Teancum, Amalickiah and the New Year

Tonight and tomorrow, Mormons should be thinking about Teancum and Amalickiah.

And now, it came to pass in the twenty and sixth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, behold, when the Lamanites awoke on the first morning of the first month, behold, they found Amalickiah was dead in his own tent; and they also saw that Teancum was ready to give them battle on that day. (Alma 52:1)

Have a Happy New Year!

Opposition in small things (a New Year’s post)

Yesterday morning, I walked two miles. This was my latest effort to restart a regime to address various health and fitness problems I have. I thought, “If I can just do this daily, it will make a real difference.”

Late yesterday evening, while turning off lights and generally shutting things down for the night, I walked through our darkened living room and smashed the third and fourth toes on my right foot against the heavy metal base of our living room lamp. I don’t think I broke them outright, but they were throbbing badly as I slowly fell asleep last night.

This morning, when I woke up, they were still throbbing badly. My first thought was, “Crud, I’m not going to be able to walk today.” However, I happened to change the TV channel from the morning news to TCM, where “They Were Expendable” was showing. This is a 1945 film, clearly made while World War II was still going on, about the Japanese invasion of the Philippines that commenced the same day as the attack on Pearl Harbor, leading to the US retreat from the Philippines and the surrender of some 80,000 American and Filipino troops left behind to the Japanese.

“OK, then,” I thought. “Maybe walking with sore toes isn’t so tough.” I popped several ibuprofin, did a few chores around the house while waiting for them to kick in, put on my walking shoes, and went out. Yep, my toes hurt for about the first 1/2 mile, but then settled down to quiet twinges. And I did the full two mile walk.

Decades ago, I heard a talk by Truman Madsen in which he quipped, “Why hide your light under a bushel when a thimble will do?” Similarly, I think we are often deflected or detered by mere speed bumps rather than insurmountable obstacles. Satan is nothing if not efficient — he wastes no more effort on us than we require him to expend. And, sadly, those requirements are often quite modest — opposition in small things.

My New Year’s resolutions, then, are not wholesale changes in my life. Instead, they are to identify those speed bumps that I shy away from and instead drive right over them. There are several things that I can and should be doing that really require no great change or effort other than to actually do them. We’ll see how things go this year, but I think they’ll go a lot better than things have gone for a while.  ..bruce..

Malaria Christmas (or, As I Lay Dying)

Personal journal entry, late December 2001.

When the malaria blood test came back positive on Christmas Eve day, I was actually kind of excited and even started laughing. After all the time we had spent in different countries in Africa, I would finally be among the ranks of the true Africanists. “Going native” in a disease sense. Besides, how bad could it be, really? Everyone always said your joints ache and you have a fever and chills, which just didn’t sound that bad to me. Take some pills, rest for a few days, no big deal.

Twenty-four hours later I wasn’t laughing anymore. Read more »

Christmas Eve vs. Christmas Day

Which do you find most enjoyable? Read more »

Top Church News Stories Of 2008

It is that time of the year – what are your top Church news stories for 2008?


1. President Hinckley’s Death
2. President Monson Called As Prophet
3. Proposition 8
4. Mitt Romney’s Run For The Republican Nomination
5. Elder Wirthlin’s Death

The Higher Law Series: The Two-hour Block

As recently as two years ago, the Church was testing out a pilot program in Chile that shortened the block schedule to two hours and fifteen minutes. I went to church there a few times while this was going on… it was fantastic! Sacrament meeting was pretty much the same length, but Sunday School and RS / Priesthood were streamlined to half their standard duration.
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The Poor Customer Service Theory of Value

My wife and I were shopping at a grocery store that shall remain nameless (but it is the kind of place you have to be very nicely dressed when you are shopping there).  And it was mobbed. We were trying to navigate the aisles when this store employee pushes past us, grumbing quite loudly, “There are too many ^#$%! people in this store!” I look down at his tag, and under his name it reads, “CUSTOMER SVC MGR”

What do you do when the Customer Service Manager is telling off customers? I loved it! Pure poetry, right there in the grocery store.

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The Agonies of a First-time Parent: Do I Have to Go Through This Again?

I am sitting in the hospital outside the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. My first child, a little girl, came seven weeks premature last Saturday. We have been very blessed — so far she is doing very well: no cardiovascular or respiratory problems, and she feeds from a bottle just fine. We hope to have her home for Christmas, though that is probably an extremely optimistic outlook right now.

