Friday, February 29, 2008

On Prayer

Prayer helps with life, and especially with life where there is grief. On the topic of prayer, I really liked this set of quotes, provided by Ozarque:

The Winter 2007-2008 issue of _Image_ [website at ], has a wonderful interview with Mary Karr, conducted by Brennan O'Donnell, on the relationship between Karr's religious faith and her writing; it's on pages 83-95. On pp. 91-92, talking about her prayer life, Karr says:

"Within a couple of years I made the prayer of Saint Francis a regular prayer: 'Make me an instrument of your peace...' I was making decisions based on prayer, like whether or not to get a divorce -- that was something I had prayed about for years. I didn't have a sense of what to do, but I did pray about it. I prayed about what to write, and I prayed about what job to take. My life got a lot better. That's what I tell people when they say they don't believe but they want to believe. I say, 'Pray every day for thirty days and see if your life gets better.' It's ironic how people will argue with you about that, as though it will cost them something, as though you're trying to trick them into something. I say, 'No, just do it and see if you feel like I do. Maybe you won't.' "

And on page 92...

"I had not been baptized when _Liar's Club_ came out, but I did have a sense of having been spiritually snatched out of the fire. Prayer had become a place I could go. I was single, I had a kid, I had nine jobs, I had no money -- but I could go to that place and feel that there was something there that was not me, that was going to help me pick the next right thing to do."

.. union of two souls for time and eternity

On sacred connections:
They did so in part because they agreed with the non-Christian Romans that “fidelity and harmony are demanded in the longest-lasting and most intimate human relationship, marriage.” But they also did so because they accepted, perhaps, the ancient Israelite view that marriage was a sacred covenant and, further, because they understood “marriage,” in the words of the Protestant scholar Philip Schaff, “as a spiritual union of two souls for time and eternity.” A sacred handclasp-the dextrarum iunctio-was a fitting symbol for the most sacred act and moment in human life.2
On the Hopi:
He believed that the Hopi captured something about life that the rest of the world had missed.

I think we often miss the essential nature of life and connections, one to another.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Strange confessions

Everyone gets told secrets of one kind or another. You do, your wife does, my kids do, but how in the world did I ever end up with the secrets people confide in me to ask for advice?

I keep getting people at Church asking me if it is ok if they vote for a Democrat for President. Err, they just gave a sermon on it saying that there are good people in both parties and that the Church wasn't going to endorse anyone.

But why me? I'm the guy in the dark suit, white shirt and tie, sitting quietly. Of all the secrets that people want to confess and want me to give them absolution for, how did this end up to be the one I attract?

Ah well. It could be worse. It could be the sorts of secrets that you wish you had never heard and can't forget. I'm lucky no one leaves me with such a burden. This one just perplexes me.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Favorite Quotes

“I never thought it was right to call up a man and try him because he erred in doctrine, it looks too much like m---m and not like Latter day Saintism. M--s have creeds which a man must believe or be kicked out of their church. I want the liberty of believing as I please, it feels so good not to be tramelled. It dont prove that a man is not a good man, because he errs in doctrine. The High Council undertook to censure and correct Br. Brown because of his teachings in relation to the beasts [in Revelations], and he came to me to know what he should do about it”
(Words of Joseph Smith, 183-84).

I always wanted to start a text for the young men, one that replaces the current boy scouts, with that quote.

The thought was that young men need modern survival skills, not ones meant to teach them in preparation for their becoming airborne rangers (sort of what the boy scouts originally was meant to do).

Four lessons a month:

One on basic spiritual skills (such as avoiding anger, etc.);
One on modern social survival skills (such as the gentle art of verbal self defense);
One on job awareness and professional skills;
One on service and brotherhood (young men should engage in service projects every month).

Real training for real life. Strange where that quote took me, where do your favorite quotes take you?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Breadmaking video -- five minutes to making artisan bread

The video shows you how to make bread with about five minutes work.

Quoting Suzette Haden Elgin:
A while back [see ], I posted a recommendation for a book on a way to make bread that I agree with its authors is revolutionary, and reported that I'd tried it and couldn't praise it enough. Since then, I've told you that my husband has been making it, which is yet another revolution. [In the sense that until this method came along, baking our bread had always been my job.]

