Monday, August 29, 2011


Several things. 

First, I've moved my comments on writing off of this blog and over to my occasional "off-topic" blog at

Second, a new set of affirmations.
  • I can love those whom God loves.
  • God loves me and I can love myself.
  • God's healing can not harm me.
  • I can accept God's Work and Glory.
  • I can accept God's love.
Third, I'm going to start work on a law review article about criminal law and social structure.  I have a co-writer, but I need to get most of it roughed out (which I've somewhat done, need to get it into a modern computer file, and clean it up and they have a semester of school to finish before they'll have time).  Been a long time since I actually discussed much of the heart of this article (which was in a different form) with Piers Anthony, back in the day when we corresponded.  It is time to get that done.  Ethics and ADR can get revisited later.

I've been thinking a lot, just not writing much.  Reading a lot though.  And remembering how much I love so many people.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My favorite reframing memory

Reframing things can be a powerful tool.  I've had two times when reframing made a significant difference.

The first involved two of my nephews.  There was a book I wanted written for them.  In my mind I knew just the author to write it, someone with over a million volumes in print and scores of titles.  I approached them and suggested that they write the book.  Silly man, she said, I've been trying to get an editor to publish that book for twenty years.  She even sent me a short volume (what I would call a proof of concept, I'm not sure what real writers call them).

I reframed the project by giving it a different name, wrote one of her editors and asked if they had ever thought of asking for a book like that from her.  Within a month she got a contact through her agent asking her if she would consider writing a book ... I sent the nephews copies.

The other was a friend who noted that there are many people who can cut someone to the quick with an insult that lingers forever (or slightly longer).  She said people ought to try to do the thing with compliments.  I've tried to do that, from time to time, ever since.  She was right, it does seem to be harder, but it also seems to be more worthwhile.

One of those times I succeeded in reframing something that had eluded someone else for twenty years.  The other, someone reframed things for me in a way that has lingered with me for many years.

Obviously I don't get that lucky that often -- or I would have more memories of powerful and significant reframing experiences.  But I'm grateful for those two.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Writing Excuses Podcasts -- comments, thoughts, a short review.

Fifteen minutes long, because you're in a hurry, and we're not that smart.
I was given the first three seasons on CD as a gift for Christmas.  I'm just listening to them now.  I'm midway through the first CD (all the podcasts are available, both podcast and transcript, for free at ).

From the first, I now know that if I want to pitch a YA novel, my letter should go:

Everyone knows what happens if you find out that you are a king's daughter raised by peasants.  But what if you are in the king's family and find out you are a peasant's daughter?
First paragraph of my story should read:
Ok.  Lets be honest.  I get eaten at the beginning of the next chapter, so you may wonder how I'm around for the entire book.  Well, that is what this story is about.
And I'll need several sections of second person imperative, which, after all, is what my character will be doing for a time after they have been eaten (telling a story through the perspective of the second person imperative commands they were forced to give).

Well, kind of.  They warn you against rhetorical questions in submission letters, note that YA is probably not the place for a book where the protagonist gets eaten in the second chapter, and discuss how you can't write in the second person imperative.

I found it inspiring.  Decided I'd really like to talk to the editor they had on-board, though that is probably because I don't have a book I'm writing, don't plan to write a book, and what YA editors are thinking and doing is important in my eleven year old daughter's life.

So far I can recommend everything but the bonus material.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What I wish .. Mission Presidents

To start with, I have not the slightest idea of how mission presidents are trained or oriented now.  This is really about how I wish some of them had been given the chance to think thirty years ago.

Day one, for orientation, have them read the essay Pillars of My Faith and then write down three comments they would make to the author.  Follow that by reading some comments with approval and explaining that some comments if they were made after training were completed would be cause to send a mission president home.

Then present some case studies of toxic cultures that arose and ask how those reflect on the mission presidents and what do those present think the training needs to include or teach to avoid each of the toxic mission cultures.

Then start normal training after a discussion of fiduciary duty and how it is owed to the elders and sisters a mission president is called to lead and care for.

(All of that said, from other discussions about things people wish were taught in training, I rather expect that this sort of thing is covered -- the things that people have complained about vis a vis other settings and issues actually were taught, people just did not learn.  So, this is just a thought exercise, combining ignorance with wishful thinking.).

What would you add to the list for what you would like a mission president called to care for your son or daughter to have been taught?  Better, of the things they are taught, what would you like for them to have learned and remember?

Remembering the love of God

It is important to seek God's view of ourselves from time to time.  For me, it often brings to mind places I need to improve, changes I need to make.

But very often, for those who have self loathing and self hatred, it brings them to repentance, to an acceptance that if God loves them, then perhaps they can love themselves.  I have been struck at times by just how much God approves of some people -- and it has caused me to revise my thoughts of being critical of them.  If God approves, who am I to be critical?  For those who are self-critical, they often need to ask themselves the same question.

Just thinking of that as I read: The Cure for Self-Hatred

Also just read a very moving post: Pillars of My Faith

Both posts are worth reading.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Back from vacation, grateful for rain.

