Wednesday, October 29, 2008

2 Sizes Too Small?

Hi. I hope I am not rushing the season . . . and I certainly don't want to be a Grinch and steal anyone's Christmas . . . but ......

Can we talk about presents . . . or not presents?

What would happen if we didn't have any presents? Wouldn't it be just like what happened in Whoville? Christmas came anyway! There was singing and love, and Christmas came just the same!

Can we establish some new traditions? What do you think? How do you feel about this?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Lessons Learned from Coloring on the Wall by John J. Lee, Jr.

I thought you might enjoy the following tender story about a little boy who scribbled with his crayons on the wall and was sent to bed without his supper.

Like most children, ours enjoyed drawing and coloring. At three-and-a-half, our son created a masterpiece on a large portion of our living room wall. These were oil based crayons and only went completely away by painting over them. When my sweetheart and I discussed the problem with our artist son, he felt bad and did his best to help us spread a fresh coat over the area.

A week or so later, he did it a second time on the same wall. He was so sad and embarrassed he cried, shrugged his little shoulders, and said he wasn't sure why he had done it, but he would surely never repeat the petty crime. Hoping it would help motivate him to be true to his word, we explained if it happened again he would go to bed early and without supper. He loved both our evening family time and food. He solemnly promised to restrict his canvas.

About a week later, I arrived home to find his biggest masterpiece ever on the same wall. It was the end of an especially trying day for me and I had been looking forward to the safe haven of our home. I allowed this incident to become the focal point of all the abuse and pressure I had received that day. In an angry and insulting voice, I called our young friend to stand before the wall with me.

When he came in he was already crying, but I was so angry it hardly touched my hardened heart. After all, he had cried the last two times, hadn't he? That didn't seem to affect his ability to keep the edict we had issued and prevent us from having to once again move the furniture and repaint the wall.

I asked him the silliest of questions. Why had he done this? Didn't he remember what we had talked about the prior two times? Did he know what was going to happen now? I knew our son was aware of the answers to these questions. The truth was our little friend was very bright. He loved us and didn't color on the wall to aggravate our relationship. He remembered it was wrong. There were other things that momentarily provoked his creative outburst.

I asked him those questions in an angry, loud voice, being three times his height and perhaps four times his weight. I further stripped him of his dignity and self respect, falsely relying on this abuse of my already humble friend to somehow make me feel better. It did not.

I sent him to his room for the evening and not long after was at our table with the rest of our atypically quiet family for dinner. I do not recall who offered thanks for our food before we began dinner, but I clearly remember my conscience being seared as soon as I bowed my head.

Immediately, I knew it was not acceptable that I was eating and our son was not. I remember considering what I should do and it coming clear to me, “I was in prison and ye visited me.” I told my wife and our other children I wouldn't be eating and excused myself from the table.

I entered his room and sat next to our son on his bed. He was still sniffing a little and his expression revealed he thought I had come to expand his embarrassment. I was quiet for a moment, collecting my thoughts. I knew what I was supposed to do and say.

I began to explain to him that it was a much greater sin to yell at someone and humiliate him than it was to color on a wall. There in our son's room, me so huge and him so small, I saw more clearly our relationship, and my heart swelled wide with remorse at my selfish and destructive actions. I confessed that the kind of damage for which I was responsible was much harder to clean up and sometimes almost impossible to be made right again. Deeply humble and ashamed, I told him I was sorry.

Our little lad responded by trying to explain to me that he deserved to be yelled at, and that his crime justified such abuse. It was a terrible indictment of his experiences with my prior mistreatment and pierced me to my core.

I assured him that neither he nor anyone deserved such cruel treatment. I explained that yelling was always evil, one of the meanest expressions of selfishness, and again asked if he would forgive me.

He threw his tiny arms around me, and with a fiercely honest child's passion, told me he loved me, and to my tender astonishment, that I was the best dad ever. He hesitantly moved away from me so he could look in my face. I could tell he had something to say that was important to him but was choking the words. Then they simply tumbled out. “Can you forgive me?”

I folded my little friend into my bosom and wished I could express to him the feelings in my soul. He was innocent, sweet, and lovely before God. There was only one person in the room who needed serious correction. I was determined to have learned the most important lesson. Yes, I told him. All was forgiven. We would paint the wall together, with mom. All was well.

We spent the evening together, playing with action figures and then reading until he fell asleep. To his queries of wasn't I going to go eat and didn't I want to go out with the family, I said assuredly I could not eat if he didn't and that I wanted to stay and keep him company so he wouldn't be lonely.

I didn't really miss dinner and it was one of the most contented nights I have ever had. As is so often the case with giving and receiving, I was more blessed in the giving than our son.

