Sunday, August 23, 2009


I'm totally in agreeance with you, Kami, on the 3rd book downfall thing! I have to admit, though, as a youth I did get to #6 of Work and the Glory before feeling "done." :-) hee-hee

HEY! Have you all read "A House of Many Rooms" ?? I just picked it up off my shelf and realized it's about a little Mormon family. I think it's one from the Newberry Award Winning list (maybe one of the honor books??), can't remember. Anyway, it is a very delightful book! :-) I like this better than Little Britches.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009


The sequel to The Name of the Wind comes out this month!!! SWEET! Ands, will your husband be buying it? I'll pay for media mail if he'll let me read it after him.

Just thought you'd like to know....

A Conspiracy of Kings (The Queen's Thief, Book 4) comes out March 10, 2010. I might have to pre-order my first book ever!!! I can read it while convalescing from childbirth.

Here's the summary:

Sophos, heir to the throne, has never wanted to be a prince, much less a king. He would rather continue his studies than learn swordplay or combat. But Sophos is his uncle’s only heir, so he has no choice—until he is kidnapped. Sold into slavery, set to work building walls on the estate of one of his uncle’s enemies, Sophos could remain anonymous for the rest of his life. But his country would crumble under the mounting conspiracy, and Sophos realizes that he cannot abandon his people. So he fights back. Battling his way out of slavery, battling through the conspirators’ army, Sophos turns to the only person he knows will help him. His friend—Eugenides, former Thief of Eddis and now king of Attolia. An exhilarating companion to Megan Whalen Turner’s lauded The Thief, The Queen of Attolia,andThe King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kingsis an action-packed, heart-stopping adventure. Finally, longtime fans will discover what happened to Sophos while Eugenides was winning his throne and the queen of Attolia’s heart. Old and new fans alike will be left breathless by the battles of sword and wit that the two friends mount against the traitors, in which nothing is what it seems. Sophos, the shy, dreamy scholar, is no longer someone to be disdained or overlooked. He is a force to be reckoned with. He is a king.

Here's hoping the author breaks the three book curse. (I have a theory that all series go downhill after the third book. Well Harry Potter after the 4th.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lipstick Jihad

I tried to recheck out Their Finest Hour and it wasn’t on the shelf, so that’s on hold for a while. I also looked of the call number on the House of Sixty Fathers, but really I felt like something meatier. Lo siento. So I checked out a book that has been on my personal to-read list for quite some time. Lipstick Jihad By Azadeh Moaveni. I dog-eared the whole book (sorry library). It was fascinating look at Iran, Iran’s diaspora, and growing up between two cultures. However, I didn’t relate well with the author and some of her comments I just plainly disagreed with.

First of all to give some background, she was from an upper middle-class family in Iran pre-revolution. To give an idea of what that meant here’s a few examples: all family members male and female were educated abroad, a lot of them did drugs, her aunt spent her weekdays shopping in Europe and the weekends partying in Tehran, swimming in a bikini in the Caspian or skiing. Her aunt also never learned to drive, because why would she? She had a driver. Anyway, her parents had actually moved to California before the revolution even occurred, and divorced shortly after her birth. Her father was anti-Iran and atheist. Her mother was anti-American and tried out a new religion every few years, Buddhism, Hinduism, even Mormonism (the author wrote it that way, like we were the most outlandish religion out there.) She was raised in a community trying to keep it’s Iranian identity while also trying to seem as American as possible—a large part due to the hostage crisis. Most of her extended family also exited Iran shortly after the revolution.

So onto random quotes and my thoughts about them.

“At the University of California, Santa Cruz, indeed in probably most universities in California in 1998, there was nothing more pressing to do than amplify your ethnic identity…And then there was the question of race in the American sense. Was I brown? All the Iranians I knew seemed to consider themselves Europeans with a tan. Was I an immigrant? My family had always insisted we weren’t really immigrants as such, but rather a special tribe who had temporarily been displaced. Iranian women like Khaleh Farzi lived in daily fear of being mistaken for a Mexican—a pedestrian immigrant rather than a tragic émigré…Khaleh Farzi always bullied me into cutting it short, a bob just above my chin. “Swingy and chic, not straggly and long like a Mexican,” she would say.”

This is one attitude that bothers me a lot. Not really about the fact that they felt that way personally, just that any immigrant does this at all. It irritates me to no end. I guess because I have to struggle with it all the time with my own daughter and her constant remarks degrading Mexicans. I want to hit her upside the head, and yell, “Do you realize you’re a Hispanic immigrant too and nobody is going to know the difference between you and a Mexican??!?! Insulting them is only going to hurt yourself!!!” It’s like Leo’s brother that told everyone he was Italian in high school and refused to have any Hispanic friends or acknowledge that he spoke Spanish. So stupid!! I think it shows an absolute lack of self-esteem and is extremely disrespectful to Mexicans. I think it has more to do with asserting your social class rather than race or citizenship.
On a lighter note, just this past Sunday at church, Bro. Puertacarerra was teasing his son that Elena wouldn’t acknowledge him because he was Mexican. It was pretty funny, but only a Mexican could make a joke like that.

One of the irritating arguments she expressed, was when she talked of her teenage years and her fights with her mother. She explained that her mother would often pick values from either the American culture or Iranian culture to extol while the next minute picking to pieces all their faults. Her daughter argued that you can’t pick and chose the parts of a culture you want, it’s all of nothing. I completely disagree. That’s what having values is. Picking the ones you want and then abiding by them no matter what the rest of your culture or another culture is doing. Anyway, the author is very secular and always came across anti-conservative anything.

“Originating from a troubled country, but growing up outside of it, came with many complications…You spent a lot of time watching movies about the place, crying in dark theaters, and feeling sad for your poor country. Most of that time, you were actually feeling sorry for yourself, but since your country was legitimately in serious trouble, you didn’t realize it. And since it was so much easier and romantic to lament a distant place than the day-to-day crappy messes of your own life, it could take a very long time to figure it all out.”

I just like how she summed that all up. As she discovers when she actually goes to Iran, she’s still far more American than Iranian.

“He warned me, in the early weeks of our acquaintance, of the difference between nostalgic and realistic love. If you are a nostalgic lover of Iran, he said, you love your own remembrance of the past, the passions in your own life that are intertwined with Iran. If you love Iran realistically, you do so despite its flaws, because an affection that can’t look its object in the face is a selfish one.”

I found that thought interesting; it made me wonder about my own fierce Canadian loyalties when I was a child. Not that Canada has many flaws, (Hee. Hee.) but simply because of how impassioned I was to defend Canada and proudly declare my heritage when really a summer visit was about all I knew.

“Many of the U.S.-educated Iranians who had returned to Tehran were there because they had been mediocre in the West and preferred to be big fish in a small swamp. “All the exceptional people have left,” said a young Tehrani to me one night at a party. “They’re the ones who’ll never come back.”

This reminded me of the “brain-drain” of Latin America. Colombia had it’s own diaspora in the late nineties (when my husband left). It makes me sad for those countries.

Once back in Tehran as a reporter, the author describes in great detail the ways and in-and-outs of getting around all the rules and regulations in Iran. How young people met socially even though they weren’t allowed to mix with members of the opposite gender. How parents held “secret” parties for their teenagers. She describes how women wearing more and more lipstick and more colorful scarves were changing the openness of the society. How the small bends in the rules constituted immense changes in a way but were never viewed as enough by the people who wanted everything to be changed. This compromised the majority of her book, and it was fascinating to an extent.
However, her views and commentary always seemed one-sided. She only ever told from the point of view from her own class: rich, well educated, often still traveling from Europe to Iran, partying constantly, doing drugs, popping anti-depressants and sleeping pills, and drinking homemade vodka. In the one story she told of a partial friendship with a conservative Muslim girl, she discussed her like she was alien in her full chador dress and eventual marriage which ended her career. She just seemed hypocritical or at least, self-centered. Marriage and children were always talked of in a disparaging tone, the end of a real woman’s self. Religion as well was treated as unimportant and anyone following any devoted Muslim worship as an oddity. (The clerics weren’t considered devoted, only greedy and hypocritical—not that I’m disagreeing with her on that, just that anyone in her normal sphere would have been considered odd).
She also made the argument that Iran’s society was so absurd due to the inequality of men and women and their lack of being able to associate normally. Since the genders were always separated, she claimed this led to a heightened sexuality that was not normal. For example, she was always being asked to have s** from any and every male she came in contact with because they assumed since she was working and not at home she must sleep around too. Or she described some of the teenage parties she went to as a chaperone for her cousin and how once there and mingling in a never before experienced freedom, teenagers had no idea how to act and went from the extreme of veils and required clothing to dressing as they saw on MTV—and acting accordingly. They had no concept of being friends with the opposite gender and no middle-ground in dress.

“When they were finally permitted a few free hours in each other’s company, they scarcely knew what to do, or how to behave. They had never developed a sense of what normal behavior between the sexes looked like; not only were they lacking a template, they found the prospect of normality unsatisfying. Instead, the sought to contrast the oppressive morality outside with amplified decadence behind closed doors…The Islamic Republic does not control me; see it in the layers of makeup I apply on my face, the tightness of my jeans, the wantonness of my s** life, the Ecstasy I drop.”

She also describes the atrocities she witnessed: hearing people tortured, whippings in the street, bullying and harassment constantly from militia groups made up of poor, young men bent on enforcing the morality/dress laws, the widespread corruption, disappeances of activistists, reporters, reformers, ordinary people, and the randomness of it all. That truly was the heart of her book because in the end she realized that most Iranians were so used to it and shrugged it off, they forgot almost that it shouldn’t be happening at all.

“It doesn’t make a difference who takes over,” he said. “It doesn’t matter whether Khatami is cloned or granted three more terms, or whatever. It doesn’t matter who comes, because fixing the culture created by the system is now the problem. I used to take such pride, Azi, in my Iranian identity. I don’t see that culture I was proud of anymore, that respect for elders, for children. These are the effects of lawlessness. If you do business and don’t take bribes, you’re considered strange, behaving outside the norms. Being corrupt is normal. The country’s ethical code has gone mad. It’s going to take so much more than politicians to fix that, this culture of lying, deception, and corruption.”

“What I wanted to explain was that we had a moral obligation to care when awful things happened to people around us. That by treating beatings, lashings, or checkpoint arrests as commonplace—ordinary, like going to the ATM—we were becoming dehumanized to the sickness around us. A heightened threshold of suffering was necessary for getting through the day, but mentally, we had to retain some sort of perspective. Of how a functional government should behave. Of what was unacceptable. Otherwise, we would become like those blasé reformists, who would look you in the eye, and say: “Look at how much progress we’ve made…See! I’m wearing short-sleeves…could I have worn short-sleeves ten years ago? No! …What are you whining about human rights for?… Aren’t we better than the Taliban? Than the Saudis?” Yes, there would always be some junked, lost country we would be superior to, but that wasn’t a proper ambition, was it?

And these two quotes are rather unrelated, but here they are anyway.

“As we drove away, I asked Dariush whether it was not a relief that under Khatami, such run-ins happened a couple of times a year, instead of every weekend. He gave me a searching look. “However infrequent, I do not find any consolation in the fact that my fate is determined by the whim of an armed sixteen-year-old.”

“Maman explained that in the Koran, it says that a man can take more than one wife on the condition that he treats them exactly equally. Their quarters must be furnished with equal elegance or simplicity, he must spend an equal number of nights with each. But what about love? I asked. How can he love them equally in his heart? He can’t, she said. The heart doesn’t work that way. And that’s why men should never, ever, have more than one wife. Because the heart is not docile, can’t follow literal instructions, can’t be cordoned off like a garden—this grove for the first wife, this for the second. Sooner of later emotions blossom or wither in place they shouldn’t and the pretense of heart boundaries collapses.”

Oh and it bothered me that she said these yoga class participants in their white oriental-looking outfits looked like Mormon housewives. First of all, supposedly they had checked out Mormons at one point so I think she’d know a little more, because really, in what way is that like Mormon housewives?!? And secondly, she complained the whole book about being subjected to stereotypes and misconceptions and here she does the exact same thing. A bit hypocritical to say the least.

Sorry this was so long--it's all from the lack of writing I've been doing for the last several weeks, and it all came out at once.


Okay, here's my talk (see post before this), although you'd be better off not reading it and just reading the McConkie talk I posted below.

Stake Conference talk: Worship

Elder Bednar, in his talk, “Honorably Hold a Name and a Standing,” discusses the power we have access to through our temple covenants. At one point in his talk he summarizes the thoughts of several temples presidents as follows:

“I have come to understand better the protection available through our temple covenants and what it means to make an acceptable offering of temple worship. There is a difference between church-attending, tithe-paying members who occasionally rush into the temple to go through a session and those members who faithfully and consistently worship in the temple.”

I’ve thought for a long time about what that meant—an “acceptable offering of temple worship.”

In his talk, “Sunday Worship Service,” Elder W. Mack Lawrence defined worship this way: “to reverently show love and allegiance” to the Savior, “to think about him, to honor him, to remember his sacrifice for each of us, and to thank him.”

The first part of that is to be reverent. Many of us have felt the indescribable feeling in the temple and recognized reverence. Hopefully, we bring a feeling of reverence with us when we enter the temple.

President McKay said that “reverence is profound respect mingled with love.” He also said that “[T]he greatest manifestation of spirituality is reverence; indeed, reverence is spirituality.”

Most interestingly, President McKay states that “reverence indicates . . . true faith in deity” and that “inseparable from the acceptance of the existence of God is an attitude of reverence.” Elder McConkie stated: “A knowledge of the truth is essential to true worship. There is no salvation in worshipping a false God.” John 4:24 states: “And they who worship Him, must worship in spirit and truth.”

Therefore, to truly worship in the temple we must know and understand the plan of salvation and, most importantly, know our Savior and believe that He has provided salvation for us. As our knowledge of the gospel grows, and our relationship with our Savior deepens, our ability to worship will increase. Temple attendance helps us increase our understanding of the gospel and helps us grow closer to our Savior. Worshipping in the temple often will help us learn to worship better—more completely and more fully.

The church website states: “Worship not only shows our love for God and commitment to Him, it gives us strength to keep his commandments. Through worship we grow in knowledge and faithfulness. If we place any person or thing above the love of God, we worship that thing or person. This is called idolatry.” That refers back to our definition of worship: to reverently show love and allegiance to our Savior. We show our allegiance by making Christ the center of our lives and avoiding any idolatry. President McConkie said, “To worship the Lord is to put first in our lives the things of his kingdom, to live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God, to center our whole hearts upon Christ and that salvation which comes because of him.”

As we enter the temple in an attitude of reverence with a testimony of the Savior, without any competing thoughts or priorities, we will be ready to make “an acceptable offering of temple worship.”

Elder Lawrence’s definition reminds us that to worship we need to think of the Savior. To worship the Savior fully we need to learn how to meditate as defined by President McKay, who said meditation is a “form of private devotion, or spiritual exercise, consisting in deep, continued reflection on some religious theme.” President McKay also said that “meditation is one of the most secret, most sacred doors through which we pass into the presence of the Lord.”

Trying to learn the art of meditation while in the temple is leaving it too late. We need to practice meditating each day as we read our scriptures. Then, when we go to the temple, it will be easier for us to keep our minds on the things we’re learning instead of worldly things. We’ll also have an increased ability to discern the spiritual tutelage of the Spirit if it is a feeling with which we are familiar.

Elder Lawrence’s definition of worship includes the injunction to “honor the Savior.” Consider how the word honor is used in 1 Nephi 17:55—“. . . honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land.” I think two words could be easily substituted for “honor” in that passage. First, obey. Obey thy father and thy mother. Second, emulate. Emulate thy father and thy mother. To truly worship we need to honor the Savior by obeying and emulating him.

President McConkie stated: “. . . true and perfect worship consists in following in the steps of the Son of God; it consists in keeping the commandments and obeying the will of the Father to that degree that we advance from grace to grace until we are glorified in Christ as he is in the Father. It is far more than prayer and sermon and song. It is living and doing and obeying. It is emulating the life of the great Exemplar. . . . It is living the whole law of the whole gospel.” We demonstrate a desire and willingness to be obedient by our very presence in the temple. Once we are in the temple, we need to make an acceptable offering of worship by being humble and desiring to become more obedient—to have our understanding of the doctrine increased so we can more fully live it and having our relationship with the Savior deepened so we can become more like Him.

Elder Lawrence pointed out that to truly worship, a person needs to “remember” Christ’s “sacrifice for each of us.” The sacrament prayers remind us of our obligation to always remember the Savior’s sacrifice for us. 3 Nephi 18:7 reads: “And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my spirit to be with you.” Remembering the Atonement and crucifixion is so important that Heavenly Father made it the focus of our only weekly ordinance.

President McKay said, “. . . there is nothing of an extraneous nature so important as remembering our lord and Savior, nothing so worthy of attention as considering the value of the promise we are making.” President McKay was referring to the sacrament but it applies equally well to temple ordinances.

A promise is attached to our remembering the Savior—that we will have the Spirit with us. Certainly we cannot give an acceptable offering of temple worship without the Holy Ghost in attendance. President McKay said, “Let the Holy Ghost, to which we are entitled, lead us into [Christ’s] presence, and may we sense that nearness, and have a prayer in our hearts which he will hear.”

Elder Lawrence concluded his definition of worship by reminding us of the integral part gratitude plays in true worship. Through worship we demonstrate the profound gratitude we have for our Father and our Savior. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 reads: “In everything give thanks.” This idea of having a gratitude attitude reminds me of the scripture D&C 59:21, “And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things.” The topical guide correlates that scripture to the topic of ingratitude. Surely an acceptable offering of temple worship includes our expressing gratitude to the Lord for everything we have been given—including our Savior’s sacrifice for us.

In summary, we need to attend the temple to worship the Savior and the Father. We do this by entering the temple with an attitude of reverence, with our minds centered on spiritual things and prepared to meditate and learn more about God so we can become more obedient and more like Him. As we participate in temple ordinances we need to pay attention and express our gratitude for and to our Savior.

As Elder Lawrence said, “It should be a time of true worship for the Savior, a time when we desire to be close to him, to convey our love to him, to feel his Spirit. Our attitudes help determine how meaningful” our temple attendance “is for each of us.”

2 Nephi 25:29 states: “The right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy one of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul.”

More random stuff

Julia, I read half the talk and want to get back to it before I write anything. Definitely worth discussing.

I'm currently working on a talk for Stake Conference. No, I have not been assigned a talk in the traditional sense of the word; however, the Presiding Bishopric asked all the members of our stake to prepare a ten minute (adults, 7 min youth, 3 min primary) talk and then all our speakers are going to be called up out of the congregation. Is this happening anywhere else?? Random. My talk is about worshipping in the temple and I'll post it in its entirety later because Kami asked me to but for now--I just wanted to mention that "refinement" is popping up all over the place now that I'm looking for it, or more aware of it.

For example, for my talk I drew heavily from the David O. McKay: Teachings of Presidents of the Church book--the chapter called "Elements of Worship." In it he spends a lot of time talking about reverence and meditation. And I quote: "Reverence embraces regard, deference, honor, and esteem. Without some degree of it, therefore, there would be no courtesy, no gentility, no consideration of others' feelings, or of others' rights."

Later he said, "Reverence indicates high culture, and true faith in deity and in his righteousness."

This is the most thought-provoking line in the whole chapter. "I am prompted to place reverence next to love. Jesus mentioned it first in the Lord's prayer. 'Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name . . .." Hallow--to make holy--to hold in reverence. So if we increase the reverence in our home we are making our home increasingly holy and we do that through showing courtesy and and consideration for the other people in our home. We also do that by creating an atmosphere of gentility and high culture. Interesting.

In case you're interested, President McKay gave us three ways to "awaken reverence in children and contribute to its development in their souls. These are: first, firm but Gentle Guidance, second, Courtesy shown by parents to each other, and to children; and third, Prayer in which children participate. In every home in this Church parents should strive to act intelligently in impressing children with those three fundamentals.

Reverence directs thought toward God. Without it there is no religion (his italics and capitalizing)."

You should all read this. It is pretty much one of my favorite talks ever. Elder McConkie is very straight-forward. I like that.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

New Talk to Discuss

Hello Friends! I just listened to and then read one of the most amazing talks. I thought we could discuss . . . or if not, I thought I'd at least share! :-)

"In Him All Things Shall Hold Together" by Elder Neal A. Maxwell

To Read:

To Listen: