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Clean Up Clean Up Everybody Everywhere

Our Thanksgiving weekend discussions ranged far and wide, but one that became particularly animated was our conversation on the ever-controversial…Church cleaning assignments. Apparently, people have really strong feelings about it. Read more »



A few weeks ago in a sacrament meeting talk, I heard someone (who I expect would know) say that 65% of the members of our stake are adult singles.

That statistic initially surprised me.  I had no idea.

He then went on to point out that many different kinds of people fall into this category – some have never married, some have.  They are old and young.  Many of them have children.  Etc.

I am now wondering what the statistic of adult singles might be in other stakes or perhaps even throughout the church.  Is there a source of data out there on the subject?

Topics Not To Discuss In Polite Company (oops)

I was thinking about the topics one does not discuss at work, in polite company, etc. The usual topics brought up are sex, religion and politics. While pondering this, I was looking at our most commented posts at MM. Arguably, most of the posts are about either politics or sex (homosexuality), with only a few being about religion or doctrine specifically. Does that mean that in the ‘nacle we love to argue about sex and politics – particularly the hot topics of the day (e.g., Prop 8)? Of course, but why? Is it because of the ability to be anonymous? I have had few, if any, discussions around sex or politics at actual Church meetings and I am guessing few of us would have any of these discussions in our current wards, but I could be wrong. I guess that is one of the fundamental benefits of the ‘nacle for me – the ability to broach important subjects (and get some very good insights from others) you really cannot touch in a formal Church setting.

Idiotic Things I Have Done To Save A Few Dollars

I have done some stupid things in my life to save a few dollars but last weekend, I set a new low (or high). We recently moved into a new house which has a fireplace (our first house ever with a fireplace). We thought we should probably clean the chimney since that is what our friends told us we should do. I read a bunch of online articles about how to clean chimneys, etc. and decided that I could save the $150 or so it would cost us by doing it myself.

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In Memorium: Activities Committee

I am sure you have heard by now: the Activities Committee is no more. Expired. Passed on. Kicked the bucket. Disbanded. What have you. I, for one, couldn’t be happier: I have lived in fear of being called to the Activities Committee as long as I have been aware of its’ existence. Fear no more. In honor of the end, I would like to share with you the worst ward activity I can remember:

One ward that I served in in Japan decided to have a ward pot-luck. Emphasis on the luck. They sold tickets to interested parties for a curry lunch that would be available one certain Sunday after Church. My companion and I bought tickets, as did most members of the ward. That Sunday, we could all smell the curry cooking all through Church and were really looking forward to the meal and the opportunity to visit with many members of the ward we did not get to see often. As luck would have it, Relief Society ran over that week. We were quite late being released, and very hungry. By the time I reached the multi-purpose room, there was literally no rice or curry left in the pots. Nothing. The men and children had scraped every lick of rice and curry out of the serving dishes, even though half of the ticket-holders were still in class. Then the dirtied dishes were left for the Relief Society sisters to wash.

Rest in Peace Activities Committee.

In this guest book, please describe the most memorable Activities Committee even you have participated in.

Post-Veteran’s Day – Looking for my next book…

I just finished reading “Ghost Soldiers” which was a great book about the soldiers who survived the Bataan Death March in a POW camp and their subsequent rescue from the camp. I really enjoy historical books like this, particularly WWII since many of my relatives were heavily involved in the fighting. Learning about the history helps me feel a connection with these many relatives (most of whom have died). In addition, it gives me a profound respect for veterans who have served in the military regardless of how I may feel about the particular war. I am looking for another good historical military history book – any recommendations?

Pacifism on Veterans Day.

Today on Veterans day I wanted to first of all give a shout out to all veterans both living and dead. But particularly to my grandfather. Grandpa served in Patton’s Army in WW2 and lived thru 3 terrible months of ground combat from Late December 1944 at the Battle of the Bulge to March 1945 when his unit was pulled of the front lines after staggering losses. Thanks Grandpa.

I wanted to explore if pacifism would work in the real world. Imagine if you will that pacifists had been in charge of the US, the USSR, and the UK during ww2. Nazi Germany would have rolled over Europe. Killing all undesirables in concentration camps. Jews, Gypsies, etc and subjugating the Slavs in the East. I think its fair to say that military defeat was the only solution to a committed foe intent on committing atrocities.

I think the same logic applies to the Israeli-Palestinian issue as well. If the Israelis laid down their arms in a burst of pacifism the land would run red with the blood of Jews at the hands http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2000_Ramallah_lynching of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Palestinian Authority.

You see in my view there is a kind of longer term peace (until the next aggressor emerges) that defeating evil creates.

