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Prepare to be…Outraged? Puzzled? Amused? All of the above

This scenario is real.

Imagine you are Primary Chorister. One of your many important jobs is preparing the kids to sing on Fathers Day. Of course, unlike Mothers Day, the Children’s Song Book actually includes some fun options and (almost) everyone’s favorite:
Daddy’s Homecoming. Who can resist “a great big kiss”? Read more »

Obama’s Katrina?

The attempt by BP to stop the oil from gushing out has failed per the news media http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_gulf_oil_spill

We all remember the Federal response to Katrina. I for one did not see how Bush could have been blamed for Katrina. I felt that…

1. People should have evacuated when told. NO has been under threat from a major hurricane from the day it rose out of the swamp and foolishly stayed in place behind dikes.
2. The mayor and the gov were more responsible for their own people
3. The media overplayed it and used Katrina as a hammer to bludgeon Bush out of ideological dislike.

I also do not think that Obama is to blame on the oil spill.

1. Accidents happen
2. BP is to blame
3. What is the President supposed to do? Get in a Sub and use the Force to stop the oil?

I do think though that eventually if the oil keeps gushing that the media will eventually turn on him. Fair or not that’s what will eventually happen.

What is your take?

Daddy Kills the Rattlesnake or, Playing Doctor in Dangerous Times

When I was 7, we lived for a time on a little ranchette south of Caliente, Nevada, one of Nevada’s many old dirt towns. My dad lived with us there, unlike most of the other places we lived.

It wasn’t a bad few months (there are caveats to that, but this is the sum of my limited memory and I won’t go into the crud here). I kind of liked it—I would hold Sunday School (we knew one song “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know”) out in the yard. I bullied my little sisters into participating. There were some good moments in that house. Read more »

J.B. Phillips Translations

Years ago at BYU, while I was taking an American Usage course, Prof. Don Norton recommended that the class read the J.B. Phillips’s “The New Testament in Modern English.” Prof. Norton commented on the clarity and the beauty of the translation. Curious, I picked up a copy and in the process of reading it, became a bit of a fan. Read more »

Ted Kennedy’s Reward

Image shown may not be theologically correctAfter the late Senator Edward Kennedy died of a brain tumor late last summer, there were the usual suspects proclaiming that he was burning in hell because of what he did (or rather didn’t do) with Mary Jo Kopechne and his stance on abortion. As I would feel with any deceased person, I found these sentiments highly presumptuous and spiritually dangerous. So imagine how taken aback I was when I read this statement from a close former associate of his, former Senator now President Obama.

In January when the health care bill passed, President Obama said:

Today, of course, we all feel the heavy absence of one of our greatest Irish-Americans; a man who loved this day so much; a man who I believe is still watching this body closely, particularly this week — and that is our beloved Ted Kennedy.

Wow, I thought. If Ted Kennedy’s reward in the next life is for him to have to be some kind of spectral Majority/Minority whip, required to shepherd legislation and cajole (former) colleagues for all eternity, he really has been damned!

Time enough for love

I’m still not sure what triggered this thought (and associated mental images), but I’m pretty sure it happened while listening to random (audio) chapters from the Book of Mormon on my iPhone (that’s the bulk of my scripture study these days — that and random audio chapters from the New Testament).

Let me start with a story I’ve told before (so if you’ve heard it before, apologies). A bit less than 30 years ago, I was visiting Utah from out of state and attended church with an acquaintance of mine. Said acquaintance had a PhD from the Ivy League, of which he was quite proud, and was at that time teaching at BYU; we attended his ward in Orem. Though I was not at that time a high priest, I attended high priest group meeting with him. When it was over, and we were walking back to his home from the chapel (this is Orem, after all), he said something to the effect of: “You know, I look around the high priest group, and I see men such as myself and [named a few others], all with PhDs and academic positions; and I also see 3rd- and 4th-generation farmers who never got beyond high school; and I marvel that the same church and gospel can encompass both.” To which I replied, “Maybe from where God sits, there isn’t any real difference.” He was not amused.

In the years since then, I have continued to dwell on that concept: that in most areas that we discern differences, the Lord sees few, if any. That’s why I smile when I hear the common dismissal of Abrahamic religion as “the local god of some wandering nomads.” We tend to be snobs of space, time, culture, education and wealth — what could we have in common with pre-literate Semitic tribes in 1000 BC? Again, from where God sits, I think the differences between our civilization and theirs are trivial and unimportant, much like two small kids arguing who has the nicer t-shirt. We tout our sophistication, as if sophistication ever led someone towards Christ-like service and love rather than away from it.

What struck me the other day is that we may well be just as myopic when it comes to duration (and circumstances) of mortal life. We see tragedy and inequality in lives “cut short” — while from where God sits, they’re all cut short, they are all cut infinitesimally short, and the major difference between dying at 5 and dying at 50 is that we have a touch more rope to hang ourselves with in the latter case. From an eternal perspective, we’re like 100 billion popcorn kernels popping within the space of a minute or so; the fact that some kernels took a bit longer than others to pop is a fine distinction and one irrelevant to the overall event.

Anne, bless her heart, worries about swearing, while God’s mind and love encompasses her, a tribal chief in Indonesia thousands of years ago, a baby girl put out to starve to death in 12th century AD India, and someone of uncertain gender walking around here on Earth 50 years from now and sees them all equal in His sight. One of the things that rang true in my heart as I learned and converted to the gospel some 43 years ago, and that has continued to ring true for those 43 years, is how encompassing God’s grace and love is.

None of this denies agency, sin, accountability, or evil. But for those of us who stick around in this life long enough to become accountable — and that’s probably less than half of everyone ever born on this planet — He gives us every break and opportunity to make things right and come back to Him.

His grace is not only greater than we imagine, it is greater than we can imagine. And however long or short our lives, God always has enough time to love us home. ..bruce..

Taking a Break

I have known lots of people to “take a break” from Church. Sometimes it comes just after release from a particularly intense calling, sometimes it has to do with certain personalities or dynamics in the ward, sometimes it is an attempt to find their own spiritual path, and they want a little separation between their own beliefs and the monolithic presentation and assumptions at Church. I have known people who take breaks for a matter of weeks and for decades.

I used to feel pretty laissez-fare about taking a break. You know, do what you need to do. But I have come to think that “taking a break” isn’t actually very helpful if you are looking to maintain your belief and activity in the Church. Read more »

Hearts Drawn Out in Prayer

My first prayers were unanswered. Heartfelt, pleading prayers given by my 8 year old self for the Lord to help me quit cussing. Cussing was learned behavior, picked up from the constant violent fights of my parents. I prayed for other things—for my dad to come back. That we would have food. That kind of thing.

My prayer life has evolved and been rather a roller coaster ride reflecting my life’s ups and downs and spiritual development. I believe in God.
Most of my prayers as an adult have been out of obedience, not faith. God truly has answered my prayers in stunning ways, despite my personal spiritual failings.

When I began to go to 12 step groups, I began to understand how God works in answering prayers and my own powerlessness in my life. My faith grew–baby steps.

But when I left Bill in March 2008, I took a giant leap forward prayer-wise. I was dealing with health, finances, and of course the myriads of personal issues related to the separation. The sense of freedom was exhilarating and I loved most of the aspects of living alone. But it was scary and my job was totally out of my comfort zone.

I worried constantly about being fired. I had a couple of co-workers who made life miserable for me—and for most of the girls. Feeling overwhelmed and helpless, I knelt very day and just poured my heart and turned my problems to the Lord. I was impatient—he didn’t seem to answer my prayers as quickly as I wished but dang, He answered them in startling ways.

My faith grew. I felt like a terrible sinner, having walked out on a temple marriage to a good man. I’d left behind a neighborhood reeling from the sex abuse scandal and the aftershock of one person bent on bitter interactions with every one of us. I felt like a rat deserting a sinking ship.

But the Lord poured His love upon me in a way that I will never be able to deny.