Got to see my mom on her mission and to take her to dinner and go to church with her.  Otherwise, on this vacation, I spent most of it visiting family.  Got to see Heather, Mike and Robin at BYU, my in-laws and Kelly the cat in Washington, and my brother-in-law George and his wife and children in Washington as well.  So very busy, but very much worth seeing everyone.

Got to see one of the mice visiting Heather's new place (until the landlord took care of that). is my link for the week.

I've several posts I'd like to write, but no time to write them.  I'm glad to be back though, and grateful for the rain.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Thoughts on EFY

I ran across a post about "How EFY Promotes Immodesty." Now I have a strong dislike for bathos and sentimentality.  I grew up in trailerparks and below the poverty line and definitely on the wrong end of most social divides.  But I am aware that -- as pointed out in -- that the Church is providing financial support for attendance at EFY in Europe and the United States.  I'm also aware that the policy in question being attacked by the OP was, as noted by Ardis " that provision in the EFY brochure was intended to ban the grungy, slovenly, deliberately disreputable clothing that fashion sometimes dictates for teens, not the neatly mended but well worn clothing that a lot of us have to wear."

The commentary on the post, other than Naismith, (and, of course, Ardis), turned mostly into a hostile attack on the EFY program as some sort of dividing line between rich and poor, a modern return to the full panoply of sins that brought down the Nephites in the Book of Mormon, with comments such as "If EFY is so important and essential, why isn’t it part of the church program worldwide" pretty much summing it up.

Of course, as my initial link to and the post on EFY points out, EFY is becoming part of the Church program worldwide and so I pointed that out, and pointed out that official budgetary support for those of modest means would have made the original post a bit more accurate -- after all, the post was claiming that EFY made people immodest in that it was for the proud and uplifted and those of great financial means when the truth was different.

The response to my making that point was for the comments to be closed.

Which occurred just as I was about to do a longer comment on the entire thread, post and comments.

So, are there elements about EFY that natively rub me the wrong way.  Of course.

But does a prohibition on grunge look clothing, in the context of the program as administered, really result so that "the EFY dress standards have unfortunately missed the mark on being “modest” in the older sense of “humble or unpretentious."

I don't think so.

Part of the problem is that it is hard to complain.  The original post may very well have meant that because the intent of the guideline was not properly framed and footnoted, it could be misunderstood, with bad results.  Further, like many posts, it could have been a quick throwaway observation.  But getting comments closed on me, which is generally considered a slap in the face -- "with you, the comments have lost all relevance" -- struck me wrong.

But what is the taxonomy of complaints?

  1. Legitimate -- something is wrong here and it has surfaced again, there is a need for change.  Often presented with a solution (for example, at law school, I found out after graduation that there was a group that was typing up cheat sheets in the same color as the scratch paper and carrying them into tests with their typewriters.  I pointed that out to the law school with the observation that if they just changed the color of the scratch paper from time to time the cheat sheets would suddenly become obvious).
  2. Compulsive mental illness -- rarer than you would think, but much to easy to have a complaint sound like the writer has obsessive compulsive disorder triggered by something.  The "I encountered xyz and thereafter cried for days, and every time I think about it I am swallowed up in angst" type of complaint shows up a lot in dealing with mentally ill people (who every leader ends up encountering).  To be heard it helps to avoid that pattern.
  3. Compulsive snarkers.  People who are just constant nitpickers. In any high priest group you usually have a couple, often entertaining with good hearts.  Give you the shirt off their backs, and note that you aren't wearing it right. ;)
  4. Thematic.  People who have adopted a cause, and thereafter have a stream of advice and complaints that circle around that as a theme.  E.g. "everything would be fine in the Church if we were all just Republicans (or Democrats or Feminists or Vegetarians or ...)."  Sometimes funny (nothing like someone who feels cocoa should be added to the Word of Wisdom, or that only whole grain bread is appropriate for man to eat and who tries to tie everything into that theme.  Their response to the EFY thread would be to state that you could solve all the EFY problems by just using whole wheat flour in every food served).
  5. People in pain.  Some people complain out of their pain, which is often rubbed wrong by many things.
  6. People looking for an excuse to analyze and talk about something (hmm, that could well apply to this post and the one I am discussing as well).  Nothing bad in that, but nothing that cries out for anyone to take them seriously or to treat what they say as a real complaint that requires a response.
  7. Bullies, who are using a complaint as an excuse to try and push people around.  
You can see the problem.  There are a chorus of reasons people complain.  For those who hear complaints it can drown out the legitimate complaints.  I've written about "on being heard" -- on complaining so that someone hears what you are saying.

Anyway, I don't have any complaints about EFY that I feel are worth the effort of being heard.  I've seen it do a great deal of good.  So. Yes.  I know poverty, I've lived it, I've been there. Yes, I don't like schmaltz.  Do I think it promotes immodesty -- given the full context?  No.  As a result, do I think my comments showed that the topic was exhausted and that there was nothing useful to say?  Nope.  I think the comments I made actually reflected why the OP was off course and should have been the beginning of a real discussion.

So, this post, which I don't expect to cause any changes. Especially since I'm on vacation, and the down time elements where I have (a) internet access and (b) time to use it, are both probably coming to an end.   

For comparison: