A place for me to save a few thoughts

The Deseret News Drives Me Crazy

The Deseret News drives me crazy. I live in Utah, I’m LDS, and I lean to the right politically. You would expect the Utah based, LDS-owned newspaper to be a perfect match for me, but it’s not. Most mornings when reading the paper, I feel like the news has been edited through the strangest, left-leaning, out-of-focus lens. It is maddening.

In today’s May 9, 2014 paper, a front page headline reads, “Immigration: U.S. warns schools against bias.” In this article, the Obama administration, which is definitely not the same as the U.S., is reminding schools they must accept immigrants without asking for documents or for information about their citizenship status. The headline should read, “Obama Administration Reinforces Bias Against Non-Immigrants.”

On page A3 the headline reads, “S.L ranked high for upward mobility—but is that still true?” Even though the research was released less than a year ago, the paper and The Atlantic are asking if the research conclusions are true. Cited as problems are Salt Lake City’s low per-student funding for schools, the income gap between the richest and the poorest, the struggles of the Millennials, and the volatile housing market. I would suggest Utah’s per-student funding hasn’t changed much in the last year, and that the other three problems are getting worse because governments are interfering more and more in our so called free market system. It seems as if the newspaper is advocating for more government spending and more government interference. The headline should have read, “Big government advocates don’t like recent study.”

I could go on and on about today’s edition, but I’ll mention just one more story. On A15, which is part of the Editorial section, Mary Barker, a SLC political science teacher, tells us a parable about Adam and Ben to honor those who tried to raise the minimum wage last week. In her story Adam and Ben work in the same coal mine. By the end of the story, Ben’s grandson ends up being the lazy, rich, absentee owner of the mine with no regard for anyone but himself. Adam’s hard-working grandson ends up out of work, poor, and powerless against Ben’s spoiled, powerful grandson. She explains that the abuse of power is responsible for our low minimum wage, excess CEO pay, and income inequality. I have no idea why this way far-left political commentary is in my newspaper.

I’ll say it again.  The Deseret News drives me crazy.

Grandkids 2014

Here’s the latest picture of all our grandkids.  You can tell some of them weren’t happy about posing for a picture.

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Could this be 2019?

I had a disturbing dream last night. I’m sure the dream had something to do with the video I watched yesterday of high schoolers complaining about the new food requirements and fainting from lack of nourishment (YouTube video entitled “We Are Hungry”).

In my dream I was visiting a little girl in a hospital. I was trying to sneak her some food. 

She had been born prematurely, with a body weight under 5 pounds. This put her in the position of not yet being a person. Until she could gain sufficient weight to be a viable living human as defined by the government, she was not allowed to have a given name or to leave the hospital. She was assigned only a number until her weight and height would satisfy government standards.

Because her mother was unable to nurse her, she had to be fed formula at first. The small amount of formula she received was regulated by the government. With the many regulations against child obesity, the amount of nourishment she received was severely limited. She couldn’t get enough to eat to grow enough to show up on the government growth charts.

The little girl in my dream was crawling. In addition to small amounts of formula, she was given food pellets in carefully measured quantities. Real food was not allowed as it required too much preparation. Real food was available only to viable humans.

The penalties for sneaking food into the hospital were horrible. I somehow knew that her father had been imprisoned for doing just that.  Besides, food distribution was very carefully controlled. The government decided what you ate and how much you ate. Being overweight had harsher punishments than drug use or criticizing the government. Farmers markets and home gardens were a thing of the past. Everyone bought their calorie-controlled food with an EBT card in a government grocery store.

There was no realistic recourse in the courts. Since the government was now my advocate in all things, I couldn’t hire a private attorney. Lawyers who still had jobs had to work for either the executive branch or the judicial branch of the government. This wasn’t in my dream, but I assume police officers were no longer allowed to eat donuts.

I was tremendously discouraged. Gmail, the only email option, had become Government Mail, and all apps that might have been used to enlist help from others were distributed and monitored by the government. iTunes had become GTunes, and the iPad was now the GPad. The news media formally changed their name to GMedia, and private bloggers had disappeared.

Could my dream be a look into the future? Could it be 2019 and could Michelle Obama be the sitting president? I hope not. Pete

The Best Super Bowl Ever

We invite our whole family to come over for dinner on Sundays. If everyone came we could have up to 27, but usually we have 10-12. I do most of the cooking because Marieta could be happy never cooking another meal in her life, and she would rather set up tables and do the dishes.

On February 2, 2012, known by some as Super Bowl Sunday, Joe, Ellen, David and their families came over, so there were 16 of us. We were having finger foods. I spent the first half of the game cooking and serving the food, catching only glimpses of the game and the commercials.

