Friday, July 29, 2005

In grief it is easy to read about how faith affected or effected many things. However, the word “faith” is used several ways, and they do not mean the same thing.

First, “faith” is used to describe hope or belief. When someone applies for a job and someone else says "I have faith you will get it" they are talking the first type of faith. Alma encourages people to have this kind of faith when they experiment upon the word, to just try to give it a place in their hearts.

Second, “faith” is used to describe the spiritual process by which one reaches through to the other side and connects with the power of God. It involves the first kind of faith, but it is something more (as there is a connection leading to the repeated comments that you can't have faith in things that are not true -- you can have type one faith but not type two faith in things that are not true).

Third, “faith” is used to describe experienced based understanding that does not rise to the level of knowledge. I.e. I have faith that the sun will rise in the morning or I have faith that my cat really loves me.

Finally, "faith" is used to describe the calm belief that results from the spiritual process of reaching through and connecting. It is the calm hope and peace that many in grief have following their prayers.

In understanding faith we need to realize that just as the Greeks had words for different kinds of love (such as erotic, friendly, parental, etc.) we need words for the different kinds of faith in order to understand faith better.

Also, it helps to understand that anger interferes with all kinds of faith. In my own life I've found that when I was angry the Spirit couldn't reach me. It came to me as we were studying in Sunday School today and the teacher remarked that Joseph Smith had the same experience of being unable to hear God when he was anger, and that it wasn't until he let go of his anger that he regained contact with God.

As Joseph put it in describing his experience "when the heart is sufficiently contrite, the voice of inspiration steals in and whispers."

I've had many issues as I have dealt with my losses (and seen many others with loss deal with their issues), and for a short time anger as a block to faith and to the whisperings of God was an issue for me. Then, when I was contrite, the Spirit began to whisper to me. I still had to rebuild myself, spiritually I was weakened from the experience, but but faith was there to restore me.

Paul warns against letting bitterness spring up, and I am certain that anger is a stem of bitterness, and one that harms our faith, in all the ways faith can be a part of our lives.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Neat, the blogosphere rankings came up:

Current Status: Adorable Little Rodent
Current Rank: #4932

Neat, thought I liked Flappy Bird a lot ;)

For whatever today's is for your blog, visit and type in the name of your blog. If it doesn't come up, add it.

BTW, I've added to my blogroll.

I'm so glad my wife is coming home today.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

On torture

the elder President Bush's White House physician, a former doctor in the Army Medical Corps, had to say recently on this Bush administration's treatment of prisoners:

"Today, however, it seems as though our government and the military have slipped into Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness.' The widespread reports of torture and ill-treatment -- frequently based on military and government documents -- defy the claim that this abusive behavior is limited to a few noncommissioned officers at Abu Ghraib or isolated incidents at Guantanamo Bay. When it comes to torture, the military's traditional leadership and discipline have been severely compromised up and down the chain of command. Why? I fear it is because the military has bowed to errant civilian leadership."

We are in an interesting place.

Usually, torture and its analogs are useless. If a prisoner has not broken and refuses to talk, you get nothing from them. If they break, you get whatever they think you want, not the truth. In any case, by the time you can get the prisoner to someone who knows the right questions to ask and who can get useful information out of them, the information is dated and useless.

But, there are always exceptions. At times someone can be turned without being broken. It is almost always a threat of harm, not torture/pain that does it, and almost always in a tactical setting. The prisoner who leads the way through the minefield is a good example.

However, in an irregular war, where names, places, people, and contacts are all unknown (imagine WWII if the Allies did not know the names of the Nazi chain of command) there is suddenly useful information. It is like fighting the war on crime.

As a society we have already faced the temptation to use "the third degree" on criminal suspects, to beat, intimidate and deprive them of rights in the name of a greater good. National Socialism promised that greater good and our parents had to deal with NS (or, in English, the Nazi Party) in a world war and its aftermath.

But we are in a position of great temptation. The enemy is irregular (in traditional war, irregulars have no rights and are generally shot on sight). The enemy will not treat prisoners any differently no matter how we treat their prisoners (and can not take any great number of them -- all of whom they will brutally torture and murder). And, the enemy holds the promise of useful information that will not decay, if we only take the time to turn them.

Now, we are not abusing prisoners with the goal of causing them pain. We do not want them to break. Instead, we are trying to seduce them with methods that actually work. Which is why we, ourselves, risk seduction.

When God told Joseph Smith that those who lied in order to deceive were not excused because they thought others were deceiving them (or trying to), I think he was stating an important principle. When Mormon refused to lead the people in preemptive war and warned them that the grace of God would depart from them in that endeavor, he was giving a strong warning.

Now the war in Afghanistan was not preemptive. I don't think the President told any intentional lies (and honestly, given the track record of those attacking the "cake" story, their opposition would have been enough reason to believe it was true).

But I think we are facing a terrible temptation and that we are giving way to it. I have no doubts that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but I have no doubts about where it leads either. I think that in spite of the fact that those who point out the problems with abuse are caustic and at times glory in hostility e.g., they may be right this one time (heck, they may be right more than once, a stopped clock is right twice a day, hundreds of times a year).

I am not making a call for action. I'm not suggesting that we condemn anyone. But I do think it is a time for thought and discussion, knowing what we face and what we want to become. That is because the ends do not justify the means. The means are the end. How we live and how we accomplish what we do is what we are and what we will become.

Whether we are talking about how we treat people of a different sex, or a different religion, or a different race or a different creed, in peace or in war, how we act is what we are.

Useful context links:

John Bruce's Blog

powerline comments on POWs, etc.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

After Carl had been with the firm about a year he cornered me. I'd always told him the truth and had been one of the partners who voted to hire him. He had learned a lot about the firm's history, including the number of disasterous hires who were gay. "How could you hire me, with all the problems they had?" I should have thought before I answered, but I think "But what did their being gay have to do with their problems?" kind of answered his question for him.

Of course Carl turned out to be probably the best employee we had ever hired. He finally moved on to a better firm, but I'd recommend (or hire him) today.

There are a lot of characteristics about people that have meanings, in different areas. It is easy to look at our own problems and forget those of others, or to define people by characteristics that have no meaning as to who they are in the context you meet them. At times society overcomes those lines (what professional sports team cares about the race of a player now), at times we seemed to be mired by them.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

As I've mentioned, negotiation and mediation are professional interests of mine.

Stu's an author of hundreds of comics, has decided to let bloggers use them, subject to specific rules.

For the terms, see volokh archived comment

Thought that was neat.

Otherwise, visited Wichita Falls, where we used to live, went by all of our old houses and apartments, visited friends, spent time where the girls are buried, was grateful to Alison for caring for their tombstones. Read Harry Potter (can't believe I let my oldest talk me into taking her down to wait in line. She wanted to wait in line and wanted company. Then we got up at six o'clock the next morning for the visit to Wichita Falls).

Missed some people (they weren't in/around) took others out to lunch, got home in time to sleep.

I meant to write a post about why I have this blog, but decided that will wait.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

annegb has left some comments that I've thought about changing into a guest post or two, they are really good. Next time I think I'll ask her if she would mind doing a guest post or two on my blog.

I used to write legal articles, had a research agenda that I followed in ADR (dispute resolution), negotiation and professional responsibility/ethics, with a couple articles on Civil Procedure. Civil Procedure can be thought of as "the rules of the game" where the game is being a lawyer, and if you litigate, civil procedure is your life's blood in many ways. In those interests I started a web site, my home site, It still runs about 60,000 hits a week, mostly for people who are interested in "accessible" writing (that is often a dirty word from an academic standpoint) -- writing that they can understand and follow.

What is interesting in terms of where I was thinking is how grief and the experiences of loss deepened some of my thoughts, but how those concepts (such as there being five, not two, standard negotiation patterns) were an outgrowth of my exposure to Elgin's work long before any of these things happened. Grief is an overlay, not a building block, and it took far more than it gave.

Well, life has passed me by, I'm 49 and unlikely to start once again getting cold calls from people interested in having me interview for tenure track positions (though my wife got a couple -- which really tickled her, though she turned them down for the present). I'm lucky in that I like my work and my co-workers, love my children and adore my wife.

But I miss doing research and writing seriously -- in an academic way. I didn't get over 20 zeros in the first six months of the year by not being serious about my research and writing at work, but it is a different kind of writing. When Jessica took sick in 1992, a lot of things began to die, including a number of dreams and interests I didn't realize were dead.

So, I hold my five-year-old daughter's hands as she goes to sleep (it keeps the nightmares away for her), think and dream and love my family and remind myself that there is a lot more to life and that I am lucky to have the things and people and love that I have.

And I may yet write an article on how the clash over ethics in negotiation is a clash between styles, more than a clash between right and wrong -- though it may be that as well. There is so much and never enough time for all of it.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Brigham Young said this, "We think the sisters ought to have the privilege to study various branches of knowledge that they may develop the powers with which they are endowed. Women are useful, not only to sweep houses, wash dishes, make beds, and raise babies, but they may also stand behind the counter, study law and physic [medicine], or become good bookkeepers, and all this to enlarge their sphere or usefulness for the benefit of society at large. In following these things they but answer the design of their creation."

In that regards, explorations, "Am I not a woman and a sister?" But what does it mean to be a woman, a sister, a feminist, a Latter-day Saint?

I always liked that quote while I was at BYU's law school, and it encouraged me when my wife was working towards her CRNA.

Alot easier to post on than the fact Robin would have been baptised this week and too many girls in our congregation who would have been Jessica's age are getting married. We even held one of the bridal showers in our house. Sometimes it is just too hard.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Well, they had us wait until this morning for the swelling to go down. After everything, the surgery will only be on Heather's hand, they are putting two pins in at 6:30 a.m. Win had to work last night, but will be getting off early and meeting me at the hospital. Heather is in good spirits, finished her econ final, I'm hoping she will still pass trig. She thought she was going to class this afternoon after surgery this morning.

Rachel has been very concerned about Heather. She is so sweet.

Anyway, things are well.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Heather had a close encounter with an SUV on her bicycle. She will spend the night in the hospital and when the swelling goes down they will operate on her in the morning.

My wife always accuses me of being too positive, but I expect Heather to recover just fine. Still, this reminded me that she is always my baby girl.

I try to post about once a week. This will have to do it for this week, I just don't have more in me.