I still pray that way. Sometimes I’m praying by rote, especially if I’m exhausted. But I don’t often forget that I’m not in charge of my life and my best efforts can’t solve my problems. I need God. I pray—talk to Him all dang day long about everything. Sometimes I ask Him to remind me to pray about something later. Sometimes at work, knowing I’ll forget, I say a quick prayer in my heart for a caller who is experiencing pain in their life. I say a lot of “sparrow prayers” as Cheiko Okazaki calls them. He helps me find a lot of lost things :).

I also have to be careful not to forget Him when my prayers are answered. It’s so easy to think “oh, I’m having a good day, I totally rock!” It’s important to give the glory and gratitude to the Lord. To stay humble.

My husband is a doer. He’s a workaholic and task oriented. I shared my philosophy of prayer with him and he said “But I have to do everything I can first before I turn to the Lord.” I believe this actually translates to “I HAVE to do EVERYTHING.” Period.

Mormons are workers and doers. I suspect more people feel like Bill does rather than like I do.

How about you? Have any of you had a paradigm shift regarding prayer? What caused it? How do you approach the Lord in prayer—and do you feel there are trivial and unimportant prayers that impose on the Lord and waste his time? How important is prayer in your life?

PS–Can’t find the “more” link. Would one of my co-bloggers fix it? And why haven’t heard from some of you lately?

We Can’t Be Killed or, Russia’s Radioactive Paradise

I picked up this book at the library the other day called “Wormwood Forest” by Mary Mycio, an American reporter of Ukraine descent. Ukranian? I wish I could say I’m reading it and as far as possible, I am reading it, but it’s pretty scientific and technical and I’ve skipped parts that are simply beyond my understanding. Numbers relating to types of radioactive penetration, etc.

She lives in Kiev and was allowed into ground zero, donning protective gear and carrying a dossimeter. With a friend and various guides, Mary explored villages (where people still live!), forests, former farmlands, and walked on grass planted over mounds of radioactive equipment covered by tons of dirt. The whole place is fully of radiation.

The big news here is that the whole place is thriving—trees, flowers, bugs, birds and all kinds of wildlife. People are alive around Chernobyl. Did you guys know that radiation sort of evaporates into the air and gradually just depletes altogether?

The elk—I think that’s what they mean by “red deer”–and the moose population is huge around Chernobyl. Birds are all over the place, although she reports the stork population has gone downhill because storks like to live around farms and human population. Trees are growing, many stunted and deformed. But there’s life. She said that the animals that are born mutated don’t live so the very strongest have survived. Everything’s radioactive–the radioactive deer eat from radioactive meadows, but they’re alive and jumping all over the place.

The young people of the area around Chernobyl–Ukraine & Belarus both lay claim to infected parts of the area—have mostly left. Of course people died, of the leukemia and thyroid cancer, long term, and radiation sickness, short term. She hasn’t mentioned young couples with babies. Some of the people living the area buy their food from traveling shops, avoiding contamination. Others, who live in rather slovenly conditions, eat mushroom, blueberries and other native vegetation growing in abundance (and, she says, are beautiful, tempting, and reeking of radiation).

Putting aside my faith in God, who will ultimately determine what happens to this planet Earth, global warming or no, it seems clear to me that life—if not life as we know it—can’t be totally destroyed. Trees and flowers are growing on Mt. St. Helen’s. We had a terrible fire just south of us that burned acres of forest by the freeway. It jumped the road and as we drive down to St. George, you can see the devastation. But things are growing back. The earth re-generates.

People live in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I have no clue how many died there, surely hundreds of thousands, but many lived. Life went on. I could say wildlife continues to overcome nature’s obstacles, plants and trees survive, change and prosper, but guess what? People are part of earth’s wildlife, we just think we’re more civilized. Many die, many mutate, but we survive. Death by disaster is a natural part of life, even if the disaster is man-made. But I’m not as worried as I was before I picked up this book. I could die in an atomic bomb attack. But I could live. Maybe I wouldn’t live well. Maybe I would live a shorter life, living on radioactive green beans and eating radioactive fish—we could all be radioactive together. But, bottom line, we can’t (all) be killed.

