Saturday, February 25, 2012

Why The Senate Must Change

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) offers the reasons why control of the Senate MUST be changed in the 2012 election. If you want to continue the feckless energy policies of this administration and watch gas prices continue to soar, then kindly ignore and move to a different page.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mitt Romney and Capitalism's Last Gasp

This could easily be classed as "the last gasp for capitalism and supply side economics" if Obama is re-elected:

Monday, February 20, 2012

Why Bank of America MIGHT Modify Your Mortgage

I am happy to report there is an update on my saga with BoA in securing a permanent mortgage modification. I have an insider's point of view, because I've been at this as part of the first wave of mortgages that had been securitized, but went south when the bottom fell out of the financial markets. My three-year battle with BoA started in January, 2009, but in the interest of fairness and full disclosure I will always give credit where credit is due.

Over a month ago I was invited to attend an "outreach" event sponsored by BoA here in Salt Lake. I have had such varied and sporadic communications from BoA over the last three years, and can confirm they have given me such scant evidence they had their act together, I almost didn't go. I was again being asked to gather all my supporting documentation (bank statements, tax returns, W-2, etc.), and I thought wearily to myself this would be the fourth submission. I have kept in touch with one person from BoA with whom I met last September. My meeting with her, while pleasant and helpful on a personal level, produced no tangible results. When I asked for her opinion about whether this would be yet another exercise in futility, she strongly recommended that I attend, so I did.

I was amazed, and I'll admit it. For the first time in my experience with BoA, they had a team of fifty people populating various stations in the Grand Ballroom at the Grand America Hotel, and they had organized themselves very well. I secured the first appointment of the day, thinking I could get in and get out quickly. I chit-chatted with two security officers, both of whom are personally trying to get their mortgages modified, who had been hired for the event in case there were some disgruntled borrowers. I saw more anger from them than I did from anyone else, and that was an ironic start to my day. There was no evidence of anger or frustration from anyone else. I got to interact with many borrowers that day, and while each had a sad tale of woe to share, I met no one who had been at it for three years like I have.

We all had one thing in common - no one had filed a lawsuit against BoA, and they were all trying to work things out in good faith with their mortgage servicer.

Computers were synced to underwriters in real time, and as documents were reviewed and cross-checked against long check lists, they were then scanned and handed back to me in sequence. We were each assigned a number (no names were used), and the process was orderly and sequential. With each step as documents were checked, double-checked and scanned, there was a well-defined method, and very little madness. It was impressive, given what I've experienced with BoA in the past.

As the list of additional documentation and letters of explanation continued to mount, I was escorted and checked out of the event, then re-admitted and escorted three separate times during the day. I came to know many of these people on a first-name basis. It was an exhaustive day (I started at 7:30 a.m., and didn't leave until 8:30 that night), and the assembling of supporting documents and letters of explanation for the underwriters continued into the next day.

The good news was that I received a call back on my cell phone on Saturday morning to tell me they had all the documentation assembled and subject to verification (an estimated 7-10 business days), they would be getting back to me with an offer for a permanent mortgage modification because it appears I meet the requirements for something called HAMP ("Home Affordable Modification Program"), or some variation thereof. The discussions about its moral underpinnings continue: Should the federal government (read the Obama Administration) forgive and reduce principal balances in order to rewrite new mortgages? Fannie Mae, despite the billions already received to keep it afloat, is digging in its heels, according to Edward DeMarco, the acting head of Federal Housing Finance Agency. They won't do it voluntarily without more cash infusions from the taxpayers, which the administration seems more than willing to do.

The "negotiators" referenced in my past communications with BoA are a thing of the past. When I asked what their role was the explanation was they were negotiating for terms on my behalf with Fannie Mae, the entity that owns virtually every mortgage under the sun, and now Fannie Mae has created various "buckets" into which mortgage modifications will fit. You either meet those criteria for relief or you don't, and there is no longer a "negotiation." It appears I do meet the new criteria.

