Saturday, January 30, 2016

Priesthood Leadership Training with President Russell M. Nelson

Our Ward Selfie. Left to right, the Bishop's Counselor, our Elders Quorum President, and this blogger.
There was much more to this wonderful meeting last Saturday than the question I asked and the later, tragic connection.

Notice went out just a few days ahead of time that the Stake Presidencies, each Bishop-or a Counselor, the High Priest Group Leader-or an Assistant, and the Elders Quorum President-or a Counselor from each ward were invited to a muti-stake, Saturday morning training session with President Russell M. Nelson, President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles and other General Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The call to me came from our Stake Exec Sec who happens to be my son-in-law's father. As a shortened relationship status, we refer to each other as Co-Grandpas.

The meeting involved seven or eight stakes and we met in a stake center in North Centerville filling the chapel with no overflow but packed in with a few extra folding chairs added. Just before the meeting began we were invited to file by, row by row, to shake hands with President Nelson and the others. I gave Elder Ulisses Soares, of the Presidents of the Seventy, a hearty "Bem-vindo, Elder Soares!" as he is native Brazilian. He conducted the meeting and noted in opening the warm greetings he had from several in Portuguese or Spanish.

Also present on the stand was a Seventy from our Area Presidency, newly called, Elder Gene Chidester, President Spendlove from the Salt Lake City North Mission, and President Winegar of the Bountiful Temple. Only later did I learn that their wives were at a similar training session with the women leaders of the same stakes and wards as my daughter went as part of a Primary Presidency. She said Sister Nelson spoke for two-hours straight!

My rough notes follow in my usual style, occasionally enhanced with notes shared by my bishopric counselor buddy:

Thursday, January 28, 2016

"Captain Moroni" Arrested at Malheur

Dylan Wayne Anderson
of Provo, Utah
"Captain Moroni from Utah"

From the latest mug shots of those arrested from the Malheur Wildlife Refuge armed occupation, it looks like they got the guy from Utah who would only identify himself as "Captain Moroni."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

When I Knew LaVoy Finicum

He was not an anti-government radical in Santa Fe, New Mexico in the late 1990s. In fact, he wasn't even a Cowboy. Sure, he spoke with a Southern Utah drawl. And he talked about getting down to the family ranch, but there was no hat, no guns; maybe he did wear the boots.

I was his bishop in the Santa Fe Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was a good and kind man who then was taking in foster children with his third wife - sequential, not concurrent - an important distinction.

No one on the earth is perfect except for the One we look to for eternal salvation through His infinite Atonement. LaVoy and I as his bishop did some work together on his soul because after two divorces, he wanted to be sealed in the Temple to his wife. That took some effort for church clearance. We went through extensive interviews and LaVoy engaged in sincere efforts to repent. I was required by the Church to correspond and speak with his former spouses to ensure that he was fulfilling any and all family obligations and that they saw no objection to his temple sealing. The bottom line is that I knew as much as anybody could about him at that time. What I knew was that he was a kind and simple soul who wanted to move beyond his mistakes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Oregon State Police: Arrests and one death from armed occupation.

FBI - Oregon
Emergency Messages as of 7:36 pm, Tue. Jan. 26

News Releases
Arrests Made in the Occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge: Joint Statement by the FBI and OSP - 01/26/16
**note correction to Hwy. 395

At approximately 4:25 p.m. (PST) on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Oregon State Police (OSP) began an enforcement action to bring into custody a number of individuals associated with the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. During that arrest, there were shots fired.

"Puddler at Forge" Glanddyrys, on the side of the Blorenge, Wales.

The mystery remains but we're closing in on how the sons of a fatherless butcher became puddlers in the South Wales iron works. A puddler was a skilled worker of some prestige in the boiling ores, blinding fires, and poisonous clouds of the industry.

The first indication we have is the 1851 census in which John and Elinor's son William Vaughan, age 21, is listed as "puddler at forge." What forge? We've wondered. And I only assumed, as there was no forge apparent in their resident village of Llanfoist, that it was the Blaenavon Ironworks over the Blorenge Mountain. It wouldn't be an impossible walk, if inconvenient, to travel over the mountain or maybe stay some days coming home on Sunday, likely the only day off, ever.

Then something came across my Facebook feed from Gwent Archives mentioning Llanfoist at the foot of the Blorenge and the tramways across the mountain:
the counter balanced incline planes at Llanfoist canal wharf which were part of Hill’s Tramroad, linking Blaenavon furnaces and Garnddyrys forge with the wharf to transport the wrought iron along the Brecon and Abergavenny Canal.

