Saturday, December 29, 2007
DAVID HOLMES ISENHART
Born October 22, 1930
Died December 29, 2007
LEGENDS AND HEROES
There are a hundred paths
through the world that are
easier than loving. But
who wants easier?
Wasn't it good, though? Wasn't it good,
all of us there together, awash
in Mr. Richard's California light, awash
in color from your bold hand, wild
as the Day the Yankees Lost the Pennant?
Alive, and racing Kije's Troika through
a white shower of strings and little bells
toward a sky and an ocean as blue
as a Carolina day?
Now you are a prayer, or what a prayer
should be, knowing you may have
closed your eyes, but this is no dream.
It comforts us. The God you met waits.
God--a figure like the sun, a face
of copper, of gold, with the merciful grace
of the little girl in red stockings who also waits
to take your hand. It comforts us
that whatever it Was,
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Meanwhile, a little closer to home...
This is Mars and Orion over Monument Valley, recorded just last week. To the left are the two buttes called the "mittens." Just to the right of them, are the three stars of Orion's belt, and his sword. Betelgeuse is the red star near the center, and finally, find the bright star Rigel above the third butte, called Merrick.
I heard a Swedish proverb: Fear less, hope more; sit less, walk more; talk less, say more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours.
If I had one thought to give my children-- a legacy, of sorts-- it would be this, and it should be graven with an iron pen on rock forever: make every day count. Just that. Make every day count. The race is not always to the swift.
May all good things be yours!
(Photo credit and copyright: Wally Pacholka) Click it!
Monday, December 24, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
Friday, December 14, 2007
But, hey. This is my last word on the subject, I promise!
When Lawrence O'Donnell, in his little fit of anti-Mormon rhetoric said that the Mormon Church was "racist" and "ridiculous," he also said that it is "based on the work of a lying, fraudulent criminal named Joseph Smith" he was treading on ground that got Don Imus fired. Maybe O'Donnell should be fired for his lack of on-air civility. Had he lived in a less forgiving culture, say, Islamic, and said that about the Prophet Mohammed, they would undoubtedly put out a bounty on his head. Here in America, while we tend to take a dim view of name-calling and slander, such statements are usually overlooked. We don't behead folks for their views here in the land of free speech. But I saw the broadcast. You could almost see the spit flying from his enraged lips.
I was shocked. Sort of. We Mormons are, historically and intellectually, pretty resilient. So, just for the record, let me offer another view. Joseph Smith was a farm boy from upstate New York. Yale literary scholar Harold Bloom, who has written many, many books, has written one called The American Religion, in which he writes of Joseph Smith: "I can only attribute to his genius or daemons his uncanny recovery of elements in ancient Jewish theurgy that had ceased to be available either to Judaism or to Christianity, and that had survived only in esoteric traditions unlikely to have touched Smith directly." Joseph had a third-grade education. His mother described him as a "relatively quiet" boy. When he was 14, reading in the Epistle of James, first chapter and fifth verse, which says: If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him, he then went out into the woods behind his house, knelt in prayer, and said he had a vision, in which two "Personages" appeared before him; one pointing to the other said, This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him.
Ministers of the day told him his "vision" was of the devil, and that he was "deluded," but he knew what he had experienced. "I had actually seen a light," he wrote, "and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision, and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it...."
And I, and thirteen-million-plus other people believe him. He assured us that God continues to speak to people, that he is alive and well, and that he had not said everything he had to say thousands of years ago and has nothing left to say: "For unto him that receiveth I will give more."
Joseph Smith taught that the glory of God is intelligence, and that Man is, that he might have Joy. He taught us that "Families are Forever." He taught that whatever principle of intelligence man attains in this life will rise with him in the resurrection. And that we are to seek wisdom and to "study and learn and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues and people." He taught us that we are not alone in the universe.
"And God said, Here is wisdom, and it remaineth in me...And worlds without number have I created...But only an account of this earth give I unto you, For behold, there are many worlds that have passed away by the word of my power. And there are many that now stand, and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine, and I know them." And, "Every spirit of man was innocent from the beginning." And animals have souls. Well, there's more. But you get the idea.
As for the the "racist" thing: we believe that God has not only spoken to the Jews who wrote his teachings in the Bible, and to the people who wrote them in the Book of Mormon, but "Know ye not that there are more nations than one?...and because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another, for my work is not yet finished...for I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them." (And I say, yes! there is Truth and Beauty in the words of Black Elk, and the Buddha, and in the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad -Gita, and the Koran.)
A Book of Mormon prophet says, "Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another," and "one man shall not think himself above another." And because every single one of us is a literal child of God, we are all brothers and sisters, and are loved equally.
So, Brother O'Donnell, I forgive you for saying that we are ignorant and gullible, misguided and ridiculous racists.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
So, Lawrence O'Donnell, a panelist on "The Mclaughlin Group" is lamenting on TV that Mitt Romney Did not "Take the opportunity to distance himself from the evils of his religion," calling us "racist" and "ridiculous." So O'Donnell is a nasty bigoted little man.
But I am disappointed in Mike Huckabee, who, after saying "I would never try, ever, to pick out some point of your faith and make an issue of it," did just that, and then blamed his statement on the New York Times reporter Zev Chafets. Apparently after describing himself as the "only Republican candidate with a degree in theology," Mike was asked by Zev if he considered Mormonism a cult or a religion, and his answer was, "I think it's a religion. I really don't know much about it," and then surprised Chafets with a question of his own. Chafets says Mike asked "in an innocent voice, 'Don't Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers?'"
Well, Mike, that was about as slick a maneuver as any other remark designed to inflame anti-Mormon prejudice against Mitt. I thought you were better than that, Mike. I even thought you were kinda cute. Now you're starting to scare me....
To quote from a letter to the editor in today's paper: "What does scare me is that the same folks who hold major sway in presidential nominations in Iowa are the same folks who believe [God] created the universe 7,000 years ago, 9,000 years after human beings domesticated dogs."
So, I am still in Obama's camp (even though he was raised Muslim, and simply declares himself to be a "Christian" of no particular brand). Another letter to the editor says: "As the American public stumbles over itself trying to figure out who the 'real' Christians are, who was 'raised' Muslim and who is more beholden to whose God, the presidential candidates likely feel a sense of relief. They don't have to worry about explaining their stances on real issues of real importance."
I say, "Amen" to that.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Like Mitt Romney, I am a Mormon. I won't be voting for Mitt. Unlike most of the people in Utah, I am Democrat, and I'll probably vote for Obama. Nevertheless, it ticks me off that Mitt should need to defend his faith as a candidate for President of the United States of America, that he has to somehow prove to other Americans that he is a Christian. Or, that he is as Christian as other Christians. Like Mitt, "I believe in my Mormon faith and I endeavor to live by it." It defines who I am (a child of God), informs me where I came from and gives my life purpose.
In today's Deseret News, Lee Benson writes that "Weirdness, not religion, is the real issue." He says Romney's "problem is this: 160 years since they drove us out of Nauvoo, people still think Mormons aren't normal.
"They think we're weird.
"This is perplexing to us who are actual Mormons, and not just because it bugs us that our beliefs, rites and rituals attract a great deal of ridicule when other religions can have their chants, creeds and ceremonies and no one seems to look twice.
"Nope. We don't like it because we know we are every bit as normal as they are."
And as moral, and as intelligent. We are a lot like everyone else--we don't have horns, as people once believed, we are born, we marry, we love our children, we teach them to be honest, to tell the truth, to love each other, we try to be good role models, we laugh at jokes, we go to the movies, we eat at McDonald's, play with our dogs, pay our bills, dress up on Halloween, blow out birthday candles, grow old, and die. Like everyone else, some of us "get it right" and some us us "screw it up." We give, we take. We are a lot like you. Our similarities are much, much greater than our differences. In our hearts, we know this. And we hope you do, too.
One UK newspaper reporter wrote that Mormonism is a "pop-art cartoon" of mainstream Protestantism. I hope, when the first Jew, or the first Buddhist, or the first Muslim, or the first Atheist runs for President, that he/she will be chosen because they are good, and decent, and honest, and smart. I hope people will not think they are "too weird" because they are "less mainstream."
Orson Scott Card (also a Mormon) wrote in today's paper: "...when it comes to choosing a president, does a person's opinion about the nature of God make any difference at all? What makes a difference is the candidate's character. Does he actually live by the rules he professes to believe in? Does he keep his word? Character is the only issue that matters, in my opinion. A person who professes correct opinions but has no honor won't be much good as a president, while a person of honor can believe what he wants about God and still be a president we can trust."
So, did Mitt persuade the evangelicals? I doubt it. Lee Benson wrote, "He might have been better off just wearing a badge that said "Vote For Me. I'm Normal" and leaving it at that. Anyway, he gave it a shot.
Monday, December 03, 2007
This began as a poem I wrote for my husband on Valentine's Day quite a few years ago. My brother, who is a composer, needed lyrics for a Mother's Day piece he was writing. So I did a little revising of the original, and this is the result. I wish you could hear the music that accompanies the words--like a lullaby, like being rocked in a boat (or a cradle, or a rocking chair), in a beautiful haunting minor key:
Because I did not know
'til now the depths of me,
and heights I never saw, until
the traces of my childhood lost
bore witness how my mother gave to me
the world in infant hands...
a star, a ship, a tree.
Now I lift my hand
and call upon her name.
"Mother, it is I. Your gift
so dearly held, was not given in vain!"
Because I know this now,
I give you back the world you gave to me:
the sky, and seas, unbound and limitless,
and never small again.
Photo: My mother and my brother, circa 1933