Hatch is Toasted Bacon Sandwich in 2012

Long term serving UT Senator Orrin Hatch appears to be in danger of losing his seat.  Based on my reading about the 6 term senator he appears to be “out of touch” with conservative UT voters and specifically even more conservative primary delegates.


I get the sense that both Hatch and Bennett started getting influenced by the liberal DC establishment decades ago and that influence is reflected in “evolving” voting records.

Bob Bennett has already been defeated. Is Hatch to far behind?

Suicide and LDS

One of my kids babysitters is a 18 year old Laurel in our ward. We like her a great deal. About 6 years ago her mentally ill mother committed suicide in her home. Yesterday during our mothers day service I kept noticing her tearing up and I thought of the pain she must be in over her loss.

This brought up the wider topic of suicide.
BRM in MD made the following entry on suicide:

“Suicide consists in the voluntary and intentional taking of one’s own life, particularly where the person involved is accountable and has a sound mind. … Persons subject to great stresses may lose control of themselves and become mentally clouded to the point that they are no longer accountable for their acts. Such are not to be condemned for taking their own lives. It should also be remembered that judgment is the Lord’s; he knows the thoughts, intents, and abilities of men; and he in his infinite wisdom will make all things right in due course.”

I like our approach to suicide and am grateful for the comfort it can provide for those that are grieving over the suicide of a loved one.

Happy Mother’s Day or…Let’s Abolish All Hallmark Holidays

I hate holidays. All holidays except Halloween because when I was a little girl it meant food. But basically, every holiday in the world is just an excuse to BUY EXPENSIVE CARDS AND PRESENTS!!! I just find it the height of foolishness to pay $ 5 for a card to say “I Love You” just because it’s tradition. People, we are making Hallmark rich.

Holidays mean work for women. Every holiday, even Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is one of the worst holidays of all, because a lot of moms aren’t even moms. Or they have messed up somewhere and Mother’s Day is just another reminder to them and it brings most women down, in my opinion.

I love to watch “The Middle.” They’re all so goofy. But I really loved this week’s show. The mom in the show kept remembering how she’d rubbed her husband’s feet, made him a 3 course breakfast, bought him a wonderful present & let him lay around all day undisturbed. Then her family made her a sucky breakfast, got her a stupid gift, and bugged her all day. She decides to go visit her mom, who’s underwhelmed to see her since she was looking forward to spending the whole day alone. And she reverts to being a child, with her mom waiting on her and making a mess (I totally thought of Sarah LOL). They get in a fight and she says to her mom “you didn’t want me with you on Mother’s Day?” And HER daughter, who’d gone with her said, “Mom, you didn’t want to be with US on Mother’s Day?”

This is my suggestion to dads everywhere for Mother’s Day. Saturday morning, clean the house, then pack up the kids and leave. Go camping or something. No, then she’ll have to clean it up. Take them to visit your mom. Leave your wife home, with a box of chocolates, a pile of magazines, bubble bath, a couple of movies, and a steak thawing in the fridge. Don’t come home or call (for any reason, if one of the kids dies, she can find out on Monday). In fact, unplug all the phones and turn the ringer off on her cell. Tell the bishop she’s coming with you so she doesn’t have to go to church. Or maybe she would enjoy church alone for a change.

If you don’t have children, for heaven’s sake, keep her away from church that day. Take her to a spa. Take her to the Little American for their grand brunch. Buy her a bunch of tulips or daisies and good chocolate. DO NOT MAKE HER GO TO CHURCH WHERE SHE WILL HAVE TO STAND (OR NOT) TO GET HER WILTED BEGONIA.

Anybody got any other suggestions?

But basically, I think we’ve all been emotionally blackmailed into creating work for ourselves and income for card & gift companies for totally made up holidays. If people treated their moms like they should all the time, there’d be no need for Mother’s Day.