. This is consistent with the Lord's promises in Deuteronomy that if a man will "hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord," (Deut 28:1) he will be blessed. Even though Job was cursed for a time, in the end he was truly blessed even more than he had been to begin with. This shows the true mercies of the Lord, and demonstrates that the Lord will always fulfill his covenants.


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Ruth-Hon P 201 paper (informal essay)
Jo-Pete Nelson
09-24-01
Hon P 201 Sec 401
Informal Essay on Ruth

Why is the story of Ruth, an obscure woman who is not even from Israel, given such a prominent place in the Bible? What does her story reveal about biblical conceptions of God and of history?

One thing to keep in mind when determining the significance of any biblical story is that the Bible often has random detail that does not really have any place in its text. Sometimes, it’s surprising to see what lasts after thousands of years. It is entirely possible that the reason why Ruth is even mentioned is because one man happened to hear the story and like it enough to add it to his version of the Bible. It is equally possible that when it was first written, the Bible had a lot more short stories like Ruth that gradually lost their significance and were mixed with the other stories included in the books of the Judges. For the sake of argument, however, I will assume that Ruth’s story was given a prominent place in the Bible because it was significant, which is most likely true.

The significance of Ruth is twofold: first, she is the great-grandmother of the most influential Jewish king (king David); second her story is one the common Jew could understand and relate to. In the Bible, the Jews place a rather large emphasis on family history. This is shown by reading Gen 4:16-26, Gen 5, 10, 11, 36, and many other places throughout the Old Testament where the family history of the Jews is spelled out in great detail. It seems that any significant Jewish character in the Bible can be traced directly to Noah and Adam. Part of the reason for this is the very nature of the creation of the Bible. When the Jews were captive in Babylon, the Elders saw that the Jewish identity was slipping. In an effort to prevent this, they caused that all their oral traditions be written down so that the Jewish religion could survive even after the Elders died. This makes it so the Bible is often a recitation of facts and details that were previously memorized by special men in Jewish culture, in addition to the well-known stories.

The second reason why the story of Ruth is given such a prominent place in the Bible is that her story is a great common-person tale of living according to Jewish traditions. In this aspect, Boaz is almost as significant as Ruth. He set the perfect example of how a Jew should interact with his kinsmen. Also, by having a non-Jewish lady be the main character, the story showed that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the one true God for all the earth. One of the morals of the story is that faith in God will make everything turn out right. What better way to show it than to have a non-believer be converted and trust in the Lord? The story of Ruth also shows the correct customs of the Hebrews. Instead of droning on about how a kinsman was supposed to marry his brother’s widow, as in Deut 25, Ruth gives an easy-to-remember story about the principle being put into practice.

The first thing that the story of Ruth says about biblical conceptions of God is that the God of Israel is the God for the whole earth. This was a rather unusual claim for the time, since every nation had its own sets of gods to worship, and what god they worshipped often defined a nationality. Despite the fact that each country had its own god(s), they did not discount the truthfulness of the other gods. Instead, they tried to show that their god was the most powerful god. In the Bible, however, it is set forth that one God stands supreme. By outlining the conversion of a foreigner, the story of Ruth shows how a person of another nationality and faith can come unto the true God.

The second thing that the story of Ruth says about biblical conceptions of God is that faith is very powerful. Because Ruth gave up her former life for the new faith that she found, she ended up being the great-grandmother of a king. It was not easy, however. Her new faith was put to the test on many occasions. Her husband died, leaving her a widow with no one to take care of her. She became a beggar and eventually was accepted by Boaz. In the end, her faith in God paid off and she was able to have a husband and children.


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Genesis-Hon P 201 paper (informal essay)
Jo-Pete Nelson
09-19-01
Hon P 201-401
Informal Essay on Genesis

The Fall of Adam

It is a very difficult thing to completely ignore the modern revelations and teachings when examining the Bible. Because the Bible can be interpreted to say many different things, it is very easy to make it fit into current thinking and ideology. I must, however, admit that if it were not for modern revelation, and if I were just looking at the first few chapters of Genesis, I would most certainly agree that the fall of Adam was a terribly sad event. Reading Genesis 3:16-19, where the Lord God admonishes Adam and Eve for eating the forbidden fruit, definitely gives the impression that the Lord is not very happy with what has happened. The natural thing to say would be that if the Lord were not happy, then the event must have been a very sad thing indeed.

