Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I'm short on time so this post has to be unfortunately truncated. I have purposely avoided posting about the prop-8 subject because there is so much negativity. Why do people on both sides have to be so negative? Those that are pro-8 are usually against it for christian rights, shouldn't they be more...uh...christian? Those against it are usually for equality and anti-hate crimes, etc.. Shouldn't they be...uh...less hateful.

Those who are for prop-8 are not overzealous religious bigots. Those who are opposed to prop-8 are not spawn of the devil.

To scroll through the hate, it starts around picture 30.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Obama and Secret Combinations...

I know, just typing that makes me cringe. If you know me well, you know that I am a documentation nazi because I can't stand people being caught up in sensationalism and stating or passing on statements without a sound base. With that in mind, consider the following...

I almost always listen to audio books on my drive home at night. Tonight I couldn't remember which book was next in my series so I decided to listen to talk radio and see how the polls were doing the last day before elections. Unfortunately Monday is my late night and the only major talk radio on during my drive home is Michael Savage. I absolutely hate that guy's antics and think he is a little disturbed mentally, seriously. Anyway, I thought I would check out what he was saying for a minute and I popped in right as a very intelligent Latino was talking about Obama being part of a 30+ year old Italian communist agenda plan. Normally, this would be where I would sigh and turn the station, but this guy had a grounded and experienced sound to him that intrigued me. He was talking about being part of inner circles that have been working on slowly using democracy to end democracy. Despite how crazy it sounds, take a minute and listen to my two recommended segments, then you can listen to the rest if you want and let me know what you think.

You can download all three segments by going here -

Download the first hour (Nov 3rd) as instructed and start listening at 20 minutes and 30 seconds. Like I said, ignore everything Savage says, he is mentally disturbed. At 26 minutes and 25 seconds the caller talks about his experience a little.

I only got to minute 9 on the second hour before having to go to bed, so I'll listen to the rest tomorrow.

Another thing that made me stop and consider this (because I also hate conspiracy theories) was a local talk radio guy interviewing a man that had word print proof that William Ayers had written part of Obama's book(s). The only reason why I listened to this was because I have read extensively on how word print analysis has been used on the Book of Mormon to evaluate its authorship. To see the analysis read here -

Thinking 30 Years Ahead?

Most of the email forwards I receive I delete pretty quickly because they are over sensationalized, but this one emphasized the final intent of my previous post.

It was given in 1978 by Elder Neal A. Maxwell...

"Make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters, in the months and years ahead, events are likely to require each member to decide whether or not he will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions. President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had 'never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional or
political life.'

"This is hard doctrine, but it is particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ. . . . Your discipleship may see the time when such religious convictions are discounted. . . . This new irreligious imperialism seeks to disallow certain opinions simply because those opinions grow out of religious convictions.

"Resistance to abortion will be seen as primitive. Concern over the institution of the family will be viewed as untrendy and unenlightened.... Before the ultimate victory of the forces of righteousness, some skirmishes
will be lost. Even in these, however, let us leave a record so that the choices are clear, letting others do as they will in the face of prophetic counsel. There will also be times, happily, when a minor defeat seems probable, but others will step forward, having been rallied to rightness by what we do. We will know the joy, on occasion, of having awakened a slumbering majority of the decent people of all races and creeds which was, till then, unconscious of itself. Jesus said that when the fig trees put forth their leaves, 'summer is nigh.' Thus warned that summer is upon us, let us not then complain of the heat."

--- Elder Neal A. Maxwell

And, as a doctor myself, I couldn't help feeling some resonation with this article. Although I can't forsee any similar circumstances for my profession, if I had to consider changing 21 years of school because of a new ruling similar to prop-8 failure, it would be a very hard pill to swallow.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I hate politics. I brings out the three negative attributes I hate most about human nature: unkindness, misrepresentation (positioning statements over facts) and the mob mentality. I can't stand getting emails about Obama being a dirty Muslim or the media trying to show Palin as having no experience. How much better would the world be if people would honestly admit their opponents strengths and not try to sensationalize or blow out of proportion their weaknesses? How much easier would our ability be to choose who is really better for the country if we didn't get distorted or unresearched or knowingly false facts?

Despite that, I like thinking over and figuring out philosophical dilemmas. I have been thinking a lot lately about two hot political topics here on the west coast: Proposition 8 in California (prohibiting same-sex marriages) and Initiative 1000 in Washington (allowing assisted suicide). Both are difficult because you can't EASILY make an argument against gay marriage or assisted suicide on the stance that it hurts your personal rights, especially with I-1000.

