Friday, October 28, 2011

So, what is scripture?

That is the topic I address at:

I think it is both more and less than many people use it for, wider and narrower than what they accept.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Catching up

I've taken to using LinkedIn updates as a stepping board for looking for old classmates on Facebook.  Slowly, but surely touching base with the people I can find from high school through law school.  For the most part I'm just curious about how they are doing.

But then I get comments like "what a nice looking family you seem very happy."  My response is always something soft.  I'm glad my family looks nice and these days we are happy.

There is a time to be happy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Difficult advice

Recently, in Feminist Mormon Housewives, the “Mormon Therapist” asked a question about what a child should do it they had gone to their (step)mother about being sexually abused by their brother, the (step)mother had taken them to the bishop and the bishop had sent them to CPS (Child Protective Services) but the stepmother had not gone out of fear at what CPS would do to the family.

It was easy enough for me to say “call the nearest Child Advocacy Center.

It is easy enough to say “call CPS [by yourself].” Obviously a child advocacy center, which specializes in providing a safe, protective environment and coordinating things is going to be an easier first step.

But, well, there are some caveats. In the “YFZ” case (the one where they had the mass seizure of the FLDS children in West Texas), the children at issue were more likely to engage in underaged sex with adults either as a statistically average resident of Austin, Texas or as a child in custody in the CPS system. A lot of sexual assault goes on in foster care situations, there are a lot of baby daddies in Austin. Typically the mothers are underaged, the fathers are older than 18, often in their mid-twenties or older.

Typically, if the perpetrator is in the household, and if a parent has knowledge and has failed to protect, the intervention may well be robust. Sometimes that is a very good thing, but parents often do not deal well with children being removed from the household and placed into the system. The step mother is right that the CPS probably would have taken some of her children away from her.

It is the same with family violence. I used to do a lot of volunteer work and other work with getting protective orders and divorces for abused women. Received some awards.

The hardest thing to deal with was people who decided to back into a life of abuse after considering the alternatives. The people I was proudest of where those who cut themselves free. I was lucky, almost everyone I was sent was ready to cut themselves free and make a life on their own terms, without abuse.

In seeing other people’s clients I saw people who preferred relative wealth (sometimes a lot of it, sometimes just usually regular meals) to the loss of it. People who were on their third or fourth divorce from the same person. Someone in on their fifth year of protective orders (since they had not cut the ties or the relationship, but tried to use the orders to negotiate the terms of it).

With adults it is always easy to tell them: “You have to embrace the risk, the loss. Anything but freedom is really death.” With children, especially given the state of the system they will end up in, it is much harder.

Now the cases where I was an ad litem? I was lucky. The kids I dealt with often had terribly messy legal issues (that is how I got approached to be an ad litem in the first place, to untangle a complex ball of estoppel and a court of appeals decision no one understood), but blessedly positive outcomes. Life changing positive outcomes. Part of that I have to attribute to CPS workers I dealt with who, in retrospect, were saints. The rest to luck.

But with what I know now, it isn’t always as clear cut, always as easy to tell a child what to do.

So sure, I can tell a therapist to make a referral to the agency designed to make the outcome as good as possible (Child Advocacy Centers were founded to have someone who stood for the children in abuse cases, so that the system did not create as much trauma as the assaults – something that was distressingly common in some places). But they, and CASA (a related NGO group that assists children in the system) still have limits.

Not all CPS workers are saints. Not all foster homes run out of love and care. Not everyone has a relative they can flee to for refuge.

Which means I don’t know the answers. At least I don’t know the easy ones. I know the legal ones, in my jurisdiction. I just report any abuse I’m aware of, there is a state run 800 line. Once I do that, I’ve done what the law requires.

But it is a long time from the days when the law required I keep confidences and I paid for a kid to go to a therapist who I knew would discover and treat the child so that they would stay in a safe place and not be returned to an abuser. I can’t guarantee that the children will be in safe places, will get just the right therapist, be protected and never be exposed to risk.

