Friday, December 30, 2011

I discovered this morning that writer and atheist Chris Hitchens had died two weeks ago. I had intended to blog about him in November after reading some articles about him in the newspaper. Hitchens had said some outrageous things about Mormons and Mormonism that were responded to in the Deseret News [actually Mormon Times -- click on the image of Christ to the right to access Mormon Times] by a journalism and communications professor at BYU-Idaho, Lane Williams. I was familiar with Hitchens’ name because of having previously read David Berlinski’s book, The Devil’s Delusion, in which Berlinski took to task four prominent atheists (of which Hitchens was one), for their illogical thinking, and pointed out how laughable they and their “scientific pretensions” really were.

My afore-mentioned unwritten November blog would have actually been less about Hitchens than it would have been about my total surprise at my own feelings after reading Lane Williams’ thoughts. In his article, Williams mentioned that Hitchens was dying of cancer. He also quoted several of Hitchens’ statements that are complete falsehoods about Mormonism, as well as Hitchens’ outrageous condemnation of Mormon beliefs and practices as “weird” and “sinister.” Two things became immensely clear as I read what Hitchens had to say: first, Hitchens didn’t really know what he was talking about because he had obviously not studied any respected or unbiased sources of Mormon history, culture or beliefs; instead he had based his diatribes entirely on anti-Mormon screed and slanderous stereotypes; and, second – and most importantly – Hitchens was clearly not motivated by being an impassioned courageous speaker of truth (as he liked to be viewed), but by something else – his own irrational fears, anger, and hatred. Williams, however, kindly attributes Hitchens’ embarrassing failure at responsible journalism to mere laziness.

When I was done reading about Hitchens, how did I feel? I was surprised that I felt sorry for him instead of indignant that he had viciously maligned my beliefs. I not only pitied him because of the cancer that was ravaging his body, I grieved because of the spiritual cancer and spiritual death that he had either knowingly or unknowingly embraced in his mind and heart. I now understood what the Sons of Mosiah felt toward the Lamanites: “they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.” (Mosiah 28:3)

The reason that I never got around to writing that blog in November was because several ideas for blogs occurred simultaneously. I had hoped that I would eventually get around to each of the several topics, but life intervened. This morning, I decided that maybe I should just briefly summarize the main ideas of each topic as a single year-end blog. A summarized statement about the Chris Hitchens topic might have been something to do with feeling love for one’s "enemies" or perhaps it would have been something to do with Hitchens being the embodiment of a “modern Korihor.” That was before I knew he had died. When I knew he had died, I guess I felt, “what a waste.”  It is a pity that Hitchens, one so talented in turning a phrase and adept at stirring the emotions of his readers, wasted his gift and his life tearing down faith and vilifying believers, when he could have been a power for truth and righteousness for the Lord.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Science Still Doesn't Have All the Answers

Scientists don’t have all the answers. But then, you knew that. Or you suspected it.
I love it when they admit that they were wrong. Were. Wrong. I love it when they begin to look foolish (think: Keystone Cops) as they fight among themselves about the validity of certain scientific “facts.”
However, what I love most is that they keep trying to get it right. And, I love it when they say they can’t explain some odd phenomenon. A little humility is so attractive.
Three recent events in the world of scientific research are instructive:
First: Daniel Shechtman received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry last week, for his discovery, nearly 30 years ago (1982), of “quasicrystals.” Shechtman is now 70 years old; he would have been about 40 when he made his initial discovery. In 1982, he was ridiculed and expelled from his research group because what he claimed he had found was “impossible,” and because he had thus brought “disgrace” on the team. The problem of quasicrystals is that they “break all the rules” of being a crystal.
For me, this is an illustration that God’s chemistry textbook actually has “all the rules,” including many rules which scientists haven’t discovered yet.
Second: A bunch of scientists received the Nobel Prize in Physics last week for deciding that the universe is actually expanding at an ever-faster rate. Now, as any kid could tell you, this is clearly impossible. Remember the laws of inertia and gravity? After the Big Bang, gravity would cause the outward expansion to eventually slow to a stop, and then everything might even reverse and collapse in upon itself. Since they really can’t explain what might be the cause of an ever-increasing speed of expansion, the scientists had to invent a new power: “dark energy.” They decided that this mysterious force, “dark energy”— which counteracts gravity, must make up more than 70% of the universe. 70%!!!
For me, this fits right into God’s plan and creations. God’s power—which fills the universe(!)— is 100%.
Third: Nothing can travel faster than the speed of light – right? Scientists in Italy and Switzerland are not so sure about that any more. It seems that neutrinos fired from Switzerland to Italy traveled 60 billionths of a second faster than light. Potentially this has huge implications not only for physicists, but for everyone.  For one thing, Einstein’s theory of special relativity goes out the window (I suspect there is something faster than a neutrino, and that was Einstein turning over in his grave at the news about the neutrinos). Charles Krauthammer remarked, “It has to be impossible because, if not, everything we know about the universe is wrong.”

