Category: Spiritual


Sorry folks, this is going to be a long one.

When I was in college ROTC I met a guy with the unlikely name of William Waddoups Jacobsen Jr. He didn’t tell me about the Waddoups right away, he was just Bill.

Bill was older than the rest of us. At least he felt that way to me. He was only one year ahead of me in school but he was a mentor, a steadying influence, and a friend through all the strange disquieting times that come upon a freshman in college away from home for the first time. He lifted me up and pushed me down in turn, as I needed it.

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Is ‘gay’ the right term nowadays? I can’t keep track of the changing currents of politically correct speech. We’ll go with it. If you’re offended, it’s your own fault for I mean none.

GayActivistFromWhitehouseFenceI was perusing Drudge when I came across this picture. I felt a flash of what can only be called malice and anger. I identify with my brother’s in uniform, and to see cops cuffing one raises my ire. What the hell? I think. Were I to see this on the street I’d immediately go find out what the heck was going on.

And I’d discover, no doubt, that the cops were perfectly justified in arresting this fellow for trespassing. Then we’d all get on with our jobs. It’s that initial reaction I’m interested in.

I’m assuming that guy has every right to wear the desert uniform he’s got on. I’m also assuming he’s gay.

There are huge problems associated with gays serving openly in the military. Problems that range from ‘what do you do about shower facilities’ to ‘sexual harassment anyone?’ to ‘there are a lot of ignorant people in the military who have a problem with gays’ and everything in between. Almost none of these are addressed by those who crusade for the cause of gays serving openly in the military. To even bring these concerns up gets you called a homophobe and/or a bigot as rational discussion is immediately, and often deliberately, shut down.

So, what about gays in the military?

I don’t have a solution to the logistical, ethical, or social objections raised by the idea. I do have my gut reaction to a fellow soldier being handled by the police though. That’s my brother, man, back off.

Postscript: It pains me to have to bring the question up but, if that dude getting cuffed did NOT earn that uniform (and the way he’s got that beret pulled down to his ears makes me question just a little) he can go fly a kite.

The Soldier MoroniAs I grew up I was always sure that I wanted to be in the military. For a while I thought I wanted to be a full-time infantry officer. I enrolled in ROTC in college.  I joined the 19th Special Forces Group (National Guard) as an enlisted counter-intelligence agent. I spent the 9 months of Initial Entry Training watching the active duty military lifestyle at work and play. It made me realize I wanted to stay a full time civilian. I also stayed enlisted, thank heavens.

From back then until now, 30 years in the LDS church, 4 years at Brigham Young University, 13 years in the national guard, 2 combat deployments; I always had the impression that service in the military was seen as an unwise choice for LDS men. Plenty of us served, but we were looked down upon just a little by the LDS culture.

It’s not objecively or doctrinally true. Like I said, it was simply the impression I had and it was due to several factors. Some people at BYU (it is an academic institution after all, grubbing after government grants with the best of them) actively look down on the military services, in lockstep with the extreme left. And taking a degree in English exposed me to many such. Also, I’ve lost count of the talks I’ve heard and the testimonies born by single-term servicemen about how the military turned them into sinners when in reality all it did was force them to step away from the apron strings. I also had a long string of sunday school teachers and fellow members who were less than encouraging to my martial leanings. 

All this has combined to leave me feeling a little at sea, left to find my own soldier specific spiritual guidance in the scriptures. Fortunately, there’s plenty there. It’s looked at as odd and incomprehensible by much of the church’s membership who consider most of Alma to be … off, but it gives me joy to find it.

Imagine my glee when Elder Eyring gave me a huge blast of it over the modern pulpit at General Conference in April of 2009. In his talk entitled “Man Down!” he tells the story of the two delta operators who lost their lives saving a single helicopter pilot from being ripped apart by the howling ravening enemy mob in Mogadishu Somalia. To my memory that was the first time I ever heard soldiers performing a soldier’s mission held up as good examples by a general authority in my church. Thank you Elder Eyring. Someday I’d like to shake your hand for that.

Don’t get me wrong, soldiers have been held up as good examples many times, but always for things other than being a soldier. It’s always been for resisting temptation or being brave in difficult cirumstances, and so on, nothing really specific to soldiering. Elder Eyring’s address changed all that for me.

I got another blast of it last Sunday, October 31, 2010. President Uchtdorf gave a fireside specifically to members of the military and their spouses. I hope somebody recorded it because I’d like to hear and/or read it again. You might think that soldier specific teaching would be guaranteed at such a single purpose fireside. You’d be wrong though. President Uchtdord could easily, and profitably for us, given us an hour and a half of teaching starring soldiers but not specific to soldiers, like so many have before. He didn’t though. He went all out, designating the United States military, by name, as a force for good in the world. We were spiritually well fed, as soldiers, throughout.

One thing in particular stood out for me though.

It’s a small thing. Something I should have noticed before, but which I never put together and which he specifically emphasized. President Uchtdorf pointed out, with some satisfaction, that the individual chosen by God to stand atop our temples and announce the Savior when he returns is a soldier.

SGU-ShowImageI really got into this series during its first season. I heard about it because Scalzi talked about it on the whatever, and how he’s a creative consultant for the show. What an awesome gig.

I watch it entirely on Hulu, and loved the first season. Second season is shaping up to be just as cool and well done. One thing about this episode though, bugged me a little.

Massive spoiler. If you haven’t seen the episode yet, do not read on.

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The Holy Mill of Murder

SpartansMankind as it is constituted, is a boil and a canker. Observe the specimens of any nation. Man is weak, greedy, craven, lustful, prey to every species of depravity and vice. He will lie, cheat, steal, murder, melt down the very statues of the gods and coin their gold as money for whores. This is man. This is his nature, as all the poets attest.
“Fortunately God in his mercy, has provided a counterpoise to our species’ innate depravity. That gift…, is war.
“War, not peace, produces virtue. War, not peace, purges vice. War, and preparation for war, call forth all that is noble and honorable in man. It unites him with his brothers and binds them in selfless love, eradicating in the crucible of necessity, all which is base and ignoble. There in the holy mill of murder, the meanest of men may seek and find that part of himself, concealed beneath the corrupt, which shines forth brilliant and virtuous, worthy of honor before the gods. Do not despise war, nor delude yourself that mercy and compassion are superior virtues, to manly valor.”

Polynikes of Sparta – 480 B.C.

I haven’t traced the origin of this quote. I attribute it as I have above because it matches what I’ve heard over the years. If the attribution is wrong please correct me. And no, I don’t think Steven Pressfield was the first to say this.

Sometimes you must.

ThisCatIsGoingtoHurtSomebodyI’ve run across a strange plethora of internodes today referencing pets and dogs and cats as companions and friends. Not the least of these was Wil Wheaton’s post about his new dog and his old dog. As well as OK Go’s video for their song White Knuckles.

This has left me with a strong desire to ramble interminably on about my own feelings on pets. I grew up with cats, lots of cats. Dogs are OK too, though they tend to smell. Then I went and married a woman who not only doesn’t particularly like cats but is strongly allergic to them as well as anything else with fur. No cats in my house. This leaves a nostalgic emotional gap.

Once, in Afghanistan, I almost got in a knife fight with a teammate to protect a cat that had pooped in his HMMV’s seat. No blood was shed, though I soon arranged a new home for the cat on our next trip outside the FOB.

So, I still like cats even though I can’t keep any. I’ll always stop to pet one and it fills the gap a little to feel the warmth and hear the purr.

The most significant cat event in my life in the last ten years was not the knife fight either. It’s not a happy memory, so be warned.

It happened on a busy business district street in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was stopped three cars back from the light in the middle of three lanes.  All the lanes were full at least twenty cars back. Up ahead of me, at the head of the lane to my left, some truly evil people rolled down the window of their beater car to up-end a kitten out of a bag and onto the road. The kitten, probably 4 or 5 months old, landed on its feet and looked back where it had come from. The light changed. I started forward slowly so the people behind wouldn’t rear end me when I stopped to pick up the kitten.

The kitten, freaked out by the cars suddenly moving, dashed to hide under the first car in my lane, the rear tires of which caught its hips. The poor thing went down and started yowling, screaming really, and flipping its crushed and broken body around in paroxysms of pain. I was horrified. The second car missed the kitten entirely. As I rolled up on the pitiful spasming thing I realized there was only one thing I could do. Gritting my teeth I accelerated and steered my front tire over the kitten’s front end. The screaming stopped.

I continued through the intersection and caught a glimpse of the beater car disappearing down the road where it had turned left. I considered turning left illegally and following the blackhearted bastards until they stopped and I could confront them. I knew how that would turn out though, with me in jail facing an assault charge.

I continued on to work and parked. Face in my hands I worked the tears out then wiped my eyes and went inside.

I’ve been trying to forget that for 9 years. No luck, so now I immortalize it.

If you people in the beater car ever read this, you’ll know who you are. It’ll take you a while to live that one down you filthy animals. I’ll be happy to help you balance your account though.

Unfortunately this is not the kind of early warning system you can put in place on any kind of official basis.

I’m pretty sure I’m related by marriage to President and Sister Laycock, serving as mission presidents in Chile.  They had an interesting experience prior to the earthquake there in 2010.

President Larry Laycock and his wife, Sister Lisa Laycock head the Santiago Chile East Mission and had spent the two weeks prior to the 8.8 earthquake visiting each missionary apartment and preparing them for an earthquake.

Article about it from Meridian Magazine here.