Monday, October 31, 2011

Death Needs More Respect

I enjoy Halloween with its pagan traditions. I even like the idea of an "All Saints Day" that follows even if outside my own religious faith as I like holy people even more. But imagination, magic, ghosts, a scary story or two, even a "Ghostbusters" movie, and especially the trick-or-treating are fun except that I enjoyed it a lot more when I was a little kid and didn't have to keep answering the door bell. What I really don't like about Halloween is the pretend gore, especially that associated with the commercial haunted houses - or horror pics. Or jumping out and scaring people. Oh yeah, and zombies.

I read in some pop psychology-type articles that some people crave the adrenalin rush they get from being scared. Others may have adequate stimulation with regular life. For me, reading a book and taking a nap are plenty of stimulation. I think there is also a psychological aspect to confronting fear and even gory death in a sufficiently fake and safe environment. It's sort of a way to deal with or even hide from the reality of our own potential gore and death.

In real life we do eventually have to face those things. Some think I'm odd because they just don't bother me that much.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Liberal Mormon and the Irony of Romney & Huntsman

I'm not saying that Romney and Huntsman are liberal. That would just be silly. But I am struck by the odd situation that in spite of the very strong political conservatism that runs through cultural Mormonism, when I see Huntsman and Romney in the midst of the Republican field for the presidential nomination, they are the sanest members of crazy-town. And I don't think I''m the only one that has noticed.

Now, both of them certainly have their problems and are unlikely to get my support in a general election. Huntsman just pegged Romney accurately as a "well-oiled weather vane" which also does in Huntsman's promise to run a "positive" campaign. But there is a basis for rational, progressive politics in Mormonism, even if you set aside Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as most Mormons and conservatives tend to do anyway.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Truth and Love with Honors

I attended a very beautiful funeral today. It may seem odd, but I really love funerals, especially Mormon funerals which I find so uplifting and positive because of the strength of powerful faith that this life is not the end and there will be a glorious resurrection. This funeral also included military honors as the deceased was a Navy Veteran of World War II. It was not at a National Cemetery which sometimes are limited to abbreviated ceremonies due to budget cuts and increasing demands. The elderly Veterans who served their brother-in-arms today performed a very moving, patriotic, graveside service.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

7n>∞ (where n=never)

I've had my troubles in life and still do. One of them is Math- so I think I got that equation right. Much more importantly I've had to learn and practice painful repentance because of problems I have brought on myself. The one thing I have learned above all else is that the Lord loves me and always will. I am nothing without His Grace.

This came to me a few years back with I was overcoming some challenges by my hard work mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and even physically. And absolutely none of it would have worked without the Grace of God.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Romance of Protest

The Sixties are often a blur to me, difficult to pin point specific dates in my childhood memory. The recent “Occupy” protests have reminded me of a vivid memory of a sunburn in Seattle, that alone would be a memorable event, but it was a tan worn as a badge of some rebellious honor by one of my mom’s former MIA girls.

I remember it without any romantic thought of even pre-adolescent crushes. The romanticism was classic as she appeared at Sacrament meeting one evening after having skipped Sunday School in the morning to attend an anti-war protest at the University of Washington. Just skipping church was an attractive rebellion, and then to have the war protest on top of that!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Christians? Maybe A Fourth Way

Or first, depending on where you start counting. The whole dispute over "Are Mormons Christians?" I find kind of silly. Besides the total irrelevance of the question in political considerations - as in, "no religious test" under the U.S. Constitution, I see the conversation going something like this:

"You're not a Christian!"

"Yes, I am!"

"No, you're not."

When Jesus Christ Himself had silly questions or accusations leveled at Him, He either refused to answer or turned it back on the challengers. "Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others . . . ?" "A certain man went down from Jerusalem . . . ." Maybe we should respond with something like, "Have you asked of God?"

Monday, October 24, 2011

Remember the Slave Masters! er, the ALAMO!