Well, if everything scientists know about the universe is wrong, that just might turn out to be a real moment of truth for them ….
Meanwhile, I can smile gently because I know that God is real and that he is our Heavenly Father who loves us, and that our lives here are part of his magnificent plan for our happiness and eternal life.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Once Upon a . . . .

It was half a life-time ago!
What an odd realization.
Emily-Pemilie-Quarts is 33 today!
Times two and she will be in my shoes!

Happy Birthday, Emily!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pirates of the Water Gardens

Last Friday, The Knight and I went to the movies. But while the rest of the world was clamoring for tickets to see the latest/final Harry Potter movie, we chose instead to see the last “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, “On Stranger Tides.” We decided that our chances of getting tickets to Harry Potter were probably bleak, at best, so we didn’t even try.

As it turned out, it was a little tricky getting tickets to “Pirates,” as well. Only one theater in the area, “Water Gardens” in Pleasant Grove, was still having regular showings; while a second theater was having only one showing of “Pirates” per day, at 9:30 at night.

So, we took in the 1:10 p.m. “Pirates” at the “Water Gardens.” This was our first experience with the “Water Gardens.” This is an older theater. No stadium seating. No decorative light sconces on the walls. No lights whatsoever, actually. No curtains. No cup holders. No high-backed, cushy rocking chairs. No water gardens either.

But they did boast “reserved seating.” You actually select your seats from a chart. And the tickets were only $3.00. The advantage/disadvantage of no lights in the theater is that you could not see how clean (or not clean) the place was, or what you might be sitting in/on. Or who or what you might be sitting next to.

We noticed while we were in the ticket line that there were a great number of children of all ages – whole families, apparently – who were soon to join us in the darkened theater. Once the movie was under way, my attention was drawn to the voice seated behind me. I guessed him to be between 5 and 8 years of age. He was speaking to his little brother who was maybe 3-4 years old.  “Don’t look,” he was advising his little brother, “it might scare you!” Similar brotherly comments continually tutored the little brother throughout the movie. I was not bothered or annoyed with the comments. I found them charming and comforting to me as well.

So, why were each of us adults there watching Johnny Depp playing pirates? Was it because we feel nostalgic about when we played pirates when we were kids? Does it remind us of the time we made wooden lath “swords” crudely nailed together to brandish in play-acted sword fights and got splinters in our hands? Do we recall with childlike joy how we cobbled together some kind of “treasure chest” to bury and find again with a treasure map? If nostalgia was our motivation, did watching “On Stranger Tides” help us relive our childhood innocence?

I suppose some movie-goers were there just to watch Johnny Depp swagger, flash his gold teeth, slur his words, out-smart everyone, and somehow manage to not get his eye makeup rubbed off, nor to ever need a change of clothing. (Harry Potter is not the only screen character capable of magic.)

Two-plus hours later, I stumbled out of the theater into the blazing sunlight of a glorious summer day with the movie’s soundtrack adventure theme solidly imprinted in my mind and ears. As I passed by one wench … er… woman … who had just watched the same movie, I heard her loudly saying to another wench ... er ... woman that she would see her at the Temple at 6 p.m. that evening for Ward Temple Night.

I am inadequate in expressing how incongruous the concept of the Temple juxtaposed with the environment and context of the pirate movie seemed to my mind. It was highly disturbing to me, in fact. We had just attended the Temple 24 hours earlier. My memories of the up-lifting and enlightening peace and joy of the Temple were still fresh in my mind. And now, 24 hours later, here I was staggering out of a dark theater imbued with visions of violence and suggestions of debauchery. I felt somewhat tarnished   as if I were stumbling out of a tavern after having imbibed for two-plus hours.

The contrasts of the Temple vs. the Theater were stark. Similar stark contrasts were what Moses experienced after having talked with God face to face and then having a frightening and dark encounter with Satan. “Where is thy glory?” Moses asked Satan who was professing to be God. Where was the deep joy/satisfaction I was hoping to find in watching a pirate movie?

On the positive side, there was a positive note mixed in with all the sword play and Johnny Depp nonsense. The real hero in the movie was the Missionary who saved the Mermaid’s life, and then she saved him. Bravo to the Missionary! Bravo to real heroes everywhere!

Friday, June 24, 2011


This week, while the Knight and I were working in the yard one morning, the unmistakable sound of helicopters suddenly filled the air. I stopped what I was doing and looked skyward. The sound became louder and louder, and finally the first helicopter came into view, quickly followed by a second, then a third . . . .
In all, there were eight of them. Black military helicopters. They were flying in a kind of staggered formation. They came from the north, flew over Provo to the east of us, and headed south towards Springville and Spanish Fork. I felt that I had just witnessed something special. Wow!
I wondered what they were doing and where they were going. Before the day was over, I knew the answers to my questions. The eight Blackhawks plus 66 National Guard Troops were on their way to Texas, and from there they were going to Afghanistan for a one-year deployment.
The following are photos from the Deseret News:

The front page photo of this Deseret News story was of the boy crying. All I could think was, “I pray your father returns home safely.”  I don’t think most of us appreciate the monumental sacrifices made by these families.

The Deseret News article, "Utah Guard Blackhawk crews bound for Afghanistan," was written by Steve Fidel. The photos were by Revell Call.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


The UNpredictable-ness of the weather goes without saying. In spite of sophisticated satellite and radar technology or advanced degrees in meteorology, the TV weather guys are lucky to be spot-on only about 50 percent of the time.
Last night they told us that the major flooding caused by snow melt, which they have been forecasting as imminent since May, is finally going to happen. However, last night’s prediction was made with more than normal confidence. It appears that a heat wave this week is inevitable. And rapid snow melt is, therefore, inevitable.

What is interesting to me was how June refused to act like June until yesterday. The cooler than normal and dryer than normal June has seemed to me to be Providential. It seemed to me that major flooding was held in abeyance for as long as possible to give more people more time to prepare for the inevitable. There have, of course, been others who were the unfortunate victims of early flooding. Their plight, widely publicized, has helped to galvanize hundreds of volunteers into action filling sand bags and helping the victims. Nevertheless, the unusually slow warm-up has probably spared the vast majority of flood zone residents an utter catastrophe.

A city official from a local community in a flood zone was interviewed on TV last night. He was full of confidence that his community is prepared for the coming flood. The sand bags are in place. More sand bags and large equipment are ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice. I sincerely hope his optimism is justified. Other communities that have failed to respond in like manner now face inevitable disaster.
As I watch the various forecasts and the reports of nature unleashed, I know full well that some kind of disaster could also befall me, just as it has befallen countless multitudes across the globe recently.  As I have watched, I have wondered, “ How well  am I prepared?”
I have witnessed the Hand of God holding back the forces of nature as well as of unrighteous political entities. I know that He gives us many warnings and more than ample time to prepare. He is a merciful God. But the inevitable is, after all, inevitable. 

However, I am comforted that there is a “one-size-fits-all” preparation. After doing all we can do with food storage and financial reserves and 72-hour kits, we may or may not be prepared to weather any coming storms. But the one-size-fits-all preparation that will help anyone weather any potential disaster is spiritual preparation. This is done persistently one day at a time, seeking the Holy Ghost and the Lord’s guiding hand in all that we do, keeping in tune with spiritual promptings. This is the only Sure Way.   

... just "watching" ...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Telephone Phantoms

Last night at 10:30, when all was quiet at our house (except for the soft snores of The Knight), and as I was drifting off to sleep, the phone rang.

Being only half awake, I responded instinctively: It might be some emergency call from one of our loved ones. "Hello?" I said in an anxious voice, wondering who might have died.

"Hello. Is Paul there?" asked a female voice that I did not recognize.

