Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Contra Mundum

“If we take the widest and wisest view of a Cause, there is no such thing as a Lost Cause, because there is no such thing as a Gained Cause.  We fight for lost causes because we know our defeat and dismay may be the preface to our successors’ victory, though that victory itself will be temporary; we fight rather to keep something alive than in the expectation that it will triumph.”
I think the larger cultural battle is mostly lost to us, for a season. It’s been several years now since I looked at most political battles and felt like I had a dog in the fight. I believe that politics are downstream of culture, though certainly (particularly in our media-drenched age) it’s an iterative process; consequently, I believe that while we can and should stem the tide of decay and destruction through political means wherever possible, the battles ultimately have to be fought at the individual level to have any real impact in the long run.
The only approach I feel I can take, then, is to be an unapologetic champion of truth and virtue, offering no equivocation or justification for sin or wickedness in the service of a larger good. One thing the War in Heaven teaches us is that there is no route to virtuous ends via wicked means; the wicked means will be destructive of the very end we claim to seek. We are living in a fallen and imperfect world, and we cannot and should not expect perfection from anyone. But neither should we justify malice, dishonesty, or intentional provocation of contention in order to manipulate outcomes, simply because the individual(s) indulging such wickedness are pushing for policies that are more desirable than their opponents’. Making a sound argument for a principle or policy in which you believe may have the unintended but unavoidable consequence of making those who disagree with you angry.  But their anger should not be your goal, and, if your heart is in the right place, it should give you no pleasure.
The Lord makes explicitly clear that contention is not a tool he endorses: “he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. . .this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine: that such things should be done away”.  It is one thing to occasionally give in to the temptation for anger or to act out contentiously in battles where the other side is gleeful in their abuse of you or the things you hold dear; such a reaction is understandable, but it is not right.  I can never throw my support behind those who use contention frequently and intentionally, gleefully stirring up the hearts of men to anger and conflict, as one of their primary political tools.   
The Lord has at times ordered his people into battle, to protect their “homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church”; but he also quickly rebuked any who delighted in bloodshed. Holding firm to principles we love will inevitably invite challenge and conflict, and there are very real and insidious actors against liberty and goodness busy about their work, but how we fight those battles matters. Delighting in contention–and its inherently destructive, corrupting nature–is much like delighting in spiritual and emotional bloodshed.
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Their moment of truth before King Nebuchadnezzar came as their people were gaining some power and influence in his court. Daniel had recently interpreted a dream for the King, a dream in which he saw a stone cut from the mountain without hands, which grew and filled the whole earth. The interpretation is one we should remember in these times of trouble, which are likely to grow increasingly troublesome in the coming years: the stone was the Kingdom of God, rolling forward and filling the whole earth. No unhallowed hand can stop that work.  Yet shortly after that revelation, three young men refused the King’s order to worship his golden idols.  They believed in God.  They believed they had a responsibility to stand up for what they knew to be good and true, and to refuse to give quarter to that which was not, no matter the temporal consequences. Their choice was binary: worship the idol, or be thrown in a furnace to burn alive. The temporal consequence of refusing to compromise their principles was steep; the flames were real. 
The choice appeared binary, and disastrous.  But they made it clear that they would do what they knew to be right, and trust the consequences to the Lord–that if they did burn, they believed that they would be in the Lord’s hands. And somehow, the consequencesweren’t binary: they did not worship the idol, and they did not burn.  
We have, I think, fallen prey to the temptation to make winning–temporal, political winning–our idol.  We have rationalized away, justified, overlooked things that we should not, because it seemed the most reasonable, pragmatic thing to do–no one is perfect, we have to be realistic, we have to live to fight another day, to give good things a chance of survival.  And the temporal consequences that may await us are no less real–and are likely to be no less severe, at some point–than the flames faced by those three young men many thousands of years ago.  The choice is binary, we tell ourselves.  And it is. The choice is always binary, but sometimes we’re not accurately identifying what the two options are.  Will we be humble servants of truth or will we not?  Do we believe that the Kingdom of God will roll forth and fill the earth or don’t we?  Do we trust that, no matter what happens to us, we are in the Lord’s hands?  Or don’t we?
I not only think that the costs of temporal, secular losses are likely to be painful and steep, based on revelation of how things go from here, I expect it. I don’t think that means we give up and abandon the political or secular realms (there is no wilderness left to flee to).  But I think it makes it that much more essential that we keep ourselves as unspotted from the world as possible.  Those who have ears to hear will be more likely to trust that we are someone worth listening to; and that is our greatest hope for turning the tide.
If by taking this approach all I manage to accomplish is to be a speed bump for dishonesty or a stumbling block for contention, I will wear those bruises with contentment. It may be that the best thing one can do at this point is to be an unyielding stone of virtue in a river of wickedness.  The work has ever been moved forward by faithful people who refused to abandon that which was plain and precious, doing the small and simple things that bring about great things.  If the world is against truth, against honor, against virtue, then I am against the world. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

Taking Care of Each Other

Recently, I had the opportunity to listen to three doctors from Las Vegas discuss their up-close-and-personal front-line response to the Route 91 Harvest Festival last fall. Something that all three of them mentioned several times was that, given a different crowd, the outcome could actually have been much worse. An unusually high percentage of the concert goers, they noted, seemed to be EMTs, firemen, police, military or former military, and had some degree of first responder training. They pointed out that none of the male concert goers they saw were wearing shirts, all the shirts having been removed to apply pressure to wounds or create tourniquets; far more victims arrived by private vehicle than by ambulance; some individuals were even able to assist nurses in triage and initial interventions. In a horrendous situation, hundreds of people rose to the occasion, not just with tremendous selflessness, but also with remarkable competence.

This goes to the heart of something that has bothered me since I was a teenager: the narrative often pushed by media and others that traditional conservatives, who place emphasis on self-reliance and eschew government involvement in most aspects of life, approach the world that way because they are selfish and don't care about community. In my experience, most people who feel that way do so because they care deeply about their neighbors and communities. They believe (with a fair amount of evidence to back them up), that as we delegate more responsibilities to government agencies and bureaucrats, we tend to lose, as individuals and communities, whatever skills or knowledge or capabilities went with them, and often fare worse in some meaningful ways as a result.  The reason they place such emphasis on self-reliance and self-sufficiency is that they believe the more personally involved with each other and prepared we are as individuals and families, the more capable we are of caring for one another when things don't go smoothly--that we are, in fact, more capable of taking care of each other well than any government agency ever could. The individuals with a heavy investment in self-reliance are exactly the people I generally want to be surrounded by, because those are the souls who run toward the fire, both figuratively and literally.  They always believe that caring for and protecting their families, neighbors, and communities is their responsibility, and they take responsibility seriously.  That is not something to scoff at.

We can have good faith debates about the efficacy or necessity of this program or that agency.  Doing so becomes difficult very quickly, however, when you impugn the motives of the very neighbors who are not only willing, but, because of the life they've chosen, very capable of coming to your aid when you need it most.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Differently Abled

One of the modern takes on various learning disabilities, mental health challenges, and atypical wiring is to reframe the issue as an individual having an unusual set of skills or perspectives that are outside of the norm--a gift, rather than a handicap. The intentions behind this approach are noble, and I even believe it to be true in many ways.  When I see Temple Grandin's description of herself as "different, not less", it makes me feel like cheering.  I get it.  

But the fact remains that the world isn't built for people with these challenges.  Much of what needs to be done on a day-to-day basis to keep life functioning at a minimally healthy level is much harder and takes a lot more work--and not just for the individual, but for their parents and spouses and caregivers as well.   If someone is having to live their life with one hand, we may express admiration for their ability to perform many of the same tasks as those of us with two hands (maybe even almost as effectively), with proportionally increased strength in the other arm and various learned adaptations.  We don't generally demand, however, that they be grateful for their one-handedness and how it makes them special; we recognize that they are not just working differently than us, but also much, much harder, to perform tasks that the rest of us view as so routine that we rarely give any thought at all to how we accomplish them.  When the labor (and inefficiency and adaption) is primarily mental, we sometimes unintentionally sound as though we are making that demand, as we drive clumsily toward seeking greater understanding and acceptance.

If you have a child or spouse (or, if the genetic lottery has really smiled on you, both) who has a learning disability or mental illness and some well meaning individual tells you its a gift, you aren't a bad person if you want to shout, "Can I return it?!"  You can love your spouse or child and all the unique pieces that compose their personality and soul, and still sometimes just think to yourself (or say out loud), "I hate [ADD, ASD, LD, etc].  I effing hate it.  I hate that it requires so much of my time and money to effectively manage and treat while simultaneously making it more difficult to manage time effectively or bring in more income.  I hate what filling those gaps takes away from what I have to give to other loved ones who also need me.  I hate having to be the emotional ballast because, well, I can, when I'm emotionally drained and struggling, too. I hate that so many pieces of my life are put on hold or pushed to the back burner because the resources just aren't there to deal with them, and looking around at the unfinished projects and problems discourages me.  I hate that all the demands that this puts on my time and energy means that I'm always tired, which makes the painfully long to-do list and the emotional labor that much more overwhelming."  Moms and dads, husbands and wives, its perfectly OK to feel like this isn't a gift, but a burden, that you and your whole family pay a price for carrying.  If you sometimes feel hurt, frustrated, depressed, or even angry, it doesn't mean you don't love your spouse or your kid, and it doesn't mean you're not a wonderful caregiver or companion.  It just means you're human, doing your best to serve those you love in a sometimes difficult calling.  And, as a family member of a wonderful soul with a disability should know better than most, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being human.  So go ahead and breakdown and let out all the things that are burdening your heart; cry or shout if you need to.  Just don't unpack and live there.

You can pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep filling the gaps and picking up the slack and putting in that second shift (and third. . .), and do it joyfully.  Because the truth is, you really do see, better than anyone else could begin to imagine, just how mesmerizingly gifted and unique is that soul, whose care has been entrusted to you.  You are blessed to know, with intense clarity and intimacy, the incredible things that they are and could be.  Yes, be grateful: be grateful to God that he brought this effulgent soul into your life, and honor the sacred trust he has placed in you by loving them without reservation. Help them shine; chances are they are having many moments of frustration, sadness, and anger, too, and they need you to use your two whole, healthy hands to lift and sustain them.  Trust that He will use His divine hands to do the same for you, and you will find much joy in the journey, no matter what challenges you face.

Sunday, July 8, 2018


My favorite hooligan and I turned 34 a couple of weeks ago.  He sometimes looks like a stylish hobo
but I love him anyway.  Seriously, he was my human security blanket for many years, and he's still one of my favorite people.  This hobo has a special place in my heart that isn't quite like anyone else's.  I *sorta* went on an ambulance call with him last month, and seeing him interact with one of his "regulars" was a good reminder why I love him so much, and why most other people do, too.

For 14 years now, my brothers and a few of their friends have been spending the last week of June camping at Twin Lakes.  The event just sort of keeps growing with more family, more friends, and as the kids get bigger, they do a lot more on their own and some of the toys get bigger. We were only able to be there for about 24 hours this year, but there was lots of kayaking and canoeing
 (Keilana and Kylie in Yaya's kayak)

 (Dylan the lake patrol in Yaya's kayak, with Aodhan--on the little yellow board--yelled "I'm texting! I'm texting and speeding!")
(Keilana trying to catch Gwen and her girls)
and plenty of frogs and fish (fish not pictured)

There was badminton and lots of chess, and campfire food, and lots of hanging out around the games or the fire visiting and laughing

It was a quick trip, but our plans for the rest of the week had changed quite a bit a couple weeks earlier, so we had to shorten it up a bit.  Hopefully next year we can stay longer.

Sunday night the kids and I stayed at Mom's house, had dinner and visited with her. I love having my whole big family all right here, and I wouldn't trade that for anything. But once in a while I remember that the silver lining to living so far away when when we were in California is that when Yaya came, we got her all to ourselves. Its still fun to have that once in a while.

Camping is good for the soul. There are few things I love more than hanging out around a campfire with people I care about.  The smell of wood smoke and pine trees and lake water puts me at ease pretty much instantly. I'd probably be a nicer person if I made more time for that.

And I decided that 34 is pretty good. Because of the quick nature of our trip, I didn't load up much gear: the little girls slept in the tent, and Dylan and I just crashed in the Expedition for our one night up there. So I slept on the hard, flat surface of the back end of the vehicle, and I woke up easily the next morning, and nothing hurt or was sore. I need to start taking better care of myself so that that lasts as long as possible. Other than my electrical-neurological abnormalities, I'm pretty healthy, and as long as I take my relatively side-effect-free med, I don't really have to think about that problem much.  I've been absurdly healthy and blessed.

Even more than the physical health, though, I'm grateful for the rest of my life. I have four amazing kids, who are healthy and happy and smart and funny. I have a home that--crazy terrorist airedale and long, long, major to-do list notwithstanding--I love. I have a job that I love, and am getting the opportunity to expand my knowledge and skills, and coworkers who are dear friends that make going to work a genuine pleasure. My husband is finding his stride in his new business, and some sort of long term vision is starting to take shape. There is so very much to be grateful for.

