I, swear

Over a business lunch just off Capitol Hill in Austin, Texas, a new colleague seemed shocked to know I was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “You’re a Mormon?” he asked with not a small amount of incredulity. My mind raced to discern why he was surprised. And then it hit me, “Ah. I get it. I swear. Right?” He nodded affirmatively.

My new colleague was not being overly sensitive. My swearing is reflective of unfiltered quality over quantity. I’m good at it. A damn or a hell would not have set off his perception alarms about my faith. He knew the strong expletives I used were intentional. Swearing is behavioral and I own it. read more

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Bill Dannemeyer, RIP

For six years on Capitol Hill, I worked for Congressman William E. Dannemeyer. It was the first real job of my 35-year political career. Now “Mr. D” is laid to rest after his own tireless career as a lawyer, judge, California state assemblyman (as a Democrat), U.S. congressman (as a Republican) and saint or sinner depending upon your worldview.

The numerous obituaries I’ve read nearly all sound the same: indefatigable, unapologetic, principled, laser focused, relentless, scrappy, combative and confrontational. These same obituaries are filled with other descriptors: homophobic, bigot, despicable, horrible and as his congressional nemesis for many years, Henry Waxman, called him “a mean and hateful person.” Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen dubbed him “the Renaissance man of bigotry” in 1990 and The Advocate, the gay flagship magazine, later included him on its list of “the 50 biggest homophobes of the last 50 years.” read more

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Romney’s faith should move him to a humane immigration policy

Sen. Mitt Romney says America has become an “asylum magnet” for immigrants on our southern border. I say, good for us! If refugees cannot find asylum in the United States, we stop being Americans.

Salt Lake Tribune

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What is the ‘Utah way’? Depends on who you are.

If you are involved at all in Utah politics, you most likely have heard about the “Utah way” of doing things. But what exactly is the “Utah way?”

The New York Times referred to the firing squad as “a Utah way of death.” The arrival of Frontrunner ahead of schedule and under budget was described as being “kind of the Utah way.” Gov. Gary Herbert declared that “turning a blind eye and doing nothing” to help “our neighbors, our friends, and our family members” was not the Utah way, shortly before the House of Representatives rejected his Healthy Utah proposal. The phrase was used by political commentator Paul Mero to describe the Utah Compact and by Keith McMullin, CEO of Deseret Management, when referring to Utah’s business-friendly policies. Most recently, the Utah way has been trotted out when discussing the ballot initiatives during last year’s November election. read more

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Chapter 9: Happiness

Human beings are born to achieve happiness within God’s plan for man. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ makes happiness and its enjoyment possible. The Atonement, in fact, defines happiness. It defines our choices, our judgments, our values, our priorities and our worldview – all central components of our happiness.

Pleasure-seeking and pain avoidance are not forms of happiness. This worldly, utilitarian paradigm is selfish. Happiness is not selfish. Happiness is communion with God, His great Plan of Salvation, with our Savior and every element comprising essential connections leading us to know, become as and to live again with Heavenly Father. read more

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Chapter 8: Human Dignity

Every person is a child of God and, as such, has inherent dignity. God’s purpose for each one of us is the context for understanding the true meaning of human dignity. We exist to discover Him and draw close to Him and live by His Word. The farther we are from God, the less dignity we possess and project ourselves and nurture and embrace in others.

Personal comportment, decorum and politeness are secular and nice but superficial forms of dignity – virtuous expressions useful for orderly social interactions, but they do not represent its essence. Neither do modern platitudes about “respect for diversity.” Honoring human dignity is not about accepting and respecting any and every human expression or behavior a person claims for him or her self. read more

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Chapter 7: The Light of Christ

All human beings have the light of Christ. It allows every person to comprehend the nature of his or her existence without direct instruction or commands. The light of Christ is the spark of God in all of us. It helps us cut through the veil covering our eyes from eternity. It offers us simple guidance in our interactions with mankind. It helps us see others as we see ourselves and it presses upon our conscience what not to do.

Every living thing has the light of Christ to fulfill the measure of its creation. That said, the light can dim and even disappear at times from neglect or abandonment. We can turn our backs on the light. read more

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Chapter 6: The Family: A Proclamation to the World

America’s blueprint for freedom, the United States Constitution, has an introduction to set context, the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration explains the why and what of freedom. Likewise, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has an introduction to set context – The Family: A Proclamation to the World. In this single document, faithful Latter-day Saints are instructed in the why and what of our Gospel identity.

We are instructed in Creation, not of earth but of man. We are instructed that gender is eternal, not of temporal manufacture. We are instructed that family structure, not emotional well being, establishes a family in God’s plan. We are instructed about the importance of parents and the roles of men and women inside a family. And, lastly, we are warned about not heeding its truths and importuned to defend marriage and family as bulwarks of a free society. read more

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Chapter 5: The Plan of Salvation

“In the beginning” there was a plan – God’s plan for man. There was a desire in God the Father for all of His children to become like Him and sealed together, as one family, for time and eternity. There was a council of the gods to set this plan in motion. Particulars of the plan were settled. Disagreement and, ultimately, dissension occurred. A Savior was chosen. The rules of mortality for the practical exercise of the plan were established. His children freely chose to accept and adopt His plan or not. read more

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Chapter 4: Opposition and Conflict

Without conflict, choice is largely functional. Conflict makes a choice real. Choosing between an apple and an orange is not a conflict. Choosing between keeping God’s commandments or not represents pure conflict. In other words, mortality alone does not bring opposition in all things. But mortality combined with God’s plan for man sets the stage for conflict. This is opposition.

Mortality without purpose is life driven by instinct alone and our choices narrow to things that give us pleasure or pain. Driven by instinct, we are drawn to pleasure and repelled by pain. This “utilitarian” view of life is not God’s view. This utilitarian view is myopic and focuses on immediate gratification or what momentarily “is.” God’s view is eternal, focused on futurity or what “ought” to be and what we “ought” to become. read more

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