Odd. Very odd.

"Who's calling please?" I asked, still trying to clear the sleep cobwebs from my mind

A slight pause. "Cheryl," she said.

Hmmm. We know two Cheryls, a sister-in-law, and a niece. Why would either of them be phoning to ask for Paul?

"Cheryl who?" I asked with just a hint of challenge in my tone.

Another pause. This one longer. "I'm a friend of Paul's," she said in a tone that plainly indicated she was not going to tell me anything more.

I was fully awake now. No last name. Someone avoiding revealing her identity. But why?

It was my turn to pause as I considered leveling another challenge at the mystery caller. Instead I turned to The Knight, and I said in a tone loud enough for Cheryl to hear: "Your 'Friend' Cheryl wants to talk to you." The stress on the word Friend was dripping with sarcasm.

The Knight took the phone. The first thing Cheryl asked him was, "Was that your wife?" -- as if surprised at my presence or existence.

The Knight was still struggling to wake up and also to identify the voice. He decided that she might be sister-in-law Cheryl, and asked her if that was who she was. A couple of interchanges later, she provided her last name and said she had phoned the wrong "Paul."

So, it was NOT a scam phone call from a bogus 'relative' needing money to get out of jail in Bogota. A few months back, as you may recall, we got a call from a "granddaughter" who needed money in British Columbia to get out of jail. At that time, I quickly alerted The Knight that this was a frequently used scam.

I was glad that this call was not another scam, just a wrong number. Just an unapologetic and inconsiderate caller.

After The Knight said goodbye to Cheryl, I said, "From now on, if a caller will not identify himself or herself with a complete name, I am going to just hang up on them."

Hanging up on a caller who evades revealing his/her identity is not rude. Callers who play identity games are being rude and offensive and do not deserve another moment of my time.

Monday, April 4, 2011


I was recently touched by reading the following:

Two-year-old Matthew supplied me a lesson.

He cried, I thought without reason, in bed tonight. He asked several times if I'd blow his nose for him or hold the tissue while he blew his nose.

After three or four trips, I stalked into his room and asked, "Do you want me to spank you?"

He nodded yes. I asked again, this time illustrating with my raised hand.

He said, "Yes."

Suddenly my heart melted as I realized he trusted me so much that if I thought a spanking would help his problem, that's what he wanted.

I rocked him for a while and realized to my further softening that he had a stuffed nose from a cold that was just beginning. That had been his discomfort. I got some tissues for him, gave them to him in bed, and told him to blow as much as he would like.

He said, "Thanks."

I went away a chastened man.

This incident appears in Henry B. Eyring's book, "Because He First Loved Us." I suppose I was touched because I too have experienced being impatient with a child when I didn't understand what his problem was. I was also impressed because President Eyring was humble enough to share this story without white-washing his own behavior.

And I suppose it also reminded me of another little two-year-old, whose name is Henry, who melts my heart on a daily basis.

"Do you want to go to bed?" asks his parent sternly-- indicating the punishment that is looming if Henry doesn't behave properly.

"Bed," responds a sorrowful Henry, meekly submitting to his punishment.

President Eyring points out that these little children are examples for us to follow. To be acceptable to God, we must become "willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon us, even as a child doth submit to his father" (Mosiah 3:19).

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Dodo

The stereotype firmly attached to the Dodo Bird is that it was too dumb to flee and too fat to fly. Thus it became extinct in the 1600s.

So, the term “Dodo-head” is not a compliment, as it suggests a fundamental – nay, a fatal – lack of intelligence. And he was not very cute either.
I confess that a few weeks ago, I found myself uttering “Dodo-head” under my breath on a rather frequent basis. This epithet was most often directed at the preposterous things I was finding in many of the Family Trees on (As well as on other genealogy websites that shall remain nameless . . . .)
The Knight was somewhat shocked to hear me spewing such colorful invective. He gently suggested that I ought not to say such things.
He’s right, of course.
But like so many other bad habits that are important to break, attempting to repent of this one seemed to result in an alarming increase in the recurrences of said bad habit.
I found myself saying “Dodo-head” All. The. Time.
To the cats.
To other drivers.
To talking heads on TV.
To inanimate objects.
In short, to anything whatsoever that caused the tiniest bit of frustration.
Yesterday, I was in a hurry as I was typing data into my PAF file, and I kept mis-typing. And . . . you guessed it: I heard myself calling myself “Dodo-head.”

