Thursday, July 31, 2008

A View of An Author's Real Life

While signing at Palmyra a few weeks ago, I had the extreme good fortune and delight to be in the company of two other of Covenant's authors--Sariah Wilson, author of Secrets of Zarahemla and the recently released, Servant to a King; and Matthew Brown, author of eleven aclaimed doctrinal works including Symbols in Stone. Though we each write in a different genre, and despite the fact that I'm old enough to be each of my colleagues' mother, we found we each had more similarities than differences.

We each work with the same editor, we each spend more time researching than writing, we all feel really nervous about signings and meeting readers, (though we absolutely thrill every time someone approaches us to ask about our books or to offer a kind word), and we each admit that writing is more a passion than a vocation since vocations should actually make you some money as opposed to being the big black hole that really eats up all your money!

We also discovered that we were all a little surprised to discover how normal one another's lives are. We each knew that being published hadn't changed our own individual lives, but we somehow thought we had been so busy scraping the toothpaste from the bathroom faucet that we were the only one who had missed the Greyhound bus to Gravytown. Not so.

So I'm sitting here with the washer and dryer working furiously with an additional five loads backed up due to complete household neglect during deadline week. The sidewalk concrete scraped the pink polish off my toes while I was pulling weeds yesterday, which, by the way, has left my fingers green and my cuticles black. I have a box of reduced-fat Cheezit's by the computer and my desk looks like a archaelogical dig. I think my carpet can again become white, but I'm not absolutely certain of that fact, and I've discovered that on days like this, the best way to make the bed is to simply close the door.

The Achievement Day girls are due here any time to swim for their camp activity, and the elders who live with us are downstairs planning.

Please tell me this sounds like a normal day, or have I really regressed beyond all possible hope? Sorry, can't wait for the answer. My dryer is dinging!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


The hype is already begining and shooting is barely begun on Oliver Stone's new biopic, "W" about George "dubya" Bush. One reviewer had this to say about the cagily-timed film:

"He's not just courting it, he's grabbing controversy by the lapels and giving it a big wet smacker."

"W" is expected to be the most controversial look at a President for many reasons. It's biting content notwithstanding, the timing of the film may be more critical than any single clip or sound bite. First of all, it's Stone's first film intended to dissect a living president. Second, the film will be released this fall while he will still be our acting president and commander-in-chief for several more months; but the third, and perhaps the most calculated aspect of the film yet, is that it is set to be released weeks before the election and at the absolute height of the campaign frenzy.

I can tolerate a level, un-romanticized examination of a living president. As public figures, every word, every outfit, every expression and decision is examined, critiqued and dissected before the world. But this hints at being more evisceration than examination. Is it legal? Yes. Is it ethical? Is it right? Recall that what is legal is not always ethical and moral. John Adams warned us of this when he stated:

“Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

So we have the right to say, and write, and direct many things, but that right was intended be governed with the wisdom and ethics of a morally-guided people.

Will the fact that this film, intended to make our standing president appear buffoon-like and immoral, affect his ability to conduct business with other nations? Will a world who already thinks of us as the Great Satan be affected by seeing such a characterization of the man who leads our military and citizenry? Canwe afford this self-parasitic behavior? Only time will tell.

This was clearly intended to be far more than a biography. This full-feldged political advertisement, right before the election and during the most politcally charged weeks of the campaign season, is political calculation at its most blatant. Particularly well-calculated to lampoon one man's already assailed legacy, I have no doubt it will also serve as a distorted carnival mirror in the hands of those who seek to label candidates and their policies as mere reflections of the sitting president being destroyed via celuloid. And just in time to influence those undecided voters at ballot time.

Some will argue that this is the essence of the guaranteed right to freedom of speech. And it is. But it is just as clearly the well-calculated attempt to herd star-struck sheep. I have previously spoken out about the political maneuvering of Hollywood. (See 3/14/08, "A Possible Consequence of our Media Binge.) We build their storehouse of power and influence every time we buy a ticket and fill their pockets. Choose ye wisely.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Caught Lead-Footed!

I am a felon. Well, maybe not a gun-toting, bank-robbing, car-jacking felon, but I did get caught speeding evidently. Seems like such a thing should be fairly obvious--what with the flashing red lights, the frustrated officer and the ticket. But no! I was caught by one of those traffic cameras, and on my home from the temple, no less. How's that for feeling like a hypocrite?

There are evidently several of these cameras on Connecticut Avenue where the speed limit is 35 mph, regardless of what the flow of the traffic may lead you to believe. It was a fairly hefty fine too . . . but luckily no points. Judging from the traffic flow, Montgomery County may have the financial equivalent of Park Place and Boardwalk on that street alone!

Fair enough. . . I deserve it. I have to say it has served as a deterrent to accidentally zipping along. I am far more conscious of my speedometer and I now notice these little camera-cops everywhere.

Big Brother is here, and I am currently in time-out!

Friday, July 25, 2008

On P&P

I have a dear friend, a faithful, valiant woman who has really had a tough three years supporting a loved one through a terrible health crisis. Innumerable offers have come for every possible help--lawn care, meals, errands, companionship at hospitals, rides, prayers, fasting. . .

There is one small, extra happiness she quietly loves. She, like me, loves Pride and Prejudice. One year, when she was recuperating from her own ailment, we watched the PBS long version. . . all six hours. Like two pre-teens squirreled away with a bowl of popcorn and a flick, we watched all six hours, breaking only to refill snack plates. We'd swoon over the brooding, pouty Mr. Darby and curse the societal moors that kept them apart. It didn't matter that we could nearly repeat the dialogue. It was still exciting, and for that six hours, we shoved the cares of the world away.

We're setting a new date to see that old charmer again. It's taken us months to pick a date that works for each of us. We're going to invite other P&P lovers as well, and have lots more snacks. These are times that call for a little bonding, a little laughter, a few tears that are guaranteed to be subdued at the end of the reel when the fated pair triumphs over their obstacles.

Everyone needs an extra little magic bullet. This is ours. Every couple of years. . .

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Recommended Reading

Candace Salima, author, book reviewer, entrepreneur and motivational speaker, has a great blog site entitled "Dream a Little Dream". Yesterday she posted an interview conducted with an extraordinary modern-day Captain Moroni, named Jeffrey Denning. Bold, inspiring, courageous, expertly trained and valiant, he is on the tip of the spear in America's defense both at home and abroad. He is in a firestorm of his own right now. You can read his extraordinary story at Candace's web site at:

This you gotta read.

It begs the question, what we can we do as individuals, as average citizens to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution? Brother Denning references a quote I love. It comes from John Adams:

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

While in Palmyra recently, I spoke to a fine brother on these issues. As a grandfather, he mentioned how he recognizes the erosion of basic moral values. It bothers him as he tries to redirect his grand children's justifications for the choices they make such as driving over the speed limit because, "everyone else does", and other "little" infractions that aren't "that big a deal".

"They are!" he tells them, because when we willingly break the law on any term, we weaken the cords of the trust the Constitution relies on to secure our society.

It is a beautiful point of view. It makes us each cringe doesn't it? But he's right. We know it. And in times when we desperately need the hand of the Lord to be over our nation, Mark Twain sums it up best, we can't "pray a lie" by asking for one thing and doing the opposite.

Alexis de Tocqueville who penned a similar observation more than 170 years ago. Said he:

"I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her. . .fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and

We can do it. We must do it. Each of us must take one small step up and get more involved or stand up for right a little more loudly. We must choose right always so our children see it and then defend right when it is assailed.

You've done it! You've seen it done! Tell me about it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Okay, I tried. . . I mean I really tried. I wrote two . . . count them, TWO!!! fabulous, insightful, entertaining and perhaps even thought-provoking blogs, and right at the end . . . I hit some key. (What key?) I don't know, because I can't actually read my keys!!! (see blog post 6/18/08)

Anyway, it all disappeared. Nothing remained. . . In a panic, I looked at the four options that appeared to be available to me, and I evidently chose the wrong one, because all that stirring thought has been replaced by a blank screen. Where is pen and ink when you need it?

Monday, July 21, 2008

This INCREDIBLE picture, taken in 1918. was sent to me by a friend. It is 18,000 men preparing for war in a training camp at Camp Dodge in Iowa. EIGHTEEN THOUSAND MEN! Click on the photo to see the details, and then click on the info beneath to get a glimpse of how much engineering and artistry went into creating this amazing living model of the Statue of Liberty ctitled "The Human Statue of Liberty".

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

On Our Duty to Preserve Liberty

"I testify to you that God's hand has been in our destiny. I testify that freedom as we know it today is being threatened as never before in our history. I further witness that this land—the Americas—must be protected, its Constitution upheld, for this is a land foreordained to be the Zion of our God. He expects us as members of the Church and bearers of His priesthood to do all we can to preserve our liberty."
--Ezra Taft Benson, "A Witness and a Warning", Ensign, Nov. 1979, 31