Garnddyrys forge! It was called a forge! "Puddler at forge" would likely refer to the closest forge in the vicinity along with the few other puddlers, rollers, or labourers "at forge" listed in the Census for Llanfoist.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

"Obeying, Honoring, and Sustaining the Law"

My Elders' Quorum President Buddy and I, as High Priests Group Leader, at the Multi-Stake Priesthood Training
with President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles
This will be blogged in at least two parts. As I was able to ask a question and have it answered, I thought I would start with that as it reflects current concerns expressed on this blog. The question may not have been articulately posed, and I can't remember exactly, but it went something like this:

"Over the past few months or years we have all felt the heartbreak of people leaving the church because of a crisis of faith or some other conflict with the church. Much of this seems to be people who have self-departed, but there is a serious problem I see in the extreme right-wing views of some members who have not left. We lost both politically and legally on same-sex marriage and we can live with the church's own standards and are protected in them. But there are some who claim that the Supreme Court is evil, the President is evil, and some have gone to the extreme to face down the federal government at a national wildlife refuge in Oregon. I know one of those people up there who was a member of a ward when I was bishop. I helped get him to the Temple and I had no idea he had such anti-government sentiments. Now he faces the real possibility of being shot or shooting someone else and it tears at my heart. For disclosure, some of my stake people know me, but I am an attorney for the U.S. Department of the Interior and have tried for 32 years to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States. There are some in the church and even in my family, while not nearly extreme as those at the stand-off, still believe me some kind of apostate just for working for the government. [laughter] But what can we do to help these people who are on the extreme right wing and don't seem to listen to anyone?"

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Smaller the Government, the Muddier It Gets

Newly and Disgracefully Plowed Road at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, Harney County, Oregon
There is a general belief that the smaller the government, the better. That is, unless you've ever been to an actual city council meeting or . . . let a bunch of dopey cowboys run a national wildlife refuge just for the heck of it.

Somebody thought it a good idea at Malheur to take a government bulldozer on their own authority and plow a new road through a formerly protected cultural resources site that had not been fully examined but is known to have significance to the local Malheur Paiutes who have, until armed yokels took over, had a pretty good working relationship with the federal government at the Refuge.

I'm no fan of the cumbersome bureaucracy of the federal government, believe you me. But it is a living as we try to sort out the laws and rules designed to give every participant a say and a fair shake in determining how the slow wheels of government grind ever so slowly forward, hopefully for the best. And there are many adequate opportunities for course correction through public participation in advisory councils, public rule-making, and Congressional action reflecting and balancing the interests of numerous constituents and their various group interests. Also, the President can act attempting to implement (or not) the Congressional mandates, with the Courts always available to hear challenges to the processes and decisions.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

4-Star Book Report: "Taliesin" by Stephen R. Lawhead

These aren't really reviews because I'm more attuned to the book reports I used to do in grade school. (Man, I wish I had smply taken a pic with my phone of my bookworm on the wall of Mrs. Baker's 3rd-Grade class at Thoreau with each segment representing a book I had read that school year! But alas, "my" phone was attached to the wall at the end of the hall in the 3 bedroom, one bath, rambler I grew up in on 137th Street on Finn Hill, Kirkland, Washington, and it didn't even have a camera. The number was VAn-dyke 2-3072. And I couldn't afford to re-purchase that house now costing more than my present house of three times the size and more phones that we can keep track of. OK, that was a serious digression.)
It was a little house in the big woods. There was some magic in that.
But at that time in 3rd grade, I was searching for the kind of books I am only finding now - about my Celtic heritage I only vaguely sensed, but through the inspiration of my good Dad, who told stories to us and built us an amazing toy castle with knights of the round table. (See here for more digression that will soon connect.) My dad didn't know it either, but he still felt it in his blood. (I now have his DNA results!!)

Monday, January 18, 2016

My Son, A-5, Has a Dream (or Two)

My boy at BYU taught the Sunday School lesson yesterday on Lehi's Dream. You can find the dream and the interpretation thereof at 1 Nephi Chapters 8 and 11, some of my favorite passages of scripture. A-5 shared the power-point he showed in class on dreams and I will share it here without further comment:

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Elder Larry J. Echo Hawk at Our Stake Conference

Elder Larry J. and Sister Teresa Echo Hawk
We had Stake Conference in the Centerville, Utah South Stake this weekend. That's when all the members in each of 11 wards or local congregations of 300-400 members each meet together wih the leadership of the Stake for religious instruction and inspiration. These days, we don't always get visitors from the General Authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that's not because we're just a few miles north of international HQ. There are just many more stakes these days all over the world than there are GA's to go around.