As usual I try to pull my religion into the decision process to help me see where I stand. The end all, be all for me is the Book of Mormon. I can think of one main passage that is related to this subject:

Alma 30:7, 9, 11

7 Now there was no law against a man's belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds.
9 Now if a man desired to serve God, it was his privilege; or rather, if he believed in God it was his privilege to serve him; but if he did not believe in him there was no law to punish him.
11 For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes. Nevertheless, there was no law against a man’s belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes which he had done; therefore all men were on equal grounds.

The eleventh Article of Faith also is similar, but neither it nor the above scripture gives an obvious statement that helps with this situation. I do think that the spirit of these two snippets of church doctrine is that we shouldn't make a law that punishes someone for their belief if their action doesn't harm another person or group.

So does voting for I-1000 or against Prop-8 create a situation where someone can make a personal choice that will hurt another person or group? I don't think so with I-1000, but the sanctity of life argument is difficult as well. I don't think there is enough evidence right now to say one way or another on Prop-8. Although they haven't always been perfect, I think I'll side with my ecclesiastical leaders for now on this one. In gray areas I would rather error and find out I was following the Lord's mouthpieces than error and find out I went against them and they were right. Before you drag me through the coals, I do think there is a just middle ground on Prop-8.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Choosing your child's sex

Is it wrong to do things that will increase the odds of your child's gender? Female sperm live longer than their Y counterparts. Purposely trying to have fertilization occur a few days before ovulation so that more X's are around than Y's for conception is a mild form of "gender control." What about centrifuging those X's and Y's when you have to use artificial insemination to greatly increase the odds of which chromosome type fertilizes the egg? Even further, what about selecting an X and doing in-vitro to have a 99.9% success rate with gender selection? Is there any difference between any of these examples and if so, where do you draw the line, if there is one?

My wife and I have thought about this frequently considering that we have three boys and really would like to have a girl. For us it is more of an adoption question. We really want to adopt and we really would like a girl. Is choosing to adopt to get a desired gender wrong, even if our intentions are good? What if you adopt 60% because you can select the gender and 40% for the right reasons. Knowing that we have these personal questions, a close friend recently asked us if we knew the Church's official position and what our personal opinion was on the matter.

I'm familiar with the church's position on most matters for two reasons. The first comes from reading the Church's General Handbook of Instructions a couple of times. During bishopric meetings every Sunday during dental school (I was ward clerk) we would go through a section of the handbook to make sure we were aware of the proper methods of carrying out church activities. Secondly, as part of our biology major in undergrad at BYU Marisa and I had a class called bio-ethics. We went over the major ethical issues involved with biology from genetically modified food to euthanasia (yes, the children in Asia are doing fine!). Because it was a class at BYU we also were fortunate to receive the Church's official position where it had one. I loved this class because we had group sessions where we would decide what was the most ethical thing to do, both for the general public and ourselves as Mormons. There were very interesting times when these two didn't coincide.

I don't remember anything specific from that class on artificial insemination. So I did a Google search. Although you can't blatantly copy (hard or electronic) the handbook, it is ok to have sections copied and given to people for clarification. In that spirit I avoided looking for the handbook online, but don't mind copying a section found on a webpage that shows our policy towards a couple difficult issues such as this:
Artificial insemination is defined as placing semen into the uterus or oviduct by artificial rather than natural means. The Church does not approve of artificial insemination of single women. It also discourages artificial insemination of married women using semen from anyone but the husband. "However, this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the husband and wife, with the responsibility for the decision resting solely upon them" (_General Handbook of Instructions,_ 11-4). Children conceived by artificial insemination have the same family ties as children who are conceived naturally. The _General Handbook of Instructions_ (1989) states: "A child conceived by artificial insemination and born after the parents are sealed in the temple is born in the covenant. A child conceived by artificial insemination before the parents are sealed may be sealed to them after they are sealed."
That all seems pretty benign and doesn't tackle this issue of gender selection. I couldn't find anything specific to this issue from the church so if you do, please make a comment. My personal opinion on many things that happen in this life is that we get to choose and then we suffer/enjoy the consequences. This life isn't totally mapped out. I don't think that all people were preordained to be in the exact family that they ended up in. If a 16 year old girl chooses to give in to her boyfriend's wishes and gets pregnant then that spirit will end up with her as the mother. If she chooses to wait until later in her life when she is married to a different man than her previous boyfriend then that spirit will probably have headed to another family. The family the spirit goes to isn't 100% random either. Kind of like a happy medium between the two possible ends of the spectrum. If this is the case, then choosing your child's gender (and how many children you have for that matter) doesn't break down the perfect cosmic tapestry pre-woven in the life before this.

