Sunday, November 26, 2006

Famous Writer in "Ensign"

My wife called me in the room where she was reading and pointed to an article in the Ensign where a byline was showing a familiar name. Sure enough there was "Stephenie Meyer" plastered on the page. I checked the spelling and found there wasn't any discrepancy. I even read "Hero at the Grocery Store" about a woman who helps an elderly lady pay for some groceries. It really is a touching article. None of the scant details proved it wasn't who the name implies.

For those who don't know, Stephenie Meyer is an author of Young Adult books. Her first printed and successful book is "Twilight," about a girl who falls in love with a vampire. She is also a Latter-day Saint who graduated from Brigham Young University. From her official website bio page:

She lives with her husband and three young sons in Phoenix, Arizona. After the publication of her first novel, Twilight, booksellers chose Stephenie Meyer as one of the "most promising new authors of 2005" (Publishers Weekly) . . .

. . . Right now, I'm deeply involved in the editing for book two (more about that in "Other Novels"), getting ready for my first book tour, dealing with five separate drop-off and pick-up times for my kids' schools, and working with a nice personal trainer named Steve in a doomed attempt to erase the evidence that my body has carried three large children to term.

My favorite authors/biggest influences are (in no particular order) Orson Scott Card, Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, Maeve Binchy, Charlotte Bronte, Daphne DuMaurier, L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Eva Ibbotson, William Goldman, Douglas Adams, Janet Evanovich... the list goes on, but I think I hit the highlights.

Her newest book is "New Moon," a sequal to her first vampire love story. She is also working on a novel "The Host" for an adult audience. It is about an alien invasion where the aliens have taken over human bodies. One of the humans doesn't completely go away, and the alien has to deal with all the thoughts and emotions of its host. Keeping with the author's theme of romance, the human in question clings to thoughts of a lover hiding somewhere from the invasion.

I am not going to review "Twilight" at this time, although I have read it. My local library has "New Moon" and I am waiting on a list of those who want to check it out. what I do want to say is that, for a YA and romance writer, she is among the best I have read in some time.

There was nothing on the LDS Church's website or her own to indicate if she wrote the Ensign article. I cannot be certain as she doesn't take e-mail questions. The name might only be a coincidence. Hopefully, out of curiosity, someone can clear this up.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Thanksgiving and the Day of the Lord

Reading up on giving thanks in the Scriptures, I came across D&C 59 that sounded very fitting for the Holiday celebration. Originally it discusses proper Lord's Day observances. It could be talking just as much about Thanksgiving and what it can mean to us as a religious observance. Ponder the following exhortation:

13 And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full.
14 Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer.
15 And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—
16 Verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth;
17 Yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards;
18 Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart;
19 Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul.
20 And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion.
21 And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments.

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Real-istic Jospeh Smith Please Stand UP

This is a copy of a post I wrote for "Blogger of Jared."

Not too long ago Richard Dutcher planned on making a movie about Joseph Smith Jr. with rumors of Val Kilmer as the lead. It didn’t take long for those rumors to be unfounded. There was news that he rejected the part for other movie roles. It seems that Bro. Dutcher has also gone a different direction and made other films. His personal homepage doesn’t offer any new information that he still has a biopic in the works. Other films have, more or less, taken up the slack.

There is an abundance of Joseph Smith roles to look at if interested in how he has been portrayed, both in and outside of LDS Church circles. The first major inclusion of Joseph Smith Jr was the Brigham Young movie of 1940, with Vincent Price taking up the part. Of all the ones I have seen so far, he seemed to represent him the best. It was too bad he played such a small role in that one. On the other hand, the book it was partly based on, "Children of God" by Vardis Fisher, was not a flattering portrait. There was another movie called Brigham with Richard Moll (of Night Court fame) playing Joseph Smith when he was tarred and feathered. Not sure if there was a martyrdom scene. He was problematic because the acting was stiff and he wasn’t the "hunk" that the historical records indicate for the real person. At least one other semi-portrayal was in "Angels in America," originally a stage play, and negative. Films done by Latter-day Saints have not fared better.

The Roles We Play

This is a copy of a post I wrote for "Blogger of Jared."

There are many roles available for people to pick and choose to define themselves and others. Sometimes there is more than one role we are actively playing at a time. There are even circumstances when one role is in direct contradiction to others. It can often become confusing.

Despite all of the various ways to define a person, there is always the chance we could label with too broad a brush. The worst scenario is stereotyping; where expectations are imagined without considering all other possibilities. This can stifle any chance of getting to know a person beyond what has already been decided. Jesus was a master at looking at a person who already had a particular "reputation" and seeing if there was something more:

7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Post-Mortem Republicans

For years the only power that the Conservative Republicans really had was the presidential cabinet. Then in 1992 the Liberal Democrats took over the U.S. House, Senate, and White House. Some say in that year that a short guy with a collection of charts lost the election for the Republicans.

