Archive for February, 2005

What If?

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2005

Wouldn\’t it be interesting if President Bush, accused by many of kowtowing to the leader of Chiracistan, was instead showing Jacques the hard evidence of his complicity with the regime of Saddam and the corruption of Annan? Perhaps this is how Bush won his way with the joint communiqué regarding Syria.

Schroeder will fall in line as well when he sees the photos of himself being unfaithful to those who rescued him and his nation from the necrotic nightmare of National Socialism.

Putin cannot be trusted to even feign rapprochement. The soul Bush once saw through the window of Boris\’ eyes has been consumed by power and paranoia. Yet he will acquiesce.

The leaders and the people of \”New Europe\”, those lands which have been respectively repressed by Napoleon, Hitler and Stalin, will welcome George Bush for the leader he is and the heroes he represents.

As opposed to Chamberlain\’s fateful flight to the Contintent in 1939, at the brink of chaos, will history recognize this as the President\’s Transatlantic tour de force; the right mission at the right time in which the free world united to turn back the tide of terror? Or it will be recorded that this generation\’s great appeasers never had to leave home?

Hail to the Chief!

Too Much Fear and Loathing

Monday, February 21st, 2005

In the end, there was too much fear and loathing even for the inimitable Dr. Thompson to bear. He was Woody Creek’s most famous citizen, Aspen’s most noteworthy author, America’s most “gonzo\” journalist, but now he’s simply gone, so——.

His rapier wit could filet any story, could transform a death-wish bender into three days of the three stooges, and lay bare the arcing wires of his own tortured soul, all the while doubling us over in laughter and reminding us how wonderful the art of language is. The bold license exemplified in his work has even granted other, lesser literati the grammatical grace to end a sentence with a preposition.

One did not have to agree with him to appreciate him, but always some common ground could be found. Riding with the Hell’s Angels or speeding to Las Vegas with the top down; talking football with Nixon in New Hampshire on the Campaign Trail, or talking politics at the Super Bowl, he guided us past the twisted wreckage of his own psyche, illuminating the vanities and the inanities that overpopulate our daily existences——–and he got paid for it!!!

I lived a few miles down the road from him back in the late 60’s and into the 70’s. I fondly recollect the time he ran for sheriff of Pitkin County. His campaign button was a fist clutching a peyote button. Aspen was, even then, a liberal community but that was way too much. He insisted that his candidacy was serious but he must have known that this choice for a campaign logo would seal his political fate even before he bothered to file the papers.

Somehow this prescient moment shines, beacon-like, into the heart of the mystery that was Hunter Thompson. He never intended to win. He only wanted to play. When his sodden soul could no longer take the take the pain of his life-long party, he took his life at last; the concluding chapter in a long process of slow motion suicide. He lived his life his way and met his death the Hemingway.

Be Ye Therefore Perfect

Monday, February 14th, 2005

(The following is excerpted from a talk I recently gave to a group of young single adults.)

There are approximately 6.5 Billion people living on the earth at this time.
Approximately half are women. We are not yet sure what the other half is.

Some say men——-others say boys.

Somewhere out there is your “perfect� match, right! So, we have 3.25
Billion possible candidates for each of us. Let’s do some math. The average women in America lives to age 78, the average man to age 74, giving the average human a life expectancy of 76. Subtracting the first 16 years of life, we are left with approximately 60. Following the admonition to go forth and multiply we take those 60 years X 365 days. The result is 21,900 evenings available for dating.

This means that if you dated a different person every night for 60 years you could scope out .0000073% of the available gene pool. The chances of finding your perfect match, your “soul-mate�, in 21,900 dates remains less than one in 148,000. Your chances of winning the lottery are approximately 250 times greater than finding your perfect match in this life.

You might say that due to your standards these large numbers would not apply to you, and you would probably be right. Even if we estimated that 5% of all Latter Day Saints are potential candidates (that they are single, worthy and approximately your age); half of that number being men, the other half women, it would still take nearly 20 lifetimes to date them all.

After all this, will the well-timed date yield the perfect mate? Let us say that it does. You find the perfect mate and your Dayton leads to Sparks and ultimately you find yourselves drifting through Lovelock on the way to Battle Mountain, you will inevitably discover imperfections.

When the hormones, pheromones and endorphins give way to house payments and house cleaning and poopy diapers, you will inevitably recognize the imperfections.

Perhaps our search for perfection needs a new direction. Or is it possible that we seek something that does not exist?

According to President Spencer W. Kimball, the idea of a “soul-mate� is an illusion. Any good man and any good woman are capable of finding true happiness in marriage if they are willing to pay the price. Further, the search for the right person should in fact be the quest to become the right person.

