Monday, June 23, 2014

How ...

The woman stumbled, fell forward and died, baby in her arms, inches from food.

"How could that happen?" my friend asked "was there no one to help?"

I bit my tongue.

There were the aid workers with food.

There was the man with the camera, tracking on her as she left the train, hope and strength almost gone.

There were her fellows in suffering.

But it suited none of their agendas to save her from death.

All of them cheered, whether they admitted it or not, as she became a dead woman walking, as her strength gave out, as she died mere feet, almost inches, from the food that would have saved her.

They were all complicit in her death, battening on it like any undead on the blood of the living.


Years ago a friend of mine wrote a poem inspired from seeing a video where this poor woman fell dead as described above.  She was aghast that there was no one to help, and at how close the woman came to salvation.

This is my response.  So very often someone's self immolation, their death, figurative or literal, serves the agendas of others.  They hasten down a path that will consume them, and everyone they meet encourages their destruction because of the benefit they will gain from it, one way or another.

Remember that every time you see someone's life destroyed in the public sphere, in the public eye.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


I was reflecting that the two times I've been warned spiritually of future pain or adversity it has been so much worse than I anticipated.  I've wondered if I could withstand another warning and have any grace or patience about it.

One of the times was when I received my patriarchal blessing.  The patriarch stopped and cried for five minutes in the midst of it.  I wrote that off as his being old and didn't believe it could really be that bad.

The other time was when we were thinking about having Courtney and we got the strong message that having a child at this time was optional because of the hardship it would cause.  I naively thought that was that the economic stress was something we could put off.  I had no idea that it related to her dying between the deaths of Jessica and Robin.

So I consider how I would react should I receive another warning that did not include a promise that I'd be able to avoid the experience or mitigate it but only told me not to get to upset about an oncoming disaster.

Guess I'm getting old when I ponder things like that.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

On privileges and advantages

I recently watched the movie The Fault in Our Stars -- we saw it for family home evening and really enjoyed it.

In part of the movie the "villain" of the movie goes on a rant about the privilege position of dying children. Of course the narrator (a dying child) disputes his analysis.

But it made me think of the various discussions of privilege I've run across.  Which made me think of a discussion a friend of mine had on privilege where he linked to a Black Academic who talked of things in terms of advantages rather than privileges. I thought the discussion was brilliant and have been trying to use it since.

Some people get it.  Privilege is a class marker, a way to identify those who benefit from the existing structures.  Applied to a homeless guy on the street it seems a little out of place as he or she is one of the people being chewed up and spit out by the class structures of wealth and power and prestige that mark out society.

Advantages captures what most people who are on the down side of the power structure may have.  Every neo-Calvinist virtue someone has (wealth, beauty, ability, power, race) is an advantage.  In addition, there are some societal markers (such as sex, race, height, hair color and age) that give advantages.

Rather that spark a discussion of the oppression Olympics, a discussion of advantages sparks a realization that the literate, the athletic, the tall and the strong have advantages. Most of those do nothing by themselves, but in application, well, look at all the 5'1" pro basketball players out there ...

It helps provide a multi-dimensional look.

I tell the guy on the street he has privilege he will just look for a better place under a quieter bridge to sleep.  I talk to him about the advantages he has and he'll agree with me that he has it better than other homeless types.  He inherently rejects things that reek of class warfare benefits, he instinctively accepts things that point out where he has hope and a leg up.

It is the difference between comparing being a white man to playing the game of life on its easiest setting, and comparing being a white man to using cheat codes.

