Category Archives: Personal Commentaries

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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The LDS Doctrines of Grace and Works

There is an odd celebration today over a perceived breakthrough regarding the LDS doctrine of grace, as witnessed in the pages of the Deseret News (here, here, here and here). Perhaps thinking they are pioneering a road less traveled, these few LDS scholars only complicate long-standing and uncomplicated official doctrine.

This celebration is odd because these scholars lack commensurability. Nearly to the person they are in disagreement, “in many instances fundamentally” so. It is like celebrating a Super Bowl victory when your favorite team was not playing. Also unclear is the target of their celebration. Is it doctrinal or cultural? Are these LDS scholars celebrating changes to official doctrine or are they celebrating a broader acceptance of their particular interpretations of official doctrine? read more

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