Friday, September 30, 2011

Eternal Families Eternally Enshrined in Art

Every time I enter the Family History Library across from Temple Square in Salt Lake City, I am greeted by family.

 At least it's not "political."

"The Eternal Family through Christ" by Judith Mehr.
Entrance to LDS Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah
It's hard to do a larger-than-life mural justice on a computer screen. Click here for a fuller view as well as an interpretation of the mural.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Richard L. Bushman: Honorary Passionate Moderate Mormon

I was not able to attend this lecture, but I read a report from Peggy Fletcher Stack in the Salt Lake Tribune. Professor (Brother) Bushman is right on my themes of moderation and political tolerance that should be coming out of Mormonism. He may even be a bit more optimistic about all this than I am. But I welcome the voice.

He is the author of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. This is a great biography, some have characterized as "warts and all," while I see it more as a fascinating, true story of a real human being who many millions, including Bushman and yours truly respect and honor as a prophet of God. Read it. I heartily recommend it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Christie and Palin sound like Sherman saying, "Flirting Is Hell."

Sherman is Hell. Just ask Georgia and South Carolina
Sorry for swearing. And here I am getting ready for conference. Sigh. Actually, the quote I am looking for was that if you don't want to run for President, then you need to be upfront and direct like William Tecumseh Sherman and say, "I will not accept if nominated, and will not serve if elected."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

LDS General Conference Prep: Actually, Review from 35 Years Ago

One of my few blog followers expressed that she is looking forward to my live-blogging of LDS General Conference. I still find it surprising that those are some of my most popular posts. Looking forward to this weekend (and I do enjoy conference weekend) I remembered that I have my digital transcription of my mission journal/letters/notes including the conference I watched while in the Language Training Mission (LTM). That was in the original buildings of the current Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah, just after its dedication (9/27/1976 - also in my journal!). So, as a little conference preparation and with some interesting historical perspective, I cut and paste my notes here below.

I am most pleased that my note-taking as a 19-year-old holds up pretty well. But then, so do the messages. Asterisks were added contemporaneously to the talks or points I found especially of interest. The bold highlight on Elder Maxwell's name reflects that as well for his classic discourse.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cool! I Finally Have a Blog Frenemy!

This morning, I received an e-mail from one of my regular followers notifying that it appeared someone had attempted a little cyber-bullying going through all my past postings for some time and clicking on "dislike." This was on all of them, political, religious, personal, and otherwise. I found it highly entertaining. My passion is generally so moderated I don't stir up a lot of contention. I've had a few challenging comments but not as many as some were expecting. It's hard to argue with a moderate. Most dissenters simply dismiss me as no threat without a second thought. (Hence, their eventual surprise when we meek actually do inherit the earth!)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Political Apologies, as in True Repentance: Ya know it when ya see it.

In Sunday School today we read this from Romans:
There is none righteous, no not one.
With all the Republican primary candidates trying to prove how "Christian" they are and how their opponents "aren't," this scripture comes as a friendly little reminder (most having forgotten all about the "no religious test" of the U.S. Constitution, Article VI). And it also reminds us of all the sad history of political apologies, I mean the apologies of politicians because nobody really apologizes for politics (take Cheney's book, for example). The non-partisan list of those politicians apologizing for getting caught in their various indiscretions goes on and on. I've racked my brain to think of one of those that I thought was really sincere, and I'm still thinking. So if anyone out there has any ideas on that, please let me know.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Snake River Crossing

Snake River Crossing at I-84--Idaho on the left, Oregon on the right.
September 21, 2011
Last week I was in the land of my birth as I have throughout all my life never staying, always passing through. It was evening and the late-afternoon sun was bright in the west across Oregon. I looked up the river to the south to make out my birthplace but never quite hometown of Nyssa, Oregon.

I passed over much higher once on a commercial flight head pressed against the little window watching the river, towns, and my Grandpa's dairy farm like reading a map. Another time I was in a small, government plane flying a little lower heading away from the dawn sensing a flight through the same fluffy clouds I had tried to grab onto with my fingers to slow that first, spiritual arrival to my earthly form.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Gary Johnson Is Not Mormon

Pretty much from the start of this blog, the most common searches that hit me are asking whether the Republican candidates for President, especially Gary Johnson, are Mormon. Even though I have personally seen former Governor Gary Johnson in a Mormon Church at an Eagle Scout Dinner, he is not Mormon. Just to set the record straight, here is the definitive list:

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Passionately Moderate Suburban Seattleite

Olympic Mountains across Puget Sound on Elliott Bay
September 19, 2011
In Seattle for a work meeting brings me to a theme I have thought about a lot without any definitive answers. Seattle is a beautiful place, yes, even in the rain. And there is a calm, easy-going, positive personality to the place and the people. Having grown up in the suburbs of Seattle, I wonder how much a place can shape personality. Were my formative years in the Seattle area a factor in moderating me?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Brother Udall's Home Teacher

Well, he didn't really see me that way. And we didn't follow any traditional practices. In fact, it was more of a developing friendship - just the way it should be.

Stewart Udall 1920-2010. Secretary of the Interior 1961-1969

Friday, September 16, 2011

McGinnis Will Have to Take Care of Palin without Me

I canceled my order of McGinnis's book since it hadn't shipped yet. It's not just because I was feeling guilty to be accountable to a public on this blog, few though you may be. I would have done it anyway had no one known just because it was making me uncomfortable and I have better options for my limited book buying budget.  But I thought I'd better report it here as I already announced the now canceled purchase.

The more I see of reviews and advance peeks, the more it appears that the book will be petty and non-substantive. Not that it wouldn't be a perfect match for Sarah, but I was hoping for something with a little more journalistic or literary merit. And I really would like to see a serious explanation of the Palin phenomenon because my only sense of it is that it was all petty and non-substantive. At least the ugly result will be just too much controversy swirling around to allow her ever to be a serious candidate. The sheer weight of all the tawdriness destroys any gravitas she could ever attempt.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Moral Decline of America

It's not about drugs, sex, and rock & roll. - or even gays. It was bad enough to hear people cheer executions in Texas in one of the debates. But hearing people cheer for those who die because they are in comas and don't have medical insurance, that was about the most horrifyingly immoral political message I have ever heard. If you didn't see it, here it is:


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

So Long, Sarah!

Actually, she will be around for a while longer. And she will be getting A LOT of attention next week when Joe McGinnis's book comes out. It looks like it will be a pretty hard-hitting treatment from the author and brief next-door-neighbor of the Palin's. However annoying it may have been to have him next door, it was Sarah who insinuated that he was a sex pervert. This from the same mother grizzly who frequently hides behind her children.

And I will read the book. (It's on order from Amazon). Some of you may wonder why when I am such a moderate and fair guy and wouldn't touch Cheney's book with a ten-foot pole. Am I being fair and objective? Not really. I find Palin appalling for reasons I have set out. And thanks to McGinnis, I think there will be more to come. I want to understand better. This book will be far more controversial and interesting than Cheney's book could ever be. It will likely be a significant historic and cultural event in and of itself.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ponzi Perry's Pity Party

Rick Perry almost won me over today when he expressed surprise at the reaction from some in the crowd at the tea party Republican debate last night who cheered about people in comas without insurance being left to die. But then I remembered that ya gotta dance with the one that brung ya. And Perry as much as anybody is responsible for stirring up tea party conservative extremism.

One thing you can say is that he is stubborn enough not to flip-flop on most things. He's sticking to his guns (I don't know if they're the blanks or laser-targeted ones) on the Ponzi nature of Social Security. The reason why he is wrong on this even if it makes libertarian sense (watch me do my Jedi lawyer tricks) is that it is not a Ponzi scheme because it is legal. Congress made it so. Of course it is not sustaining itself financially through payroll deductions. It didn't do so in the beginning either. It was only created that way as a "legal fiction" to help sell it politically at passage and continuing over the years so we would take responsibility for it - as President Reagan and Tip O'Neill did in the 1980s. It was fixed then and can be fixed now. All it takes is political will and responsibility. And if you want to challenge the constitutionality, I think the statute of limitations has run on that. Actually, there is no technical limitation on Constitutional Law except that the arc of history generally bends forward - unless, of course, you're entertaining the crowds at tea party events.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tea Party Republican Debate

We'll make another attempt to live-blog. However, I may get drawn away for family night activities. . . .

This debate could be entertaining if they actually let real tea party people ask real questions. We'll see. . . .

The big news is that T-Paw endorsed Mitt. Kenneth the Page (Gov. Jindal) endorsed Rick Perry. That about evens things up.

And Secretary of State Clinton fails to take Uncle Dick's bait to entertain a challenge to President Obama. Yeah, right, Dick. Just because you thought you could manipulate or bully Secretaries Powell and Rice, doesn't mean Hillary will even give you the time of day.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My Tribute to Something Better

Sure, as an eternal optimist, I get awfully discouraged. 9/11 about did me in in a psychological sense even if my life was not directly threatened. I often wonder what effect I can have to improve the world in a positive way. I certainly can't  prevent that kind of horror. I have a job with the federal government. I try to do some good in the world. I volunteer at church with young men (well, not entirely voluntarily). I write a blog. I have a few dozen people who read me now and then. I get discouraged.

There's a movie that I very much admire on my themes of idealism and good intentions in the face of life's horror. Maybe you can catch a TV version where the worst language and a very graphic scene of violence are toned down because I don't like recommending movies of certain ratings. The movie is The Fisher King. Yep - a modern version of Holy Grail mythology. Jeff Bridges is a radio shock-jock who falls drunken into gutters and near violent death after his irresponsible remark on the radio sends a guy over the edge to commit a mass slaughter. Bridges's character "Jack" is redeemed by taking on the quest of an insane and severely wounded "Parry" played by Robin Williams. The grail is obtained in a very odd way, and the Fisher King is healed. And all that in New York City.


Friday, September 9, 2011

9/11 Ten Years Gone

The horror of September 11, 2001 came over me slowly. The first reports were from the rock station playing on the car radio. Thinking it was somebody’s bad joke I switched to an all-news AM station where the disaster was confirmed. The fragmented news reported a car bomb at the State Department and smoke behind the White House, perhaps the old Executive Office Building. The Interior Department sits between the two.  I became very concerned about my co-workers and friends at Main Interior.

I was on my way to Gallup to meet with the Navajo Regional Director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs on an archaeology contract with the Navajo Nation. Switching my private vehicle for a government car at the Southern Pueblos Agency at Indian School and Twelfth Street, I drove west on I-40. The news reports clarified that the smoke in D.C. was coming from the Pentagon. I realized then that this was not just a horrible New York disaster but an attack on the United States.


Nine Mile Hill was sunny as I crested into the valley of the Rio Puerco. I pulled off the Interstate where the “Grapes of Wrath” bridge is preserved as a monument to old Route 66. Finding a pay phone, I called on my government card to Gallup, then my office, then on my personal card to home. After a few rounds of calls it became clear that the meetings in Gallup were canceled for being utterly pointless under the circumstances and I was needed back in my office as supervisor because the government was going into emergency mode.

Who Put the "Vice" in President?

Weird. Just weird. Well, and very disturbing.
Leaving Clinton aside for the most part, I'm actually addressing Vice Presidents, or candidates for such. Our present one is relatively harmless in spite of his big mouth which sometimes even has a "potty" component. But, certainly harmless when compared to Uncle Dick.

What prompted this is the realization of how bad some of the candidates for Vice President have been in recent years. The Right is finally realizing that with 2/3-Governor Palin. And those of us who never liked her and saw right through the pageant queen of the McCain roll-out are biting our tongues so we don't say, "We told you so." (oops. I slipped).

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"I am the tailor's face and hands"

A couple of my boys are here but my wife is out of town this week and it's lonely. A song has been haunting me that, of course, popped up on shuffle play this morning. I really like this odd and hard-to-interpret song of Paul Simon's that, while clearly about a liberated woman of the 60's, sure sounds like my dear wife:

When she goes, she's gone. 
If she stays, she stays here. 
The girl does what she wants to do. 
She knows what she wants to do. 
And I know I'm fakin' it,
I'm not really makin' it. 

The Prez vs. Congress

Another attempt at live-blogging. Will we see a feisty Prez or a conciliatory Prez? The Repubs have been playing this fairly well, passing on the theme the media, and even some Dems, that they have outmaneuvered him and he is weak, no leader. But isn't that how it works when you hold a majority like the Repubs do in the House? They should be able to outmaneuver. Let's see if he can challenge them for things they may actually have to accept because they are their sort of issues, or have to respond to the People, who may respond to the Prez's call for action.

Bug-Bombing the Immigration Debate

Facebook, we all know, is a blessing and a curse. I've been able to restart at least casual conversation with family and friends I haven't seen for years. Mostly, that's good. Occasionally, something pops out of the woodwork on the postings or comments that makes me scratch my head - or at least remind me to be careful about what I post. And I have slapped my own fingers to stop typing something that was too negative, or  demeaning. And there are a few, rare occasions when I have blocked or "unfriended" someone for inappropriate comments or lost connections.

Last night I was very concerned by a comment on a posting by a relative of mine. This is a fairly close biological relative, yet we haven't had a lot of contact over the years and while committed to the same religious tradition, we view life in very different ways. This has been one of those connections that has been fun to make after all the years in spite of our differences. One of those generic postings against illegal immigration appeared which I think I've even seen before and take as a matter of course. I didn't respond as I have learned that Facebook arguments are rather pointless. (And I have this forum uniquely under my control for self-expression!) But then this comment popped up:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Republicans & Airplanes: LIVE Blogging (attempted)

From the odd venue of the airplane hanger at the Reagan Library. (If they don't believe in Science, well, except for Huntsman and maybe Mitt, how do they explain mechanical flight?)

What a coup that MSNBC snatched Michael Steele. He reminds me of that guy from our freshman dorm we parodied (very kindly) in the end-of-year skits. He had so much fun with it, he joined right in!

Peggy Noonan is good to have - solid Reagan Republican who has it out for the tea party.

Monday, September 5, 2011

More Heaven In Britain

We may be a little slow, but we finally saw Harry Potter 7.2 for a family Labor Day activity. Remembering the book, I was looking forward to Harry's "out-of-body" experience at King's Cross Station in between death and return to life. The scene did not disappoint. How glad I am that my wife and I used that extra little hour to take a ride on the tube on our last evening in London! We can now say we have been to heaven - at least the one in Harry's head.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Son of a Welshman!

I don't have any confirming data, but I hear that the biggest use of the internet world-wide is for, er, pornography. The second most popular usage may be for genealogical, family history research. I find that quite a stark contrast. On the one hand is an activity of questionable propriety in building solid family relationships, or at least feeling close to a Godly spirit. And the other is an attempt, in LDS religious terms, to connect with our ancestors and perform sealing ordinances in sacred Temples to actually heal families, including those who in life were never well connected due to sometimes very ugly circumstances of illegitimacy or even much worse. I mean, the very prurient, sometimes horrifyingly vile behavior occasionally resulting in unintended innocent birth ends up as a purified connection through the Lord's priesthood authority. The Light and Life of the world will conquer sin and death. That is Atonement at its most astounding.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Seattle Kids' TV: A Rich Legacy

I had good parents. Yet, as a child of the 60s I watched a lot of TV. It helped shape my personality.  Some, like my wife, might even say it warped my personality. But that's from somebody who sees this picture:
. . . and thinks "clown." Any true child of Seattle will not see a "clown," rather a real person who had more influence, certainly more time with us, than any grade school teacher and maybe almost as much as our own parents. He was on for an hour in the morning and an hour after school. And then there was another hour on Saturday mornings. That's eleven hours a week. Certainly more time than I spent in Sunday School and Primary.

Dick "Gadianton" Cheney

In family scripture reading this morning we were in Helaman 6. I was mentally likening unto us and thinking of suspects who might be the Gadianton Robbers among us today. The usual suspects came to mind, urban gangs, the Mafia, terrorists, the Tri-lateral Commission (just kiddin'). And then it came to me, Dick Cheney!
Don't ever ask your crazy Uncle who he thinks should be your Vice President