Tuesday, September 23, 2014


One of my dreams, as a younger man, was to become a basketball player.  There is a beauty to the game that appeals to me and I loved the competition and comradery I experienced on the floor.  But, alas, I was never very good so my efforts were limited to church-ball and pickup games.

Not my team but they look great.

Today I find that my love for the game has diminished considerably.  Part is my inability to participate with any real consistency.  Yet, I don’t feel the same loss for baseball (another beloved game) so it must be something else.  If I were to guess, I suspect the state of the game has turned me off and driven me away.

NBA, college, and to some extent high school teams have lost the idea of team.  Instead of highlighting the combined efforts necessary to be successful, basketball has become a forum for idolizing individuals.

One of the greatest BUT also one of the most selfish.

Everyone loves Kobe and LeBron because they are such marvelous talents (and they are), but how successful would they be if they didn’t have teammates to get them the ball?

I know, life and basketball are different but I think principles of truth still exist – and one I will not relinquish is the principle of TEAM.

I spent a lot of time with my boys on one of these.

In my mind, the great players of the game were those who invited all to come in and play AND helped them become the best they could be.  Players like John Stockton, Tim Duncan, Bill Walton, and Chris Paul work/worked tirelessly to hone their talents.  The difference between these players and those above (and others) is they intentionally included everyone on the team in the effort to win.  Yes, they were stars, but it was not beneath them to allow others to have success as well.

I’ve been considering the same principles in the lives of people like you and me.

There is a tendency for many of us to reach for ‘stardom’ and, if not intentionally then at least subliminally, we try to push others down in our quest for heights.  It seems more glamorous to have name recognition and the attendant excitement.  But when we look carefully, most of the glamour and hype are short-lived and usually leave us with the bruises and scars that come from selfishness.

It takes a strong person to see the limelight and know they could bask there-in but recognize their abilities are needed for another, less ‘glorious’, purpose.

Joseph Smith Jr.
One such man (a hero of mine) was the brother of Joseph Smith.  Hyrum, the older brother of Joseph, was a capable, talented, dedicated brother who had everything that would make a man popular in his day.  He was handsome, strong, gentle, spiritual, and thoughtful – but he was also very humble.

In later years, there were many who thought Hyrum looked and acted more like a prophet than his brother.  After all, Joseph was known to challenge grown men to wrestling matches (not WWE type) or play baseball or run races with the young boys of the town.  Hyrum, on the other hand, was more inclined to follow the rules of proper adult decorum.

And that’s the rub.  Hyrum was good for Joseph. 

Here was a brother/counselor who could be trusted and whom Joseph knew would always provide good counsel, unfettered by frivolity and light-mindedness.  The Lord even expounded on Hyrum’s attributes and outlined several characteristics that set him apart from other people of his time (see D&C 11):

Hyrum Smith the assist king
1.    He had an honest heart
2.    His judgment was righteous
3.    He had the spirit of revelation (means he could listen to God)
4.    He was loyal to those he loved

In other words, Hyrum was a great set-up man for the Prophet and was in a place where he could assist with the coming forth of the work.

Never – not once in all the years they worked together in the Restoration – did Hyrum rebel or speak against his beloved brother.  Others abandoned the work (even some of their family) and many turned violent against them, but these two brothers were loyal and faithful until the very end.

And the assist always went to Hyrum.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


In light of my last post, certain events have interested me and require (well, at least in my own mind) a comment.  The intent is not to persecute but to identify.

Many may be aware of the Ray Rice fiasco that has blown up on the NFL.  For those who don’t, let me summarize.

Ray Rice is a big man who plays professional football.  He has a significant other (not really sure of their relationship now) whom he claims to care for and wishes to protect.  One evening, in a casino, he decided it was his duty to protect her by ‘clocking’ her in an elevator (for those who don’t know the term, ‘clocking’ is a euphemism for striking someone with great force and knocking them out).

The NFL determined said actions were “naughty” and required him to sit out two games. 

Our justice system decided that he was sorry so they took no action. 

All was well for a time.

Recently a video was released showing Mr. Rice in action with his friend/acquaintance/significant other.  He definitely ‘clocked’ her. 

It was horrific.

Anyone who saw the video was appalled…

Suddenly the NFL was disturbed by the actions of one-of-its-own and determined to take stronger action.

My first question is this:

Did they really just realize the severity of Mr. Rice’s actions?  The fact that they knew she was out cold (so cold that Mr. Rice had to carry her out of the elevator and to their room) should have given them some indication.  Video evidence was not really needed to understand what had happened – but until that evidence was “available” the League pretended the action wasn’t all that bad. 

Now Mr. Rice is out of a job and may face other charges.

This ISN’T what I meant when I called my last post Men vs. Women.

I was raised in a family where it was verboten to strike a girl or woman at any time.  My dad taught me that if a girl/woman felt the need to hit me or use physical force on me, my only options were to cover up or run.

My sons were taught the same.

Of course, we also taught our daughter that she shouldn’t hit boys unless they were being ‘naughty.’

My point for this follow-up is to express disappointment in the actions some take towards women.  I am not sexist but I firmly believe it is the responsibility of men to protect women and see that they are cared for in the best manner possible.  Rice was a bully and an aggressor against a smaller and less-able person…..who also happened to be a woman. 

But Rice is not the only one who has performed badly.  The actions of Rice’s employer were nearly as egregious.  The ‘penalties’ the NFL imposed initially were perceived by many (including myself) to be inadequate for the seriousness of the offense.  I guess the money a man can bring to a team is more important than the moral indignation needed to cry out against abuse.

The thought of striking a woman in anger is revolting to me and makes me ill.  The video of the above offense was almost more than I could handle.  If this is where our world is heading, we really are in the last-days.

Let me balance my nausea with a report on what else I see in the world around me.

There are three sons and one son-in-law in our family who are gentle and tender with the women they have committed to love for eternity.  It is impossible to imagine any of the four ever using physical force to control their beloved.  I believe it would break the heart of any one of them to use any form of violence against their spouse.  These are good men and have taken to heart the Savior’s words concerning their relationships with women.  I am PROUD (yes, I know it is a sin, but I am) of whom they have become and how they are teaching their own sons to treat women and girls.
There are more like my sons out there in the world (btw, I am confident my youngest will continue to be a gentleman as he looks for the right young lady to marry).  I like to believe there are more on the good side of this issue than on the other.

Ray Rice may be a wonderful football player, but at this point in his life he is a lousy man!!!

I hope he can change.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


There is a myth that says men need to be changed and women are the ones who can do it.

OK, it’s not a myth, but it also not the full story.  There are innumerable reasons why men progress the way they do while in mortality.  But there are an equal number of ‘whys’ for what guides women to become what they are.

The forces that move us to be our best are gender related.  YES, men and women think differently and feel differently about almost everything.  Gender attributes are essential for the world to work and yet many struggle with these differences.

Gender attributes have been a topic of mockery for – well, forever.

Take, for example, the Victorian image of a woman’s place.  Women were considered too weak and feeble minded to know how to care for themselves or make decisions that might affect their welfare. Many felt that without a “big strong man” to guide her, a woman would be engulfed in the flood of hard choices surrounding her and destroyed.  Or if she did try to fend for herself, she was not really considered a woman – just a female trying to be a man.

In recent years the tide has turned towards highlighting the dents in the male armor.

Currently, the male gender is portrayed as bumbling, ignorant, selfish, desire focused, and lazy (Homer Simpson?).  Because he is such a flawed creature, women have determined that they don’t need ‘one’ and can do just fine on their own.  Or if they do decide to marry/cohabitate, it is only so they can satisfy some urge for companionship, parenthood, or support.  The result is a culture where men can be friends but not really equals with the female sex.

What happened? 

How did we let the relationship between such complementary individuals become so distorted and messed up?

I suppose there are many reasons and I won’t try to delineate all of them in this essay. What I will do is mention something that I have considered for some time and feel can help the chasm to be bridged.

The differences between men and women are not accidental.  Each is ‘wired’ in ways that help them fulfill their specific roles in the world.

Men are generally imbued with a desire to work, protect, and support those they love.  It is in their nature to stand guard over families and make sure they have the necessary things to prolong life and happiness.

In most cases, women have an innate desire to comfort, teach, and protect those in their care – and often even those who aren’t.  They seem to have more patience with the little things and can often see beyond the immediate circumstances.

These are generalizations – but also truths if you look closely enough.  Yet, there always seems to be a need, by some, to ridicule and demean these essential differences.

If you are still with me and haven’t labeled me as a misogynist or an idiot, I will continue.

The crux of the matter points to what happens when we overemphasize or under-utilize the differences between males and females.  Men begin to think they only need women for sexual or entertainment purposes and push away the natural desire to find a permanent mate.  Women become frustrated with ‘manhood’ as it is portrayed (and often practiced) so they venture out on their own, trying to meet the needs of womanhood by other means.  The end result is a society that values neither men nor women and makes a mockery of the eternal nature of both.

It was never meant for the genders to battle between themselves for the crown of leadership.  The test for both genders comes down to honoring the differences and melding them into a synergistic whole, much stronger and greater than an individual could hope to become.  Men were meant to love, honor, and care for women and women were meant to love, honor, and work side-by-side with men for the everlasting benefit of each other, family, and the world.  The loss of these values has been a great hindrance to the growth of peace in the world and happiness in the home.

Having said all the above, I do have a solution that should work

It is so simple that it will not be a surprise to anyone.

In the words of a great man…..


To eliminate the battle between men and women, both parties have to stop being selfish.  Stop expecting something from the other gender not being given by their own.  Things like faithfulness, respect, fidelity, exclusivity, LOVE, time, more respect, attention, consideration, and who knows how many others.

Stop with the selfishness.

Stop with the lustfulness.

Stop with…… you fill in the blank.

When we, as humans and mortals of different genders sincerely make an effort to change, there will be a transition from the current state of things to something more acceptable to our senses and desires.

And it will make our God much happier.

Watch and see.