If I have to be a Dodo-head, I hope I can at least be a cute one.

Monday, March 7, 2011


I was debating about which blog I should write: One about daylight saving time? Or one about Spring?
Daylight saving time begins next Sunday, while Spring begins the following Sunday.
Thinking about DST always makes me feel a bit depressed because we essentially will be retreating back to the darkness of early mornings typical of January.  We will not regain early light again for another month.

In contrast, thinking about Spring makes me feel excited and optimistic because soon there will be daffodils, and Gordon’s crocuses blooming across the street. And robins returning in big flocks. And buds on the trees. And violets between the cobblestones in the backyard. And warm southern breezes. And apricot trees in bloom. And birdsong at dawn.

It’s too bad that DST’s “spring forward” so often carries negative connotations for me, as it seems to be an oxymoron for a big step backward. But, now, I am going to try really hard to think of DST as just another wonderful harbinger of Spring.
Spring Forward!!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011


A “bargain price” is a highly esteemed reason to spend a small amount of money. At least in my world. In The Knight’s world, however, being able to say, “Money is no object!” is even more highly to be esteemed.
An example of this dichotomy played out yesterday. The Knight announced that he wanted to go see a certain newly released movie, “I Am Number Four,” which he’d read a newspaper movie review on just that morning. It’s understandable, of course, that he’d want to see that particular movie because of his being a science fiction fan.
The first thing that popped into my mind, however, was: Newly Released Movie at Matinee Prices [paying full price is totally unacceptable and out of the question], Means Spending $10 to $12 Dollars! … That’s half  the cost of a DVD these days! But then, I don’t approve of buying DVDs either because they are so expensive, especially considering that after I’ve seen a movie once or twice, in most cases I never care to watch it again. On top of that, if I really want to see a certain movie, I can [eventually] get it at the public library for $1.  (Of course, I do prefer the theatre’s huge screen to the TV’s more modest-sized screen.) Naturally, the perfect compromise is to go to the “Dollar Theater” and spend only $3!!
Wisely, I avoided saying any of my thoughts because I knew that The Knight would just say, “I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE MONEY!!!!!”
So, my next task was to see if there was a movie at the Dollar Theater that would be an acceptable substitute for the desired science fiction one at the more expensive theater. But first, I needed some persuasive reasons for rejecting “Number Four” and then some other persuasive reasons for preferring some other movie.

It was too easy. Easier than taking candy from a baby. I read the “Plugged-In” movie review on line of “I Am Number Four” which politely described it as a movie whose target audience was young teens, and how the young male star spent considerable time in the film without his shirt on, and how it was a cross between Twilight and Harry Potter. Enough said (even though much more negative stuff could be said).
As luck would have it, the Dollar Theater was showing “The Chronicles of Narnia, The Dawn Treader.” The Knight has long been a fan of “The Chronicles of Narnia.” I didn’t even have to worry about compiling a list of good reasons for choosing Dawn Treader over Number Four.

Now here is the rest of the inside story: I have NOT been a fan of The Chronicles. Many years ago I read book one of the series, and I didn’t care to read more (even though The Knight thought the series was terrific). I watched some of the BBC serialized versions when they came out because The Knight expected them to be wonderful. I hated them. I watched the previous two movies in the series (because of The Knight), and did not like them enough to watch them again. The first one was too cloying. The second one was completely unappealing to me. I had no desire to see any others in the series. Ever.
So, here I was between a rock and a hard place: choose to go see a second-rate teen movie which I knew I would hate and also spend too much money to do so (which I would hate even more), or choose to go to see a movie I would probably find tedious at best, but spend only a pittance to do so. You can guess which one I chose.
The Knight (bless his acquiescent little heart) accepted my evaluation of Number Four and also accepted the substitute of Dawn Treader. He may have been a little disappointed, but he did not express such. He really loves action films, and “Number Four” would probably have fit that bill. A few times during “Dawn Treader,” I actually feared that he might be falling asleep or was bored.
As for me, this was a case of ‘having-low-expectations-may-occasionally-result-in-being-pleasantly-surprised’! Dawn Treader seemed to me to be a vast improvement over the previous two movies in the series. It was less cloying and more edifying. Edifying with a delicate touch and not a heavy hand. The theme of overcoming evil and temptation, and conquering the darkness within one’s own heart was excellently portrayed. The theme of being forgiven and healed by a Savior also worked. Tears sprang to my eyes as I recognized the truths being portrayed.
So, in the end, I was quite pleased with the bargain. The Knight, in days to come, will undoubtedly pay eight times as much as we paid for the Dollar Theater tickets, to own the DVD.
I can live with that.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