A friend of mine gave some very sound advice to his sons. He told them to “look for a woman who loves God more than she loves you� because when the lust inevitably wears off, she will recognize your imperfections and the love she has for God will generate the forgiveness that will be required in order for your marriage to endure.

We know from the \”Proclamation on the Family\” that the family is central to Heavenly Father’s plan. President Hinckley stated at the time the Proclamation was issued that the family is under attack. This has become more than obvious to all of us in the intervening years.

Fully understanding that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, Satan has determined that the best way to destroy families is by preventing them to begin with. This results in fewer families and fewer embodied spirits. The allure of radical individualism, hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure as opposed to the pursuit of happiness; in other words, trading your orchard for a single piece of fruit), and materialism keeps many people from even starting a family.

Many couples who have taken the proper first step; marriage, have chosen to have no children or just one in order to maintain the flow of two incomes with all the material advantages that money provides.

This dynamic is why most European countries are actually declining in population; the death rate exceeds the birth rate by a wide margin. In China the official “one child� policy has yielded an unnatural bubble of 100 million more men than women.

The normal split, worldwide, has historically been 51% women to 49% men; a delicate balance between two magnificently different, hopelessly incompatible, inescapably interconnected beings.

Male and female, lock and key; without both the doorway to eternal increase is closed, the gates of the celestial kingdom, barred.

When we reach the other side
When we ourselves are history
Will we be surprised to find
That life is not a mystery.

The prophets have told us that the everlasting covenant of marriage is more important to our eternal natures than we can possibly comprehend from our mortal perspectives. In eternal terms 1+1=1. “If you are not one, you are not mine�, saith the Lord. “Be ye therefore perfect.�

Recognizing the imperfections in others is not an excuse for imperfection in ourselves, rather it is the very reason to perfect ourselves. It is in the process of personal perfection that we atone, in some magnificent way, for the deficiencies of our closest family and friends.

A significant part of that perfection process is the understanding that love is a verb; that love is also a decision. “If a man hath all these things and lacks charity (Christ-like love), he has nothing�.

It is also well to understand that love is not a finite commodity. The more you give, the more you have to give. Now here is the hard doctrine; there is no reward in loving those who are easy to love. According to the Savior, the real reward comes in loving those that are hard to love (please refer to the Sermon on the Mount).

Success in relationships and particularly success in marriage has far less to do with what the other person does or does not do, or how that person behaves than it does with our own behavior and actions. It comes with the understanding that disappointments are generated by our own expectations. It comes from the undertanding that marriage is not a 50/50 proposition but rather a 100/100 commitment. It comes from understanding that we can love and forgive and thereby heal the breach that exists between beings.

In most of the world, marriages are arranged by the families. People learn to love one another without the distraction of physical attraction.

Physical beauty has little or nothing to do with success in marriage and can in fact be an impediment. Cellular elasticity is temporary and illusory. A facelift may hide wrinkles but it will never hide faults. External beauty will never equal internal beauty. We have always heard that “Beauty is skin deep.� This is as true as “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.� Internal beauty not only stands the test of time, it generates a glow that no amount of makeup, no syringe full of collagen or Botox; that no makeover, no matter how extreme, can rival.

Need we be reminded that the Lord looketh upon the inside?

There can be no doubt that marriage is daunting. No one can be fully prepared for the challenges and responsibilities that attend, but these are not justifiable excuses for putting off the most important decision of your life.

I can testify to you that it is possible to have real joy in this life but only through the creation of a family and through partnering with Heavenly Father to provide appropriate mortal circumstances for his spirit children, whether naturally born to you or adopted. Every other pleasing sensation available to us in mortality is temporary at best and counterfeit at least. Don’t deprive yourselves or delay the realization of the infinite blessings that await you in fulfilling your proper roles as husbands and wives, as fathers and mothers, as Kings and Queens in Heavenly Fathers limitless and glorious Kingdom.

“Yes,� you say, “but I’m not worthy.� Do not compound your errors by denying Christ. He died to atone for our imperfections. Gratefully accept his generosity.

An Open Letter to the NBA

Thursday, February 10th, 2005

I am a 54 year old man who grew up in Colorado in the home of a very successful high school basketball player and coach. My dad clinched the only state championship his home town ever enjoyed by hitting both halves of a 1 and 1 with one second left on the clock (the refs were not afraid to make the right call at the end of the game), lifting his team to a one point victory. Later as a coach, his high school teams were perennial participants in the state playoffs.