The very fact that Adam and Eve were kicked out of Eden makes it look like a very negative occurrence. It could be argued that if the Lord God really wanted the fall of Adam to occur, he would not have reacted the way that he did. Adam had a very close relationship with his Father at the time, so we could say that the Lord God thought of Adam much like a human would think of his child. If a man were to punish his child for doing something he was supposed to, the child would get mixed feelings on the subject and would not know what to do. Similarly, if the Lord God were to punish Adam for doing a good thing, Adam would not know what he was supposed to do.

Another thing to note is the way that the relationship between Adam and the Lord God changed after the fall of Adam. Adam walked and talked with his God before he partook of the fruit, but her never (to our knowledge) saw the face of god after he was kicked out of the garden. Instead, he was consigned to communicating with mere angels—messengers of God. While to us, angels are divine; he was taking a step down in status. If the fall of Adam were a necessary thing, then why would God treat Adam so harshly?

Of course, I do believe that the fall of Adam was a good thing (Adam fell that men might be…). Therefore, I tried to look in Genesis for something to support my opinion (much the same way any religion treats the Bible). It is possible that I am missing something (I do not claim to be the most proficient at understanding the scriptures), but I could only find one reference in the first three chapters of Genesis that supported my personal viewpoints. Genesis 3:22 reads “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.” According to this scripture, the fall of Adam did not make man worse, but more like God. If we return to the metaphor of a child and parent (which I like because he is our Heavenly Father), we could say that God’s driving Adam out of the garden is much like a parent sending a child out into the world to learn to live on their own. God must have known that the only way for Adam to progress and fully appreciate all that he had would be to labor for his blessings. If God wanted Adam to be more like Him, Adam would first have to learn how to be a good human.

All things considered, I no longer am at all puzzled that other Christian churches believe that the fall of Adam was an unfortunate, evil thing. If I were to only look at the Old Testament, then I would also believe this. In fact, the Bible Dictionary (something that is inspired by modern revelation, anyway) states, “Many points in latter-day revelation are also clarified that are not discernable from the Bible. Among other things it makes clear that the fall is a blessing.” This merely reaffirms my position that the Bible really doesn’t give any clue that the fall of Adam was a necessary, good thing.


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Oedipus-Hon P 201 paper (informal essay)
Jo-Pete Nelson
9/8/2001
Honors 201 Sec 401
Informal Essay for Oedipus the King


I personally do not think Oedipus was guilty of patricide. He did not know that the man he killed was in any way related to him. His murder did not have anything to do with the fact that the man was his father. I do, on the other hand, think he is guilty of murdering a King. He let his temper and pride get out of control, and it resulted in murdering a stranger. My personal opinion is that this is evil in and of itself. Had he been able to keep his temper under control, he never would have killed the man to begin with. In Greek society, however, this behavior was probably more acceptable.

On the issue of whether he is guilty for marrying his mother, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, it seems somewhat surprising to me that he and Jocasta could be married for so long, and yet he never brought up his past (such as the fact he killed four men on his journey). If they had talked about anything like this, then the whole thing might have come out earlier, without a curse coming upon the land. On the other hand, he did not really have any reason to suspect that Jocasta was in any way related to him. He came from a land far away, and he thought he knew his heritage. How can he be blamed for something he did not know?

I think that a portion of any guilt lies at the feet of Oedipus’ two sets of parents (his biological and his adoptive). His biological parents tried to run away from their troubles by killing a baby. They probably would have had more success had they kept the baby and raised him the way that they saw fit. They could possibly have raised him with enough morals that he would have not killed his father and slept with his mother. In fact, the reason why he was traveling (and came upon Laius and Jocasta) was because he wanted to avoid doing the very thing he did. By running away from their troubles, Laius and Jocasta simply created a way for the prophecy to occur. Also, if they believed in the prophecy enough to try to kill their son, they should have had enough faith in the prophecy to know that they could not stop it.

Polybus (Oedipus’ adoptive father) also shares some of the responsibility. He should have told Oedipus about his true heritage. Also, when his son was about to run away, Polybus should have had enough sense to talk to him and find out why he was leaving. If the two of them had talked before Oedipus left, then they probably would have been able to correct the misinformation. This would have made Oedipus stay where he was, and prevented the disaster.

Within the context of the play, Oedipus was obviously guilty. The gods all agreed that he committed a crime. The prophet told him he was guilty. Even his wife/mother said that he was guilty. There is no mistaking that we are supposed to see Oedipus as a horrible person in context of the play. However, it could also be said that because he was simply fulfilling a prophecy, he is not really responsible. From the reference point of the play, it would be impossible for Oedipus to avoid fulfilling the prophecy. Why should a man such as Oedipus be able to override the gods?

This play reaffirms the concept of fate. It says that no man can control his own fate. Even though several people tried with all their might to avoid what fate had in store for them, they simply canceled out each other’s actions. It also shows that only the gods can decide guilt or innocence. If a god says a man is guilty, he must be so. According to this play, the Greeks did not believe in any real concept of agency. All things are according to the dictates of the gods and fate. The fact that Oedipus is guilty in the eyes of all the characters goes to show that a man in Greek society is only worth as much as what the gods think he is worth. Also, the gods dictated his conscience. He did not have any choice but to feel guilty, since Apollo told him he was guilty. In short, the Greeks viewed human agency and moral responsibility in black and white: a man has no agency, but he is morally responsible for any actions he makes. According to modern standards, this is very contradictory, but apparently this did not bother Sophocles.

Unfortunately, I have no solid answer to the question of Oedipus’ guilt. He could not possibly have changed what happened, so how could we blame him? He was simply a pawn in the bigger game of life. He did, on the other hand, commit some very serious crimes. The fact that it was hand that fulfilled the prophecy makes it so that he certainly is not totally exempt of all guilt. Guilty or not, though, Oedipus’ life was ruined by the gods and fate.


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What shall I write of?-poetry
You should keep writing poetry, she says
But what shall I write of?

Let us write of love, as others do.
But what love have I?

Let us write of dark things, as I once did.
But didn’t the grief stop?

Let us write of loss, the pain thereof.
But why should I suffer more?

Let us write of beauty.
But what pale rainbow is as lowly as my speech?

Let us Write of writing
Let us Sing of singing

Let us Live for living’s sake
Let us Cry for crying’s sake

And when none of that works-
Dance.

Jo-Pete Nelson
08-19-02


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:51 PM
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hands-prose
For once, she reached for my hand. Not that we haven’t held hands before, but for once, she made a move. I’ll be perfectly straight… I made it painfully obvious that I was interested in holding hands… but in the end, she reached for mine, and didn’t let go.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening. It was spontaneous and fun and exciting and, best of all, it was with her. When the showing we intended to go to was sold out, we could’ve thrown the hat in and gone home. But instead, we wandered around a little bit. We had dinner at a nice restaurant. We talked, we joked, we laughed. We didn’t dance. But that’s the only thing that I could’ve made better, and the only reason we didn’t dance was because her knee was hurt. Then came the movie.

Right from the beginning, we were sitting dangerously close to each other. Arms brushing and touching and overlapping without any objection from either party. I had already decided that any hand holding would be her decision and I wouldn’t push it. Offer, of course, but not push. But when she suddenly took my hand… magic. For the rest of the movie, she continued making the moves. When she leaned against my shoulder, it was in no way because I had pulled her there.

The pain will come back again. I doubt that it’ll stay like it was. But at least I had the moment… It’s the moments of life that makes it bearable… especially the moments with her.

01-05-02


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One Christmas Morning-poetry
Christmas Morning

Brings such joy
As I spend time with Her.
And wish that we could be something more.

Will Christmas mornings last forever?
The gifts aren’t the important things of life.
I just want to be with Her.

Could it be possible that maybe she feels the same way?
Can this time mean anything to her?
How can I know?

What comes after Christmas?
New Year- how appropriate.
New Year, new life.

Will She be a part of it?

-Summer 2002

uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:49 PM
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yesterday and forever-poetry, song lyric
I cannot ask for yesterday
I do not ask for forever
All I ask is that today
You stay with me and be my girl

date unknown, oct-nov 2002

uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:48 PM
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Girl of Dreams-poetry
Quietly, outstretched arms reach
for eternity

never reaching the distant stars
never seeing the distant sights
never being with the girl of dreams

Silently, somber eyes turn towards
the heavens

never reaching the distant stars
never seeing the distant sights
never being with the girl of dreams

Peacefully, lying in the calmest spot
of her arms

never reaching the distant stars
never seeing the distant sights
never dreaming again

Jo-Pete Nelson
09-20-02


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:47 PM
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'Drown in Pills' reply-poetry
Reason enough, I have to give
To stay your hand
From doing harm to your precious spirit

What right do I have to give
The advice that dwells in my heart
I would that you could live
Without the hurt

But until the day
That you can be free
Let me be reason enough
Let me give you me

If that would change your mind

July, 2002


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December in July-poetry
I’m tired.
Tired of poetry that only comes in December
Tired of having to feel such pain to write such words.
Why can I not write of joy?

Sweet longings for her.
I see her at night, but not in a dream,
A dream is a wish your heart makes.
She’s real. She’s Her.

Or am I loving only love itself?
I long to be happy.
The only way I know is to make someone happy.
Not just anybody, but The One.

I want to mean something to everyone,
But more importantly, I want to mean everything to someone.
Will that someone be you?
When will I find Her?

When will She find me?

July, 2002


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:45 PM
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To sleep...-poetry

To sleep perchance to dream
Sweet dreams of me and you (together)

Love’s Symphony striking chords
On our hearts to last forever

A melody is created by many
Very different notes played

One man’s music has many notes
Strung together to make a song

One boy endures each note
Each one an individual experience

When the orchestra plays it all
It sounds so fluid, but it was solidified
By individual notes, each one
Telling a Story
Sad
Happy
Angry
Hurt

No other man will know
The story behind each note.

Jo-Pete Nelson
11-20-00


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:40 PM
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the dance-poetry
I remember a time when I dance a simple dance
It was usually happy, without any romance
The music was always easy to play
I didn’t worry if it was night or day
I enjoyed that song

I remember a time, a while after this dance
When the song was still simple, with a touch of romance
The beat was trickier, thought I still could keep up
There were plenty of people to keep me held up
I liked that song

I remember the time, the dance got less easy
The movement started to make me feel queasy
I missed a step, maybe 3 or 4
But I kept coming back for some more
I was okay with that song

The dance is now different, I cannot play the song
It looks so beautiful, it lasts for so long
I wish I had someone to show me the beat
So I can start moving with my heart as my feet
What is that song?

Jo-Pete Nelson
March 7, 1998


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:39 PM
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tears-poetry
If you see me crying, just turn your head
I don’t want you to see me this way.
If you see me crying, just shut your eyes
The tears are not ‘cause of you.
If you hear me crying, just walk away
It’s nothin’ that you did.
If you hear me crying, just plug your ears
You shouldn’t have to hear.
If you feel me crying, don’t look in my eyes
I don’t want you to see my pain.
If you feel me crying, don’t hold tight
And you can go on with your life.
If you don’t turn your head, you’ll see me cry
If you don’t shut your eyes, you’ll take the blame
If you don’t walk on by, you’ll say it’s your fault
If you don’t plug your ears, you’ll hear my heart break
If you do look in my eyes, you’ll see my pain
If you do hold on tight, you’ll get trapped in my pain…

…But if you don’t listen to what I say, you’ll save my soul.

Jo-Pete Nelson
March 21, 1998


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:38 PM
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storm-poetry|*|see also Storm 2

Storm


Light flashes across the heavens.
Seconds pass
The world freezes
The distant thunder reaches my ear.
A few drops of liquid crystal fall
Arms stretched out I welcome them.
They dry fast on the hot ground
But more fall.
Soon everything sparkles as the sun hits the afternoon dew.
The sun soon hides
Dark clouds take its place
The drops become more frequent
After a while there are no drops.
They have combined
Small streams running from sky to Earth.
The storm lessens
Gradually the sun shows its fiery face
The fire and water dance a mystical dance
And create small sparks of beauty
To the East they combine
Forming one transparent structure
A rainbow celebrates the cleansing of the Earth

Jo-Pete Nelson
August 16, 1999



uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:28 PM
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puzzle-poetry
All alone- no one to help
I chased them all away long ago

For some reason, it’s taking me
A long time to see the complete picture

I’m confused, the picture seems
Broken into more than a thousand pieces

I see others around me
Finding the whole picture

I examine the fragments laid out
Laid in front of me on the table

I wonder how they go together
I wonder why I haven’t given up

If I’m patient, I may see
What it comes out to be

Many are impatient—they gave up
Long ago, leaving behind a ragged framework

The bright colors—red, blue, yellow
Confuse and distract the mind

Life comes in many colors
But it seems that my picture has a limited spectrum

I finally fit two pieces together
I congratulate myself and wonder why I couldn’t see

One more piece in—but the puzzle is
Only half done—500 pieces to go.

Jo-Pete Nelson
10-13-98


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:27 PM
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not anymore-poetry
I used to be happy
But not anymore
I don’t know why
It just happened that way

I used to like myself
But not anymore
I don’t know why
It just happened that way

I sued to never be lonely
But not anymore
I don’t know why
It just happened that way

I used to have lots of friends
But not anymore
I do know why
I’m just not wanted that way.

Jo-Pete Nelson
April 15, 1998


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:26 PM
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life-poetry
The moon is her mother, but she is the sun
I look at her now, but I just see the stars
I am a fool, I’ve heard that so much
Not from her, not from you.

I’m like a marathon runner, trying my best
The harder I try, the further I get behind
Some seem to think I am strong
But I’m weaker than anyone here

I appear to know my way, yet I cannot find north
Even when I have a compass and map
I feel so dizzy now, can’t even see straight
My life is a blur, tho’ it’s moving so slow

What’d I do? I tried to ask
I got an answer, but I still ask the question
What’d I do?

Jo-Pete Nelson
April 6, 1998


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:24 PM
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he has won-poetry
								He has won

For I have lost

Hope

Of ever winning

Your heart


date unknown, approx 2001-02

uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:23 PM
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Friends-poetry, song lyrics
What happened to that friendship I liked so much?
Why did I have to fall for you?
Why did I tell you I liked you?
Now you’re kicking me while I’m down, You took away my crutch

There’s an empty spot on my wall where you picture used to be.
I never wanted you to love me
But now you seem not to see me
Why can’t you hear, why can’t you see?


The way you treat me hurts, it’s true
I didn’t know how I felt about you.
You said that we could still be friends
But now it seems like this is the end.


You act like you hate me, I hope it’s a lie.
You used to smile at me
Now you avoid me
I want to be happy, I want to cry.

Why can’t you accept me for the way that I am?
I used to smile when I saw you
Now I can’t, I’ve lost you.
I pretend I’m a lion, I act like a lamb.



Now I don’t like you in quite the same way.
You treated me like dirt
Maybe I am dirt
I just wish I could have my say.

Someday you might need a friend.
I don’t know when
I prob’ly won’t love you then
But I will wait for your friendship until the end.

(two times)

date unkown, approx 1997-98


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:21 PM
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friends forever-poetry
Friends forever and a day
Wouldn’t want it any other way
I remember your kind words and I smile
I think of you and I’m happy for a while.

Friends for all eternity
You were always nice to me
I think of your smile and I’m glad
That you never let me feel too sad

Friends for all our years
Years of joy and comforted tears
I’m glad that you can be my friend
I hope this friendship lasts until the end.

Jo-Pete Nelson
6-25-98


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:20 PM
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foolishness-poetry
I feel like a fool now, I pushed you away
I don’t know what to do, don’t know what to say
You never cared for me, I thought we were friends
I wish I could be the way I was then
This pain I feel, it really hurts
Yet it won’t be the last, it isn’t the first
Now I guess I will say what I wanted to say
I’m really sort I treated you this way
Please forgive me for all that I do
And I will try to make it up to you

Jo-Pete Nelson
April 3, 1998


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:19 PM
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everybody-poetry
Everybody knows who I am
But nobody knows me
Everybody sees me
But nobody acknowledges
Everybody sees me hurt
But nobody feels my pain
Everybody hears me
But nobody listens
Everybody sees my smile
But nobody knows my joy
Everybody sees my tears
But nobody knows my sadness
I am here
But I am gone
I am found
But I am lost
I knock
Will anybody answer?

Jo-Pete Nelson
4-9-98


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:17 PM
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dream-poetry
I dream a dream when I see your picture
I wish a wish when I think of your face
You are taken, you were never mine
But I still remember you warm embrace

We were never together, yet I feel we are one
Because friendship is a deeper kind of love
I think of when you smiled at me
And I think of your freedom, you soared like a dove

I remember the laughter, I remember the tears
I remember the catching up on all the years
I remember the joy, I remember the pain
I remember it all, and live it again.

I take your picture in my hand and dream
I think of your beautiful face and wish
But I don’t want you to be in love with me
I just make your happiness my true wish

I think of all the wrong things I did
But I wouldn’t want it any other way
I will always be your friend, you will always be mine
That’s the way that in my heart you’ll stay

I tried to hurt you on that very sad day
But I’m very glad you’re my friend anyway
I messed up so bad, you were still my friend
For that I will be grateful until the end.

Jo-Pete Nelson
6-25-98


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:16 PM
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Diamonds-poetry
I would’ve gotten diamonds,
But the cost way too much,
I would’ve gotten pure gold,
But I can’t afford that such.

I would’ve gotten emeralds
‘cause they’re so pure and green
would’ve gotten rubies,
but they’re worth bills I’ve never seen

So I got you plain old silver,
I hope you like it well,
‘cause I would’ve gotten diamonds,
but they weren’t on a good enough sale.

Jo-Pete Nelson
Date- approx 1997-8?

uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:15 PM
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Birthdays-poetry
One year older, that is true
Some say one year wiser, too
One year’s experience, you may say
But am I any different than yesterday?

We count our birthdays one by one
We eat the cake, we have the fun
But every year come December
I like to make my life even better

Jo-Pete Nelson
December 11, 1997


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 4:14 PM
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contemplations-prose|*|see also Eclectic Memories
Sometimes, the day of the funeral is sunny.

I didn’t cry that day. Mostly, I just thought. Maybe I was afraid of crying. I know that people like to say that it’s good to get it out of the system, but it was almost like crying somehow validated the whole thing. Maybe irrationally and subconsciously I was thinking that maybe if I didn’t let it really touch me, it wouldn’t really be real. Reality works otherwise, though.

I probably thought about her more the month after the funeral than I did the month before. That’s natural, I’m sure. Anything would remind me of her. I found normal trains of thought stopping at the all-too-familiar station time after time. Whether thinking about the time down in Oak Creek Canyon picking berries- blackberries, if my memory serves me correctly- or the cherished memories talking with her on the bus. All thoughts became thoughts of her.

One night, I went for a walk. I don’t remember what specifically upset me. I was a little bit irritated with one of my current friends, I think. I walked toward my dorm room, and walked past, and just kept walking. I wish that I could say that I suddenly found myself two or three miles away with no recollection of the journey. I remember it clearly, though (even more clearly at the time). That was the first night that I know I actually cried. Not that my eyes hadn’t watered or anything before that, but that night was the first time I CRIED. I did end up two or three miles away from home. But I had to suffer every step of the way with the memories and the pain and the “what if”s.

It’s rather fitting, actually, that the day of her funeral saw good weather. She deserved the best. Maybe a couple sprinkles would’ve been nice, though. Then I could’ve imagined her throwing off her shoes and running out in the rain, reveling in the simple existence of life around her. She always was spontaneous like that. Not like the self-centered kind that goes out of their way to make everybody think they’re weird. She was herself, through and through. She just saw a wonderful opportunity in everything around her.

It’s amazing how heavy life can be when you carry its shell out in a coffin. I would’ve gladly shouldered the entire burden myself, though, to hear her again. To watch her run off ahead of us. But she must’ve been there. Running ahead and telling us to laugh. I can’t hear her laugh anymore. But I remember that it was beautiful. Everything about her was beautiful, in the wonderful, natural, sublime way of hers.

Memories fade. I can’t really do anything to prevent that from happening. The worst part is that she isn’t around to make new memories to replace the ones that disappear. Because a moment with her… that was a memory. A dozen moments could fill a week with happiness. And if it was a moment with just the two of you… those are the moments that will probably fill a lifetime. Those precious moments where I thought that maybe- just maybe- I was the one who made her happy.

Sometimes the day of the funeral is sunny. If anybody deserved the sun’s attendance at her funeral, she certainly did.


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 3:56 PM
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Eclectic Memories-prose, eulogy|*|see also contemplations

Eclectic Memories


Dedicated to Nita, Peggy, and Carrie



Intro



I moved to Flagstaff three years ago. Like anybody who moves into a new town, I felt alone and friendless, and I didn’t even have anybody to eat lunch with on the first day. I don’t remember if it was the second day or third day of school that Peggy noticed me sitting alone and, recognizing me from church, invited me over. At the time, I was just happy that I had somewhere to go for lunch, but it very well changed my life.

Peggy was a Bari sax player, but she was also the section leader for the tubas (officially or unofficially, I don’t know). That year, we definitely had the best section anybody could ask for. We did a lot together, so much weird stuff. Carrie was almost immediately adopted into the tuba family, even though she was a clarinet player.

Of course, I didn’t just know Peggy and Carrie from band. We also met at church. I can honestly say that I still remember the very first time that I met Carrie. She was the most vocal person in the Sunday school class. She always did have a knack for saying what she thought at the time she thought it, as did all the Bruces.

Because I can never think of things chronologically or even with a great amount of order, the following is simply going to be random recollections and memories. Some will be a few words, a couple might be a full paragraph.

Random Ramblings



We once had a sectional out at the Bruce’s house in Bellemont. We put the sousaphones in the back of Brent’s truck and drove out there. I was still new, so they were going to teach me how to march. We spent most of the time talking and laughing and a little bit of time with the instruments. We did silly things like play “ten fruits” (I was the victim, since I didn’t know what it was), and had a laughing circle.

One time I was invited to go blackberry picking with the Bruces. I don’t remember all the people who were there, but a group of us went down to Oak Creek to pick blackberries. I think that might have been the first time I really met Nita. After we had picked our fill of blackberries, we went down to the creek for cliff jumping. I was probably the biggest chicken there, but the accepted me anyway (and I was thrown in at least once).

The ward has an annual corn roast out at Lake Mary. I was pulled along for a mud fight on the other side of the Lake. We took canoes over and everybody laughed at me because I didn’t want to get too dirty. I wasn’t there for the mud, I was there for the girls. When it started to rain, we carried the canoes up into the forest a little way and built a little hut.

One of the biggest favors Carrie did for me was that she and Merry made me learn how to country swing. I don’t particularly like country swing, but ever since, I have loved dancing. I hadn’t ever even danced before I moved to Flagstaff. I think it was Peggy who was the first one to get me to dance. Within a couple years, I would go to dances and actually ask a girl for every song. I am forever indebted to Peggy, Carrie, and Merry for making me start dancing.

I mentioned already that the tuba section adopted Carrie. As such, she spent a lot of the time during games up in our section rather than her own. Peggy and Carrie (and sometimes Katie if she was there) would give back massages to anybody who wanted. I was probably the only person who would ever turn them down, because I didn’t like massages.

Carrie turned 16 her Sophomore year. On her birthday, I asked her to the upcoming Prom. It was only my second date and her first, but we had so much fun. The music was horrible so 4 or 5 couples went outside and danced under the stars. Because we had control over the music, every song was a slow song, and the guys alternated between dancing with our date and dancing with another girl. Everybody danced for every song, but I was the lucky one who got to dance with Carrie the most. Because she was one of the girls who first convinced me to dance, it always felt more natural dancing with her. My Mom made her Prom dress, and she loved it so much. It’s the dress that she now wears.

One time, Brent, Jessie, and I took all the Bruce girls (including Katie) and Nicole (or the took us) out for a group date. The three guys tried as much as we could to look like the mafia, shades and all, and the five girls got all dressed up. We then went to Wal-Mart and made fools of ourselves playing silly games and followed up at Del Taco.

It’s the little things that are always remembered.



Butterfly Clips- In Carrie’s hair, attached to sousaphones at games, etc.

Peggyisms- such as “If you do, you’ll pull back a bloody stump” and “Cry me a river, build a bridge, and get over it.”

Nita always had a book in her hands whenever I saw her.

Carrie wearing one of our green berets.

Rides home- the Bruces always gave me a ride home after games or dances, or anything.

Waiting for the ride to come- the Bruces were often late, but it gave me time with Peggy, Carrie, and/or Katie.

Peggy bringing little cakes to celebrate National Tuba Day.

Dancing.

Spending time with Carrie at Disneyland on a band trip.

Cleaning tubas at Windy’s house just before Homecoming.

Flying- two people stand in the center and spin around to make the two outside people fly.

Cutting weeds at the Bruces- I didn’t mind as long as a couple of the girls were around.

Long bus rides to and from band activities, when I got to talk with Peggy and Carrie.

Trying to convince Carrie that she should leave her hair down for Prom. The compromise was that half of it was up and half was down.

Lunch time with our group.

Making fools of ourselves during lunch, playing tag, playing silly games, playing cards (usually scum). The lunch group centered on one or more Bruce girls.

Carrie and Merry visiting me at BYU.

Any number of church activities that were made more exciting by the presence of the Bruce girls.

Taking Carrie ice-skating. I always fell the most.

Going to a movie, but ending up at Windy’s house watching a rented movie instead.

Helping Carrie with math, or astronomy.

In the end.



There are no “good-bye”s, only “See you later”s. Heaven just received a little more joy, a little more chaos, a little more love. We are left with more memories than we can ever count.


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 3:48 PM
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storm 2-poetry|*|see also storm

Light flashes across the heavens
Seconds pass


The world freezes. . . a moment in forever

The distant thunder reaches my ear

A few drops of liquid crystal fall
Casually, indifferent

Arms s t r e t c h e d out I stand beneath the pale blue canopy
And welcome each diamond to the world.
They dry fast on the hot ground
Arizona dust parched from the intensified heat

But more fall

Soon everything shimmers, sparkles, glistens, shines
As the sun hits the afternoon dew

The sun hides.

Light vanquished by an equal foe
Dark more welcome than scorching rays

Dark clouds take their place as king over the skies
Usurping the sun’s natural powers

The drops become more frequent
After a while there are no drops
Each individual
Combines
Small streams running from sky to earth




The storm lessens

Gradually the sun shows its fiery face
The fire and water dance mystical steps of ancient ritual
And create small sparks of beauty
To the east- they combine
Forming one transparent, solidified structure

a RAINBOW celebrates the cleansing and newness of Earth

Jo-Pete Nelson May 07, 2002


uploaded Mon March 10 2003 at 3:43 PM
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