I wish I could. Sure, I can tell you that as a general rule, all things considered, you should just always report, always send people to CPS. But can I promise people that is going to be the best thing, each individual time? I don’t know, I’m glad I’m not in a place where I deal with it now, and I’m glad I’m in a state where there is mandatory reporting.

I only wish I could be glad I knew the answer in each individual case, rather than the general rule.

It’s a good rule though. If you are the victim and you are a child, call the nearest Child Advocacy Center. If you are anyone else, report to CPS and advise the victim to ask CPS to call the Child Advocacy Center for them.

Then pray that this time, this very time, it will be for the best and not an exception to the rule.

I don’t have any other advice.

Remembering Owen Tipu // Mental Illness

I knew Owen while I was at law school.  Later I heard that he had done a typical days work, where he put in some voluntary overtime so he could share money with someone in need, had stopped by the widow next door to fix her porch and then had gone home where he was shot to death by police officers in his own kitchen.

Obviously there was more to the story.  Owen had been in an automobile accident and suffered brain trauma which resulted in mental illness.  The medication that the Court had ordered had side effects he found hard to tolerate.  The orders had expired.  A judge had reviewed things, the mental health system had approved a much more effective drug that also has dramatically less intrusive side effects (though it costs a good deal more) and issued an order.

The police were just there to carry it out.  Owen, who had been a world class martial artist (as in competing internationally and winning) dropped to officers in two seconds and the others who were just not prepared for what actually happened, shot him.  If he had not, they would have all died.  It was the mental illness, the paranoia.  Owen in his right mind would have shot himself rather than see a peace officer die.

I was watching a movie about mental illness and I thought of Owen.  Interestingly enough, of course, the Soloist of the title does not recover.  He is not necessarily better off at the end of the book.  There is some preaching, but without much of a point.

The Soloist

There are many mentally ill homeless who would rather be on the streets than in residences or mental health facilities.  The movie captured that well (for example the cameo by the character who says: "when I take my lithium, the voices go away, but when I'm not feeling well, the voices comfort me, and they aren't there for me when I take the lithium").

How much do we respect those decisions?  How do we deal with the collateral issues (homeless camps are scenes of a great deal of violence and crime)?  How do we deal with the fact that we can not force results (I was impressed with the character who pointed out, when the author/editorialist was demanding that something be done, that all of the people in the room had already been diagnosed, prescribed treatment -- that wasn't working -- so he was doing what he could that did work).

Haunting story, based on a true story.  Owen's story is more telling, at least because I knew Owen, cared about him as a friend, was there at his funeral, worry about his wife, his children and Talo (his brother) and miss him still.

Without any easy answers.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Need to do another bloggersnacker

Or just a house party.  We've had a couple FMH bloggersnackers at the house, those were fun, but there were lots of people who just wouldn't come to one that I linked to FMH.

So maybe just call this one a free range bloggersnacker or something.

Next, figure out a date for it.  Then the menu (for various special food needs).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

West Side Story's visit to Dallas, kind of meh, but ..


West Side Story Dallas |

We went last night, to finish up the night at the state fair with a musical rather than Randy Travis.  I'm not that much into country-western, but I think it was close to a real mistake.

Someone decided to translate a number of the songs into muddled Spanglish to be sung in a rather muffled, opaque way to where the words kind of blended into hash.  Toss in some, err, interesting sexuality sub-texts (that were never developed) it came across as hashed up by the director's conceits rather than by any artistic vision.

On the other hand, strong choreography, great sets, fun kvetching from the people around  us (the guy to my left had his girl friend leave at the intermission and decide not to come back) and heavily discounted tickets ...

Fourteen hours spent on the state fair yesterday.  All of it entertaining, one way or another, good family time this morning.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cain, controversy and why I'll never be president

Lets be honest.  I oppose abortion.  I am very "pro-life."  But, like Cain, who is running for president, I really think that the decision, at the end, is between the woman involved and God, with others having a duty to do many things, including letting the woman involved have the final choice.

Now, I believe in informed choices.  I was struck when reading about an abortion clinic in Dallas that drew a lot of protestors (all the usual reasons, run by a lesbian, financially on the edge, etc.) that they gave everyone who came in counseling and care and that only about half of those who came in planning on using their services did so.  That is far less than many other places.