I do not recall if he ever colored on a wall after that. But if he resisted future temptations, I like to think it wasn't for fear of what would happen that persuaded him, but his concern that his dad would miss his dinner.

This appeared on the Meridian Magazine website today. If you'd like to read the whole article that is where you will find it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Brutal, Unspeakable Truth

The following article was published in Meridian Magazine this morning. I'd like to thank Orson Scott Card for daring to speak the unspeakable truth. The lack of journalistic honestly during this election, and during the current financial meltdown, has really disturbed me. (On the other hand, the lack of honesty by politicians is just part of the game they--many or most of them--have always played: nothing new there.) The lack of honesty, in general, in this country--or at least the widespread disinterest in honesty, is appalling--and bodes poorly for all of us.

For those who have no idea who Orson Scott Card is, he the writer of several best-selling novels, such as the "Ender's" series. He is also LDS.

Would the Last Honest Reporter Please Turn On the Lights?
By Orson Scott CardEditor's note: Orson Scott Card is a Democrat and a newspaper columnist, and in this opinion piece he takes on both while lamenting the current state of journalism.An open letter to the local daily paper — almost every local daily paper in America:
I remember reading All the President's Men and thinking: That's journalism. You do what it takes to get the truth and you lay it before the public, because the public has a right to know.
This housing crisis didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a vague emanation of the evil Bush administration.
It was a direct result of the political decision, back in the late 1990s, to loosen the rules of lending so that home loans would be more accessible to poor people. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were authorized to approve risky loans.
What is a risky loan? It's a loan that the recipient is likely not to be able to repay.
The goal of this rule change was to help the poor — which especially would help members of minority groups. But how does it help these people to give them a loan that they can't repay? They get into a house, yes, but when they can't make the payments, they lose the house — along with their credit rating.
They end up worse off than before.
This was completely foreseeable and in fact many people did foresee it. One political party, in Congress and in the executive branch, tried repeatedly to tighten up the rules. The other party blocked every such attempt and tried to loosen them.
Furthermore, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were making political contributions to the very members of Congress who were allowing them to make irresponsible loans. (Though why quasi-federal agencies were allowed to do so baffles me. It's as if the Pentagon were allowed to contribute to the political campaigns of Congressmen who support increasing their budget.)
Isn't there a story here? Doesn't journalism require that you who produce our daily paper tell the truth about who brought us to a position where the only way to keep confidence in our economy was a $700 billion bailout? Aren't you supposed to follow the money and see which politicians were benefiting personally from the deregulation of mortgage lending?
I have no doubt that if these facts had pointed to the Republican Party or to John McCain as the guilty parties, you would be treating it as a vast scandal. "Housing-gate," no doubt. Or "Fannie-gate."
Instead, it was Senator Christopher Dodd and Congressman Barney Frank, both Democrats, who denied that there were any problems, who refused Bush administration requests to set up a regulatory agency to watch over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and who were still pushing for these agencies to go even further in promoting sub-prime mortgage loans almost up to the minute they failed.
As Thomas Sowell points out in a essay entitled "Do Facts Matter?" (] ): "Alan Greenspan warned them four years ago. So did the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to the President. So did Bush's Secretary of the Treasury."
These are facts. This financial crisis was completely preventable. The party that blocked any attempt to prevent it was ... the Democratic Party. The party that tried to prevent it was ... the Republican Party.
Yet when Nancy Pelosi accused the Bush administration and Republican deregulation of causing the crisis, you in the press did not hold her to account for her lie. Instead, you criticized Republicans who took offense at this lie and refused to vote for the bailout!
What? It's not the liar, but the victims of the lie who are to blame?
Now let's follow the money ... right to the presidential candidate who is the number-two recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae.
And after Freddie Raines, the CEO of Fannie Mae who made $90 million while running it into the ground, was fired for his incompetence, one presidential candidate's campaign actually consulted him for advice on housing.
If that presidential candidate had been John McCain, you would have called it a major scandal and we would be getting stories in your paper every day about how incompetent and corrupt he was.
But instead, that candidate was Barack Obama, and so you have buried this story, and when the McCain campaign dared to call Raines an "adviser" to the Obama campaign — because that campaign had sought his advice — you actually let Obama's people get away with accusing McCain of lying, merely because Raines wasn't listed as an official adviser to the Obama campaign.
You would never tolerate such weasely nit-picking from a Republican.
If you who produce our local daily paper actually had any principles, you would be pounding this story, because the prosperity of all Americans was put at risk by the foolish, short-sighted, politically selfish, and possibly corrupt actions of leading Democrats, including Obama.