The last few years have not been easy.  We have a lot of challenges, both self-inflicted and externally imposed, and to say that we've been rising to the occasion would probably not be true.  I've spent more time feeling drained, overwhelmed, self-pitying, or defeated (or all of the above) than is comfortable for me to acknowledge. But the last couple of weeks have been some of the best I've had in literally years.  There have been multiple times where I thought to myself that something was perfect.  I've had a lot of joy and love in my life the last few years, but in the past few weeks, I've began to find a more durable and thorough peace than I've had in quite some time.

In getting older, I feel like I'm becoming myself again.  And hopefully I'm learning a few things and improving on myself, too. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018


My uncle (my dad's brother) recently shared a photo of his brother, who died as a teenager in a logging accident.  When I was a child, I noticed that around this time of year, my grandma was always trying to make a lunch date with my dad.  My mom had to put the pieces together for me, explaining that Grandma tended to "check in" with all of her kids every June.  That always made sense to me, but I understand it differently as a mom.  My grandma buried 3 of her 8 children before she left this world.

I work in a place where death isn't necessarily a daily occurrence, but it certainly isn't rare.  Most of the death we deal with (in a rural, relatively low-acuity facility) is expected.  That doesn't mean it isn't hard, and no one is ever really prepared to lose a parent, but most of us expect that we will lose our parents.  No one expects to lose their child.  

The older individuals usually slip away slowly, often after years of health problems. When death comes to a child, or a young parent, etc., its usually sudden, and under traumatic circumstances: the car wreck everyone dreads, the suicide that shatters your heart, the freak asthma attack when meds are out of reach, the overdose that isn't necessarily a surprise but that you hoped would never come.  In those circumstances, a strange combination of empathy and distance is required. 

When those situations manifest themselves, I think about the deaths that have had the biggest impact on me. When I was almost 8, I was at a campout for all the first graders at the school with my mom (I was a second grader, but I had missed it the year before due to illness, so Mom let me tag along).  One of the second grade teachers showed up early that morning and told my mom that the Fayler kids were missing. Our next door neighbors had gone on an evening plane ride with their uncle, and didn't come back.  My brothers and I were good friends with the younger two, Angie and Jesse. Along with their uncle, who had piloted the plane, and their older sister, Sierra, they were missing for 10 days. I remember getting ready for school the last few mornings of the year, looking at Jesse's coat hanging in our closet and hoping he'd be back to get it. I sat on the swing in the yard with Michael, discussing how there was plenty of good water in those mountains, and even a few things that would be edible in the high mountain spring--we were sure they were going to be OK, probably just too injured to hike out.  After their bodies were found, I don't think Michael and I talked about them again.  

My brother--who tended to wear his heart on his sleeve as a child--had something of a meltdown when my mom tried to get him ready for the funeral. I remember sitting in the back of our van with one of our teachers--for the life of me I can't remember why she was with us--catching occasional glimpses of my brother throwing himself about and pulling away from my mom, as he protested through tears, and thinking how utterly unfixable it all was. The teacher, who I now realize was probably horribly uncomfortable and was just trying to pass the time, made painful small talk: "I didn't go to my first funeral til I was 26, so you're doing this a lot younger than I did." Does my friend dying make me more grown up somehow? Is that supposed to make me feel better? I was much harder on her as a hurt, angry second grader than I am as an adult.  What do you say to the silent 8 year old that you barely know who has lost her neighbors and friends, and is trying to be polite to you and pretend her twin brother doesn't appear to be a total train wreck about the situation? I can't tell you if he ended up going to the funeral; I honestly don't remember. I just remember sitting on the grass at the large memorial listening to my dad give a eulogy for my friend, and nothing made sense. 

When I was a freshmen in high school, one of my brothers' very good friends took his own life. It was the first and last time that a death made me feel physically ill. I was sick to my stomach, my head hurt, and everything felt a little wobbly at first.  Luke and I weren't really friends, but he was probably my favorite of my brothers' friends at the time: he was always ready to have a conversation, had a delightfully offbeat sense of humor, and always had an interesting way of looking at things. Our meandering, funny, and sometimes fascinating band room conversations were often a highlight of the school day. It was the first time a death made me angry in that way.  Part of me--a part of me I loathed in the moment--was so angry at him. I was mad at him for giving up, I was mad at him for making my brothers grieve, I was mad at him for altering reality.  I hated that I was mad, and I never told anyone, because I assumed it meant I was a terrible human being.  I received a strange and sweet assurance that he was OK (not the only time I would receive such an assurance related to a death), and the anger melted away, and I realized that most of my anger was anxiety over the fate of his broken heart. Once I knew he was OK, I was OK, too.

Losing my Grandma Lettie just as I became a "real adult" was expected and came with no anger or denial. Of anyone I have lost in my short life, her absence is the one that I have felt most often, that has loomed largest. I regularly get bouts of powerful homesickness for which there is no cure, because its her I miss. When things get hard, I want to curl up on her couch and listen to stories. Once in a while when I'm grocery shopping I'll buy something I almost never eat just for the sensory experience of feeling like I'm at Grandma's house for a minute.  My Grandma Elda was more than a decade younger than Grandma Lettie, so I was fortunate to have her in my life until I was 30, and she guided me with humor and love through most of my young mom years. When she died, I felt more prepared than I had when we lost Grandma Lettie, but just as full of grief. My grandmas raised their large families in the same small town, and there were many inter-family friendships in addition to my parents' marriage and family.  When Grandma Elda died, I somehow felt like I had not only lost her, but had lost Grandma Lettie all over again. I miss both of them terribly.  In all of my self-doubting moments of insecurity and self-deprecation, I never for a single moment in my life doubted my grandmothers' love.  Ever. Their love is powerful, and continues to bless me and make my heart ache for the separation, temporary though it may be.

When Conner died, it felt like the earth split under my feet. I was personally devastated, and on top of that felt helpless and even counterproductive.  When Katy called and told us he was gone, I got his brother and my two small children and placed them in bed between Doug and I, and snuggled up in a tangled mess with the four of them. I need to feel their warm bodies, see the peaceful rise and fall of their breath.  I got very little sleep that night, and for months afterward.  For all the San Joaquin Valley summer heat, the world felt very cold for a while. There was so much love and support in our world, and I could see it, and I could feel it, and for moments I'd feel good and the denial and hurt would melt away.  And then the three little kids would be playing together, as they did several days a week, and my heart would scream, "There are four!!!" and it would be all I could do to not go to pieces.

I carry these deaths, and others, with me.  They aren't something I dwell on, and some of them I may go years without thinking about at all, but they have all shaped the way I deal with loss, tragedy, and trauma. After a difficult loss at work recently, a coworker said that he thought he was doing pretty well, handling it fine, until the family showed up.  That's the hard part. Most people in healthcare will tell you that, when dealing with hands on care in a traumatic situation, there's a mode you go into--you are always acutely aware of the reality of the human soul on the stretcher, but you go through the algorithms and you apply the skills and you get through it. But when you turn to the family, to explain the actions you're taking or to tell them you can't do anything more, that's where the pain hits. And that's when that strange balance becomes so important. You remember your own griefs, you feel the vastness of their loss, and you empathize. That person needs to know, in that deep devastation, that you understand their pain and feel with them; but they also need you to remember that it isn't your tragedy.  They feel like the world has ended, and in a very real way, the world as they knew it has ended. Their entire reality has to shift, to one that is worse for them, with a new and deep grief that will never completely go away.  They need someone who understands all that, who can let that immense pain wash over them and not lose their own feet: to be a solid place in a moment of profound brokenness; someone who can, by their steadiness, remind them that life can go on, and that, eventually, they can be OK, while simultaneously making it OK for them to not be OK right now.

That's part of what it means to mourn with those that mourn.  We allow them to grieve, to break, to cry, scream, get angry (at you, at God, at the deceased, at themselves--it can take all kinds of turns), or feel like quitting, and we don't turn away or let go because it hurts or its heavy.  Most people will, at some point, suffer a loss that seems unfair or overwhelms them, and our responsibility as disciples of Christ is to grasp tightly to the iron rod with one hand and cling with all our might to those stumbling souls and not let go.  There are moments when hope seems impossible, and we need someone who can still see light on the horizon to promise us that its still there, without condemning us for not seeing it. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

A new New Year

This is a screen shot from a conversation I recently had with one of the physicians at our hospital. I can't share any more of it, though I wish I could.

The year started out rough. I work in a profession where dealing with pain, grief, and loss is a daily reality, but at the hospital we rang in the new year with some particularly miserable, devastating pains and losses, some of which hit very close to home.  In addition, we were dealing with some significant frustrations at home, trying to figure out a way forward with businesses and health and projects and all that.  My mom got quite sick and ended up in the hospital for a few days (she's doing much better).  So when I went to start a whole day of chores that was supposed to include about a dozen loads of laundry and my washer instantly flooded the floor, I didn't even try to deal with it. I was exhausted and worn out, so I just went and sat on my bed for about 15 minutes and cried.  Not about the washer, really (that's more likely to make me annoyed or angry), but more over feeling like everything was broken.

