Saturday, March 29, 2008

What is Deep Religion?

This is a great article from Orson Scott Card. It addresses how deep our belief systems really run. He starts with:
I'VE LONG BEEN amused and perplexed by parents who proudly announce that they are not going to "force" their religion on their children. "We'll let them decide for themselves when they grow up," they say.
and continues later with:
And if you somehow manage to separate your children's upbringing from your deep religion, all that will mean is you have raised your children at such distance from yourself that they do not know you. What have you accomplished then, except to make your children spiritual orphans from the start?
Part of what he says is that those who really know what they believe deep down are able to live transformed lives.

No wonder conversion is so difficult, both within yourself and as a missionary trying to share the gospel with everyone else. Each of us must find out what lies at our very core. That is why personal conversion is so vital (especially for missionaries). How can we influence other people without knowing for ourselves?

Joseph Smith said in a letter from Liberty Jail:
The things of God are of deep import. And time, and experience and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man, if thou wilt lead a soul to salvation must stretch as high as the utmost heaven and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss and the broad expanse of eternities. Thou must commune with God. (TPJS 137)
Only when we have experienced communion with God will we have any ability to share that with someone else.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Marriage Is Becoming Unfashionable

This is what has me worried. Marriage is on the decline in England, and the US can't be far behind. Financial stability, the quality of children's eduacation, and so many other things are on the line. The artile points out:
There are the obvious, proven, statistical advantages of marriage - you live longer, you're healthier, your children are better educated and happier - but the real benefit runs deeper. It demonstrates we can make binding commitments.
The ability to make and keep promises is the core of the Gospel, and if these promises are not made, the self destruction of society is sure to follow. My favorite quote applies:
...we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
(h/t NRO)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Truly Epic

I would like to place special emphasis on this article from Michael Yon. My favorite line: After al Qaeda detonated two large bombs in Kurdish towns in the Nineveh province...
...the attacks were not over. Yezidi men grabbed their rifles, and while two more truck bombs rumbled toward Qahtaniya and Jazeera, a hail of Yezidi bullets met them. The defenders who fired the bullets were killed with honor while standing between evil and their people. Two other truck bombs detonated on the outskirts of the villages.
I greatly value the view from people who have been on the ground in Iraq. Michael Yon has done yeoman's work to get the full story of Iraq out, both the good and the bad. It is tragic that we know so little of the valor of American, British, and Iraqi soldiers in Iraq.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter

I thought I would pass on this terrific new video from the Church. I don't know how to embed it, so here is the link:
As interesting as writing about the political landscape can be, it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. The Gospel of Jesus Christ trumps all else. One day, all that we see around us will decay. The one bright hope we have is Jesus Christ.

Joseph Smith described salvation as "nothing more nor less than to triumph over all our enemies and put them under our feet" (TPJS 297). Today, we celebrate the day the the last enemy was conquered. To live after we have died is impossible. But that is the point. Jesus Christ has guaranteed that each of us will live after we have died.

Just as the garden tomb is now empty, every grave will empty.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Genius, Sheer Genius

This article is perfect. My favorite line:
...we in the United States get from day to day under rather wonderful and privileged circumstances— ...we are not and never have been the villains that some of the world and some of our citizens make us out to be, but ...we are a confection of normal (greedy, lustful, duplicitous, corrupt, inspired—in short, human) individuals living under a spectacularly effective compact called the Constitution, and lucky to get it.
(H/T Jay Nordlinger at NRO)

Friday, March 21, 2008

This is comforting

blog readability test
At least my education level matches the reading level of my blog.

John Dingell and Taxes

I just heard that John Dingell, Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, wants to raise gas taxes by $0.50 per gallon. Dingell has been in the House for longer than anyone else and has considerable power on Capitol Hill. That just proves that Democrats have no interest in lowering gas prices. Instead, they are using taxes to control behavior.

I don't buy the whole global warming thing. Puny man does not have power to change the weather patterns of the planet. Nevertheless, I want a more fuel efficient society for other reasons. I see national security reasons for lower oil imports. I would love to send less money sent to the Middle East.

Even though I don't believe in global warming, I think being good stewards of God's creations requires us to take care of the planet. The biggest threat to the environment is that industries will leave the United States for more friendly regulatory regimes. If an industry leaves the US for the third world, China, or India, the lower emission standards in those countries will resuld in a net decrease in the quality of the environment.

If industries stay in the US, they will benefit from higher US productivity. By staying in the US, innovation will follow faster to increase energy efficiency and the environment will improve. As the technology is developed to improve emissions, it can be passed to the developing countries to allow for their faster and cleaner growth.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

This is Glorious

Wierd. Just Wierd.

Red Army Choir and Lenningrad Cowboys sing Sweet Home Alabama.
(h/t NRO)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Personal Dilemma

I can't believe that BYU will play Texas A&M in the first round of the NCAA tournament. I have no idea who I will cheer for. I think BYU will win. Perhaps that is where my allegiance lies. I have seen BYU play some great games this year. The only A&M game I saw in person was pitiful. We'll see.

Hey, at least one of my teams will make it past round one. Then there's UCLA in round two...

Saturday, March 08, 2008

DC, Here I Come

I have a class for my MBA program in Washington DC all next week. I will be staying about a half mile from the White House. I will be learning more about the realtionship between business and government policy. Detail about the Washington Campus program are here.

Friday, March 07, 2008

A Clarification In Defense of Marriage

I had a thoughtful response to some previous posts. I was going to answer in the comments section, but it ended up too long. I am glad I was asked to elaborate. Sometimes when I write, I know what is in my head and don't realize that I am not being very clear. Dennis said:
For one, I wonder whether economic incentives should motivate people to marry? If people are not willing to marry without government incentives, then I think they shouldn't be marrying at all. Giving marriage incentives for people who otherwise wouldn't marry does little to defend what marriage ought to be.
One problem is that people let economic incentives prevent them from getting married. My thinking was influenced by an article in NRO from back in 2004 (see here). The fraud that is described in that article (a fake marriage) would place huge financial burdens on the military and other groups that provide benefits to couples. The end result would be that no one would get couples benefits. People should not get married just for the benefits, but if marriage doesn't mean anything, it will practically vanish.

Again, I should be more clear. It is not the government's job to promote marriage per se, but there are lots of things in public policy which disincentivize marriage. For example, welfare policy sought to help single mothers by providing benefits for each child they have. I laud the idea of helping single mothers, but then some women would have more kids just to increase their benefits.

Not all marriages result in children, but the main purpose of defending marriage is to protect the most formative years of children's lives. Many studies show that no matter the race, children in single parent homes have higer risk of crime, drugs, and prison. It would be good to ask: What role should government have in defending marriage? Job one would be to not cheapen the institution.

So, how does all this tie together? In my mind, the looser the definition of marriage, the less likely people are to actually get married. The potential for gay marriage is only part of the issue (and probably only a small part). No-fault divorce is arguably a much larger problem. Everyone throws around the statistic that half of marriages end in divorce. That harms far more children than would ever be directly affected by gay marriage.

Admittedly, Obama has said some good things about fathers in the home. That is one reason I was willing to give him a very long look. I will stand with anyone who will fight to put fathers back in America's homes. But, I believe Obama's stand on civil unions undermines the end result he claims to want.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Obama Just Lost My Vote

I have been concerned with several of Obama's statements over the last few weeks, but was willing to hear him out to judge the whole package. Obama is wrong on the one issue I am not willing to negotiate on:
As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws. I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment. But I also believe that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples — whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union, or a civil marriage. Unlike Senator Clinton, I support the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) – a position I have held since before arriving in the U.S. Senate. While some say we should repeal only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether. Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does. I have also called for us to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and I have worked to improve the Uniting American Families Act so we can afford same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married couples in our immigration system.
I am personally convinced that society has a vested interest in the health of marriage as an institution. So many of the problems I have seen, both in Philadelphia and from studies I have read, are traceable to a lack of fathers in the home. Gay marriage undermines all the incentives society can give to heterosexual couples. It opens the whole system to gaming: people will fake gay marriage just for the benefits, thereby eliminating all benefits to everyone.
(h/t EFM)

I Voted Today

I have thought long and hard about who to vote for. I have looked at Obama, and am less sure about him the more I hear him and his wife campaign. Clinton is a leftover from the decade of corruption that gave us White House scandals, Enron, and the stock bubble. I still don't like McCain. Huckabee reminds me of a snake oil salesman.

I decided to vote my heart; I voted for Mitt Romney. I have been a Romney fan for years and would not let a minor technicality like his withdrawal from the race prevent me from voting for him. It is a shame my vote comes too late to make a real difference.

I have heard some ideas about influencing the Democrat race by crossing over, but that feels dirty.