Elder Echo Hawk indicated in the Saturday evening session for adult men and women that he sees the stats from a Stake before he visits a conference. Ours look pretty good, probably the best he's seen in his travels. That probably does come from being a few miles up the road from HQ. We're well settled in. It's not that we don't have room for improvement; he noted that we weren't ready to be translated beings and lifted up into heaven. In fact emphasis on basic principles of faith and the atonement of Jesus Christ and seeking after all our friends and neighbors who do not fully participate in the principles was a strong challenge.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Armed Protesters at Malheur Intend to Void 1846 Treaty with Queen Victoria of Great Britain

Original Treaty of 1846 between the United States and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland,
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Here's a great example of the very basic point I'm trying to make in response to the insane claims of the armed protesters at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge. You can't just ignore 230 plus years of actual Constitutional History by plucking a few words out of context that you contort into your own political Jeremiad.

From The Oregonian:
[Armed Occupier] Payne said the group believes the federal government has no constitutional authority to hold vast land tracts. He said any deed transferring land to the federal government should be considered void.
That means they will have to void the 1846 Treaty with Queen Victoria.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Women In Political Campaigning: Too Cute for Comfort?

Yeah, I haven't been blogging that much on the Republican Primary Race. There's a good reason for that. . . . The cringe factor. This is Donald Trump's new campaign warm-up act:

It's not without its precedents:

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Meanwhile, Back at the Occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge . . . .

The Mythic American Cowboy

Without license as I stole another idea from Monty Python:

Overheard around the campfire at Malheur:
"What has the federal government ever done for us?"
"Only cause problems!"
"Threatened to take our guns and our cattle away!"

Monday, January 11, 2016

Malheur is Alcatraz, NOT Waco

A friend reminded me of a better comparison to the armed occupation by self-proclaimed militia at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge other than the debacle at Waco, Texas with the Branch Davidians. From November 20, 1969 to June 11, 1971, Alcatraz Island was occupied by militants of the American Indian Movement (AIM). They had a series of demands somewhat like the Malheurians about returning land to the "rightful" owners. The feds just waited them out. I still hope the Malheur confusion is resolved without getting anyone hurt even if it takes a year or so.

A remnant of the Indian Occupation now that the Island, and former Prison, have become a U.S. National Park.
I do sympathize with the Indians, or Native Americans, more than I do with the armed cowboys at Malheur. In fact, the local Paiutes have already stated their position that if the Wildlife Refuge is returned to anyone, it should be them. But history is a bit beyond that.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Pronunciation Guide for the Malheur Stand-off

As a native of Malheur County neighbor to Harney County, I think I have a right and an obligation to provide a pronunciation guide for outsiders. It's like fingernails on a chalkboard when the news reporters and others get things wrong.

First of all, Oregon hasn't "gone" anywhere. Westerners, by ironic twist of linguistics, pronounce it more like ORE-reh-gun. The last vowel is actually a schwa or phonetically "ə."

Malheur always used to trip me up in spelling as I'm not a French expert. Yet I don't think the local pronunciation is real good French either. The "h" is not silent. I've always heard it as something like Mal-HYER.

And don't get me started with "Boise." It's an "s" not a "z," People!

Book Report: Alexander Cordell, "Land of My Fathers"

Land of my fathers too. My mother's side, not so much. 

This is the final book of Cordell's double trilogy weaving historical facts and characters into a fictional narrative with some really great characters created by Cordell that seem to cover the Welsh experience in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. The last was the best because it uniquely weaves in Welsh mythology with a return to the Chartist March on Newport, 1839. And the main characters are named Taliesin and . . . Rhiannon.

Rhiannon, dark of hair and fair of skin, with incomparable beauty (much like my wife!)
Like a tale from the Mabigonion, The story takes on some very mystical qualities as it leads to a conclusion that you can see coming like an old, familiar tale with all the characters fulfilling epic destiny.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Marvelous Book of Mormon Gift, and a Wonder

Our youngest, A-6, is currently serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cleveland, Ohio. His mission covers the area of Kirtland, Ohio, one of the early centers of the Mormon Church (even though it is a separate, visitors center mission, the Cleveland Mission still holds meetings and visits there.)