My first birthday present was a ball and a hoop. I have played organized ball in school, in recreation and church leagues and have coached my own children and other youth, as well. I continue to be involved helping young people understand the values to be found in basketball; hard work, teamwork, practice, commitment, good sportsmanship, timeliness, focus, opportunity, sacrifice (you cannot score unless you are willing to give up the ball).

I have always taught my boys to focus on what they can do, not on what the refs do; that they will never win an argument with the officials. While this remains good advice, I have seen a significant decrease in the level of respect that players (and fans) have for the officials, largely due to the fact that mistake-prone officials are not held to account for their actions or inactions. While the purity of the game is reliant upon the objective nature of officials (from all perspectives), this is being eroded by the perception that officials are subjective, that mistakes are not acknowledged, and that there is no consequence for obvious bias or error.

I attended my only NBA game of the year last night at Arco Arena. Though the Kings could have and should have won by making more lay-ups and free throws, the game was stolen by three inept officials (I have seldom seen poorer officiating) who inexplicably failed to make an obvious goaltending call in the waning seconds. They made a less obvious goaltending call on the first basket of the game, so we know they know the rule. In the end they ran like jackrabbits from the floor, in guilty acknowledgement that they had blown the call. The fans were deprived of a well-deserved overtime period. Their sense of fair play was greatly undermined. But what is the consequence for the officials? If you want to defend the integrity of this game, if you want people to be able to honestly say “I love this game�, there needs to be a consequence for horrible officiating. Otherwise you might as well call yourselves the WWFNBA and give up every pretense at portraying the league as a truly professional organization.

The Vacillating Fan

PS. Continuing to call this play a block is eerily Nixonian.

Why?

Wednesday, February 9th, 2005

Why are some unhealthful personal behaviors illegal while others are not?
Why do some unhealthful personal behaviors come with warning labels while others do not? What relevant facts make the difference? Is alcohol less dangerous than marijuana? Is heroin truly less addictive than nicotine? (Yes, you read that right.)

How broad is the government’s role in determining what substances or behaviors are simply too dangerous to leave to the discretion of the individual citizen? Does the government have a rightful role in determining these issues? If so does it also have a duty to be consistent in its application of standards? Should the “full faith and credit\” statutes apply to these types of issues? If a woman has the right to decide what she can do with her own body (the rationale used by pro-abortion activists), does this also apply to taking drugs or engaging in prostitution? Why am I asking all these questions?

We know that smoking is harmful (it says so on the pack), but if it could be proven that cigarettes cause a significant decrease in life expectancy, say 20 years, wouldn’t that be additional cause for alarm? Wouldn’t that be news? If super-sizing your burger and fries caused that kind of hazard to your health, wouldn’t we be concerned and wouldn’t the government be making some demands on that industry and seeking some modifications to that behavior?

The same sex marriage debate has resurfaced with the recent ruling by New York Supreme Court Justice, Doris Ling-Cohan, that the ban against same gender marriage is discriminatory (which of course it isn’t; heterosexuals are also prohibited from marrying members of the same sex). What does this have to do with the previous subject matter? Consider this. Male homosexuals have a life expectancy 20 years less than all males in the population, according to research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology published by Oxford University Press. Interestingly, this study was published in 1997. Why haven’t we heard about this in the mainstream press? 20 years is a long time to be deprived of life and the pursuit of happiness, isn’t it? One would think that this would be the cause of great concern among all people. If this was any other behavior would we be treating it differently? So what gives homosexual behavior immunity from the application of standards applied so liberally elsewhere?

Let me suggest this as a possibility. Bi and large, homosexuals are universally challenged in finding validation for their predilections. Their parents and siblings are often at odds with the attendant behaviors. Other friends and family frequently find it difficult to tolerate the lifestyle. Little solace is to be found in the vast majority of religious settings. More often than not the homosexual himself is burdened with a disquieting sense of guilt from his own actions. The drive to establish a legal basis for homosexual marriage is ultimately the search for solid footing on which to erect a foundation for this illusive validation. Some politicians are all too happy to promote the furtherance of this unhealthful behavior in exchange for campaign donations from this group; a group with higher than average expendable income as a result of their largely childless lives.

It is an odd thing. We put warning labels on nearly everything. We make people wear seatbelts. We place warnings on microwave ovens. Every drug has a warning label. Boxes of chocolates come with warnings that the product may have come in contact with peanuts. We post signs in bars and liquor stores warning of the potential hazards of drinking alcohol. We make kids wear bicycle helmets to protect their skulls. But what do we do to protect their brains? Why do we tell them to say no to drugs while encouraging them to engage in sexual behavior that is not just morally questionable but is unquestionably unhealthy? 20 years is a long time. It is more than twice the age of those whom we most confuse with these inconsistent messages. Why?