By the end of the second quarter, the grandkids were ready for something other than the game. I spent half-time getting them settled downstairs with Peter Pan on the big screen.

Just as I sat down for the second half, Ashley, David’s oldest, came up and asked me to watch Peter Pan with her. I spent the 3rd quarter with Peter on the screen and Ashley snuggled against my arm.

Just before the start of the fourth quarter, David, Ellen and their kids left for home. As I sat down to watch the last part of the game, Shelby, age 2, came in with Julie and Casey. Shelby looked at me and said, “Yo Gabba Gabba” and “Let’s jump.” Yo Gabba Gabba is her favorite show, and “jump” means jumping on the huge family room sectional couch.  Downstairs we watched Yo Gabba Gabba while Shelby jumped, danced and sang along. We finished just as the game ended.

Later in the week I would watch all the commercials commercial-free on Hulu and the fourth quarter while on the elliptical. I was happy for the Giants, but I was even happier for me. Grandkids are so much more fun than anything else, and I didn’t have to watch even a second of Madonna.

 

A Thought on Faith, Hope, and Charity

In our little MTC branch of 40 to 50 missionaries (The Missionary Training Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), districts of 8 to 12 missionaries would rotate in and be with us for almost 9 weeks. To make things easier for us in the branch presidency, we would go through a cycle of 7 subjects for our talks in our Sacrament Meetings. With 7 topics, the missionaries never heard the same sermon twice. (We didn’t need 9, because during the 9 Sundays we would have at least two Fast and Testimony Meetings.) The topics were very basic—faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, etc.

Although it would have been easier, I couldn’t give the same talk over and over again. If I didn’t prepare something new, I would get bored listening to myself. This meant I spent a lot of time thinking about and studying the same basics of the gospel over and over again.

For reference material we were allowed to use only the scriptures, Preach My Gospel (the missionary manual of the church) words of the living prophets (recent conference talks), and our personal experiences. Speculations, interesting tangents, and interesting ideas of non-prophets (like C. S. Lewis, for example) were forbidden. We taught Christ’s basic doctrine, since that was what the missionaries were learning to teach.

One of the topics was “Hope.” As I did my research, one of my sources was President Uchtdorf’s October 2008 conference address “The Infinite Power of Hope.” In the talk he said, “Hope is one leg of a three-legged stool, together with faith and charity. These three stabilize our lives regardless of the rough or uneven surfaces we might encounter at the time.”

Each time I prepared my talk (and also when preparing talks on faith or charity) I would come back to this statement and try to figure out how faith, hope, and charity fit together to create a stable, three-legged stool. I’m sure there are many good answers, but I offer my conclusion. It will take me a few paragraphs to explain.

Faith is a principle of action and power. When someone disagrees with the statement that “faith without works is dead,” I think that person misses the point of the scripture. The verse is not about faith versus works, or grace versus trying to earn our salvation. I think the statement tries to teach us that having faith and doing nothing is not faith. If we have faith, we are faithful. If we have faith, we act and we do. If we have faith in Christ, we try to be like him and to be faithful to his teachings.

Hope is about emotions and feelings. If we have hope, we are hopeful. We have confidence and enthusiasm. If our hope is centered in Christ, we have confidence in his Atonement, and we trust that eventually everything will work out for the best.

Charity is the pure love of Christ. If we have charity, we love unselfishly. It is never about what we need or want. We love selflessly, expecting nothing in return, and love as Christ would love.

So, how do the three fit together? Let’s assume that we feel prompted to visit someone who is sick. If we follow this prompting with faith, we go. Perhaps we grumble to ourselves that we are inconvenienced or that we won’t do any good, but we go.

If we have hope, we go with enthusiasm and confidence. Perhaps we won’t be able to do any good, but still we go with a smile and a happy heart. Perhaps we go to feel better about ourselves or to finish an item on our to-do list, but we go cheerfully.

Finally, if we have charity, we go with no thought for ourselves. We try to see the person as Christ would. Our concern is for that person, and our only desire is help in whatever way we can.

In the case of a missionary, if he knocks on a door, he shows faith. If she has a smile on her face when the door opens, she demonstrates hope. If the concern is only for the person opening the door, and how he or she might help that person, then he or she does it with love. He or she is not thinking about checking a box or meeting a goal.

If we have faith, we go. If we have hope, we go cheerfully. If we have charity, we go for the right reasons. These are my thoughts on the three-legged stool which is stable, even when the surface is rough or uneven. Life is much better when we do, when we do it cheerfully, and when we do it unselfishly.