Now, thanks to Wib Smith and CJ Stone, I can tell you that there's a video available with the authors of the book doing the breadmaking, at .
I bought the book, my daughter took it back to college with her after visiting on President's Day (I also gave her one of my silicone bread baking pans to go with the book).


Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois (Hardcover - Nov 13, 2007)
Buy new: $27.95 $18.45 27 Used & new from $16.44



Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Being truly sorry -- when I was wrong, I waited to admit it.

It hit me a while back that promptly (i.e. immediately) admitting when I was wrong left the other person unsatisfied. If I'm truly sorry I wait until they've gotten their complaint off their chest. I wait until they've finished and then I apologize.

I don't explain, I don't defend, and I don't apologize before they are finished complaining.

A twist on what many advise, but I find that if I just wait a little, it means a lot to the person who is complaining. If I'm sorry, letting them finish venting before I admit I was wrong and apologize, that brief waiting is little of a price to pay.

And if I'm really sorry, it has hit me that what I do is say "I was wrong, I apologize" followed by (if appropriate) "what can I do to make up for that" or "ok, I'll be doing xyz to make up for that, can you suggest anything else?"

That is what it really means to be sorry, and what it really takes to communicate that I am sorry.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


There have been a number of wrinkles to my life as I have quit burying my emotions under food. I've had to deal with resurgent grief issues as having a child move through the ages and benchmarks of my other children has brought many things to life. I've experienced a great deal of joy in the love and admiration I feel for my wife and the way that has come strongly to the surface now that I'm not hiding from my emotions.

However, one thing I wasn't prepared for and am still dealing with is being infatuated with my wife. I've a confession. While I worked at having crushes as a kid (everyone else had one, so I decided I needed to have them to be normal), I never really experienced infatuation in any real amount until November, a couple years back or so. While it is kind of fun to get giddy feelings, my bottom line conclusion about it all is that while love motivates you to be kind and to think of others and care for them, infatuation just makes you goofy. Now I kind of wish I knew what being drunk felt like so I could compare the two experiences.

I'm too old for this. At least I finally understand what got into everyone I knew or what makes old fools. But the only advice I've gotten so far is that I should be grateful I've discovered that I'm infatuated with my wife. At least as I'm going on three years of it I'm at least able to deal with it without getting overwhelmed by it. I'm still getting tongue tied sometimes.

Guess there could be a lot worse things. I've been sick, missed a fair amount of work, slept a lot, and finally found a florist to remember. If the worst thing about life at the end of the day is being infatuated with my wife, I think I'm grateful.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Every so often I meet someone who has decided to trust something that I happen to know that is completely wrong. I recently listened to someone who talked about the pain he suffered rescuing people from a diet that was high in fat, low in carbohydrates -- one that worked but that he was sure was killing the people on it and who he felt had to be forced to abandon it.

If you've read the studies you know that while low fat is a definite dogma, all of the research points to the, err "contradiction" that exists because in the one definite measure, morbidity (that is, how many people die), it is less healthy than the traditional high protein, high fat diet that was abandoned in the 70s.

For example, you probably remember being told that eggs were bad for you, or the puzzle that many people felt when studies that showed that on a diet that was 100% eggs the level of Cholesterol actually drops (one of my wife's professors did some of the research).

That is sharply focused for me because much of what I read in religious criticism when I got started reading it was older material that was outdated when I read it. It included things such as writers insisting that the Bible was false because Jericho never existed (by the time I read those writers Jericho had been found). I was reading the past in real time against current knowledge that made it look silly.

I've seen that again and again in religious studies -- absolute statements just as firm as the "you must eat low fat" -- that turn out to be completely wrong. It reduces my trust in many people who have been trained to the ministry or trained in religious studies, at least to the extent that they are filled with certainty. I just expect them to turn out to be wrong.

At the same time, I find myself learning to trust God. It is a slow path, with limits drawn from the pains and losses of my heart, because I find that God doesn't keep me from loss or sorrow. At the same time, God does give me comfort. I've learned to trust his word where he says "I will not leave you comfortless."

So I learn to trust in God as he teaches me, not in the God I thought I knew.

Which heals my heart more than any "truths" from religious scholars.

By the way, to read more on the example, pick up a copy of this book from your library:

Good Calories, Bad Calories

Friday, February 08, 2008