If you are a white male academic, of course, admitting privilege costs you nothing and makes you look good.   To quote:

I get that "privilege"---race, sex, gender, disability, etc---has become something of an overplayed and diluted idea in debates about social justice and activism. But it's still a super important concept. I am vexed by the resistance to it by so many who benefit from it, and at the risk of further diluting it, I offer just two observations to skeptics:
1) When you say "look, it's not my fault that I benefit from being [white, male, straight, whatever]" that's _exactly_ what we're talking about. You benefit from something you didn't choose and that you have no role in. You shouldn't be blamed, but you don't get credit. It's the basis of your unearned benefit.
2) The best part of acknowledging that you benefit from, say, straight white male privilege is that, even in acknowledging and accepting that it exists, you don't have to give it up. You get to keep it. YOU STILL GET TO BENEFIT FROM IT.
Compared to a Jewish friend of mine, who when told of the great advantage he had in life because of the "Jewish Conspiracy" kvetched to me that whoever was running it had somehow managed to forget to include him in on it.  ;)

Anyway, the idea is not mine, and I get enough negative feedback on it I'm not comfortable pointing out where I got it, but I do think that there is a lot of progress to be made by talking about advantages rather than privileges.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

More on tiny houses (I'm a fan)

Tiny House Resources

Over the past few months there have been some great new resources available from Tumbleweed and others. Here's a quick list...

Photo taken by Dan Gilman

What type of truck do I need?
Turns out a 1942 Ford doesn't do the trick. Discover which type of trucks will do the job.

Which type of trailer should I buy?
There are 4 basic types. Learn about all 4 plus wheel ratings and more.

Where can I park my Tumbleweed?
Our friend, Steven Harrell, has started If you have a need or place check it out.

How do I finance a tiny home?
Read this quick overview that outlines the basics of getting a loan for a home on a trailer.

Tumbleweed Community Forum
We've added a Forum to our website.
Take part in the discussions.

In case you missed it
Our newest floor plan, called the Vantage, features a downstairs bedroom for 2 people.


built by you
JT's Home away from home
After attending the Berkeley workshop, JT built his own tiny home. More...

Brittany's vacation rental
After attending the Olympia Tumbleweed, Brittany now teaches others how to do it. She lived in her home for a year before turning it into a vacation rental for others to try. See inside...

Ella's home
We met Ella at the LA workshop. She followed up by building her home and now teaches others at our workshops. Read more.

Ah, we built this one.
Okay, you caught us cheating here a little bit. But this gorgeous home is worth sharing. Heather contacted us to build her home for her. More photos.

Save 40% Today


San Diego, CA
Learn more

Toronto, ON
Learn more

More workshops at 40% off

Albuquerque, NM
Learn more

Boulder, CO
Learn more

Atlanta, GA
Learn more
Boston, MA
Learn more

Asheville, NC
Learn more

Minneapolis, MN
Learn more


Copyright © 2014 Tumbleweed Tiny House Company, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you requested updates from Tumbleweed Tiny House Company.
Our mailing address is:
Tumbleweed Tiny House Company
15 W MacArthur St
Sonoma, CA 95476

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Sunday, February 09, 2014

On doctrinal shifts and trends

Back in the 70s I encountered the limited geography, Lehi & family as an island in a larger body of people thesis for the Book of Mormon.  Then, around 1979 I met Jack Welch at a fireside on deeper poetic structures in the Book of Mormon.  I ran into proto-FARMS when it was just a reading list, before it was photocopies on a table in Professor Welch's office.

So, for about forty years I've been aware of the limited geography interpretation.  It went hand in hand with my reading the text of the Book of Mormon rather than what people were saying about it and it fits in well with many of the historical notes that creep into the text.

Thus Alma goes to King Benjamin to discuss a religious question and the king meets with his council of priests and then gets back with Alma that Alma can control the issue of his own membership.

Early Book of Mormon geography, while they are still in Saudia, matches up clearly with specific locations, names events and geography.  It is only recently that it has begun to match up with data in the Americas (such as the three volcanoes that erupted about the time of the death of Christ).

So the question is how do I see the institutional Church's trend of accepting the broader analysis and acknowledging the trend in reading that goes back to the Church's founding (and that has been in competition with other threads)?

It is mixed.  I'm glad to see the Church acknowledging the viewpoint that many have held (and that others have argued against since the 1800s).  On the other hand, I meet people who are unhappy with that.


Realized that I don't blog as much, at all.  So much more time on Facebook with short posts, it has changed up my attitude about how to spend time and where.  But I thought I'd put this longer thought here.

And yes, this is the week for February 12 and February 16.  I do not forget.


Fortuitous blog post on similar points:

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Rachel's talk at church today (2013/12/29)

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I was asked to give a talk based on President Thomas S. Monson’s talk “Believe, Obey and Endure.”  The essence of the talk is that the most important thing we can do is remain faithful to the gospel.  We stay strong by persevering.

He gives an example of a girl who remained true to the gospel and was shunned by all of her friends as a result.  For many months she was alone and it was a very hard, long and difficult time for her.  Keeping true to the gospel resulted in hardship and pain for her, but in the long run it made her life better and more true.

There is a lot of outside pressure on us that begins early, builds when you are a teenager and never really stops.  Pressure to act popular, to shun others and to not follow the standards of God.  There are always pressures to give up the celestial for the world.

We begin by believing.  It is the keystone.  You can’t do anything else if you don’t believe.  Belief is the first principle of the gospel.  If you believe it can help you in your perseverance and give you a reason to hold on.

The Article of Faith that applies is the fourth article of faith:

4 We believe that the first principles and aordinances of the Gospel are: first, bFaith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, cRepentance; third, dBaptism by eimmersion for the fremission of sins; fourth, Laying on of ghands for the hgift of the Holy Ghost.

Next, we have to keep believing:

To quote President Monson:

I have spoken over the years with many individuals who have told me, “I have so many problems, such real concerns. I’m overwhelmed with the challenges of life. What can I do?” I have offered to them, and I now offer to you, this specific suggestion: seek heavenly guidance one day at a time. Life by the yard is hard; by the inch it’s a cinch. Each of us can be true for just one day—and then one more and then one more after that—until we’ve lived a lifetime guided by the Spirit, a lifetime close to the Lord, a lifetime of good deeds and righteousness. The Savior promised, “Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.

            So, we must endure.  We preserver and we do it just one day at a time.

            What do we do one day at a time?  We obey.  To quote President Monson:

Next, young women, may you obey. Obey your parents. Obey the laws of God. They are given to us by a loving Heavenly Father. When they are obeyed, our lives will be more fulfilling, less complicated. Our challenges and problems will be easier to bear. We will receive the Lord’s promised blessings. He has said, “The Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.”2

            In addition to obeying, we can repent.  If we miss a day, if something doesn’t go right, we can be kind to ourselves and turn to God and repent, starting over and doing the next right thing.  We look with hope to the future.  As President Monson pointed out in his talk:

If any has stumbled in her journey, I promise you that there is a way back. The process is called repentance. Our Savior died to provide you and me that blessed gift. Though the path is difficult, the promise is real. Said the Lord: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.”4 “And I will remember [them] no more.”5

            This will bring us to where we need to be, to the things that will make us truly happy and home to our heavenly parents.  To repeat what President Monson said:

I have spoken over the years with many individuals who have told me, “I have so many problems, such real concerns. I’m overwhelmed with the challenges of life. What can I do?” I have offered to them, and I now offer to you, this specific suggestion: seek heavenly guidance one day at a time. Life by the yard is hard; by the inch it’s a cinch. Each of us can be true for just one day—and then one more and then one more after that—until we’ve lived a lifetime guided by the Spirit, a lifetime close to the Lord, a lifetime of good deeds and righteousness. The Savior promised, “Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.”6

            I leave you with this message in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Dad did typing, Rachel did the writing.  She also did the editing as she has pretty strong ideas.

Honestly, I was very pleased with not only how she put the talk together, but how she presented it to the congregation after the sacrament had been passed (and with her giving me permission to share it on-line).