Yes, it is an election year, and yes the government is dictating terms to Fannie Mae, and yes, there is no other game in town since the collapse. It has taken this long because of the government's intervention into the mortgage markets to work through the maze to develop programs for certain circumstances that meet their criteria.

Here was my takeaway on what you have to do to qualify for a mortgage modification under the current rules: 1) The home must still be your primary residence; 2) you must express the desire to remain in your home; 3) you must have a job and be able to document your income; 4) you must have a current tax return that can be verified; 5) you must have encountered a hardship that can be documented and adequately explained; and 6) there is a demonstrable high probability you will be able to sustain the new mortgage if granted.

We won't believe it until the ink is dry on the modification papers we now anticipate receiving, but I can at least report BoA is making a start and they are to be commended. They frankly admitted to me they know their brand has been severely damaged. Their top management is conducting weekly webinars to keep the employees on the front lines informed about their future direction. One of the mortgage counselors at the event estimated at the rate they are moving it will take five years to untangle this Gordian knot, and that's based upon what they know they have in the backlog today, barring another wave of foreclosures in the future.

I have to salute BoA, however, for making a start. The Fannie Mae programs are so new the employees of BoA are still in training on them. However, the people who came representing BoA to the three-day event where they served about 200 people in a personal and professional way, were knowledgeable and forthcoming with answers to all my questions. They gave me every indication they were sincerely interested in my outcome. When I asked what metric they were using to measure the success of the event, they indicated if they could modify 50% of the mortgages they worked on, or 100, they would consider it a success worth doing. You can do the math for yourselves. They take this three-day road show into every city in America every weekend between now and infinity, and at the rate of 100 per city, it will take FOREVER to complete.

This has been a long three-year odyssey for us. I'm hoping that soon I will be able to report a happy ending. My advice to others is to stay in constant contact with BoA. Write letters, place phone calls, take the initiative, don't wait for them to act - you act first. Talk with whomever you can, even if it's a person with no authority who is reading from a script. I was delighted to find they had my complete file on record, and when we reviewed it together all my attempts at resolution had been logged and I was given credit and lauded by the team for continuing to do the right thing to get it resolved.

BoA is not the monolithic behemoth I once feared it was. I met real people this time around. They have suffered right along with the public. One lady who had worked for BoA for 33 years has lost lifelong friendships with people who got behind in their mortgages and she was powerless to help them. This will go down as a long, sad chapter in American history, but like most things in life if you persist and you remain constant in your desire to make a resolution, things eventually have a way of working out in a positive way.

Oh, and P.S., they even explained why I was eventually turned down the first time without explanation. In the file there was a notation that the loan calculation for the modification was an "NPV" - negative present value. Why no one ever told me that was not explained, but the person with whom I met that day showed me the file. This time, however, all the calculations were done in advance before the file was submitted to underwriting. I have a feeling this time they are going to get it right.

At least one can hope. . . stay tuned and I'll let you know what happens as soon as I do. I would like to become the poster child for a successful loan modification. I'm hoping BoA would like to cross the finish line and snap my picture for that poster.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

To the Mountain of the Lord's House

Much has been made in recent years of Mormon temple worship. Curiosity is beginning to build in this presidential election season, and will escalate going into November. Some wonder what goes on behind those seemingly secretive walls of Mormon temples. Rumors of grotesque practices like "baptisms for the dead" have people stirred up, even to the point recently of Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel reportedly being "outraged" that he and members of his family were found in the Church's expansive database for proxy temple ordinances.

For the most part, stories like these that make their way into the press repeatedly call for a public apology from the Church. In an attempt to clarify the Church always responds with an education piece on their official website explaining the policies associated with the proxy ordinances performed there for the dead. In the Mormon view there is no intent to anger the relatives of the deceased. In fact, the policy is that only names in one's direct genealogical history may be submitted for the proxy ordinances. In the spirit world after mortality, because our eternal spirit lives on when the body is buried awaiting resurrection, and may not have had a chance for hearing the fulness of the gospel during mortality, the spirits are taught and may exercise their agency in accepting or rejecting the temple ordinances including baptisms, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, priesthood ordinations, followed by initiatory ordinances of washings and anointings, then endowments and sealings performed on earth in their behalf.