For me it seemed that the end of the world was fast approaching. With mostly godless Liberals ruling a nation that had a blessing and a cursing, the return of a Divinity would be a welcome relief. It was obvious that the rest of the world wasn't repenting. They were either losing faith or becoming murderous fanatics.

A Miracle happened in 1994 and a Conservative Republican revolution had started. There was hope that the years of banal attacks against honest faith, family, and righteousness were about to be halted. Finally, in 2000 the Conservative Republicans took all three U.S. Houses. Slowly more conservative measures were getting enacted. A President and others were standing up against unrighteous laws and evil dictators. For a time it seemed things were changing for the better.

Then, something horrible intervened. The Liberal Democrats once again took over the reigns of government. The only thing standing between them and faith, family, and decency is a veto. The worst of this is that Conservatives helped them achieve this victory.


It is hard to say if Conservatives really made this change possible. There are many centrists and Independent voters with influence. What is known is that there were Conservatives who said they would vote Democrat this year. Of course, the two issues they said determined that was so-called corruption and the Iraq War. Perhaps it is simply a sign of licking wounds, but prominent Conservative Republicans are almost glad this happened. Glen Beck, Conservative radio personality and CNN Commentator had this to say:

Now, as we’re all painfully aware, yesterday was Election Day. Thank you that it`s over. Thank you. For the first time in 12 years, the Democrats are about to control the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate. But here’s the real story: It’s not so much that the Democrats won, but that the Republicans lost. . .

. . . Well, you know what? Here’s the other real story. I mostly agree with them. See, what happened -- hear me out -- the Democrats didn’t win yesterday with their classically liberal agenda, but the more conservative- minded, Blue Dog Democrats or independent-thinkers, like Joe Lieberman, were appealing to voters . . .

. . . Besides voting for candidates, voters also turned out yesterday to weigh in on the issues in the form of ballot initiatives. The people have spoken and, with very few exceptions, they have come out overwhelmingly in favor of English as the official language, strict immigration reform, and a ban against gay marriage. Now, how on Earth did the Democrats win when the majority of Americans seem in favor of classically Republican points of view? . . .

He isn't the only one talking this way who is fully Conservative and Republican. Others include the likes of Dick Armey, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and even the unabashed Rush Limbaugh getting into the act. This all sounds nice and hopeful, but the truth is not as pleasant.

Facing Reality

All this talk of the American people voting for smaller government, more accountability, and locally still voting conservative on issues should be a sign of good things ahead. The problem for Conservatives is that these are minor developments on the road to major setbacks. Those Democrats in power are not going to be the centrist Democrats they think were put into leadership. The ones that hold the most important positions are actually very Liberal. It becomes possible to see this in the words of the new Speaker of the HouseNancy Pelosi, one of the most Liberal people in one of the most Liberal districts:

. . . Democrats are charting a New Direction, one that unites our country and addresses the real priorities of all the American people. By raising the minimum wage, increasing access to health care, making higher education more affordable, achieving energy independence, enhancing retirement security, and providing real security at home and overseas, Democrats will provide opportunity, security, and prosperity for all, not just the privileged few.

Democrats will make our economy more fair by giving a raise to the nearly 7 million hard-working Americans earning the minimum wage . . .

. . . Democrats will reverse the $12 billion raid on student aid enacted by the Republican Congress in order to help finance tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans . . .

. . . Calling for real investments in alternative fuels and tapping into America’s vast resources and ingenuity, we will send our dollars to the Midwest, not the Middle East, and achieve energy independence within ten years.

We will guarantee a dignified retirement by continuing to fight the privatization of Social Security and protecting pensions . . .

. . . The war in Iraq is not making our country safer; it is not making our military stronger; and it is not making our world more stable. Democrats want the Iraqis to take responsibility for their country and want the phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq to begin in 2006 . . .

She isn't the only one who has a more Liberal, rather than centrist or conservative, idea about government. The House will shift Left in the coming years. It will be the usual big government programs, class warfare, and partisan politics that the Conservatives who voted Democrat thought they were fighting against. When the worst fears of Conservatives are realized, don't think the Liberal Democrats will give up power. It might be another 30 years before another chance for Conservatives to govern comes along.

I had warned my fellow Conservatives that they were throwing away everything for pretending their enemies were friends. Some listened, but too many either voted Democrat or didn't vote at all. The best thing to have done was clean house amongst ourselves rather than invite the clawed cat to clear out the rats. Now everything we had worked for will be torn to shreds.