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A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

How can I put into words the feelings and thoughts that A Thousand Splendid Suns has evoked in me? This is the story of Miraim and Laila, and the lives they lived in Afghanistan. They had very different upbringings. Miriam was shunned for being a bastard child, living a bitter and isolated life, adoring her father who visited her but would not recognize her in public. Laila was the daughter of a middle class Kabul couple. She was born a few houses away from Miram's home years after her arranged marriage to an abusive man. The Soviet invasion, warlords conflicts, Taliban and eventually American freedom impacted the lives of these women. Without spoiling the story this book highlights the cruelty that Afghan women suffer, the strength they have to have to survive, and the healing power of love in their lives. The story dissolved me to tears several times. Make sure you have a few kleenex nearby and a corner to go to to cry out loud in the second half of this story.
Mr. Hosseini describes life and scenery in Afghanistan with great power. I learned more from this book about the lives of Afghans here than in any other book, and it displays the cruelty that women in this culture suffer. After reading A Thousand Splendid Suns knowing that this was not an unrealistic tale, I am profoundly grateful for the blessings I have and also ashamed of my ingratitude to God for these blessings.


Singing Silly LDS Missionaries!

LDS missionaries are young men around 19 to 21 years old. They are sincere and earnest in their missionary world but still sometimes just goofy silly lovable boys too!

The Official Paranoia Trap

I spent all morning reading news and watching video of the women in Texas who have had their children taken from them. These women are in a trap.
There are three video's that show three women (six total) at the Texas ranch being interviewed. They are pleasant, respectful, quiet, and somewhat shy. They told about the police coming and taking their children away. One woman talked tearfully about her handicapped son, almost 5 years old, who the police would not let her take care of or stay with. The boy was just learning to talk. The stories were heartbreaking.
But what is so apparent after this mornings reading and watching is that these women are trapped. The news articles all make charges that are not substantiated. The phone call that prompted the raid on this home has been exposed to be from Colorado (she claimed to be at the ranch in the call) and from a girl no one can find or even say who she is. The man she names is not know on this ranch, another man with that name who is a sex offender has not been in Texas for decades. This phone call is looking like a hoax and possibly a malicious one that the police were only too eager to act on.
Another thing that is disturbing is that over 400 children have been ripped from their homes and parents on nothing more than rumor and official paranoia. The authorities "think" something might be taught in this religion. They "feel" like there is coercion going on. The worst thing is that all the residents, women and children who are denying this are only feeding that paranoia. They are talking and acting like the mere fact that they can't get a confession or accusation is proof that abuse is happening. They are acting on pure suspicion and paranoia with NO facts to prove that there is any danger for these families. I have not been able to find ONE news story that says there is a single piece of evidence for this action -except that one phone call. (Which they now pretty much know was a prank).
In fact the story about the ominous "bed" in the temple where underage girls are "forced" to consummate marriages is based on paranoia. Turns out it is a place for leaders to nap during long temple sessions! Are there any "beds" or (oh no!) "couches" in our temples? This is the perfect illustration of the way things are distorted in the media. What ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? We hear the media say "alleged" all the time, but what I am beginning to suspect is that ALL their so called facts are "alleged" they just sometimes use that word but mostly don't.
The judge hearing these arguments regarding the children should be ashamed of herself. She should throw these cases out yesterday. The only thing that can be produced to argue for removing these children is some officials and "court expert's" paranoia about a religion and its teachings.
Officials are worrying that young girls (read 12 and over) are not being given a "choice" to leave the ranch. Last time I checked underage girls were not protected from going to their parents churches. Nor were they required to be "protected" from religious teachings that officials disagreed with. They are also not allowed to "choose" their residence.
From what I can tell from the interviews I watched and articles I read, these women are not having wild orgies at this ranch, they are teaching their children to be good citizens, they are clean, neat and happy. And they are there voluntarily.
The horrible irony is that their children are being taken from them by a society which hands out condoms to kids, teaches kids in school about how to have sex, allows computer simulated child pornography, tolerates lingerie and half naked commercials and ads in public places, and refuses to condemn minors having sex, raising babies, and running around public places half (or more) naked. The list could go on and on and on. This irony was so thick during the interviews that I wanted to scream at someone to point it out!
Who the hell are we to tell this group that they are losing their children because we "worry" that they will marry underage girls?
Will we remove all the kids from a Catholic parish when a priest is accused of molesting kids? How about the possibility of removing kids in a ward whose Bishop is deemed (or suspected of being) abusive? What about the rumors running rampant about what we do in our temples? I'm so disgusted at the abuse of families by our arrogant authorities that I am willing to say they should not have ANY more power to remove children from ANY homes. I am beginning to believe that far more children are harmed than helped by this power.
And I am starting to see how easy it would be to be in these women's shoes...This is so wrong.


Texas Polygamy

Apparently the government is into the business of monitoring prayers now. This article exposes a Texas judge who wanted the prayers of the children they ripped from their mothers to be monitored. She proposed having the LDS church monitor them. Appropriately, the church declined (officially they were never asked). Here is my response.
1- This judge has NO RIGHT to monitor, regulate or threaten any ones prayers or the communication between a mother and her children. I mean really what are they going to be saying "have sex with old men"??? Give me a break!
2. LDS do not "lead prayers". We believe that all people have access to God and should pray what is in their hearts.
3. DNA proves nothing here. They should be proving rape and multiple marriages, not whose parents are whose. How many children in America are born to fathers with multiple women? Waste of resources by the police and DA.
4. Taking these children wholesale from their mothers is so wrong. Prove something or arrest them, but there is no justification for taking these children because authorities don't like the religious beliefs of the parents.
5. We used to be a system of laws not media trials.
I abhor polygamy but I also abhor abuse of power.

I am very upset at the fact that these children have been taken from their mothers and are now being sent to homes around the state. For what? What have these mothers done? What have these children done? The state needs to focus on prosecuting crimes that were committed not separating parents and children. How can this country possibly sit on its moral high horse and say because they lived in this religious ranch and practiced a form of marriage that is practiced without the legalities by much of the philandering population of this nation that these children must be ripped from their loving mothers. The only basis for this action is that the state fears that there will be more underage marriages. Let them prove that they are happening and prosecute those who are responsible and quit trying to shut down a religion. This does not bode well for other religions in the future.
Everyone knows that the reason for legally banning polygamy was to stop the church in the 1800's. Today we are desperately trying to stop the perversion of marriages. How many men today have children with multiple women? Do we take the children from them for this? Perhaps we should according to Texas logic.
How long will it take for churches who will not perform gay marriages to be shut down because they are persecuting gays? I do not agree with this church but I will defend their rights to worship how their consciences dictate.
The state needs to clarify what it is dealing with here. Are they prosecuting polygamy or underage marriages? Or are they trying to break up a whole religion?
My thoughts are still a bit scattered on this right now. But I have a deep feeling that this action of taking children from mothers is very very wrong. Probably because I worry that the courts may decide they don't like my religion and take my children as a result.

Crime Plunges and the Myth of Minorities on Death Row

Overall trends in crime have been favorable. Property and violent crimes are dramatically down. Despite the often spouted belief that minorities are the major resident of death row, less than half the population is made up of minorities.Total property crimes in the United States have fallen dramatically from 519.9 per one thousand households in 1973 to 154 per one thousand households in 2005. This class includes household burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft. This happened while our population has continued to rise.

1. Household burglary is defined by the Bureau of Justice Statistics as “unlawful or forcible entry or attempted entry of a residence. This crime usually, but not always, involves theft. The illegal entry may be by force, such as breaking a window or slashing a screen, or may be without force by entering through an unlocked door or an open window. As long as the person entering has no legal right to be present in the structure a burglary has occurred. Furthermore, the structure need not be the house itself for a burglary to take place; illegal entry of a garage, shed, or any other structure on the premises also constitutes household burglary. If breaking and entering occurs in a hotel or vacation residence, it is still classified as a burglary for the household whose member or members were staying there at the time the entry occurred.” These crimes have fallen 73% from 110 in 1973 to 29.5 in 2005 per one thousand households.

2. Theft is defined as “completed or attempted theft of property or cash without personal contact. Incidents involving theft of property from within the sample household would be classified as theft if the offender has a legal right to be in the house (such as a maid, delivery person, or guest). If the offender has no legal right to be in the house, the incident would be classified as a burglary.” This crime has fallen a whooping 98% from 390.8 in 1973 to 8.4 in 2005.

3. Motor vehicle theft defined as “stealing or unauthorized taking of a motor vehicle, an automobile, truck, motorcycle, or any other motorized vehicle legally allowed on public roads and highways. Includes attempted thefts.” These crimes were at 19.1 in 1973, peaked in 1991 at 22.2, and fell to 8.4 in 2005. That is a 44% fall from 1973 rates.

Total serious violent crime, “the estimated number of homicides of persons age 12 and older recorded by police plus the number of rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults from the victimization survey whether or not they were reported to the police,” fell significantly from 3,589,800 in 1973 to 1,823,400 in 2005. Showing a more proactive response to crime during this same period arrests were up from 392,700 in 1973 to 603.500 in 2005.

Another interesting trend is the balance of minorities and whites sentenced to death. In 1968 there were 243 white, and 271 black prisoners sentenced to death, just over half (52%) of the prisoners being black or other minority. This ratio fell to 1802 whites and 1426 minorities in 2006 making whites 55% of the population. In 1972 the balance was the closed to half and half in 1972 when 167 prisoners were white and 167 were minorities.

Source: US Justice Department Office of Justice Programs, “Bureau of Crime Statistics:


Sunday School Lesson

In our SS lesson we were looking at the short books that make up the end of the small plates of Nephi. Mormon puts a little blurb in about how he discovered these plates after abridging the other large plates up to the time of King Benjamin.
First: The small plates end with the mention of King Benjamin. What a sign that this was God's will for Mormon.
Second: This is a sign that the Lord was working on a far longer time line than we usually see. Martin Harris lost the pages from Mormon's abridgement of the large plates for the exact same time period.
Third: What great faith and obedience Mormon had to include the small plates when he had already worked so hard to abridge the large plates for the exact same period. He tells us he does not know why he is being prompted to include both of these records.
Our teacher pointed out this little gem towards the end of her lesson, and to me it was the most powerful part of the lesson. I usually can't remember the SS lesson because the RS lesson crowds it out, but this has really stuck with me.

Textbooks are NOT Good Reading

The purpose of a textbook is to fill your mind with information that you don't already have any clue about. That is a dangerous power we give to an author. I have yet to find a really good textbook that did not include a bias.
My current textbook Judicial Process: Law, Courts and Politics in the United States is full of a bias against drug courts and the War on Drugs in general. I see my classmates falling for this too.
I wish schools would teach logic. But they won't because then it would be more difficult to mold young skulls full of mush into good little liberals.
A far better way to learn is to read good books by authors who have experiences to tell about. Biographies are great ways to teach us. This way we are learning from the experiences of real people and there is no authoritativeness about the author on the whole subject. We are left to investigate important thoughts further, and we are encouraged to read more form other authors who may have a different angle or experience. We can also add our own experiences into the mix. The best way to learn is not to pour the facts into our brains via some authoritative textbook, but rather to watch, evaluate and think about reality. This is real learning that sticks with you and allows you to ruminate for a long time. It is a living education, meaning that it continues as you have more and more experiences to add to your evidence.
This is easier for adults, but kids can do it too, if we will teach them how to think, rather than just sit and absorb a list of facts from a teacher or text. All a college degree really means is that we have been properly indoctrinated.

Narnia Series: Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

I finally read through Prince Caspian again. I've read the Narnia series several times, and always get the stories mixed up. So rereading them is like a whole new experience. I always find new allegories and types of the Gospel in them. This one alludes to the coming of Christ and the prevailing doubt that Aslan is even real. The characters desperately need his help but some are so pessimistic that they openly scoff at those who believe the old stories of Alsan and High King Peter. Can you see the comparison to modern times already?
My children love these stories and we are all so excited to see them come to the theaters. I really hope Caspian is as well made as the Lion was. These are movies I can really get behind.


Ernest Hemmingway

I came across Ernest Hemmingway Snows at Killimenjaro at the library and brought it home yesterday. I tried to read it but didn't get far. What a grumpy and depressing story that is. YUCK! I got a few pages into it recognizing it from a class, and just couldn't take anymore. I read another of the short stories in the book, and decided he didn't deserve the fame he has received..


My Big Brother and Leukemia

My oldest brother was quite a bit older than me so we never were close or played together, except when he beat me at Monopoly over and over and over again... Ronnie went on his mission while I was still in elementary school. He went to college and then to California. He had what I saw as a ideal life (yes I know no one has that but still...) I don't get to see much of him.
Over a year ago, he told us he had chronic leukemia. I didn't really know what that meant. Chronic, ok, well that usually means long term, hard to get rid of, annoyingly persistent. Isn't that a good description of cancer in general? Around that time, someone famous died after dealing with it for twenty years.

But Ron began to get worse- quickly. He went through treatment and got good results but immediately the cancer began to gain again. He had been doing his homework and found doctors in Houston that would do a marrow transplant with out waiting for repeated treatments, so he was prepared to do it right after the first treatment. He had his transplant earlier this month. After thirteen days the news is good so far. It appears that the transplanted white blood cells are beginning to produce. That is called engraftment. We are all praying that the donor cells don't turn on him and attack his body now. We had such good news on Wednesday, that I was in tears of gratitude.
I should explain that my brother looks like a rougher younger version of Mitt Romney. He has great hair. But he began to lose his hair this week. But he has kept his sense of humor. He is wearing a Harley do-rag now!
My big brother is a hero to me. He has been good at everything in his life and been cheerful and loving. He has a great family, successful kids, great wife, and lives in California. This must have been so devastating to them to deal with something so out of their control. But Ron took control anyway and found the best doctors and medicines and got what he needed and wanted for treatments.
He is a runner. He has even been keeping track of all the walking he has done at the hospital. He walked over 20 miles while hospitalized! He is an amazing inspiring big brother. And I love him dearly.
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