Actually, it would have been Mexico City in Spanish in 1836. It reminds me of the time, quite a few years ago when it was safer to stroll the streets of Ciudad Juarez, I was in the museum reading the interpretive signs on the exhibits about the settlement of "Tejas" by someone named Esteban Austin. As I was reading and thinking in Spanish (no English translation) my head was pronouncing it "ow-STEEN." And I stopped. And still in my head I said, "Wait a minute! That's Stephen Austin!" It was interesting to see a little of the history of Mexico from a different perspective.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Practical Spirituality

I'm sure I'm going off the deep end here into metaphysical and theological issues that have been argued through the ages by intellects infinitely greater than my weak mind. My whole point here, though, is to try to keep this as simple as possible. With my posting of late last night about an inexplicable, possibly spiritual impression, I realized that my personal faith which I'm pretty sure is well grounded in my religious tradition, requires spiritual revelations to make sense.

That's maybe going to be a howler to many out there who have a good time with the oddities of historical and theological Mormonism. I'm going to put that aside for the moment as I have addressed it elsewhere on this blog to some extent. My point is very personal and very practical. Spiritual manifestations have to mean something. My mind and spirit both require an answer to the question, "What is the point?"

Saturday, October 22, 2011

"Return to the Holy Yew"

This blogger & the ancient, possibly pre-Christian Yew at St. Mary's Churchyard,
Cusop, Herefordshire, on the border with Wales August 16, 2010.
I've had a few, clear spiritual experiences in my life. I don't often share them as I hold them most sacred. This one, I think was a spiritual manifestation, and I share it here mainly because, unlike the others, it doesn't make any sense. Maybe somebody can help me figure it out.

Who's Your Senator? New Mexico Edition

The Honorable Gentlewoman B
The Honorable Gentleman A

The Honorable Gentleman D
The Honorable Gentleman C

Answers after the jump:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What Free Market?

It's fine if you believe in a theoretical or philosophical free market - even if you believe than any decision on the economy should move more toward that freedom. I think I understand that position. My personal view is that a free market subject to regulation by a democratically-elected representative form of government is preferred. I respect and believe in the right of individual property and its protections. I am not a Socialist. But could someone please tell me where that pure, free market has ever existed or how it ever will exist except in pure theory? And, by what authority?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Western Republican Debate - Slightly Late Live Blogging

OK. I had to go to a marching band competition.

As I turn on the TV, I see the newt pontificating on tax policy and Cain look like he's been squirming a little. This is supposed to be "beat up on Herman" night. Then Bachmann comes on a little shrilly about repealing the tax code and making the poor people pay. And Perry seems to be on the stump preachin' up the drill-baby-drill! (and we thought we would miss Sarah).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Who's Your Senator? Idaho Edition

The Honorable Gentleman B
The Honorable Gentleman A

The Honorable Gentleman C
The Honorable Gentleman D

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Who's Your Senator? Utah Edition


We Can't Be Perfect without Each Other

While riding the bus to work yesterday morning, I had one of those flashes of spiritual insight. I was reading the latest BYU Studies, Vol. 50, No. 3 (2011), which about as far as I go with subscriptions to scholarly journals not being much of an intellectual myself. There is an article in there by a non-Mormon theologian, Stephen H. Webb, who stumbled on Mormonism while studying the obscure Christian concept of "Heavenly Flesh Christology." He was amazed to find in the unique teachings of Joseph Smith interesting reconciliation of many of the conflicts of the early Christians about the nature of God and Christ along with the whole concept of a physical world and human existence. If the internet still exists two years in the future, then you can read it on line at BYU Studies. Otherwise, you have to get a subscription or go to some library that has one. The article's title is "Godbodied."

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Will Republicans Play the Cain Card?

