This Dude Abides

April 25, 2010    By: Geoff J @ 3:00 pm   Category: Happiness,Life,The Thang

My 40th birthday is coming up this Tuesday. These birthdays that end with a zero are landmarks so I figured I should post something. (Plus I realized I haven’t written very many posts here this year.)

I was 34 when I started this blog. That doesn’t seem all that long ago but in some important ways I am a different person now than I was then. That is the beauty and danger of digging into metaphysics and philosophy I think; when you tinker with the very core of your beliefs you are adjusting the lens through which you see the universe. Making changes to the lens through which you see the universe (sometimes called shifting paradigms) is interesting in that it may not have immediate and obvious consequences but it will inevitably have massive long term implications.

I’m reminded of this famous quote attributed to Henry David Thoreau:

For every thousand hacking at the leaves of evil, there is one striking at the root.

Of course not every paradigm shift is positive. I suspect that is why some visitors have been leery about the conversations and debates we have hosted here at the Thang over the years. But as for me, I’m convinced that the lens through which I see the universe now is more accurate than the one I had in 2004. More importantly, I think my current view of the universe is more conducive to sustainable prosperity and peace and joy for my family and me than my old views. And as Lehi taught, men are that they might have joy.

So what does this have to do with the title of my post? Well, for one thing I’ve survived 40 years so this dude abides in that sense. I reckon I have no more than 70 years left before I die. (With advances in medicine I see no reason why we Gen Xers won’t live obscenely long lives in some cases.) But on top of that, my creeping universalism that has arisen from years of studying Mormon theology has forever changed me. I’m just more mellow now which is a characteristic The Dude was famous for. Having very little anxiety about a vengeful God has that effect I guess.

I used to lean toward being a Mad Max Mormon, sort of expecting the end of the world and the second coming in my life. Now I’m a more optimistic Star Trek Mormon who thinks Jesus would prefer to delay Armageddon and not return here for many thousands of years if we will just work with him a little. I further stopped quietly gunning for church callings along the way. I have friends in my stake that have pointedly ask me what happened and how or why I got off of the upwardly mobile track in church. I suppose what happened is that I shifted paradigms and came to the conclusion that being a primary teacher really is just a good as being an apostle when it comes to my salvation.

Would the church be better if lots of others saw the universe the way I do? I don’t know. But the odds of people seeing the universe the way I do are so slim it is a moot question to begin with. What I can say is that I am really, deeply contented in life right now. Life may indeed get better than this, but my life at 40 is hard to beat. This dude abides.


Associated song: Hard Fi — Hard To Beat


  1. I appreciate this post. I turn 30 next month and I often reflect on my ‘paradigm shift’ I made – interestingly enough when I was 24. I am not the same person I was 6 years ago, but I like where I am today. I have grown and I feel I have more joy in my life. I also feel very passionately about the paradigm shift I experienced and feel that many people would benefit from something similar, but that is just me. Thanks again for the post.

    Comment by dallske — April 25, 2010 @ 4:35 pm

  2. It’s hard to remain a Mad Max Mormon when you have kids. You inexorably start hoping that sort of thing doesn’t happen in your kids lifetimes. The Mad Max Mormon is better suited to the single teenager or twenty something hoping for adventure.

    Comment by clark — April 25, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

  3. You got a good sasparilla? I’m turning 34 this year, I stopped gunning for callings as soon as I learned there was work involved, and I became a universalist on my mission, so I shudder to think what kind of heretic I’ll be when I turn 40. Happy birthday old man.

    Comment by Jacob J — April 25, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

  4. Would the church be better if lots of others saw the universe the way I do?

    I’m better for it. Thanks for the years of good thoughts, and happy birthday—here’s hoping your rugs stay dry.

    Comment by BrianJ — April 25, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

  5. I find myself emotionally in agreement with you Geoff. As I get older (I’m younger than you, but still aging), I become decreasingly confident that even the best theologies really come close to describing the indescribable. Not that they’re not useful languages though.

    On the other hand, I found orthodoxy to be very important and formative to me when I was younger, and I’m not sure I would have had a superior experience had my parents been lovey universalists like I’m becoming. I’m not yet sure how I will raise my kids when I have them. Probably just one day at a time.

    Comment by Syphax — April 25, 2010 @ 6:22 pm

  6. Geoff. Congrats on the 40. I’m apparently about a year younger than Jacob,but the Journey of the Thang and our discussions here has been a pandora’s box type event for me, where there is no going back and no closing my eyes now that they are open. So thanks, you’ve changed my life, and I believe made me a better mormon.

    Comment by Matt W. — April 25, 2010 @ 6:51 pm

  7. Happy Birthday Dude!

    Comment by Flipflopmama — April 25, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

  8. Happy birthday, Geoff. Few (if any) LDS blogs have had as much an influence on me as the Thang, my sad underexposure to the corpus of philosophy and metaphysics notwithstanding. Keep it up.

    Comment by Ben Pratt — April 25, 2010 @ 9:32 pm

  9. I tried to think of some way to work in ‘Abide With Me’ without sounding … lame. I could not do it.

    Happy birthday.

    Comment by Eric Nielson — April 26, 2010 @ 3:52 am

  10. Cheers, man.

    Comment by J. Stapley — April 26, 2010 @ 8:40 am

  11. Happy Birthday from one of NCT’s top lurkers. Thanks for having all those debates with Matt so I didn’t have to-which left me free to focus on debating over things like the dishes. Strange to have someone so much in your life that you’ve never met, but glad for it.

    Comment by Matt W.'s wife — April 26, 2010 @ 8:42 am

  12. From one Bloggernacle old git to another, I salute you Geoff. I’m sad our paths have never crossed IRL.

    Comment by Ronan — April 26, 2010 @ 9:30 am

  13. Things will only progress in the same direction as they are now as you get older. I will be 59 in August. I believe very little of the things I did in the mission field. For good or bad, that just seems to be the way things are for those who are not content to let well-enough alone.

    Happy Birthday.

    Comment by CEF — April 26, 2010 @ 9:49 am

  14. I’m glad you abide with us.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — April 26, 2010 @ 11:29 am

  15. Wow you are old as all hell. So glad I am not old like you.

    Comment by Steve Evans — April 26, 2010 @ 2:29 pm

  16. I’m only months behind you. Best wishes on your big day, and (more importantly) congrats on finding your groove.

    Comment by Randy B. — April 27, 2010 @ 6:32 am

  17. Reading something that describes me so well was a bit eerie – only I’m looking bakc at my 40th birthday as it fades from sight.

    Everything else – I can really relate. Thanks!

    Comment by Ray — April 27, 2010 @ 10:30 am

  18. I recently turned 39. It is a good place to be in life. I recommend it highly.

    Comment by jks — April 27, 2010 @ 10:43 pm

  19. Geoff J.
    Curious. Do you think that this ‘better view’ we tend to develop is because we were taught wrongly, understood wrongly, or just a result of new light in general?

    Comment by Hal — April 28, 2010 @ 8:23 am

  20. Mega dittos!

    Comment by Kent (MC) — April 28, 2010 @ 8:25 am

  21. Hal: Do you think that this ‘better view’ we tend to develop is because we were taught wrongly, understood wrongly, or just a result of new light in general?

    Probably all of the above. As I noted before, I think it is possible that good theology may just be defined as a theology that leads to good behavior (even when it occasionally leans on erroneous metaphysical assumptions).

    Comment by Geoff J — April 28, 2010 @ 9:07 am

  22. Congratulations Geoff! I am only months behind you too.

    Comment by Mark D. — April 28, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

  23. Geoff, that idea (in post 21) is actually profound and is one I will definitely be using in my conversations with others.

    Comment by Kent (MC) — April 29, 2010 @ 1:41 pm