Until the Savior comes and establishes real peace on earth we must always stand diligent to protect our people, lands, and rights from aggressive foes. Thank you Veterans !!

LBJ and David O. McKay

I’ve been re-reading the book “David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism” and became interested in the warm relationship that existed between President Lyndon B. Johnson and President David O. McKay, which is described in the book, along with many other interesting things.

I was googling around a bit to see what else might come up about these two men and their interactions with each other and didn’t find much that I hadn’t already read in the book – but I was surprised to find that there is an mp3 (or WAV format) recording of a phone conversation between them. Read more »

Banning Happy Meals…

San Francisco has taken to banning McDonald’s Happy Meals. Ironically, I took my kids to McDonald’s last night although we probably visit McDonald’s twice a year at most (we did not order Happy Meals). While I am not a fan of McDonald’s (although it works as a food stop of last resort) nor of the Happy Meal, should cities really start banning food?

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The Allegory of the Mud

I taught the Repentance lesson in Relief Society a few weeks ago and, in an effort not to put people to sleep, decided to share this true story from my life and asked the group to treat it like an allegory; we discussed what we can learn about repentance from this story. The lesson was well-received, probably partly because it involves me being an idiot, but I am sure it was also a good break from our normal catechism-like classes.

Warning: since this is a true story, the allegory is not perfect, but I think it works pretty well. Also, it is pretty long, but didn’t seem worth serializing.

10 years ago I was a young, strong, smart, can-do kind of American living in rural Africa. For the first time in my life, I was living alone–there was no family, no roommates, and no companions. Also, of course, no running water or electricity, and definitely no access to working phones. Just me, my mud house, and books and candle-light to keep me company all evening, as I was advised not to be out and about after dark. By the end of my first week of teaching there, I was ready for a change of scenery and made up an errand for myself: I needed stamps. I could procure them at the post office in the town near the tarmac. Also of interest in that town: daily markets for fresh produce and (most importantly) cold soda. This town was 12 kilometers from my house through certain paths that were well-worn by foot traffic and the occasional vehicle that squeezed through the bush, but I decided to take a bit of a detour–a longer route my colleagues had told me about because, after all, I was looking for a change of scenery. That alternate route was on a better-established road, but added about 2 kilometers to the trip, and when you are powered by your own sweat, that is rarely attractive. I was glad to have taken it once, but planned to use the more familiar and shorter route home. Read more »

Sins: the Moment of Truth

A few years ago, I was a member of a branch. Because we were few, the rotation of speakers and teachers was short and it was a special treat to have guest speakers in Sacrament Meeting. One week, the regional CES guy came to speak. He had a generally good reputation as an engaging speaker and, as the only Church employee who lived around here, enjoyed a certain deference–his teachings were taken, by some, as official. With him that Sunday was his wife, who was also scheduled to speak in Sacrament Meeting.

In her talk, she asserted that anyone who though that baptism washed away their sins was all wrong. There were audible gasps from the congregation, as many many people did indeed think that. Sister CES continued to preach that it was the Confirmation of the Gift of the Holy Ghost that actually washed sin away.

Two Relief Society meetings and one rebuttal Sacrament Meeting was needed to discuss this heresy and the accompanying confusion. Read more »

Senate Predictions

Here is your chance to prove to the “naccle that you are a political science wizard.

I am going to list out 10 competitive senate races and you get to pick who wins. Here are my predictions.

Illinois. This is a deep blue state but it looks to me that the R who is ahead a bit in the polls pulls it out. Say 3-4 points

Penn: After some tightening last couple of weeks the R is out ahead again. I predict an R victory by 4

Cal: I see the D pulling this one out by 2-4 points. Its hard to overcome the inherent D advantage in deep blue CA.

Wisconsin: Much to everybody’s surprise this one looks like an 5-8 point R victory

Nev: Harry looks done. He now down about 4 and his opponent has been slowly pulling away since the debate.

CO: This one tightened up a bit and now the R is slightly ahead. I am going with a 3 point R victory

WA: This one looks neck and neck. With the R pulling ahead slightly in the polls. But WA is deep blue so I give a close race to the D

WV: After initially being down in the polls the D is now roaring back after he literally pulled out a deer rifle and shot a copy of the cap and trade bill in a commercial. Go mountain folk!!! Looks D.

FL: Looks like an easy victory for the R.

KY: The R otherwise known as the Aqua man worshiper appears to have put this race away.

It appears to me that the Senate will be split 51-49 D. However I need some wiggle room. If this turns into a “super wave election” The candidates in WA, CA, and WV could get pulled under. So give me some wiggle room on the final Senate configuration