This is fraught with danger. And I recognize the difficult history of race relations in my own religious tradition. We are doing so much better now and there were always heroes like Mitt's Dad, Michigan Governor George Romney, who really was a champion of Civil Rights and may actually have marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. more than just figuratively.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Bloomberg Republican Debate LIVE-BLOGGING

Well, we'll give it a try. My wife is using my netbook because she needs two screens to do her homework to re-certify as a substitute teacher. She already has a few gigs lined up as they still have a shortage of science teachers. With federal pay frozen, tuition, dental, and medical expenses spiking in the family budget, she is going back into the work force. So, Republicans- What are you going to do for us? Oh yeah, cut taxes, cut aid to schools, cut social services, kill health care reform, maybe some more wars. Yeah, we get all that.

Anyway, I'm using my boy's hand-me-down MacBook because our antiquated desktop PC is too darn slow. This keyboard is kinda funky though.  I think I did find the Bloomberg channel - not one I watch much (if ever).

Sunday, October 9, 2011

No [cultist] Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any office or public Trust under the United States

You have no idea how annoying this is. I have not intention of voting for Romney for president because I like the one we have. I can't vote in the closed Utah Republican Primary because I'm not registered that way. And I would prefer the old, moderate Romney to the new one who has been pandering to the right and misrepresenting the positions of our current President (the whole "apology" obsession thing). And yet, I feel some responsibility to defend Romney against some in the fundamentalist base of his party with their charges that he is disqualified to be president on the basis of religion. So I'll do it this way:

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Constitution Is Not Dead

Do you realize the implication of those like Justices Scalia and Thomas, along with Beck and the late Skousen who argue against a "living Constitution?" I hope they are not saying the Constitution is dead. I much prefer a living Constitution to a dead one.

As far as I can tell, I don't believe those who promote a living Constitution believe it is a "free-for-all" to interpret however we want. To draw a little scriptural analogy, which many on the right are so fond of anyway in spite of the First Amendment and the "no religious test" of Article VI, why can't we "liken the Constitution unto us" and consider its principles as applied to our current situation?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Anarchists Occupy and Ron Paul Supporters Come Full Circle

Proving the political continuum is not a line but a circle, the Occupy Wall Street Movement marched through downtown Salt Lake with dispossessed Libertarians. As we watched from the windows of the Federal Building, they were at least smart enough to realize that a branch of the Federal Reserve was across the street and that's where they focused their pass-by march rather than just yelling at us for trying to serve the public. There were over 200 of them which beats out the last tea party tax day protest by a long shot.

Pretty cool design - the whole red revolution-thing going
with the socialist (oops, "industry") beehive 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dontcha Hate It When I'm Right?

Palin says she's not running for President. And as a final blow from the liberal, lame-streamers, Steve Jobs, the Thomas Edison of the iPod, dies and steals her headlines.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Utah Legislature Pizza Special: Hold the Pepperoni!

The Utah State Legislature is in special session! Oh, no! Actually, I hate being the eternal optimist, but I just don't think it's as bad as all that. People, especially Congressman Matheson, are pretty upset that they just sliced him out of the Congress with their pizza knife to form a new Congressional District. And that is a shame. Yet he's used to a difficult election every two years. Now he will have his option to go after a state-wide office, maybe Governor, maybe Senator to replace Orrin Hatch. And there's a chance he could even make it.

The gerrymandering charge may be valid. Yet the Republicans seem to have a fool-proof defense in articulating four districts with a mix of rural and urban without having to articulate a Salt Lake/Park City only district that could be a Democratic stronghold. With no extensive racial minority neighborhoods anywhere in the state, except for small, urban pockets of Hispanics and Polynesians in West Valley City, and a real scattering of Indian Tribes throughout the state, there is no clear manipulation that would dilute the vote of suspect classes. For good or ill, mildly progressive, Democratic neighborhoods on the east side of Salt Lake County and up to Park City, don't count as a protected class.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Where Are the Court Rolls for the Borough of English Hay on the border of the former counties of Brecon, Radnor, and Herefordshire?

Hay Castle, Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales, August 21, 2010, Now a bookstore. Who could ask for more?
Note the War Memorial prominent center right.
I get more traffic with my LDS General Conference postings than anything else - even a handful of hits from Britain. So, I'm taking advantage to throw this out there in an attempt to find a record that has to exist somewhere but has so far alluded us as well as our Welsh researcher. Maybe someone will be intrigued by the mystery and offer good suggestions or clues. Maybe somebody actually has this record or at least knows where it is.

LIVE BLOGGING! LDS General Conference Notes: Sunday Afternoon, October 2, 2011

Sorry. I'm not asleep. Dinner was late. So, we're back at it: See it live here.

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Spoke about covenants [I was listening]
If I got this right, he said the visit of the Father to the Prophet Joseph Smith was to restore the Abrahamic Covenant.
We take on the Abrahamic Covenant by entering into sacred covenants in this life.

LIVE BLOGGING! LDS General Conference Notes: Sunday Morning, October 2, 2011

You could be watching live here. The Choir broadcast is already streaming live.

My second youngest boy, age 17, went off with friends to the morning session. Now we all have to watch the crowd shots closely for him. Let's hope he's not at the top for the final smile. (Probably the engineers are watching for something like that.)

You never know who to expect from family dropping in for conference and the eventual Sunday dinner. Most likely, the grandsons will be by. In-laws not coming so we can cook the ham (sodium issues). Which means I now get to peel potatoes.

Spuds peeled. On to Conference:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Priesthood Session LATE Blogging: October 1, 2011

This is now online for all to watch. It was probably online live.

While our chapel has now gone wireless, and I know the password, I think I will still refrain from live-blogging the priesthood session on my netbook which could prove too much of a distraction to others. Although it might keep me and others more awake. I'll just have to try and scribble some notes in the inevitable darkness (they turn out all the lights to watch the screen!). And I'll try to blog highlights later.

I still don't know why they don't just broadcast it on TV. It's not any big secret or anything. To the credit of the LDS Institute at the U, they will rebroadcast at 9 pm so people can see it after the football game with the U of Washington Huskies. We'll see if any of my boys make it up there.

LIVE BLOGGING! LDS General Conference Notes: Saturday Afternoon, October 1, 2011


Not totally alone as my married daughter dropped by to get some lunch. Yep, that's right. Actually, she left it here in the fridge from going out last night with her husband. I went outside to mow the lawn for some more Saturday points (even if only self-awarded). I try to save that job for my boys to earn a little money which I'd rather pay than do it myself anyway. But my boys are all busy today and I like to save a few bucks now and than. Besides, I figured I only had to mow the front lawn to keep my good standing in the neighborhood. I just closed the gate to the backyard and one of my boys can earn his pay next week mowing the extra-long back yard.

The highlights this morning were to hear about the new Temples, especially the restoration of the burned-out Provo Tabernacle as a new Temple. What will they call it? They already have a Provo Temple. The Temple in American Fork is named for Mt. Timpanogos. The two in South Jordan, Utah are named for  the Jordan River and Oquirrh Mountain. Maybe Y-Mountain Temple? No, that probably wouldn't work. Also - President Packer on evil, but not end-times - that's actually rather significant. And Pres. Uchtdorf of being of value to the Lord.

Back to Conference:

LIVE BLOGGING! LDS General Conference Notes: Saturday Morning, October 1, 2011

I have my Cheese Nips and Diet Coke supplies. My UofU boy went off to his game-day activities. My Viewmont (BYU fan) boys are going off with the marching band competition soon to be followed by their mom as the uniform mom. I already took the old, Dodge van to Jiffy Lube so I did a Saturday chore if anyone is keeping points (apparently not). I saw the Jiffy-Lubers struggling to open the side, sliding door. I told them, "Don't open that door. If you do, it won't go back on." They gave up on it. The green van looks like it might keep going for a few more miles.

The pre-conference ads [not official church sanctioned but this is KSL] on Nashville songs for missionaries and newly digitized Book of Mormon cartoons.

On to conference: