Thursday, April 28, 2011


Quite frankly, the race for the 2012 Republican Nomination for President until now been rather depressing. Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and now Donald Trump have made the field of potential nominees more closely resemble a clown act than a race of serious political candidates. Fortunately, Palin and Huckabee seem more and more reluctant to relinquish their well-compensated sinecures at Fox News, and I am thoroughly convinced that The Donald views his campaign as the greatest publicity stunt ever in the entire history of the world, which will drive the ratings for "The Celebrity Apprentice" to unprecedented heights. Good luck with that, Donald.

As Hugh Hewitt has repeatedly stated, there are two serious candidates, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty. I am endorsing Mitt Romney. Indeed, I consider him quite simply to be the most qualified Republican on the national scene to be the President of the United States. On the other side of the aisle, only Secretary of State Hilary Clinton matches his credentials. As for the President, he has already demonstrated over the past 29 months that he is neither qualifed nor sufficiently competent to merit re-election. That having been said, he will nonetheless be a formidable candidate, and the GOP must put its best foot forward if it hopes to capture the White House in 2012.

That means nominating Mitt Romney. Above all, this will be an election about the economy. So was 2008, and the GOP made a fatal error in not choosing its most articulate spokesperson on economic issues to be its standard bearer. That mistake must not be repeated. Romney will be able to shred the President in a debate about the economy. I look forward to that debate.

The Romney campaign has come up with a great fund-raising concept: limited edition bumper stickers. Only 2012 will be printed and each will be numbered. You can get one for a donation of $50 or more at

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter 2011

Easter Music

Once again Easter is here, and as before I'll post the words of my all-time favorite hymn, "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing:"
Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.
This biographical summary tells us a little about the author, Robert Robinson. The music is a beautiful traditional tune named "Nettleton," about which you can find more in Wyeth's Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second, by John Wyeth. I've heard several hymns set to the same tune. As a congregational hymn "Come Thou Fount" is a little on the difficult side but most church choirs can handle it easily. My favorite arrangement is the one by Mack Wilberg, associate conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Easter Thoughts

This is another favorite, from the late Neal A. Maxwell, of whom Hugh Hewitt is a great admirer. It's full of quotable nuggets:
The gift of immortality to all is so choice a gift that our rejoicing in these two great and generous gifts should drown out any sorrow, assuage any grief, conquer any mood, dissolve any despair, and tame any tragedy.

Even those who see life as pointless will one day point with adoration to the performance of the Man of Galilee in the crowded moments of time known as Gethsemane and Calvary. Those who now say life is meaningless will yet applaud the atonement, which saved us all from meaninglessness.

Christ’s victory over death routs the rationale that there is a general and irreversible human predicament; there are only personal predicaments, but even from these we can also be rescued by following the pathway of Him who rescued us from general extinction.

A disciple’s “brightness of hope,” therefore, means that at funerals his tears are not because of termination, but because of interruption and separation. Though just as wet, his tears are not of despair, but of appreciation and anticipation. Yes, for disciples, the closing of a grave is but the closing of a door that will later be flung open.

It is the Garden Tomb, not life, that is empty!
Neal A. Maxwell, Wherefore Ye Must Press Forward, pp. 132-3

"Those who now say life is meaningless will yet applaud the atonement, which saved us all from meaninglessness."

I love that. Happy Easter.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Why "The Book of Mormon" is a Broadway Hit, But No One is Staging "The Koran."

The creators of South Park have a Broadway hit on their hands. "The Book of Mormon" is sold out for weeks. Reviews of the musical comedy appear in the New Yorker and the Los Angeles Times. Interestingly, nowhere in either publication did the reviewer question in the slightest respect the propriety of a musical comedy based on the ridicule of an entire religion. It's as if the reviewers concluded that the idea of skewering Mormon beliefs is so far within the boundaries of appropriate discourse that it's not even controversial.

Meanwhile, in Florida, an obscure Protestant minister of a tiny church "put the Koran on trial" for rape and murder, found it guilty, sentenced it to burning and carried out the sentence. A month later, clerics in Afghanistan, probably in the service of the Taliban insurgency there, used the Koran burning incident to whip up mosque worshipers into a frenzy that erupted in deadly riots. The rioting over the next three days took some 18 lives, including 7 UN guards and workers murdered in an attack on the UN office in the city where the rioting began.

Now I am not going to give a pass to the Florida pastor whose Koran burning set off the incident. It was entirely forseeable that the Koran buring would lead to the loss of innocent lives, and one must take moral responsibility for the foreseeable results of one's acts.

However, at the same time, his moral culpability by no means rises to the level of the Moslem clerics who deliberately provoked the riots and to the murderers themselves. (To his credit, President Obama publicly expressed the same opinion.) Such violence would be improper even if directed at a person who actually burned a Koran, and of course the victims of the mobs in Afghanistan had nothing to do with the burning of a Koran in Florida.

While many of us might have foreseen that such violence would result from the burning of a Koran, and would therefore fault the Florida pastor for his actions, we would never be concerned about riots and murders possibly resulting from Mormon anger over "The Book of Mormon." There is no risk that Mormons will attack non-Mormons out of fury over the Broadway musical. Indeed, here is the official statement of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on "The Book of Mormon" musical:
The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.

Not only need the creators of "The Book of Mormon" not fear Mormon retaliation, but although the musical could justifiably be attacked as racist (in its portrayal of Ugandans), Trey Parker and Matt Stone probably are not looking over their shoulder for vengeful African Americans either.

So in view of this atmosphere of tolerance, may we look forward to the Broadway opening of "The Koran," a musical comedy that applies the same approach to Islamic scripture? Not bloody likely. Indeed, the only time that Parker and Stone have been threatened with death by a religious group was when a radical Muslim group was angered by a South Park episode depicting the prophet Muhammad in a bear suit.

Which brings me to my main point. While pundits are piling on the Florida pastor, I would hope they display a modicum of cultural loyalty and courage and issue a challenge to the real villains in this story--radical Islamist clerics who react with murderous fury to what they deem to be insults to Islam, but who themselves are unwilling to extend respect to other religions and beliefs. They say that Jews are monkeys, Christians are "Crusaders," and call for the death of both.

It often seems that there are no values or sacred cows left in American--certainly musicals such as "The Book of Mormon" and shows such as "South Park" show that everything and everyone is open to ridicule. The only enduring values in modern Western civilization appear to be tolerance and diversity. If so, let's at least not patronize Islam by giving its advocates a pass on those values. The price for full Islamic participation in Western society must be respect for other religions and beliefs, and tolerance of critics of Islamic belief. We must always defend the free speech rights of critics of Islam. And those Islamists, both in Western countries and worldwide, who reject Western values should be called to task for their hate and bigotry.