I turned to speak to God
About the world’s despair;
But to make bad matters worse
I found God wasn’t there.
God turned to speak to me
(Don’t anybody laugh);
God found I wasn’t there—
At least not over half.

The poet, in the first four lines above, expresses the overwhelming despair of the Ultimate Despair: What if God isn’t there?
Then, in a perfect 180-degree change of perspective and feeling in the last four lines he expresses his feeling of foolishness for doubting, as well as immense relief that God IS there!
I thought of this Robert Frost poem last Saturday as I read a newspaper article about British physicist Stephen Hawking and a Wall Street Journal article he co-wrote titled, “Why God Did Not Create the Universe.”

This article (based on his new book, The Grand Design) is a symbol of Hawking proudly, perhaps defiantly, turning his back on God, and bowing down to the god of science.

There was a time when Hawking gave God at least a respectful nod, such as when he said that if a complete theory of physics were discovered, then “we would know the mind of God.”
It is not uncommon for individuals with severe physical afflictions, such as Hawking has, to “charge God foolishly” (unlike Job in the Old Testament).  Or in other words to ask, “If there is a God, why would He do this to me or let this happen to me?”

Such individuals may emotionally reject God because they feel forgotten or rejected by God. Of course, living a lifetime feeling rejected by God Himself is untenable. It is easier to pretend God isn’t there; to mentally and emotionally erase Him from existence.

Atheists claim that they feel free and powerful once they embrace atheism. Indeed, psychologically they feel that they are even more powerful than God and smarter than God, because they have “killed” God.

This phenomenon can be seen in the story of Korihor who taught “There is no God” because it was “pleasing to the carnal mind.” (Alma 30:53). Hawking is, I believe, an example of this psychological coping mechanism.
With this insight, I felt tender compassion for Stephen Hawking.
I also felt humbly grateful that I regularly experience the “peace that passeth understanding” simply knowing God IS there.  
Not all scientists are atheists. My physics professor, Kent Harrison, is an example of a man with a brilliant mind that can grasp the intricacies of unproven “string theory” and “M-theory” (ideas that Hawking finds attractive), yet he does not reject God. Indeed, he is a humble, gentle man full of faith. Harrison, in a letter to the editor about the Hawking article, said:
“Claims that science explains everything are simply incorrect. Many scientists believe in God. Many observations about the universe they see support that belief. We are not in a position to claim final knowledge. Thus, ultimately, it is a matter of faith.”
The poet was accurate on another level. When we go about our lives neglecting or ignoring the spiritual aspect, we ARE only “half there.” We see only half of what is really going on. And we are only half as successful as we might be. …If that.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lee ... Who?

Let’s think about Lehi. He had dreams and he had visions. He shared those dreams and visions with his wife and children. He also tried to share things God had revealed to him with the people of Jerusalem—and because they didn’t like what he had to say—which sounded a lot like: “REPENT!!”—the people of Jerusalem wanted to kill him.
What was the reaction of his wife and children to his dreams and visions? Skepticism, mostly. Even Nephi, who believed his father’s words, did not just passively accept everything Lehi said. Nephi never said: “Whatever Dad says is good enough for me!” He always went to the Lord for confirmation and further instruction. Laman and Lemuel, of course, thought their father was crazy. And they certainly didn’t believe that God communicated to Lehi—or anyone else—through dreams and visions.
What do you think Lehi’s motive was in sharing his dreams and visions? Did he just want to make people angry? Was his motive to make his family miserable? Or send them on guilt trips? Or embarrass them in the community and with their friends? No. Lehi was motivated by love. Because he loved his family and his neighbors, he warned them of danger. He told them of destruction to come. Only a few people listened and believed. The majority scoffed, made mock of him, and wanted to permanently silence him.
If Lehi lived today, he’d have an even harder time because the scoffers and mockers would post a video on YouTube of a mob laughing him to scorn. The police would arrest him on suspicion of being on hallucinogenic drugs. The electronic and print media would condemn him for his “hate speech” with headlines demanding government intervention. The Hollywood elite would label him “UnAmerican” and a kill-joy. Laman and Lemuel would try to have him declared senile and a danger to himself as well as others and have him put in an institution.
Are there “Lehi’s” among us today? In other words, are there people inspired by God today who are warning us of dangers to us and our families? If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever – which I believe to be true – then He would have to give the world enough “Lehi’s” to sound in every ear.
Who are these Lehi’s? You can probably name some individuals who are obvious modern-day Lehi’s. I would like to suggest that they are numerous. Some of them are Mrs. Lehi’s. Some are young, some are old. One of them could be you.
I believe that being a warning voice like Lehi was is one of the assignments we were given to fulfill on this earth in our day. We are to be warning voices. We should be able to warn our spouse and our children or our parents and our grandparents or our best friend and our neighbors when our eyes or minds are enlightened by the Spirit as to a danger.
And if they come to us with such a warning, we should be humble enough to listen carefully, and to get confirmation from God. Their motivation is love. It is so easy to get offended and to act like Laman and Lemuel: “God made no such thing known unto me—therefore I won’t believe you!” Remember how they refused to listen to Nephi their younger brother because he was younger? They refused to listen to Lehi because it meant an end to their comforts and pleasures. They even became hard-hearted enough that they refused to listen to angels.
Some people will not listen to or learn from a woman, or a younger person, or an old person, or a person with bad grammar. Others have other prejudices. Because of pride, they do not recognize the voice of the Spirit speaking through the voice of someone they are familiar with or feel superior to.
I believe we are expected to be “Lehi’s” and to “stand for truth and righteousness.” At the same time, we are also expected to be like Nephi and Sam, humble and teachable. When the “Lehi’s” among us warn us to depart from Babylon (and I believe that is happening), it is time to hit the road, not make jokes about Lehi’s latest ridiculous over-the-top rant or make excuses for not giving up our favorite Babylonian entertainments.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When I Was A Child

When I was a child, I collected photos of movie stars, carefully clipping them from the newspaper every week, and scotch-taping them into a spiral notebook in lieu of a real scrapbook. I watched every movie that was broadcast on TV, carefully noting how the female stars dressed, wore makeup, coiffed their hair, and how they behaved or treated others.  From the movies I learned about fashion and beauty, love and happily-ever-after, and about exotic, romantic places far from a farm in the middle of America. And, as you might expect, when I was a child, I wanted to grow up to be a movie star.
That was back in the day when most movie stars actually tried to be decent people who wouldn’t shock the old folks back home in Indiana—or in any other place in middle-America—where the traditional values of “Mom, apple pie, and the Fourth of July” were upheld. I especially admired Doris Day with her squeaky-clean, all-American, girl-next-door image. For those of you too young to remember her, as of 2009, Doris Day was the top-ranking female box office star of all time and ranked sixth among the top ten box office performers (male and female) of all time. Surprised? Impressed? Me too!

When things began to change in Hollywood, I was a teenager. The huge scandal with Eddie Fisher divorcing Debbie Reynolds to marry Elizabeth Taylor was a highly disturbing and deeply disappointing tragedy in my view. With all the anguish a thirteen-year-old can feel, I was angry with Eddie Fisher, I lost respect for Elizabeth Taylor, and I felt sorry for and empathized with Debbie Reynolds. I struggled to comprehend how any decent, self-respecting man could justify abandoning his wife and little daughter, even if it was to marry “the most beautiful woman in the world” (that’s what they called Liz Taylor). Carrie Fisher (“Princess Leia”) was age two when Eddie dumped her mother to marry Liz. Before the dust could settle on that disaster, Liz dumped Eddie for Richard Burton. It made your head spin. My movie star icons now seemed indelibly tarnished and unfathomably flawed.

Although my esteem of movie stars in general had been shaken, I continued watching movies in spite of the tarnished and flawed stars in them. When I graduated from high school and was gainfully employed, I saw nearly every movie that came to town in addition to watching the movies being broadcast on TV. As the years passed, I continued to love watching movies of many kinds. (I also continued to be disappointed in movie star lifestyles.)
One of the things I’ve loved about movies is that they create an alternate world that offers a brief escape and respite from the day-to-day reality and cares of this life. If the movie progresses and ends satisfactorily, it can even be therapeutic. Unfortunately, there is also a potential downside. Escapism may become an addiction. Too much time spent in the alternate movie world may render a person unable or unwilling to grapple successfully with the real world. Other “side effects” may occur as well. (I am sure you can supply your own lengthy list of “side effects.”)
I watch relatively few movies these days in contrast to my viewing habits as a younger person. The two major reasons for the change: (1) there are fewer movies that appeal to me, and (2) I have more important things to do.  I am working on articulating further reasons . . . .
Something along the lines of … “putting away childish things” … “not trying to keep one foot in Babylon and one foot in the Kingdom of God … “this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God” … .
I think you get the picture.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Speaking of OLD

So the Knight and I went to a flick Saturday night. ...At the Dollar Theater.

I'd heard about the movie when it first came out last fall, and decided then that I might like to see it ...when it eventually came to the Dollar Theater. I am a Bruce Willis fan.

"RED" (retired and extremely dangerous) was billed as an "Action-Comedy." As I watched it, I agreed that it was full of action and comedy. And something more.

I discerned during the first fifteen minutes that it was also a Fantasy.

I figured that out when a small army of gun-toting guys in body armor snuck up on Bruce Willis at 3 a.m. as he slept in his all-American house in his all-American neighborhood. When they opened-up their machine-gun fire on the house, I noticed right away that we had just entered Fantasyland because not one of Bruce's all-American neighbors woke up at the cacophony of World War Three out in the street and phoned 911. As a matter of fact, the guns blasted away long enough, putting a zillion holes in the house, that when Bruce sauntered out the front door, the house collapsed.

It was similar to "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" which was also a Fantasy. I remember seeing it in the theater when it first came out and that the Knight and I were almost the only ones in the theater who were laughing.

Then there was the scene in which Bruce Willis demolishes the entire office of "Mr. Cute Hair" ("Bones" to you Trekies) as he beats up Mr. Cute Hair, and no one in the adjoining offices hears a thing. Fantasy.

Or how about when the old KGB guy scoops up the love of his life (Helen Mirren) and carries her to safety in his arms. Fantasy. I'm afraid that I couldn't help but notice how odd it looked from the back. The camera angle didn't let you see the wheeled prop under her, but realistically the old guy couldn't have done it--even if Helen Mirren had weighed only 50 pounds.

So, I thought "RED" was a funny flick.

The Knight liked the explosions and the action (are you surprised?). The movie was definitely "entertainment."

What I liked best about "RED" was the "message" about old people. It said that old people can do whatever they want to do. Like outsmart the CIA. Like rip-up their pension checks for love. Like beat up people half their age. Like .... oh, yeah ....  more examples of Fantasy.

Ferris: You're still here? It's over. Go home. Go.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Darling I Am Growing Old!

Just got the news from Becky: we are going to be GREAT-GRANDPARENTS!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Resolution Redux

Almost before I posted the previous blog, I was already rethinking and revising my new approach to New Year’s resolutions. While heartily agreeing with the Eyre’s Three Priorities philosophy, I saw right away that I needed to tweak the rest of their suggestions. Their balance points of “family, work, and self” just didn’t quite fit or feel right. For one thing, I don’t “work” or have a career.

However, President Uchtdorf’s October Conference talk, “Of Things that Matter Most,” was particularly helpful to me in selecting basic balance or focus points. Although he divided his priorities into 4 areas, God, Family, Fellowman, and Self, I condensed them into three: God, Others (which includes family and fellowman), and Self. Under those 3 basic priorities, I outlined my basic daily focus points.

The first two weeks of January have now passed. I am still trying to get into the habit of re-reading my priorities page with its focus points early in the day. All too frequently, however, I get launched out of bed and right into taking care of business. When I do stop and take the time to re-read my priorities page and focus points, I feel a sense of calm and purpose. And joy. Joy that I can focus on eternally important things.

I don’t expect Perfection, therefore, I cannot “fail.”

I do anticipate Improvement. In that, I have already had success!