The similar subject of how many children to have can potentially help give perspective on this issue. There are probably many times when a family wasn't "supposed to" have another child, ie-some spirit waiting up in heaven for just this family. They end up getting pregnant. This then gives them the consequence and the joy of getting another spirit in their family. Choosing to (intentionally or not) have another child is totally up to them. So, I guess you can tell which way I lean on the main subject at hand, but I have to admit...I'm not totally comfortable one way or the other. If it came down to actually having the opportunity/necessity to make this decision I would have to go with the standard practice and one recommended in the handbook, together with your spouse take the question up with the Lord. When you get an answer from him you know you are in the right. The tough thing there is what to do when you don't get the 100% obvious answer...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

On to politics

Its hard not to blog about politics during this seemingly all encompassing presidential race. I don't enjoy talking about politics the same way I do about religion. They both are touchy subjects, they get people very emotional, very quickly and can create lifelong lasting emotional scars between close people. Furthermore, when it comes to politics I don't feel the same internal impetus that I do with religion. On that note I couldn't resist posting the following...

Marlin K Jensen has been a hero of mine since high school when I heard him give a conference talk on the true nature of humility. I heard him speak again in the MTC and his words resonated with me. I'm sure you know that he has been in the Presidency of the Seventy and is an outspoken Democrat. When talking about the all too common, but incorrect Mormon notion that if you're not a Republican your less righteous than you otherwise could be, Brother Jensen said:

"[This] notion that may prevail in some areas that you can’t be a good Mormon and a good Democrat at the same time. There have been some awfully good men and women who have, I think, been both and are both today. So I think it would be a very healthy thing for the church—particularly the Utah church—if that notion could be obliterated."1

The Church itself has stated in an official statement that, "Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in the platforms of all major political parties."2

I strongly feel an opposition to both parties, and like many things in both parties. If Obama wins I'll be glad to put part of the racism issue behind us. If McCain wins I'll be happy to see a strong woman become VP. Either way there will be good things that will happen to our country that won't if the other party were to win. Here's to hoping that the party who wins will be the one that makes the most good things happen!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

FAIR is Fair

Most of my closer friends know that I help edit/create some of the wiki articles for FAIR. Not too many people know what FAIR/FARMS is and some that do think it is bad. Below is a post by one of the other editors that spells it out nicely...

Once the Church Finds Out…

by Allen Wyatt on September 6th, 2008

I’ve been a volunteer member of FAIR for years. It has been interesting to watch the reaction of many people—especially the critics—to the work done by apologists in general and FAIR in particular. Some of the reaction is quite comical and, I believe, shows that some people “just don’t have a clue” (as one of my friends used to say).

One thing I’ve noticed is that many critics express amazement and astonishment at the things that FAIR is willing to discuss and consider. I often see reactions among those who have left the Church similar to the following:

The list could go on and on and on. (Actually, it has gone on and on and on for the years I’ve been an observer.) The Church is nowhere near as dogmatic as some critics believe it to be. Individual members, including leaders, are given quite a bit of latitude in their beliefs. Where there is not revelation, speculation is often rife.

One of my favorites is the inevitable conclusion among some critics that “once the Church finds out what FAIR is really doing, they will shut them down.” I guess ten years of existence, multiple mentions in the Church News, and links on the website doesn’t count for evidence as to whether the Church knows about FAIR. Of course, FAIR has always publicly stated that if the Church asks us to shut our doors, we will do it in an instant—we are supportive of the Church and don’t want to do anything of which the Church would disapprove.

Even prominent critics see “good” in the work we are doing, as they see FAIR helping people leave the Church. Consider this quote from Simon Southerton, made just within the past couple of days on a website popular among critics:

FAIR seems to help many who are struggling to make up their minds to leave. If I had my wish, FAIR and FARMS apologists would be given the opportunity to educate the masses in the church about how mistaken people have been about the Book of Mormon narrative.

Simon’s not alone; I’ve seen similar statements from critics over the years, with some saying that FAIR is doing more to help get people out of the Church than any other source. (Perhaps Simon and other critics would like to put their money where their mouth is and actually donate to FAIR. After all, that will help speed up the good they see in FAIR’s efforts.)

In my experience, people who say that FAIR (or FARMS) helped them out of the Church were one of two types of people: those who were already heading out and just perfunctorily checked FAIR on their way or those who are so black-and-white in their beliefs that they couldn’t handle the uncertainty and sometimes ambiguity of the non-doctrinal areas of the Church. (This conclusion is based on nothing more than observation; there are no formal studies in this area, although one would be interesting.)

The fact of the matter is, FAIR addresses difficult questions and criticisms. That we are able to do so drives some critics crazy. That we are able to do so and still maintain faith in a Church they officially left is simply beyond their comprehension.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Dallin H. Oaks, “Timing,” Ensign, Oct 2003, 10–17

I reminded the missionaries that some of our most important plans cannot be brought to pass without the agency and actions of others. A missionary cannot baptize five persons this month without the agency and action of five other persons. A missionary can plan and work and do all within his or her power, but the desired result will depend upon the additional agency and action of others.

Consequently, a missionary’s goals ought to be based upon the missionary’s personal agency and action, not upon the agency or action of others.

I don't remember how I heard it originally, but I remember thinking AMAZING! when I heard it. This quote has popped into my head various times throughout the past 5-6 years and I finally remembered to look it up at a time when I was at a computer and had the time to search for it.

I remember as a missionary being told to make a goal for how many people we were to baptize the coming month. We were to pray about it and come to a mutual decision w/ our companion. I never felt good about it, not bad per say, but never like, "Yes, it will be 5 this month if we do our part." Then, during the times when we got less than our goal we would beat ourselves up for not doing our part. Why else would we have not achieved our part of the "covenant?" The Lord doesn't falter on his side.

My brother-in-law is on a mission and I have heard him say a similar thing once about his setting goals for how many people will get baptized. I'm surprised this talk hasn't been photocopied and passed around in mass amongst the missionaries like other things.

Late addition:

I am similarly surprised to hear the brethren say repeatedly that we need to simplify by having less meetings and allowing people to be with their families more. Despite the repetition over the pulpit, this hasn't seemed to sink in enough. I know that people do both of these errors with good intentions and sometimes it can be hard to change the boat when it has so much inertia.

Another problem that I have seen in my life similar to setting goals based on other people's agency is when I place my expectations on other people's agency. A famous LDS psychologist and author, Bro. Lund recently mentioned in an adult meeting in our stake that all frustration comes from unmet expectations. I don't know that we can necessarily avoid having our expectations sometimes based in other people's agency, but as GI Joe said, "Knowing is half the battle!" Recognizing this may help us to own our expectations and therefore reduce the amount of things causing frustrations in our life.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


So, my 1 year anniversary for this blog (3 years for the family blog) passed by last week while I was on a scout camp. I've been thinking lately of doing a post about the evolution of my opinion over the past year and this seems like an appropriate reason to post on that topic.

As I stated in the commencement post, I consider my personal opinion to be semi-fluid. That isn't to say that I waver back and forth, but that I understand the information upon which I base my assumptions is not complete. As I learn and experience more, sometimes that leads to a new understanding and therefore a slight change here and there in my personal stances. Mostly, these are just nuances, but sometimes they are more significant. Here are some relevant changes over the past year or so...

Because of an experience I had last Sunday I want to start with personal changes concerning my Utah Mormons post, which doesn't fit well because I haven't changed much. This post has created a lot of discussion on this topic with people that read my blog and I actually see them in person. I have come to the following conclusion...Utah Mormons don't do anything that out-of-state/country ones do, they just do some eccentric things more on a per capita level (and vice versa is true for other eccentricities I stated in the original post). I challenge anyone to show something that Utah Mormons do that doesn't significantly occur outside of the can't ;-) So, this experience I referred to above was from a relative of some friends of ours that I'm pretty sure don't read this blog. This relative of theirs shared an experience of how a Utah ward that he now lives in has done a couple ward fasts for members in need. He was very surprised to know that a ward in Utah would be that good. What!? It seems like the Utah stereotype is usually the other way around, people are surprised that Utah wards/members are so loose and non-commital, or weird.

Now, the main area in which my opinion has changed...why people leave the church. I have family members, friends, new friends, etc that have left the church completely or to a certain extent. In my mission I heard that 95% of people that leave the church do so because of an underlying problem with morality or the word of wisdom. That implies that they lose their faith and testimony because the underlying problem keeps them from the spirit. Now this may be true in some cases, but my experiences over the past year have shown me the opposite is true, at least with those with whom I'm acquainted. Church history is probably the number one reason. I am fully aware of these reasons and while I don't agree with them, I still love the people that made these decisions and am hurt when others jump to the erroneous conclusion that I used to do. At the same time, because I was guilty of this same problem, I'm easier on those that incorrectly accuse and hope that this will help them be a little less judgmental and more patient/loving.

Contrary to the experiences of some, as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, learning deeply about church history has actually strengthened my testimony rather than weaken it. Similar to an aging oak tree I feel like my spiritual roots are stronger and run deeper thus making me more stable when the winds come blowing.

My role as a father has changed. I now see more importance in my need to do things with my children at their level. This is kind of hard to explain, but I try to consciously get down to their level and do what they do with them rather than get them to come and do what I think they should do with me. I have learned that this allows me to see their individual personalities and talents more rather than pushing them towards what I think would be best for them.

My role as a spouse has changed. I see the need to be positive more than I used to. I really do see Marisa as my second half, without her I truly am not complete and capable of doing what I can when unified with her. That has many benefits, but also some negative consequences that I now try to recognize and avoid. Its ok to be demanding with yourself and push yourself to achieve your very best, but my second half should get recommendation to reach further as a positive encouragement rather than a push for more.

Two posts about which I haven't changed my thoughts much, but have been posts that friends most frequently bring up when we are talking in person were in my Evil is Easier and Not Fair [for women] posts. I have learned to be avoid the dramatic press style titling of my posts like these two had and keep them more straight forward. This helps keep the reader focused on my intent for the post rather than being tripped up on a blatant title intended to encourage clicking through and reading the entire post. The intent had the opposite result.

Evil is easier - I still think this is true. I had a good friend/neighbor give an example of how if you convert a person then they can go and do good for years to come themselves and all of their posterity. As I thought about this, I remembered that the opposite is true as well. But, as I said in the original post, I do think it is possible to do more evil with the same effort than you could do good. What if I spontaneously walked out of my house with the lawn mower gasoline and burnt down a house at night and everyone died inside (this is hypothetical to make a point, I don't really think about this in case you were wondering) could you cause the opposite amount of happiness in 2 minutes , for $1.50 and no preemptive thought?

Not Fair - this was a basket of dry straw just waiting to ignite and it caught me by surprise. It made me realize that it's scary to lay myself and my thoughts out there, but at the same time it has really helped me understand myself better and therefore has been worth it so far. So, start your own and let me know about it. We'll understand each other better and be closer in the end.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Positive Praise

If you know my children very well at all, then you know they each have very different personalities and talents. A couple years ago Elder Holland (My favorite apostle BTW) gave a talk in which he counseled against comparing children. He said, "...try not to compare your children, even if you think you are skillful at it. You may say most positively that "Susan is pretty and Sandra is bright," but all Susan will remember is that she isn't bright and Sandra that she isn't pretty." This has stuck with me over the past couple of years as I want to tell my first son that he is creative and my second son that he is caring, or any of their other unique attributes. Every time I do, the above phrase would pop into my head. I finally went back to this talk and reread the next sentence, "Praise each child individually for what that child is, and help him or her escape our culture's obsession with comparing, competing, and never feeling we are 'enough.'"

I take from this that it is ok to praise your children about their unique talents, but not in a way that compares them to each other. I wonder though if this implies that it is better to not praise them about their unique talent when in ear shot of other siblings. This doesn't seem right to me. As I often do to feel out where the middle ground is, on the other side of the obviously don't want to say, "Why can't you be 'X' like you brother." So, where is the line between comparative praise and positive praise about an individual child's unique talent?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Greatest Thing Ever!

At various times in my life I've thought over the question, "What is the single greatest thing in my life?"

A few years ago I decided that for me it is the influence of the spirit:
  • Some of you might be surprised that I didn't say the best thing in my life is my wife Marisa. If you know our story I wouldn't have been inspired to go where I met her or inspired to go up an talk to her if it was not for the influence of the spirit. So without my #1 I could never of had my beloved #2.
  • The influence of the spirit has brought me that much desired comfort in my times of emotional, spiritual and even physical difficulty.
  • I have received slowly over time a testimony of the Gospel via the influence of the spirit which has in turn been a source of comfort knowing the fundamental answer to life's three fundamental questions.
  • I would never have chosen the profession I did without the influence of the spirit and therefore had the confidence to pursue a job that gave me more time with my family.
  • There have been many times in my life where I have noticed a different kind of inspiration that I must attribute to the influence of the spirit rather than just a normal idea that pops into my head.
What is your "Greatest Thing Ever?"

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Over a month since my last post. Crazy, even I'm surprised that I could keep my strongly opinionated blogging voice quiet for that long...

A good friend of mine mentioned a blog of a guy we both know. I asked him what topics he discusses and he said that he just talks about things that happen to him...what? That caught me off guard for some reason. My friend pointed out that my blog deals with issues and this guy's just deals with what he sees and thinks about what his kids are doing, etc. I thought about that off and on over the next couple weeks. I realized that I am someone who comes across an issue then mulls it over until I can feel comfortable with it. There is only 2 issues that I have had to "put on the shelf." The rest I have an answer for, some stronger than others. I guess this is what makes me so opinionated. I think I've already worked it out and it makes me quick to give an answer if anyone ever asks or wants to know.

I guess I haven't felt strongly enough about any one "issue" lately to spend time working out its various nuances. With no meat to chew on I haven't been inspired enough to post about any one subject. Here are some things that I have been thinking about though:

1-My favorite post (because it was the most soul searching and educational one for me) was my post on "Supporting Your Leaders." In it I discussed the often heatedly debated subject of prophetic infallibility. The post doesn't perfectly detail out my thoughts on this subject, and I don't want to spend the long time here that it would require. There has been one problem for me though, I have wanted to find a scriptural example of a prophet making a mistake (to me leading the church astray and saying something incorrect, even doctrinally, are two different things).

As I did my personal study and thought about potential examples I couldn't think of any. Just the other day I think I finally found one. In 1 Nephi we read of how he breaks his bow. Except for Nephi, everyone in his family including the prophet of their people, Lehi, begin to complain. Lehi is so out of line that he was "truly chastened...[and was]...down into the depths of sorrow." Rather than being an infallible prophet and leading this people, the future church of the Americas, forward correctly he messes up. He murmurs to the point that the Liahona no longer works for him. Nephi could have pointed out that his father wasn't leading the people appropriately, started a movement and steered the ship back onto its truly correct course. He would have been right, right?

Instead of committing the proverbial ark steadying he came up with his correction of the problem (broken bow problem, not the repercussion problem of murmuring*) and humbly asked the leader of the people, "Whither shall I go to obtain food?" Not a perfect example, but two key points. A) He focused on the issue and B) he gave deference to the leader. I'll compare this with those who strongly felt like the priesthood should be given to all worthy males before the prophet had come to this decision. Note: I'm not saying that denying that before was necessarily the equivocation of the church leadership. If you felt strongly that this policy should be changed it would be better to reverently discuss reasons why with leadership and give deference to them on how it should be handled. I'm sure there are holes in this comparison that need to be worked out, but it was similar enough for me to have a greater appreciation for the section of scripture.

2-I just finished the book Empire, by Orson Scott Card. It's set in the modern day and is about a civil war that starts in America between the Liberal Left and the Conservative Right. I REALLY liked this book, not so much for it's story, but for it's point. You have to swallow a few big pills to accept the story. Nevertheless, I especially liked the last chapter where the author gives a postlogue about how the country is so polarized between the right and the left. Each side has a set of beliefs and if you espouse one you have to hold religiously to them all. He hates that and that is the main bone that I have to pick with politics today. I hate dealing with hard core Republicans and hard core Democrats. Why can't I be pro-environment yet anti-abortion, or pro-gun but anti-fully automatics, pro-evolution but pro-religion? If people ask me my political stance I say "Moral Conservative." I'm even semi-pro choice (FYI, just like the church I might add, but that statement is surprising to many people). Furthermore, why can't we discuss things we disagree about without hating each other?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Multiply and Replenish

As we contemplate if/when/why to have more children, the following have been subjects of our varied conversations. In an effort towards completeness I will include reasons why both we and others choose to have children or not to have more children. [To protect the innocent I will not say which have been our thoughts (with a few exceptions) and which seem to be the thoughts of others.]

Reasons why parents choose to have more children:
  • You grow to love each child so much that logic and experience indicate that the love in your heart grows with more kids.
  • When you see large families, many of them seem to have a special "group association" that only large families have. Sometimes a similar association can be achieved by very close extended families.
  • Social pressure (more on this below).
  • Desire to have a child of a missing sex.
  • Desire to have more than just one child of a specific sex (ie-a family with two girls and one boy wants to have another boy so their only son can have a brother).
  • Spiritual promptings.
  • Satisfy a desire to adopt and help a child that would otherwise not likely live as good of a life.
  • A personal pressure that if you stop when you only have a couple children that you therefore concede that you can't handle more and thus fall short of personal or social desires and/or pressure to have more.
  • Bring spirits into a good family rather than let so many go to families where so many sad things happen.
  • Get more joy in the life to come with a larger posterity.
  • Good old accidents
  • ...

Reasons why parents choose to not have more children:
  • To avoid going beyond their capacity to handle the stresses of bearing children and raising them.
  • Facilitates having an easier life (less stress, less time constraints, less sacrifice, etc.).
  • Have more money for self by spending less on children (both selfishly in cases of excess and necessarily in cases of minimal funds).
  • Easier to do things with a smaller family compared to having 10 kids spanning the ages from 2 to 22.
  • Spiritual promptings.
  • Physical difficulties of child bearing.
  • Avoid overpopulating the earth.
  • Fertility issues.
  • ...
So, for the sociologist in me there are two primary questions that arise.

First, do there exist any pressures to have more children other than the basic desire to just have more children? And, if so, what are the origins and merit of those pressures?

Second, and more important to me, where do you draw the line between what you can handle and what you can legitimately so is too much. This is a question I have never been able to answer for myself. It seems that as long as I am not being asked to do the equivalent of pulling my family across the prairie in a hand cart, during winter, with bleeding feet, burying my children in snow graves, eating leather from my saddle for lack of food and all after just returning from a 3 year mission across the country where I left my pregnant wife to go...well, then I am not doing too much. Yet, I don't really think that unless we get to that point of sacrifice we have room to throw a few more difficult tasks on, but I still do not know where to draw the line.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Evil is Easier (to get results with)

I have not posted in a while due to some crazy times. My one past time has been listening to audio books on my commute. I recently finished Ken Follet's, Pillars of the Earth. It was a 1000 pages in print form and therefore took quite a while to listen to the unabridged audio version.

I really like the book, but one theme really stood out for me. One person can do so much more evil in this life than they can do good. For example, in the book there is a character named William Hamleigh. He is an utterly evil person. In one day he gathered a bunch of others and ran through a village burning the entire town and killing several people leaving children without parents and raping some of the women that he let live. I know the story is fiction, but non-fiction episodes of very similar circumstances definitely do occur. Could one person easily do that much good in one day with similar resources?

I see negative waves of repercussions occur as a parent, brother, husband, son, etc. in my own life. I wish that the opposite were true and I think this is one of the main causes of this world's heartache. I can at least take consolation in knowing that circumstances and situations will be different in the next life to afford the opposite results.

On a side note, here is an interesting article on some good occurring...,1,2488142.story

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What is doctrine?

This can be a pretty challenging topic as some of my friends have found out, what is actual doctrine and what is not? Are there varying degrees of doctrine, and if so what are they and how are they established? Initially I would assume that there are varying degrees because that is just how most things are in life. Many people might just initially assume, "Anything that is said across the pulpit by a GA is doctrine." When one looks into that further they find that there are many times when this parameter of the doctrine definition brings opposing statements in conflict with one another.

I came across a church press release that discusses this exact topic in unusual detail. Here are some of my favorite excerpts:
  • Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church.
  • Some doctrines are more important than others and might be considered core doctrines.
  • According to the Articles of Faith, “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” [Carson's note - therefore the fullness of the gospel does not mean that we have already received all the doctrine that the Lord is to reveal. Sounds obvious, but is forgotten too often].
  • [T]he Church exhorts all people to approach the gospel not only intellectually but with the intellect and the spirit, a process in which reason and faith work together. [Carson's note - and vice versa therefore, not just via the spirit, but with your intellect as well.]
From these statements one can quickly surmise that there are core doctrines, non core doctrines and opinions. What falls into each category on a more specific basis is something for another day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Written/Unwritten Orders

I don't post very often here in an effort to keep it concentrated (as in just add water, not as in focused thought). I couldn't resist posting this thread from one of my favorite LDS blogs. The Old Written Order of Things. I can be somewhat of a dichotomy at times. I strongly believe that priesthood holders should try to wear white shirts when officiating in ordinances of the priesthood in an effort to show respect to the power that they hold and the ordinance they are performing. At the same time I even more strongly feel that people should not make this a requirement. This thread on Times & Seasons gives a good explanation of why we should not require it.


If I don't listen to an audiobook or a podcast on my way to work I am usually listening to NPR. This morning they had a feature on the LDS church's reaction to the negative attitude that many had in the nation. The report said that we as a church were surprised by the negativity after all the positive press we received from the Olympic games and in general throughout the last few years. I don't agree with that personally, and I even expected the backlash to be even worse that it was when Romney took the spotlight. Thankfully it wasn't! Here is the text and a link within for the audio clip.


Friday, January 25, 2008


We are definitely not in a perfect world as alluded to in my last post. We have all done things that have helped both the cause of good and bad.

Here is something that points out this problem through the artistic medium of music and video. The song also mentions how to fix ourselves concerning any bad that we may have personally done. You have probably heard the song before, but not quite listened to the lyrics...

For those of you that don't know me really well, I like Christian music and there are a lot of really good Christian music groups out there. You probably don't know this as well, but Linkin Park is a Christian band. They are definitely on the harder side of Adult Contemporary Christian (ACC). Sometimes the ACC songs can be a little too "born again" for me, but there are some jewels out there. For the other end of the spectrum there are two amazing songs that are beautiful both in lyrics and audio:

For those of you out there that like a little R & B:

If you like Sarah McLachlan type of music:

If you like more chill Jack Johnson-esque:


Growing up in Utah I didn't even know this genre existed. When I flew to Maryland to interview for dental school at U of MD and Virginia Commonwealth I rented a car and drove to the two schools. I obviously didn't know the FM stations at all so I just scanned around until I found a song I liked. One scan brought me to a song that I had never heard before and really liked, then the next...same thing. After about four songs in a row that I really liked and hadn't heard before the DJ came on and mentioned something about the ACC music they were playing. I was pleasantly surprised, hopefully you will be as well.

Monday, January 21, 2008

No Poor Among Them

I recently listened to a podcast that discussed a movement to focus on the description of Zion as the following, "...there was no poor among them." Many times I have seen this emphasis put forth on various blogs, essays, books, etc. and I see it as a good direction to head, indeed, more than good. As the podcast interviewee put forth his argument I began to disagree with his vision of "no poor among [us]." As I see it, he states that we have a democracy of political power, but not a democracy of financial power, thus we have the disparity of rich and poor. This separation of socio-economic classes should be reversed according to the interviewee and all people should be equal rather than capitalistically trying to make our situation as good as possible for our self and family. Being equal would mean that we all work the same amount and receive the same recompense. That is where I begin to disagree, and for two reasons that I'll detail out below. Hypothetically, in this society you would set a standard "X" for work that needs to be done in order for everyone to have the proper amount of goods to live a standard "Y" of lifestyle.

Problem 1: not everybody is going to want standard "Y" lifestyle. Some people will want and be happy with less, some people will want more. Of course, no one should be left without having standard lifestyle "Y" (food, shelter, health care, recreation, etc.) which is a big problem with life as we now know it. But, how do you deal with the inevitable variance in desired lifestyles? If you say those that want to work more get more then that seems to be back at a capitalistic approach again.

Problem 2: not everybody is going to want to work the same amount. Some people are not going to want to put in the standard "X" amount of labor. Do they still get "Y" lifestyle, and therefore get a free ride? Some will want to work more. What do you do with the extra goods produced by those that do the extra labor and the motivation that opportunity creates?

For these reasons I disagreed with the interviewee's desire for an anarchistic social system. I still believe that due to a wide spectrum of lifestyles and work ethics that a capitalistic society is still the best. But to be a good Christian capitalistic society we should do more to define an appropriate "Y" lifestyle, ensure that all who will do "X" labor receive it. If you aren't willing to do "X" labor then you get your percentage of "Y" lifestyle according to the percentage of "X" you completed (being physically and mentally capable of course).

I'd be interested to know others thoughts on this and their ideal social structuring system.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Reading again

After reading so much in dental school that I literally think I overheated a few neurons and caused permanent damage I had to take some time off. Now that I have been out of school a few years I have picked up reading for fun again. I chose two books: Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Bushman and Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. Two very different books, but both about amazing experiences and amazing people. Very inspirational.

RSR is a book that has created some waves. I think those waves will end up being beneficial. I have always had a special spot in my heart for Brother Joseph. Reading this book made him more human to me and therefore I was better able to understand him. That being said, I don't know how he was able to withstand all the stresses he had coming at him from every angle. Like the Navy SEALs in Lone Survivor, amazing times bring out amazing feats from amazing people. If you haven't read either book I strongly recommend them. If RSR causes any problems for you feel free to discuss it with me. Bushman was the perfect person to write this book at what I feel was the perfect time.