I don’t know how things go for other first-time parents. Perhaps bringing home a baby turns your life upside down so much that you don’t have a lot of time to sit around and think about how it’s going to change — that is, you’re too busy dealing with the change to think about it. Yet, having never been in that situation, I really don’t know… I’m probably completely wrong.
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Mormons: Now Valuing Virtue


Divine Nature

Individual Worth


Choice and Accountability

Good Works


If those don’t ring any bells with you, they are the seven Young Women values around which the Personal Progress program is based and which YW the world over chant each Sunday Read more »

Public Service: Christmas Mailings

I LOVE Christmas mailings!  I sit down and read every word of every one of them, sometimes more than once.  I deeply appreciate that anyone takes the time and energy to assemble them and then includes me in their thoughts and on their list!  That said, I do have some definite opinions on style that I would like to share. Read more »

Should we take the money and run? I’m askin’……

Bill and I were on quite a roll financially until last year. We were starting to gleefully open our retirement and annuity statements each month and plan all the trips we’d take, you get the picture. Our house is warm and comfy and appreciating nicely. Life looked fairly rosy. Read more »

Changing Of The Guard In The Apostles

With the recent passing of both President Hinckley and Elder Wirthlin, I did a little digging into recent deaths and ages of the Apostles. In the last 4 years we have lost President Hinckley, Elder Haight, Elder Faust, and Elder Wirthlin (Note added: thanks to Sam, I forgot Elder Maxwell) – all of whom were 87+ years old and some of my favorite Apostles. Of the remaining Apostles, Elder Perry is now the oldest at 86, with Elder Packer at 84, Elder Nelson at 84, President Monson at 81 and Elder Ballard and Elder Scott at 80. Of these longer tenured Apostles (20 years +), Elder Oaks is the youngest at 76. Within the newer Apostles, you have Elder Hales as the oldest at 76, Elder Eyring at 75, Elder Holland at 68, Elder Cook at 68, Elder Uchtdorf at 68, Elder Christofferson at 63 and Elder Bednar at 56. So to summarize, there are 6 that are 80+, 3 at 70+, 4 at 60+ and 1 50+.

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From the Alto Section: The Best Christmas Carols

By best, I mean, of course, my favorite.  And by Christmas Carols, I mean, of course, the 14 Christmas Hymns included in the English language LDS Hymnal. Read more »

Two Neils on Ecology

Neil Postman coined the term ‘media ecology.’ He points out that the term ecology dates back to Aristotle, coming from the Greek word for ‘household.’ Aristotle, according to Postman, “spoke of the importance, to our intellectual equanimity, of keeping our household [or oikos] in order.” The modern usage is apt because we are all–plant, animal, mineral–sharing a single household. “If we wish to connect the ancient meaning with the modern,” he continues, “we might say that the word suggests that we need to keep our symbolic household in order.”

I was struck by that when I was reading an old talk by the late Elder Neal A. Maxwell. He says:

Even with its flaws, the family is basic, and since no other institution can compensate fully for failure in the family, why then, instead of enhancing the family, the desperate search for substitutes? Why not require family impact studies before proceeding with this program or that remedy, since of all environmental concerns the family should be first? Hundreds of governmental departments and programs protect various interests, but which one protects the family?
Read more »

My life as an AIDS Educator in Africa: More depressing than Missionary Work in Japan

aids ribbon

AIDS is basically a forgotten disease in the western world. For the most part, people who have it contracted it on their own (overwhelmingly from intravenous drug use and sometimes from risky sexual behavior) and then they basically live with a chronic disease and medication. In much of the developing world, AIDS is impossible to forget.
Read more »

“The Mother in Me”

Kathy Soper is a class act and an asset to our blogging community. The book “Gifts” which was a compilation of the experiences and perspectives of parents of Downs Syndrome will have a lasting positive effect on the lives of countless people. Reading it raised my consciousness and I have gifted it to others. Read more »

Book Of Mormon Violence And My Three Year Old

I have been trying to read the Book of Mormon reader (short illustrated version) to my 3 year old. However, I have had to skip many pages as I do not want to read about wars and killing to him as he has no concept of death or violence or even weapons yet (besides snowballs which he discovered this weekend). So I have been limited to reading 3 Nephi 11, 4 Nephi, King Benjamin’s address and a few other chapters that are non-violent.

Given there are many who have trodden this path – any suggestions on how to give him the spirituality and experience without all the gore? When did your kids learn of guns, swords, violence, etc?