He sent us a wonderful present for Christmas, a facsimile edition of the original publication of the Book of Mormon.

Published by the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now The Community of Christ
I've been meaning to buy one for some years now. I'm glad I didn't so that we could get this from our boy that we assume he purchased in Kirtland. We have early members of the Church on both sides of our family that were in the Kirtland area with the growth of the Church there.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Guest Post: Anonymous D on Calming Down

Anonymous D offers some good spiritual advice after I shared with him something I learned today that may or may not be shared on this blog at a future time relating to my native Malheur.

What a crazy time. I have no counsel about political events, I do get a little concerned when you say your anxiety level is rising. My anxiety is elevated as well, however I'm certain that things will calm down. It's probably a good year to be reading the Book of Mormon.  So some general reminders:

A Few Constitutional Provisions for the Illegal Militia at Malheur

It always helps when supposed patriots have actually read the Constitution. It takes more than just waving it around or carrying it in your pocket. Yes, there are arguments about interpretation that have been going on since it was written, but the whole point was the political processes established to work out our differences - not for any definitive answer necessarily - just the opportunity to keep us working together to govern ourselves as a nation. And that's pretty inspired, IMHO. Just check out some of these when you claim to be an anti-government constitutional patriot:

First of all, its purpose. No big secret here. It's right up front:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Then, there's this little gem we federal attorneys tend to like:

Monday, January 4, 2016

Mormon Church Condemns Armed Protesters at US Wildlife Refuge in Oregon

As President Uchtdorf once said, "Stop it!"

I don't want to hear any more allegedly scriptural arguments for extreme right-wing political views. That includes the teachings of W. Cleon Skousen. It includes the political preachings of past leaders of the LDS Church that in any way be used to justify resistance to the Constitutionally established government of the United States. That includes the false teachings of lobbyist/legislator Ken Ivory arguing that the states have a valid and legal claim to the federal public lands, they do not. That includes the erroneous idea of posse comitatus a bizarre reading of medieval Anglo-Saxon law of England (not the US!) that the county is the supreme authority of the people. It includes any crazy idea that the Fourteenth Amendment somehow created a class of citizens different than the alleged white Christian founders of the United States. I don't want to hear any more offensive argument that somehow our Constitutionally elected President, Barack Obama, is not legitimate because of where he was allegedly born or who his parents were.

It has appalled me that members of my own religious faith have held and promoted such erroneous ideas - not just because they threaten my livelihood as a public servant employed by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and not because my life may be threatened by those who would promote violence against law-abiding officers of the United States performing our Constitutional duties. It is because it breaks my heart and my soul to see such people misuse the sacred scriptures and doctrines of my church to such ridiculous purposes.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Illegal Idiots Seize U.S. Property

Location of Malheur NWF. The arrow marks Nyssa, Oregon, where this blogger was born.
Yes, ol' Cliven Bundy['s sons] have done it again! They and his gang that couldn't shoot straight have seized the headquarters of the allegedly tyrannical Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Southeastern Oregon. The Refuge, authorized constitutionally by federal statute, is somehow an offense to Bundys' buddies as is the National Forest they now claim belongs to the local ranchers, not all the people of the United States, mind you, just the ones who live close by.

In spite of the desires of the Illegal Idiots to provoke a federal showdown over their grievances arising from trespassing on public lands and the fact that they don't like the President much, I think their tomfoolery will just play itself out to a dud in the desert of my native Oregon.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Second Worst Mining Disaster at Senghenydd, 1901

My mistake in the previous post was not to recognize that the new memorial to miners killed in the Welsh mines, dedicated on the 100th Anniversary of the 1913 Senghenydd Explosion, also included the victims of the 1901 Senghenydd Universal Mine Disaster.

Searching for a David Vaughan who possibly died in 1913 and born 39 years earlier led me on several false trails, one even to a David Vaughan who went to Utah and is buried in Provo! When I finally realized the right dates, it still took some work but then it all fit with a David Vaughan born in Cwmdu from a family from Llangors that I have already researched. They are somehow related to my Vaughans, but the connection appears to be 17th Century or earlier and I haven't yet found confirming records.

We did visit the beautiful church in Cwmdu with its huge yew trees and the Tegernacus Stone, a seventh century (!) Christian burial marker. Cwmdu, meaning "Black Valley" as it lies in the Black Mountains or Y Mynnyddoedd Dduon of  South Wales, although I much prefer the name of the stream, Y Rhiangoll, the Brook of the Singing Birds.