If you who produce our local daily paper had any personal honor, you would find it unbearable to let the American people believe that somehow Republicans were to blame for this crisis.
There are precedents. Even though President Bush and his administration never said that Iraq sponsored or was linked to 9/11, you could not stand the fact that Americans had that misapprehension — so you pounded us with the fact that there was no such link. (Along the way, you created the false impression that Bush had lied to them and said that there was a connection.)
If you had any principles, then surely right now, when the American people are set to blame President Bush and John McCain for a crisis they tried to prevent, and are actually shifting to approve of Barack Obama because of a crisis he helped cause, you would be laboring at least as hard to correct that false impression.
Your job, as journalists, is to tell the truth. That's what you claim you do, when you accept people's money to buy or subscribe to your paper.
But right now, you are consenting to or actively promoting a big fat lie — that the housing crisis should somehow be blamed on Bush, McCain, and the Republicans. You have trained the American people to blame everything bad — even bad weather — on Bush, and they are responding as you have taught them to.
If you had any personal honor, each reporter and editor would be insisting on telling the truth — even if it hurts the election chances of your favorite candidate.
Because that's what honorable people do. Honest people tell the truth even when they don't like the probable consequences. That's what honesty means . That's how trust is earned.
Barack Obama is just another politician, and not a very wise one. He has revealed his ignorance and naivete time after time — and you have swept it under the rug, treated it as nothing.
Meanwhile, you have participated in the borking of Sarah Palin, reporting savage attacks on her for the pregnancy of her unmarried daughter — while you ignored the story of John Edwards's own adultery for many months.
So I ask you now: Do you have any standards at all? Do you even know what honesty means?
Is getting people to vote for Barack Obama so important that you will throw away everything that journalism is supposed to stand for?
You might want to remember the way the National Organization of Women threw away their integrity by supporting Bill Clinton despite his well-known pattern of sexual exploitation of powerless women. Who listens to NOW anymore? We know they stand for nothing; they have no principles.
That's where you are right now.
It's not too late. You know that if the situation were reversed, and the truth would damage McCain and help Obama, you would be moving heaven and earth to get the true story out there.
If you want to redeem your honor, you will swallow hard and make a list of all the stories you would print if it were McCain who had been getting money from Fannie Mae, McCain whose campaign had consulted with its discredited former CEO, McCain who had voted against tightening its lending practices.
Then you will print them, even though every one of those true stories will point the finger of blame at the reckless Democratic Party, which put our nation's prosperity at risk so they could feel good about helping the poor, and lay a fair share of the blame at Obama's door.
You will also tell the truth about John McCain: that he tried, as a Senator, to do what it took to prevent this crisis. You will tell the truth about President Bush: that his administration tried more than once to get Congress to regulate lending in a responsible way.
This was a Congress-caused crisis, beginning during the Clinton administration, with Democrats leading the way into the crisis and blocking every effort to get out of it in a timely fashion.
If you at our local daily newspaper continue to let Americans believe — and vote as if — President Bush and the Republicans caused the crisis, then you are joining in that lie.
If you do not tell the truth about the Democrats — including Barack Obama — and do so with the same energy you would use if the miscreants were Republicans — then you are not journalists by any standard.
You're just the public relations machine of the Democratic Party, and it's time you were all fired and real journalists brought in, so that we can actually have a news paper in our city.
This article first appeared in The Rhinoceros Times of Greensboro, North Carolina, and is used here [Meridian Magazine] by permission.

Thursday, October 16, 2008



On the tenth floor of a high-rise building....


You open the door.....




Scroll sloooooooowly.....

Would this mess up your mind?

Would you be able to walk into this bathroom?

(Brought to you via Email courtesy of Richard Baker)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

And now a message from Richard Baker: The two-story outhouse

I'm sure you will remember Richard Baker.
He sent me this photo in my email box today.

Says he: this picture is worth 10,000 words!
Says I: it's so easy to get cynical during an election year.
That's why it's nice to have a friend like Richard who makes you smile.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Looking Forward to General Conference

With the state of things as they are in this country and in the world at this time, I suspect that many people are looking forward to General Conference this weekend and will be listening for counsel and inspiration that will help them navigate through the treacherous financial-economic-political-global/personal-crisis maze that confronts all of us. Conference is always a time of revelation. The Spirit unfailingly whispers to us answers to those things that trouble us.

I have lately been plagued by troubled feelings and disturbed dreams. I quite enjoyed the spirit of the RS Broadcast last Saturday. It was comforting and uplifting, full of hope and faith. I need more of that every day of my life! I know I will feel better from listening to Conference.