It passed. This last week, I was enjoying a shared moment of pure joy at 3am with some of my favorite coworkers, and I looked around the room and thought about how very fortunate I am.  There is never a night I look at the staffing and think, "Ugh."  Every single night, I'm happy to be working with whoever is there.  Our staff is small--we have about 11 nurses total who work night shift--so even one tense relationship could make work a lot more work, but we all enjoy working together.  It isn't uncommon to have weeks where we end up spending more waking hours with each other than with our families. And its hard to imagine any other group of people that would make that OK, but these people are some of my favorite humans. They care about their patients. They care about each other. They are incredibly fun to be around.

And it isn't just our nurses and aides.  When one of the losses hit us early in the year, our HR manager showed up with treats and breakfast stuffs early one Saturday morning.  She didn't have to do that; the hospital didn't buy those, she did, because she knew we were hurting, and she wanted to something. Cards and donations flowed from the staff to those most deeply affected.  It reminded me of a night when I was at the bedside of a critical patient, trying to mix an IV med and get blood infusing as well, and a doctor was right beside me, taking a set of vitals and helping me re-position a miserable patient. I wonder how many hospitalists know the CNAs by name?  How many hospitals do you think have an ER nurse who will occasionally grill for the whole staff at 3am out of the back of his truck (or have an ER doc who buys all the meat so that that BBQ can happen)?

I have lived in towns of various sizes, but I came from a small place--Doug tells me it isn't really a town, but a hamlet--and settled in small places, and always prefer them, because community is at the heart of everything I love. Its possible, of course, to form tight-knit communities in more populous places, but doing so in such places does present more challenges.  When I was visiting my mom, one of her colleagues showed up with dinner for that night--as various coworkers and friends had every night since she got sick.  There were--completely sincere--offers of help in others ways, as well.  Everyone knows her.  She is the sort of person who would rather not tell anyone she was feeling ill, much less advertise it, but her absence is impossible to miss, so help was never asked for, it simply arrived.  The teacher who had showed up during her own lunch break mentioned that she felt like thefts and vandalism and such happened less frequently in small towns, because its very difficult to depersonalize crime: even if you don't know this person directly, she's the aunt of a friend of yours, or the friend of aunt. You are connected in some way to nearly everyone around you. I agreed heartily, and pointed out that it also makes good much easier to do, because we feel that much more responsible to each other.

Be connected to the people around you.  Do what you can to create communities of support, respect, love, and service. January began with difficulty and tragedy, and in that I watched a community of people circling the wagons to buoy up members of that community who were hurting; it peaked with watching that same community comfort and attend to an individual who had no community of his own, giving him comfort and peace; and, as it sneaks away like a thief in the night, I have watched a community celebrate together, magnifying joy for current and expected blessings.  I needed to see all of that to be reminded that, whatever 2018 may bring, we will weather it just fine and find joy in the journey, because we are surrounded and supported by angels on both sides of the veil.

Bring it on.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

On that President Monson obit. . .

There's been a petition going around to attempt to pressure the NYT to present a different obituary for President Monson than the one they published last week.  I didn't sign it.

The NYT knows that many (if not most) LDS individuals don't see the world the way they do, and they made it pretty clear that they find that irritating.  Is it surprising to any one that the staff at the NYT finds LDS doctrinal positions on marriage and Priesthood problematic?  Protesting that they tried to reduce a man of tremendous charity and personal integrity to someone of no more significance or virtue than Fidel Castro will not change the way anyone at the NYT sees President Monson, or our doctrine.  Let that rest with them.

Is anything they said untrue?  In the face of public criticism, loud protest, and clear disdain from people of the mindset prevalent at places like the NYT, President Monson continued to declare and defend the Lord's doctrine, with kindness and respect, but without apology.

He is the one who told us
Dare to be a Mormon
Dare to stand alone
Dare to have a purpose firm
Dare to make it known.

Whatever their intentions, the NYT has paid our dear prophet the profound compliment of declaring to the world that he lived up to those words.  President Monson exemplified the standard of moral leadership revealed to another prophet, who was weathering persecution far more intense than a petulant literary swipe: "No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned."  That's the spirit we ought to respond in--that's the only spirit that can really change anything and move forward the work of Him who President Monson so boldly and humbly served.  Be bold, defend the Lord's doctrine in spite of those who would see it swept away.