Rough Stone Rolling

Converting Oneself One Day at a Time – A Mormon Blog

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There’s Got to Be a Mourning After

July 2nd, 2010 · No Comments

I read a moving blog entry today, by a bishop who struggles to find the right words for those who are in mourning. I’m grateful for his admission because that’s my problem. Digging deep. searching for something remotely comforting to say, I instead stammer, probably coming off like a guy who’s mentally flipping through his To-Do list, before I manage to choke out the trite & true, “I’m, um… really sorry.” The bishop added that in those moments he feels abandoned by the Spirit, left alone to scrape together whatever pearls he can by himself. Amen to that.

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It’s a Dead Man’s Party. Who Could Ask for More?

June 14th, 2010 · No Comments

A friend died about a month ago and we attended his funeral service at our old ward building. I knew John for about 23 years, and while I wouldn’t say we were tight, spending that much time in close proximity can’t help but create some moments of camaraderie.

The chapel was filled with a lot of familiar faces, cast members who either starred or cameoed in different parts of that time period. It was a most opportune time to catch up with old friends. There were pictures of John in various stages of his life all over the foyer, and everyone signed the guest book  as they milled in. The service itself was officiated by a member of the bishopric, and performed by friends and family. The best parts, of course, were not the singing or droll poem recitations, but the anecdotes– recollections of John’s generosity, achievements and humor. It was part tribute, part roast. When we left the service, there was no doubt in our minds he was very much loved. Perhaps the saintly portrait painted was a tad hyperbolic (as is often the case in such events), but John did leave his mark. Afterward, there was food and the burial; we didn’t attend either.

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Can You Hear Me Now?

June 8th, 2010 · No Comments

We’re very active in the Church, but mine is not a particularly religious family. That is to say, we’ll find where the sacrament meeting is wherever we’re vacationing, but we don’t quote scripture to each other in conversation, or note how a particular challenge we’re facing reminds us of something Elder Bednar said in a talk (and can even name the title of the talk). Sometimes I feel I should be more gospel-minded, especially for my daughter. She’s 14 now, and maybe the train’s already left the station, because when I do try to talk of spiritual things with her, she gets uncomfortable, and then I stammer, and then the subject sort of limps away behind the sofa to die in peace.

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Yellow Paper and Red Tape

March 19th, 2009 · 8 Comments

A strange occurrence became stranger still yesterday as I pursued the origins of a mysterious slip of paper in my mailbox.

Usually when I get one of those yellow notes from the postman, saying he tried to deliver a certified letter (and here are the options of how to get it to me) I get a sinking ugh-y feeling in my stomach. This time was no different. Usually “certified” means “legal,” and usually legal can’t be good. There was no sender’s name or address listed and only a parcel number to go by. So I went to usps.com, entered the number and got my second clue: It was sent from zip code 84070. I knew that zip– It came from Sandy, Utah.

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Catching Up

March 12th, 2009 · 7 Comments

dropkick murphys

Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s been a while. But listen, it isn’t because my interest in the site’s waning or I got shanked in chow cause a’ what happened to T-Bone in the showers. For some reason, life just suddenly went into overdrive. Miss D’s schedule got busier– but so did the Mrs’, so that meant it was up to me to get D around. And then there’s the new calling… but that’s for another post.

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California, Show Your Teeth

February 10th, 2009 · 6 Comments

daddy poppa 

It’s become a hobby for me to follow the news stories related to Prop 8 and its fallout. I like using Google News because it draws stories from journalistic monoliths like the New York Times as well as little bedroom community papers and blogs, and the spectrum of “voices” captured in the comments sections are diverse and sometimes even insightful.

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Too Old to Rock n’ Roll, Too Young to Die

February 9th, 2009 · 10 Comments

jethro tull 

I have to say, growing up as a teen in the 70′s was a blast. The clothes were fun (especially on the girls), the mood was easier, stereos were amazing, muscle-powered objects d’art, the drive-in theaters were laboratories for some pretty intense summer magic. Needless to say, I miss those times.

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McCarthyism Somewhere Over the Rainbow

February 9th, 2009 · 2 Comments

eightmaps

Eightmaps has gotten a lot of press regarding the “outting” of contributors to Prop 8. Essentially, it’s a Google Maps page devoted to flagging donors’ names, employment and the amount they gave toward the passing of the proposition.

It’s also considered a major coup for the opposition when the courts said the contributors’ identities couldn’t be blocked. In fact, No-on-8 cheerleaders in the media deemed it amusing, ironic just-desserts. For example, Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic said:

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You Can Never Trust the Bald, Naked Man.

February 9th, 2009 · 5 Comments

oscars

I saw two brilliant, deeply affecting movies this weekend: Gran Torino and The Wrestler. The characters in both films were broken, regretful old men looking for redemption, and the actors who played them both nailed their parts with sublime majesty. It’s no wonder Mickey Rourke is up for Best Actor– he was Randy “The Ram” Robinson. The question is, what the hell happened with Clint Eastwood’s film’s nominations?

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Obama’s Faith Office Met with Alarm & Questions

February 5th, 2009 · 6 Comments

faith & community 

Fresh out of the box, Obama’s new Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is already taking whacks at the hornet’s nest. The big issue: Religious organizations that accept federal funding will have to expand their hiring to include those outside of their faith. Some clergy “get it” and are either going to find ways to comfortably comply, or make new arrangemements to stop taking federal funding. Others, however, are worried.

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25 Random Things

February 4th, 2009 · 8 Comments

facebook 

I was recently invited on Facebook to write down 25 random things about myself and then send them to 25 friends with the instruction to do the same. Sort of a “pay-it-forward” kind of a thing. Well, it was an interesting enough exercise that I went for it, and by the time I was done, there were a few times where I surprised myself. I also learned that 25 was a perfect number because, any less and you wouldn’t get the chance to dig under the topsoil of your psyche, and any more you’d start putting down stuff you’d regret in the morning.

So, without further ado, here are the 25 things I came up with:

1. Even though I was born in New York and spent most of my life in Los Angeles, I consider myself a Utahn.

2. I started dating when I was 14, but didn’t have a steady girlfriend until I was 21.

3. I think I’m a decent writer but a horrible conversationalist.

4. I have a recurring dream where I’m sent back on another mission to North Carolina, away from my wife and daughter for two years.

5. I find parenting to be a lot easier than marriage.

6. Even after 32 years of abstinence, I still miss the taste of alcohol.

7. I miss the Cold War.

8. I’m really bad about crying during movies.

9. I’m an Amazon.com addict. There, I said it.

10. I want to start writing teen-genre fiction.

11. My first obsession was Peanuts paperbacks.

12. My favorite foods are steak, hamburgers, cheese, pizza, all shellfish, chocolate and sushi– and my doctor says I can’t have any but one of them anymore, for the rest of my life.

13. I’ve been sealed to three women at the same time.

14. The last time I loved my job was 10 years ago.

15. I regret never trying marijuana before I became a Mormon.

16. Most of the time I prefer Alone Time to being around others.

17. I took a year of Hebrew in college, never used it again and promptly lost it, except for a few words.

18. I ran in three marathons and finished two– my knee started acting up on the third and I quit at Mile Ten.

19. I enjoy the atmosphere of Irish pubs.

20. I’ve always had a thing for redheads.

21. I’ve never enjoyed a murder mystery written by a woman.

22. I am fond of guns and am saving up for a .45 or a 9mm.

23. I love to make people laugh but usually can’t remember the next day what I said or did to cause it.

24. Nothing is above irreverence for me except God.

25. I have a low tolerance for bad spelling and feel like a jerk about it.

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Gay Adoption Campaign Explodes in California

February 4th, 2009 · 14 Comments

gay adoption

The gay community has squealed every which way ’til Tuesday about their so-called civil rights in California, and now the California adoption agencies are taking advantage of the charged climate to push their own agenda. Launching an aggressive billboard campaign, local agencies are now reaching out to the gay community, encouraging them to adopt children.

Proponents of the campaign say there are thousands of orphans in need of loving homes– and any kind of living arrangement will do. Opponents, of course, claim such a move only further threatens the traditional family values that are already under brutal attack by the No-on-8 folks and their supporters.

The ad campaign, called  “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Family,” blatantly solicits members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (wait–transgender?? are they serious??) community to adopt children. Said Robyn Harrod of the Southern California Adoption Agency:

“They provide loving, stable and permanent homes for kids who need them. And, it makes absolutely no difference whether they are gay, straight, single, married … They just need to love kids and want to provide a home for them.”

The opposition sees it another way.  Ermias Alemayehu of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny insists:

“Studies have indicated that kids raised in homosexual households, especially girls, tend to act out sexually, tend to be very promiscuous … and these kids are very confused about their identity. And we don’t think the state or the county should be in the business of promoting that kind of lifestyle.”

California is one of only four states that permit gay couple adoption. State officials are supporting the campaign as well, saying this is a chance for kids to get out of foster care and into families that want them.

What are they, puppies? No, scratch that. My friend went through the puppy-adoption process recently. Now those guys are strict! But I guess since kids are so much more valuable than dogs we should pass them out a lot more liberally so they’re all placed…somewhere.

The sobering truth, though, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is that 129,000 children await adoption from foster care. Officials say for those who don’t get adopted, the future is often grim. There’s no question that something needs to be done for these children. I’ll admit I don’t have the solution, but I do know that further destroying the sanctified family structure and compromising our society’s moral values isn’t it. Also the timing of this whole thing stinks. As Alemayehu said:

“This is another way to normalize the homosexual agenda. And the next thing will be to go after overturning Prop 8.”

Of course it is. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the No-on-8 camp it’s, subtlety is never an issue. There are currently about 65,000 kids in the U.S. that have been adopted by gay couples. It will be interesting to see how this campaign affects that number and if, perhaps, the Supreme Court’s upholding of Prop 8 might not incite the gay community to fight back with a storm of adoptions… since they can still do that.

Then you have to accept them– they have kids!

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Do What is Right, Let the Neurosis Follow

February 4th, 2009 · 6 Comments

rat 

One of the more interesting characters in my lifetime is G. Gordon Liddy: lawyer, FBI agent, CIA operative and Watergate burglar. While the others tossed the hot potato of blame at each other during the Watergate investigation, Liddy fearlessly took the heat and went to prison for his president.  During my university years he was something of a hero for me. His biography, Will, resided in my backpack throughout my tenure and I often used examples of his life to illustrate points in college papers.

A favorite story was how he learned to overcome his fears. When Liddy was a child he was terrified of the rats that scurried around in his basement. So overcome with fear was he, that he had panic attacks at the slightest perceived noise when he had to go down there for something. Finally, he became so frustrated and ashamed with himself, that when he was 13 he went down into the basement, waited for a rat to emerge, and then he killed, cooked and ate it. This so exhilarated him, that that’s how he approached the rest of life.

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Sabbath Day Pooch Punts, Slobber-Knockers & Fumblerooskis

January 28th, 2009 · 15 Comments

super bowl

I wonder how many members say, “I’m not going to watch the Super Bowl because I want to keep the Sabbath Day holy.” Or how many actually TiVo the game so they can watch it on Tuesday (Monday being FHE). Is the Super Bowl really a violation of the Sabbath Day? Well, then slap the cuffs on, copper.

I don’t watch football games on TV, but I love the Super Bowl. It’s a national event; a quasi-holiday dedicated to the ultimate spoils going to the ultimate warriors. It’s watching award-winning $3 million commercials (that’s the actual price tag on a 30-second spot this year, folks) that everyone will talk about in office kitchens and revisit on YouTube. I like the little Bud bottles with football helmets and the Go Daddy girl. But I’m sorry to hear that, for the first time, no American car companies will run spots. I guess if they did it would be like flying to a Congressional meeting in a private jet.

Finally, the Super Bowl is about ingesting a sumptuous fare of taste bud-assaulting, artery-clogging delights– so many types of foods which have no business co-existing on the same plates– which, once gone, continue to haunt stomachs and colons for the rest of the week. I hear heart attacks and other cardiac emergencies double in Munich, Germany when their soccer team plays in World Cup matches. It’s gotta be something like that with the Super Bowl (especially since it’s on Sunday). Bolting from the couch in excitement, nacho lodged in your throat, your team scoring the winning touchdown– that’s how I’d want to go.

Sadly, I won’t be able to share in the gastronomic orgy this year because I’m competing in my office’s Biggest Loser contest. The pot’s $1,100 and, subsisting on a carefully planned, meager diet and going to the gym three times a week, I’m hellbent on winning. I’ll probably nurse non-fat cottage cheese, tuna and grapefruit while the ambrosial 7-layer dip and Extreme Doritos get passed back and forth over my lap.

Yes, I will transgress on the Sabbath, but not on my diet.

In years past we’ve usually gone to others’ homes to watch the game; the women gravitating into the kitchen or a back bedroom to watch a Colin Firth movie, and the men spread out on sofas, La-Z-Boys and bean bag chairs making their own commentary on players, plays and coaches– spontaneously erupting when, on the field, something actually happens. Like I said, I’m not big on football and I usually have nothing to say about the actual game itself . Fact is, there’s a lot of things about football I don’t understand, and haven’t been interested enough to try. But I do get enough that I enjoy watching the battle, and there’s usually at least one other metrosexual guy in the room who’ll stay with me to watch the commercials while the others pile on more food and drain the sea monster.

This year we haven’t made any Super Bowl party plans as of this writing, and may very well stay home. That’ll be fine with the Mrs., and I wouldn’t mind it either. If an invitation does spring up, though, I’ll be all over it.

It is, after all, a very special event.

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Serenity Now!

January 15th, 2009 · 11 Comments

slow 

I hate slow.

Clumping through the ritual of waiting for others every day has etched deep, cankering grooves in my psyche. People insist on stepping in front of me only to walk at half my speed– sometimes less than half. How do they get anything done, practically loitering there in the path like they’re on a death march and trying to postpone the inevitable? Yes, you’re going to die. Have some decency, man, and don’t take me with you.

On the road, cars spontaneously slip in front of mine (no blinker required), only to proceed considerably slower than the speed I was enjoying just a moment before. You saw me coming, gauged my velocity– why are you inflicting such torment on me? Did I drown your puppy in a past life? There was no one behind me– why couldn’t you wait ’til I safely passed? And why one earth would anyone under 75 go 25 MPH in a 35 zone with no other traffic hindering them (okay, time’s up. pencils down)? They should be going 40. Get thee BEHIND me, you dogs!

And don’t get me started about buffet lines. You see the look of contempt you get if you try to pass one of those heavy thinkers? For heaven’s sake– take the peas, don’t take the peas! It isn’t like deciding whether to cut the red wire or the blue wire!

For the life of me, I don’t understand why there are countless scriptures extolling patience but hardly a peep about expedition.

“For the fast man is a friend to God. He getteth things done and has room to spare. He findeth his way and doth not tarry. He be quick to observe, quick to respond, quick to obey. God speed the right… God speed the right.”

I’m sure most– if not all– of these hapless minions are oblivious to their participation in Satan’s torture-by-dawdling campaign against me. They’re slow-witted innocents meandering around dreamily with lag-bombs duct-taped to them (armed with delayed triggers, of course), drifting in my direction.

In the meantime, I get to brush up on my patience skills.

And we’re walking… we’re walking…

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The Email Always Rings Twice

January 7th, 2009 · 14 Comments

curve

Coming into a new year, I find myself entangled in a new, extremely intense relationship. Cheesy though it may sound, it’s developed into a blistering love affair and I see no way out– not that I’d take it if you showed me the way. If you told me 6 months ago that I’d be caught in such a situation, I’d have scoffed. No way, not me. And yet, here I am… juggling dual lives.

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Looking at 2009: The Year Gay Rights Trump All?

January 5th, 2009 · 22 Comments

pink triangle 

If Barack Obama’s campaign rhetoric is put into law, 2009 will be the year homosexuality becomes a civil right.

During the campaign, Obama said the issue of gay rights “is about who we are as Americans.” On Change.gov under the heading “civil rights,” Obama promises legal protection for “gender identity” and “gender expression,” expansion of “hate crime” statutes and homosexual adoption rights, the repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and of the Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell rule for military service.

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Interoffice Memo

January 5th, 2009 · 21 Comments

memo

To All My Valued Employees:

There have been some rumblings around the office about the future of this company and, more specifically, your job. As you know, the economy has changed for the worse and presents many challenges. However, the good news is this: The economy doesn’t pose a threat to your job. What does threaten your job, however, is the changing political landscape in  this country.

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Adopt-a-Gentile Day

December 29th, 2008 · 15 Comments

gentile 

In sacrament meeting last Sunday our stake president surprised us with an announcement regarding our February ward conference:

We’re having an open house.

In light of all the tumultuous press the Church has gotten lately, our stake leadership feels prompted to have us invite non-member friends and neighbors to our 3-hour block. In the first hour we’ll have sacrament meeting as usual, probably with strategically-themed talks on what the Church is all about and hymns that drive home who we worship. In the second hour, instead of the normal Gospel Doctrine lesson, there’ll be refreshments in the cultural hall followed by an open, frank Q&A session in the chapel. Priesthood and RS will also be supplanted by further Q&A and who-knows-what-else. All wards in the stake are involved and our ward has been given the challenge to bring 100 non-members.

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Doug

December 22nd, 2008 · 12 Comments

stand by me 2 

When I was in the 7th-9th grade, I palled around with a  borderline delinquent named Doug.

Together we would sluff the Evergreen Jr. High spirit assemblies (opting instead to get breakfast at the Hungry Hermit on 33rd South) or take a cab downtown to grab some dinner and catch a midnight movie when our parents thought we were sleeping over at each other’s house. When we were 12, we’d dig in the bars’ trash bins around Salt Lake City looking for mini-bottles for our collections. When we were 14 we’d walk out of Jeans West in different clothes than what we walked in with.  I liked hanging around Doug ’cause he always had pocketfuls of cash (pilfered from his dad’s office safe) and it seemed we were always off on some exciting (albeit illicit) adventure. I guess that made me a borderline delinquent, too. We were just damn lucky we never got caught.

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