The family trip was great: Lots of sun (no rain), non-stop pampering by the staff, good food, snorkeling, laying by the pool, whale watching, swimming with turtles and no sunburn. I also managed to write a book review for a romantic comedy, Beginner’s Greek (which I highly recommend to fans of stories like Philadelphia Story & Sabrina). All in all, a perfect vacation if you discount the screaming kids we sat next to on the flights in and out.
One of the things I did in Maui (as is my habit while on vacation) was visit a bookstore, in this case a Borders. As I was getting acclimated, I stumbled into the hugest Self-Help section I’d ever seen. Two things struck me: The Self-Help book section has really grown since I last walked through it and, how much self-help could you possibly need in Maui? I’m not a fan of the self-help section. It reminds me of psychics, gurus and love-o-meters. Too many faddish methods to take care of very serious problems. Call me bourgeois, I particularly take exception to members of the Church who feel the need to slum in this “I’m-OK-You’re-OK” massage parlor. It reminded me of something Joseph Smith said in Lesson 2 of the Priesthood/RS manual:
“If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.”
This whole section of Lesson 2 had some pretty deep stuff– I really dug it.
“There are but a very few beings in the world who understand rightly the character of God. The great majority of mankind do not comprehend anything, either that which is past, or that which is to come, as it respects their relationship to God. They do not know, neither do they understand the nature of that relationship; and consequently they know but little above the brute beast, or more than to eat, drink and sleep. This is all man knows about God or His existence, unless it is given by the inspiration of the Almighty.”
And if they don’t understand God, they don’t understand themselves, which explains why they keep churning out piles of self-help books (and shows, and seminars, and rituals), none of which has a lasting effect. I know a lot of people who collect self-help paraphernalia like Grampa collects belly button lint, and I’m sure you do, too. Poor sods… they really need help.
On a different note, as I was perusing my complimentary copy of The Maui News (“Maui’s newspaper since 1900!”) last week, I was disappointed to see Mitt backing McCain “to unify the party.” It’s clear they don’t like each other and clearer to me I don’t want getting stuck with a bill of goods, so I’m again looking at Obama. No, I’m not fixed on backing him either, I’m just…looking. He said something at the L.A. Democratic debate last month that made me think he wasn’t a total bonehead. When asked what to do about the sex and violence in Hollywood entertainment, he said, “The primary responsibility is for parents, and I reject the notion of censorship as an approach to dealing with this problem.” No surprise, he got big cheers– this is Los Angeles, after all. But then, he followed up with something that surprised me– and a lot of others, I suspect. He said he has two young daughters who, right now, “mostly are watching Nickelodeon, but they know how to work a remote… and I do think that it is important for us to make sure that we are giving parents the tools that they need in order to monitor what their children are watching…not just what’s coming over the airwaves, but what’s coming over the Internet.” He continued, “I don’t mean to be insulting here, but… it is important for those in the industry to show some thought about who they are marketing some of these programs to. I’m concerned about sex, but I’m also concerned about some of the violent slasher-horror films that come out. I don’t want my 6-year-old or 9-year-old seeing that trailer while she’s watching American Idol.”
Okay, sure, it doesn’t exactly belong in Great Speeches of American Statesmen, but just articulating such common sense that could simultaneously shut up First Amendment absolutists and far-right-wing rejectionists gives hope a little resuscitation. Just a slight twitch on the barometer (Obamater?). It’s telling Hollywood “I’m on your side, now clean up your act” while supporting all the red-blooded Americans (myself included) who want the right to watch any entertainment they damn well please, but don’t want inappropriate material shoved in their kids’ faces, especially during family shows (when the Victoria’s Secret commercials come on during Idol, Miss D. is covering my eyes).
Finally, I took D to The Spiderwick Chronicles for a President’s Day daddy-daughter outing. Let me just say right off, I don’t claim to be a fine connoisseur of film– I like what I like and I don’t what I don’t– but I was surprised how much I enjoyed this movie. When my precocious 11-year-old and I sat in a theater full of under-10 booger-pickers, I thought, Oh great! It’s gonna be goth Veggie Tales! But, oh contraire, it turned out to be a surprising pleasure: Just scary enough to have, at times, Miss D’s face in my chest and well-told enough to make me actually say out loud, “This is good.” Nice cast, too, always a plus.
You know, if Joseph Smith’s words fall flat on those seeking answers, I’ll bet Victoria’s Secret could come up with one darn good self-help book.