But, regardless of what criticisms you had of the owner/doctor in charge, her goal was to give women choices, and to give them the knowledge they needed to make the choices be their choices and not anyone else's.

So, I'll never be president.  As pro life, I'd offend too many people.  As someone who really believes that in the end, other than making certain that the decisions are made with understanding, the government doesn't belong as the final arbiter, I'm open to all the criticisms that Cain draws.

Am I right?  Probably not.  I'm as bad on this issue as I am on the death penalty (I favor it, I'm just not willing to put any other parent's child to death.  I know, that is terribly flawed.  No pro death penalty person would like that position "won't apply it" and no one who opposes it would like it either "in favor of the concept").

Don't even get to what I would do with your taxes.  I'd raise the gas/transport tax (the highway trust fund needs more money).  It has been unadjusted for inflation for much too long.

Anyway, I'll never be president, so my thoughts don't matter.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Death, loss, it is just part of turning 55 ...

Was talking with a friend and he said that about the time you turn fifty or so you need to accept that with greater frequency the people in your life will start dying or becoming incapacitated.

Early on in my life I had the misfortune of having a number of people who liked me very much and believed in me a good deal who were also at the end of their work (and often personal) lives.  In my late twenties and thirties I went through the loss of a number of mentor figures who died or failed before they ever got to mentor me (though they had successfully mentored many others).  Then I lost almost ten years with the deaths and moves and such.

I came back to awareness, so to speak, and now, about ten-fifteen years later I'm in that age group.  But people I know, or grew up with, or worked with are in the group who are dying or aging out.  Three suicides this year of people I had worked with or been in a group with. 

A number of people in my parents generation (people in their seventies) are dying or becoming disabled on a regular basis.  Lost my dad to Parkinsons not too long ago.

I experienced a lot of death and loss outside of its proper time in burying three children over five years. Now I'm starting to experience death and loss in its time and season.

It is happening just as I hit the next stage in grief recovery and become much more able to feel emotion.

In some ways, more than I ever did as before I began to experience grief, or recovery, I had distanced myself a great deal from emotion as I grew up.  It was so painful, most of the time.  The first real breakthrough I ever had in feeling emotion was in getting married when I was 29.

So now I'm 55.  People in my parents generation are dying or becoming disabled much more rapidly (and yes, Suzette Haden Elgin is in her 70s, about the age of my mom).  I've blogged a little about some of the deaths that have touched my life this year, especially Raymond's passing.

Its funny, in a way.  When I went to my law school reunion a while back I sat and listened to   talk about all the people who had died.  It was only a sprinkling, but still, I listened.  Did not tell her anything about myself or my losses, that wasn't why I was there.  I was trying to hear and listen, and it was about what she had to say about my classmates, not about myself.

 But it is going from news of a scattering over a twenty-five year period to the steady drum beat of judges I've known and admired, friends and allies (some of whom died and I missed the news), people like John Tison who died suddenly of cancer (the week of his diagnosis or so) and who used to visit once a year when he was in town to serve as a marshal or judge at a golf tournament, and others.

It is just starting to sink in that this really is that time of life and will be for the next twenty or thirty or forty years (if I live that long).  That it is suddenly just a normal part of life.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Suzette Haden Elgin -- status update

Regarding Suzette Haden Elgin I was asked to "tell everyone that she's really sorry, but she just can't communicate anymore. She just can't focus on things well enough to even answer an email, let alone talk to anyone."

I'm certain she would be grateful for prayers, but she is not always lucid and can not take the strain of communicating with people.

Believing the Bible

It can be hard to believe in the Bible.  For example, it says:
When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
It also says:
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
 12And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
And finally:

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enterinto the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is inheaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied inthy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done manywonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: departfrom me, ye that work iniquity.” Luke6:46 “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

Which is why Christ said:   
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Those who love and make lies are in one camp, no matter how much they call Christ "Lord, Lord."  They just don't believe the Bible or what Christ said.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Post Mortem: LG Thrill Cell Phone

I've returned my LG Thrill to AT&T for an iPhone.  I pick up the iPhone Monday.

