Thursday, November 30, 2006

Eternal Life

We recently visited St. George to visit Dawn Ann's parents, and her Sister Tina. While there, I wanted to continue my quest of photographing LDS Temples. I have never actually been inside the St. George Temple. But that will change in February, when here Nephew, Neil, will be married there.

We were fortunate to get there in the late afternoon, and found that the cloud patterns overhead provided wonderful leading lines toward the temple.

Bryan and I returned there one evening for some nighttime photos. Once again I used my mini-tripod. I had Bryan set the self-timer on the camera. I would like to get him involved in photography, if possible. It is something that we could both enjoy together. We'll see how it works out. You can see more of our St. George Temple Photos here.

I wanted show some of these photos because I have been thinking about our own mortality, especially in light of the passing of Lt. Scott Lundell in Afghanistan.

Even though there is great loss, there is also great hope. Temples symbolize that hope, which comes to us through Christ's redemption from the dead. Covenants once made in temples, and then kept throughout life, will result in eternal relationships with our loved ones. Through Christ, we will all be resurrected. Death will be deprived of its temporary victory.

In time, death will come to each of us. Some will live to a ripe old age. Others of us will be called home sooner -- and even sometimes at inopportune times. However, death is a temporary separation. Eventually we will join our loved ones in the Spirit World, and together there await the glorious resurrection day.

These beautiful temples inspire me to think of things eternal. The cares and worries of our day-to-day struggles melt away, as I consider life from an eternal perspective. They stand as reminders of what is truly important, and bolster our faith in Christ, and help us trust in His promises to us.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Farewell To Someone I Know

(Update: Here is the Obituary from the Deseret News. )

The War on Terror has taken another life. This time, it hits me in a more personal way. For the first time, in the last 5 years, someone I have known personally has died while serving our nation.

Lt. Scott B. Lundell was killed last Saturday in Afghanistan. He was there helping to train the Afghan Army, and was a member of the Utah National Guard.

He joined the National Guard in 2004, after the War On Terror Began. He knew what the risks might be. Yet he loved America, and wanted to serve his country.

Like so many members of our military, he had so much to offer. He was college educated. In high school, he lettered on the football team. As a senior, he served as student body president. He served a mission in the Philippines for the LDS church. Later he would marry his high school sweetheart.

Like so many of his fellows, he was of the best and brightest that America has to offer. It really makes me upset to hear politicians, like John Kerry and Charles Rangel characterize the military as made up of individuals who had no other option but to join the military. Scott, like so many others, had every opportunity in the world, yet he chose to put it all on the line -- for us!

I knew Scott, and his family because their family lived about 3 houses away from my family as I was growing up. Scott came from a large family, eight children, if memory serves. I remember when Scott was born. We used to call him "Baby Scott". His mother, Margaret, used to watch my younger brother and sister after school until my dad would come home from work.

Later, Scott's dad, Norm, would become my Bishop when I was a youth. Norm was my Bishop when I left for my mission to Canada. Norm taught English at Cyprus High School, in the Salt Lake Valley, and for a time, I too, wanted to be a high school English teacher.

I last saw Scott about 6 or7 years ago. We were both attending a technical conference in Salt Lake City on a computer programming language. I remember saying hello to him, and visiting for a few minutes on a break from the seminar.

Now Scott leaves behind a wife, and four young children, all under the age of 10. Things will never be the same for them. Oh, they will have the support of family and friends, the church, the military, and even the community at large. I know they will have my thoughts and prayers, and the prayers of many others as well. But the reality is, that life will never be the same for them. Scott's wife now has the burden of caring for, and providing for her small children on her own. There are four children who will now grow up fatherless -- some of whom will scarcely be able to remember their father. This crisis will be the crucible of their lives. It will shape them from here on out. My hope and prayer is that the Lord will watch over and bless this young family. May he protect and keep them. May they safely return one day to be rejoined with their dad and husband, in our Father's Kingdom.

Scott's dad, Norm, passed away several years ago. I'm sure Norm was there to greet his hero son. I'm glad there is someone there on the other side to be with Scott.

I can think of no better tribute for Scott than this: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Last-Second Play: BYU Beats Utah

OK. Now I've really found the joys of YouTube. I can preserve the great BYU win over Utah into perpetuity.

On Saturday, we were outside getting things ready for winter during the big game. Bryan and Amy were on the roof putting up the Christmas lights, and I was out front pruning the rose bushes. I listend to much of the game on my headset radio. About half-way through the 4th quarter, I just couldn't take it anymore. BYU was playing poorly. I shut off my radio (in disgust!) and took off the headset.

Meanwhile, Bryan had finished putting up the lights, and I was still chopping up rose bush branhes.

Suddenly Bryan comes running out of the house and says "BYU Won! BYU Won!"

My first thought was -- no way! Not those losers! They way they were playing, they were going down to defeat for sure!

So I dropped my pruners and came running into the house. When I got to the TV, the refs were still confering after the touchdown was scored. Then I saw this replay.

A perfect ending for a great season of BYU football. Even though my faith was weak, I'm glad the Cougars pulled it out.

Thanks to YouTube, I can relive the memory over and over again.

Now onto the next foe. It appears that BYU may be paired against Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl. There they will the evil Sith-lord Gary Crowton, who has gone over to the dark side.
World's Worst Burglar

I ran accross this video today. I have to say it made be laugh out loud. All I can say is -- "Thanks, I needed that!"

This guy nearly qualifies for a Darwin Award.

So if you could use a good laugh, enjoy the video.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Family History - United Brethren

Photo of Benbow Pond

I have been collecting personal histories of some of my ancestors. Two of the ancestors I have been researching are John Perry, and his wife Grace Ann Williams.

In the Spring of 1840, they lived in Herefordshire, England, and were members of a sect called the United Brethren. They had separated themselves from the Wesleyan Methodists, and had been praying for more truth and light regarding the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Wilford Woodruff, who was a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles was serving a mission in England at the time. He felt directed by the Spirit to go to this region and to preach the Gospel, where he came to the farm of John Benbow, and made the acquaintance of the United Brethren. Three days later, John Perry was Baptized in the pond on the Benbow farm. By the following August, more than 600 people had joined the Church who were members of the United Brethren. Of all their members, there was only one who did not eventually join the church.

I have posted histories of John Perry and Grace Ann Williams on my Family History Blog. I also have posted excerpts from Wilford Woodruff's journal regarding his experiences with the United Brethren.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A Lump Of Coal

Well, my political Christmas Came and went. I had hoped that a late breaking trend toward Republicans would stave off the Democratic tide. However that didn't happen. As it turned out, all I got was a lump of coal.

Come January, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid will be leaders of the House and Senate. With this victory, the Demos will have actually stand for something now, instead of just being anti-Bush.

Obviously, the American people were very dissatisfied with the war in Iraq. While they may have supported our going into Iraq in the first place, they are tiring of the way the battle has been waged. The constant daily attacks in the Mainstream Media have taken their toll. The President will now have to consider some new strategies in Iraq. I'm not saying he will give up, and cut and run, but they may need to shift how the battle is being waged. Perhaps even additional troops are needed to get the job done. I hope he doesn't just give in to the Democrats.

Essentially the Republican controlled congress has blown a great opportunity the last 4 years to get things done. It had been nearly 50 years since there had been a Republican President, Republican House, and Republican Senate. They frittered away their chances to get things done. So much was left on the table. Meaningful immigration reform. A real energy policy. Social Security Reform. Making the Tax cuts permanent.

Of course, the rules of the Senate didn't help much. You basically have to have 60 votes to get anything through. Tom Daschelle and Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate Minority Leaders, did their best to obstruct at every turn.

Then there were the Republican obstructionists, John McCain being chief among them.
There was the opportunity to use the "Constitutional Option", to eliminate the shameful and unprecedented use of the filibuster to prevent judicial nominees from getting a vote on the Senate floor. But McCain and his Gang of 14 obstructed that maneuver, throwing several judicial nominees to federal appellate courts under the bus in the process.

Then again, there were some bills that were passed that needed osbtructing. Like the so called "Campaign Finance Reform Bill", co-authored by our pal John McCain, Thehuge farm subsidy bill, the Medicare Prescription entitlement, and elements of the No Child Left Behind Bill.

Now congressional Republicans are paying the price for their ineffectiveness. Unfortunately America will now pay a price too. The prospects of getting much done legislatively in the next two years are slim. Both sides will be mired in positioning for the 2008 presidential election .

Frankly, I am not comforted by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi's assurances that they want to work together in a bipartisan manner. To them, bipartisan means having it their way. Anything less than caving in to their demands is considered being "divisive".

Let's hope President Bush will find his long-lost veto pen. He's going to need it.

I hope my "real" Christmas turns out better than this one!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Its Election Eve!

Can you name all of these people?
If so - you might be a Political Junkie!

Its election eve. For me it is more like Christmas Eve!

You never know what the political Santa Claus will bring you.

Instead of opening your presents early in the morning, you start opening them at 5:00 pm MST. That's when the polls close in Indiana and Virginia. When the polls close in a state, then the exit polls that have been compiled throughout the day are released for that state. As it happens this year, Virginia is home to a hotly contested senate race (Allen Vs. Webb) and Indiana is host to 4 congressional districts (#'s 2, 7, 8 & 9) that are up for grabs.

At 5:30 pm the Ohio Polls close, with another incumbent Republican Senator (Mike DeWine) fighting for political survival.

At 6:00 many of the remaining Eastern Time Zone States will close their polls. It is at this point in the evening that we will start to get an idea of just how the cookie is crumbling. Of course, we are still only dealing with exit poll numbers thus far. It will take a couple of more hours for the real votes to be counted. Exit polls have been notoriously wrong during the last few elections. Usually they are skewed to the left -- that is in favor of the Democrats. There was a point early on election night in 2004 when all the exit polls were indicating a John Kerry win. There was much fist pounding and head banging until the real numbers came in.

In the East there are key Senate races in PA, NJ, MD, RI, and TN.

At 7:00 most of the Central Time Zone, and some of the Mountain time zone Polls close. There are several heated contests in the mid-west this year. Senate races of interest are in the Talent-McCaskill race in MO, and the Kennedy-Klobuchar contest in MN.

At 8:00 most of the Mountain Time Zone states close their polls. The most heated Senate race in the Mountain time zone this year is in Montana, with the Burns-Tester race.

At 9:00 the Pacific Time zone polls close, along with Hawaii. Not many house or Senate seats appear to be in danger of changing party affiliation in this region.

Finally, at 10:00 MST, Alaska Closes its polls.

Usually by 10-11:00 pm here in Utah, we know how things are going to turn out. The big exception of course was in the year 2000 when we had to wait 36 days to find out the election result. (Thanks to the Grinch (Al Gore) who stole Christmas that year!)

The polls would indicate that the Republicans are about to take a beating. By all indications, it appears that the Senate will be controlled by one or two votes (either way) and that the House will be in Nancy Pelosi's hands (Doh!) by this time tomorrow night.

If I had to pick one or the other for the Republicans to hold on to, it would be the Senate. The reason is because they are the ones who confirm the judges. It is likely that there will be another Supreme Court nominee during President Bush's last two years. Having a Republican controlled Senate will be crucial to getting his judicial nominees confirmed. One more conservative Supreme Court Justice would go a long way toward preventing a takeover of liberal values by Judicial fiat.

On the bright side, there has been a recent surge in the polls towards the Republicans, but will it be too little, too late. I guess we'll find out soon!

OK. I admit it. I'm a Political Junkie. I took this quiz today, and scored 10 of out 10. Not only a junkie, but a political geek as well.

I can't help it. Its in my genes. It's Grandpa Hatch's fault. He was the county republican chairman when I was in my youth. I got to tag along with him to political conventions and got all kinds of cool pins and bumper stickers. The best thing was the time I got to shake the hand of Ronald Reagan, at the State Republican Convention, when he ran for president in 1976. (My touch with greatness!)

I've always held a keen interest in politics and current events. I care about the course of events in our time, and about our nation's future. I don't want to see us turn in a direction that will cause irreparable harm in the future (Iranian nukes, giving in to Al-Qaida, etc.)

So take the quiz, see how you do. Try to get home early to watch the election returns. Pop a batch of popcorn and watch those numbers roll in. Cheer for your favorite team. And may the best team win!

If you can't stand to listen to the network TV pundits, you might want to listen Hugh Hewitt. Hugh will give you the returns from a cheerily Republican point of view, if that's what you want to hear. If you want to hear things from the perspective of the left, then any network TV station should do just fine, since they'll be presenting the election returns from a cheerily Democratic point of view. Hugh will be broadcasting until late into the evening. Unfortunately we can't get him on the air here in Utah, but you can listen to him on the Internet here.

The Truth Laid Bear and Real Clear Politics will be good places on the Internet to check the political "scoreboard" as the evening progresses.

Oh, and one final thing: Merry Electoral Christmas everyone! And to all a Good Night!