In general, I'm only a mixed fan of Apple products.  The iTouch my wife had for work, that I've inherited, is not a bad ebook reader (the kindle app works very well).  Makes a good mp3 player.  The podcasts I've downloaded still don't show up reliably.

As for the brand new Mac my wife got ... well, she was using my computer instead this morning to pull up a recipe.  While I did upgrade to Windows7, mine is still the oldest, cheapest computer in the house. Tells me a lot about Macs that a brandnew, very expensive Mac gets bypassed by my wife all the time to use my computer.  Strange that I'm never walking over to use hers instead (though, I have to admit, the monitor is incredible on hers).

My daughter loves her LG Thrill.  3D games, bigger screen, great kindle app (hmm, Kindle apps kind of run through a lot, don't they).  She can still read the Bible on the itouch (the same app is not reliable on her phone).  She sleeps with her phone sometimes, she likes it so much.  It has almost displaced Odysseus.

But, the thing drops off wifi networks.  It is as if it is intended to drop off the network so you will end up using up your bandwith allowance.  Funny to watch that happen in the store with the AT&T firehouse set up.  "connected but disabled" I was kind to the sales guy who was just curious to see the problem (I think he thought he could fix it easily).

Not so funny at the house, especially since the contact management suite was "updated" so it won't work over the usb connection, only wifi.

Bluetooth -- undiscoverable by default, can only be made so for a hundred or so seconds at a time.  In theory will work with the bluetooth connections for the car.  In practice that means turning off the phone bluetooth, turning it back on, setting to discoverable and scanning bluetooth devices in order to connect.  Heaven help you if a truck or other heavy bluetooth field knocks you off your connection and it needs to resync.

Navigation?  Google works like a charm, but ... every time it will try to reroute you to AT&T's ten dollar a month product instead of the free one from Google.  Makes me feel like I'm beating off a pick-pocket when I'm using it.

So, was it a good phone?  Easy to add lots of memory by just adding a larger SD card?  Sure.  I mean you can go from stock to 64 gig of extra memory for a lot less than it would cost to go from an 8 gig iphone to a 64 gig one.

But, I don't have a phone to be an mp3 player.  I'm not playing games on it or watching 3D movies (well, I've turned them on so co-workers could see how the glasses free 3D works -- it works very well).

Bottom line:

11 year old kid -- will love the phone with a passion.

11 year old kid's dad -- meh, not so much.

Other users? is actually pretty honest.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Looking for Answers ... What do you do about "minor apostasy"?

Especially if you are one of the dispossessed? By dispossessed I mean that you don't have the right relatives, you don't have friends, you aren't educated, you may have disabilities.  I grew up in trailer parks, I've known a lot of the dispossessed.

Often there is a confluence between the issue of being dispossessed and having to deal with "minor" apostasy.  I'm putting "minor" in quotes on purpose, but I'll discuss it below, because it is harder to get attention or things done about "unofficial" and "minor" things than "major" ones.  Your stake president is marrying off people with multiple living spouses?  Bet you can get that responded to immediately.

Some other things?  Probably get the same, immediate response.

But, what do you do with "minor" apostasy?  That is a hard one.  So, what if your Stake President has decided to kill early morning seminary for self-study -- and is doing it in the name of that being the "preferred" solution?  Is that really apostasy, or is that just dressing up a decision with a reason that doesn't hold up to the light of day (but which may or may not have justification).

How much micro-management of leadership to your taste should you expect?  (Obviously, from the way I've framed the question, not much).  But ...

What if your stake excludes everyone from a particular social strata (e.g. enlisted men in the military) from any leadership -- to the extent of not even presenting their names when a visiting general authority asks for a list of all worthy high priests?  That happened in the German Serviceman's stake.  Led to an explosion by the visiting general authority.  No other changes since the next one to visit was someone else.

Not quite enough of a reason to release the current stake president and re-arrange the entire stake.  So, what do you do when six months or a year later, nothing has changed?

Or, what if your stake president has decided women are not to give opening (or, as in some areas, closing) prayers at meetings in spite of specific counsel from Salt Lake to the contrary?  If he would be so kind as to preach it from the pulpit, you can probably get something done about it (if nothing else, copy the talk and send it to the Ensign as something that just really needs to be shared with the rest of the Church, with a cover letter that you've been sharing it with everyone you know or are related to and they are doing their best to make sure that this important doctrine is not forgotten).

But what if they won't make that mistake?  How do you get an informal formal policy, that is wrong and in clear opposition to the Church's policy and procedures, how do you get that changed?

Some times, with a false doctrine, someone will "pull their chain" pretty hard (I remember my brother complaining about some false doctrine, and the stake president responded with "Now I'm not going to release him immediately [which my brother had not asked for], at least now" and then, well, the bishop in question still speaks in a strangled voice) ... but sometimes they won't.

I'm not sure what the solution is.

Of course part of the problem is that there is no end of members who attempt to have their leaders micromanaged to taste.  A lot of the debate about making the handbook of instructions public or not had to do with the handbook being a guideline to aid, not a club for others to beat leaders over the head with.

Part of the problem is that some people get listened to more than others.

Some times there are externalities. 

But some times what is going on is just wrong and someone really ought to do something to make it right. 

How to have that happen when it is close to the line on micromanagement?  (e.g. complaints about members who drink decaffeinated coffee or herbal teas).  Or not?

I don't know, would appreciate your thoughts.

When there are many voices, what is heard?

Something that happens in large organizations is that there are many voices.  On any topic, there will be many voices, and there comes a question of what and who is heard, and what they are heard to be saying.

Part of what happens is what people read into their audience.  Of my two mission presidents, the first had dealt with young men most of his life as a university professor.  The second dealt with middle aged senior executives.  They dealt with young, idealistic missionaries very differently.  The one treated them like college students, the other like jaded management types who had learned to coast.

I've only known a few general and other authorities in the Church, and only in passing, sometimes because of their children (who, as a group, were surprisingly nice people).  I had Elder Oaks as a professor before he was called.

Something that struck me about the ones I knew and the ones I've met is that as a group they are working very, very hard.  While I've known of some of them to stumble (there is the famous story of the 70 who ran off someone with an appointment to see President Benson who then had to drive down to Provo, Utah, to pick them up and drive them back for the make-up appointment), they have never struck me as stupid, lazy, or ill intentioned.

They have all arrived where they are through thousands of hours of selfless service and sincere efforts to care for others.

But many people feel their voices are not being heard.  What they often mean is that when what they would say is heard, it is not appreciated the way that they would like to have it appreciated.

Sometimes that occurs because others drown them out by saying very similar things in a way that is rather hostile, sarcastic and nasty.  If I were trying to get light blue shirts accepted as appropriate formal men's wear in the LDS Church (since they are accepted that way everywhere else -- as is noted in the later Dress for Success works), I probably would not start with satire.  That would send a message, and get it heard alright, but the message would probably not be the one I was trying to send.

Sometimes there is a barrage of contrary voices.  That is, voices saying very different things.  When you hear such a collection of voices it can become hard to pull out a dominant thread.  Consider the comments that are made on which type of seminary program people really want ...

Sometimes one set of voices is "tainted" or colored by other things.  When I hear a relief society president on one side, and someone who is rather inactive and who goes out to dinner with friends (who are friends with benefits, non-exclusive), it is hard to take them with equal weight as to what the voice means in connection with what will bring people closer to Christ.

I was a stake executive secretary back when we used to get general authorities for stake conferences.  Something that struck me about the men is that they listened to people, they cared about people.  On my mission we had general authorities visit.  I was struck by the fact that many of them used economy versions of the scriptures, were surprisingly humble and they really made an effort to talk to and hear as many people as possible.

But, of course, you should ask yourself, who did they hear, who did they talk with?  Generally they were most likely to talk to active members who were very engaged in the Church.  Now, there was a time when you would get general authorities visiting branches (we had that happen when we lived in Newfoundland, Elder Kimball spent a day visiting with people in the branch).

One thing that has happened with the growth in the Church is that that sort of contact now happens more with area authorities, most of whom have served as stake presidents before their call.

Those people have heard many, many people.

I know of none of them who have stopped because of a call.

I'll write more on this topic, but there is not a dearth of listening.

Heard some great words of wisdom this morning

To figure out whats eating you, quit eating.

If you eat in response to stress, you can get a better feel for what is causing your stress by not eating so you can feel it.

Well worth remembering.

Friday, October 14, 2011

On being grouchy

I've caught myself being grouchy with people recently.  Mostly it is with someone who is being critical or complaining.  I'm thinking I just need to stop being grouchy, or at least stop posting when I am grouchy.

Now I would not advise that for everyone.  I think I love Annegb's posts as much for the forthright honesty they have as for anything else, and if she did not express herself when she was grouchy, I'd lose a great deal.

But for myself, I've learned to be patient with the joy of others.  I've learned to be patient with the pain of others, I need to learn to be accepting of the third party kvetching of others when it is aimed at someone else.

Other than that, I got the news yesterday that a dear friend's Alzheimer's broke through and is now disabling her. A move she made was just too much, in addition to some serious physical problems.  I'm bereft.

I was also leaned on someone for a legitimate complaint (against others).  She works.  Others in her extended family do not.  As a result, everyone puts gentle pressure on her to work more hours and send others money so they can stay home and not work.

But she has a spouse and children of her own.  She wants time with them.  She really resents the thought that her life doesn't matter as much, her spouse and children don't count as much, so she should be working overtime so everyone else in the family can slack off and stay home rather than work like she does.

I was sympathetic to her complaints.  I need to be sympathetic to more complaints.

Though, seriously, I'm getting tired of some people's constant rants about whichever hierarchy they've decided they should be criticizing in the harshest of terms.  

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Some fun recipes

A forum inspired by the novel Sunshine, but just the recipes that would have been in the book if there had only been room:

Sunshine is the one recommended by NPR as one of the 100 best SF novels of all time.

While the author is extremely insistent that there will never be a sequel, it turns out there is another novel coming in the same setting.  Albion.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley

On being Christian

Christians in the Hand of an Angry God (part 1)


Perry camp plays the Mormon card

Just seem to go together.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Being human and alive

I read a beautiful, poetic post at about a mother and her stillborn child.  It is touching, honest, direct.

It also embodies a truth -- our pain is our pain and it is as large, or larger, than we are.  There is never something less or trivial about another's pain.

I remember the first time that hit home.  Some friends of ours, dance instructors, had just had their pet die.  They were bereft.  However, no one could understand, after all, it was "just a pet."  So they shared their grief with my wife and I, since having buried two children (at the time), we could understand.

Much to my surprise, we did.  They had no children, would never have children.  They had dance, in a small town.  While they would enrich the lives of hundreds and hundreds of others, they were no longer to the point of great triumphs or great legacies.  Emotionally, what they had was a pet.  Who, after many years, had died. They saw themselves as  having nothing.

They had complete and devastating grief -- with no one who could listen.  So they had total grief and were wrapped in almost total isolation.  By sharing with each other we were both more human, both more alive than we had been.

Not to say that all expressions of grief are worth listening to.  When a narcissist pulls you aside to let you know you may have buried a few children, but he has real pain and grief since he has a self-inflicted hangnail (when, of course, his real problem is his mental illness, one that is well nourished and loved by him), I'm not suggesting you do more than be polite like I was.

But so often it is tempting to respond to someone and say or think, "you've had a little pain, but it wasn't real pain."  To deny that they have truly human pain and life.

The truth is that most of the time others are feeling pain from grief it is real pain.  It is deep, and real and it extends to all of what makes them, them. We are more human, more real when we acknowledge that the pain of others is solid and real.  When we think, "you are in pain" rather than some thought such as "it was just a pet."

The alternative is to be like someone I met who told my wife "oh, you may have buried three children, but you haven't known real pain until you have had to bury a son." To that, err, lady, the only grief that was real was her own.  No one else's grief mattered, no other grief counted. If she heard that anyone had suffered sorrow it only existed so she could make a comparison that made her grief meaningful and their grief meaningless. Years into her grief, instead of embracing life or recovery or healing or the humanity of others she was making herself inhuman, self-centered, undead.

Read the essay, above, that I linked to at  In that essay there are people allowing the writer her grief, and in return, she is allowing herself her grief as well.  The author is human, alive.

As we should all be.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Setting the record straight

I got an interesting communication asking me if I, or anyone else related to Thomas B. Marsh, had ever contacted the Church on "setting the record straight."
Hi Stephen how are you? We haven't had any communication in years. I have always wanted to ask you if you were a distant relative of Thomas B Marsh. If you are and knowing what you know have you or any Marsh's asked the church to set the record straight.
Tradition is that the Marsh's in the United States who were here before WWII are related, descendents of John Marsh. cf  Marsh Genealogy Giving Several Thousand Descendants of John Marsh of Hartford, Ct. 1636-1895 Or of his brothers who he helped bring over.

John came over as a bond servant (a slave) and became free March 4, 1633.  His brothers came over later, as bond servants as well (Samuel, for example, was made a free man May 2, 1647).

That said, none of them have done much to "set the record straight" on Thomas B. Marsh, and you might wonder why.

Well, the problem, as it surfaced when my brother Mark was researching it, was that Thomas B. Marsh returned to the Church after he had a stroke and was convinced death was near.  At that point, he repented, gave up everything, and moved to Utah to be with the Church.  In Utah, he was castigated rather mercilessly by Brigham Young.

In response, he preached a few times in public, and talked widely in private, a number of times which were recorded in journals.  Therein is the problem.

He agreed with Brigham Young. He stated that he had left the Church foolishly, over petty personal pride, that the narrative everyone wants to correct was true and that his life was an example of what happens when you let pride and foolish hurt feelings dominate.

Which makes "setting the record straight" problematic in the extreme.  You have to conclude that Thomas was lying about what happened, his life story, and the lessons of his life story.  That when he gave his initial public address (and later ones) "Ascribing his apostasy to his own hubris, jealousy, wrath, and hypocrisy" that really is not what happened.

Now yes.  Brigham Young got rather personal in some of the things he said, and he did that more than once.  But as Thomas perambulated about Utah, Thomas B. Marsh appeared to actually embrace what was said, both as it was his personal narrative and as a sign that he had returned to the Church out of faith in the gospel, not for personal gain, recognition or benefit other than reconciliation with God.

It was important to him to both acknowledge his past faults and to emphasize his motivations.

I do not feel comfortable making an effort to deprive him of that narrative posthumously. 

Which is how I responded to the initial link sent me at the time (see here).  You can see others quoting to some of Thomas B. Marsh's later comments here

I think it is important to correct records, but I also think it is unfair to try to usurp someone's life story and their own narrative, trying to hijack it so to speak, to make a point alien to the one they espoused and contrary to their own story.  Which is what, with good intentions, some attempt to do with Thomas B. Marsh. (Not what the person contacting me was trying to do, they were just curious).

So I thought I would address the theme, in response to the invitation I received this month to "set the record straight." The record is straight, I have no desire to make it crooked.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Android Sync Manager WiFi

Well, I can be connected with the house wifi network and this app can't find the wifi ...

It used to sync over the usb cable, which, of course, would be perfect.  The wifi is really a complete bust.

Though, at least, I now get "android disabled secured with wep" error messages with the phone and the house wifi.

Guess that is part of their goal to push me to a higher data plan.

Well, I'm within my trade-in period, iPhone 5 comes out next week and that will be that.

Unless anyone has a solution?  Advice appreciated. AT&T's autosync scrambles data (has my daughter's name attached to my brother's phone numbers, for example).


Guess I'm trading it back in for an iPhone.  The has a lot going for it, but, darn, the wifi connections are not reliable, bluetooth sync with my car basically requires manual intervention every time, address book is a pain to manipulate and unreliable in the extreme in the sync off phone.

Rachel loves hers.  Me, I'm "meh" on it, due to specific issues.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Amazing Grace with Raymond in the Choir

Read Kahil Gibran on death, listen to this song, think of Raymond, you have the heart of the funeral.

You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.