Only those who have previously obtained a current temple recommend and received the temple ordinances for themselves may perform proxy ordinances for others in their families who are deceased. Sometimes the genealogical research to find the names of their ancestors takes years and years to discover. It is a selfless and spiritual work.

President Lorenzo Snow
It was President Lorenzo Snow who opined, "I believe, strongly too, that when the Gospel is preached to the spirits in prison, the success attending that preaching will be far greater than that attending the preaching of our Elders in this life. I believe there will be very few indeed of those spirits who will not gladly receive the Gospel when it is carried to them. The circumstances there will be a thousand times more favorable. . . I believe there will be very few who will not receive the truth." (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], 3:  . Discourse delivered by President Lorenzo Snow at the Sixty-Fourth Semi-Annual Conference of the Church, held in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Friday morning, October 6, 1893, reported by Arthur Winder).

President Wilford W. Woodruff
President Wilford Woodruff said essentially the same thing: "So it will be with your fathers. There will be very few, if any, who will not accept the Gospel. . . the fathers of this people will embrace the Gospel." (Ibid., April 8, 1894).

Sometime this month our youngest daughter will complete the circle of life in her generation by going to the Oakland Temple for the first time. She is the last of our children to go to the Mountain of the Lord's House. All her eleven brothers and sisters and their spouses before her have received the ordinances of salvation. Everything we do in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints points one toward the temple and the ordinances administered there. It is always a journey of faith for each soul who comes to the temple. In recognition of her decision to receive her personal ordinances in preparation for her pending mission to Washington D.C. South Mission, I wanted to share with all of the readers of this page what I would say to Merilee if she were here with me to better prepare her for what she will experience behind the temple doors.

Oakland Temple
It is necessary to make this bold statement at the outset: There are very few things we cannot discuss about the temple, since most of what happens there is scriptural and can be obtained in the public records, books, sermons and scriptures published by the Church for all to see. Indeed, every temple before it is dedicated is open to the public for tours and explanatory inspections by anyone who is curious enough to come inside. I love what Elder Neal A. Maxwell used to say, “Through the restitution of all things, God is actually giving away the secrets of the universe!” (That Ye May Believe [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, Inc., 1992] 164), for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. Indeed, we are reminded, "And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people." (Mosiah 3:20). That time is now.

President Henry B. Eyring
President Henry B. Eyring gave a wonderful Conference talk a few years ago, inviting all to "Come Unto Christ." He called it "the most important invitation we could offer to someone." We see the invitation throughout the scriptures, as in this reference: "Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy. Hearken diligently unto me, and remember the words which I have spoken; and come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness." (2 Nephi 9:50-51).

We are reminded, ". . .ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true." (Mosiah 4:12). And Jacob encouraged us with these words: "O then, my beloved brethren, repent ye, and enter in at the strait gate, and continue in the way which is narrow, until ye shall obtain eternal life. O be wise; what can I say more?" (Jacob 6:11-12). The "strait gate" refers to the ordinances of salvation, first at the edge of the waters of baptism, then eventually at the doors of the temple. We learn all about eternal life when we go to the temple, and our experiences there buttress and flesh out more fully everything we learn in the scriptures. I believe the textbooks for eternal life are the scriptures and the classroom is the temple.

Seat time in the classroom, however, is no substitute for hands on experience and experimentation outside the classroom with the textbooks and living among all the contradictions of mortality that go with the celestial ideals. There are no such things as "cloistered" monasteries in the Church. We live in the world every day. We are buffeted and tested, tried and judged, bruised and broken. It is all part of our mortal probation, but we are shown the road map on our homeward journey. None is excluded. All are invited to make the discoveries necessary to guide them unerringly toward reunion.

Everything we do and learn in the temple points us homeward to God and His Son, Jesus Christ. The temple is all about "reunion," pointing us forward to that day when we regain our patriarchal heritage with God our Father, after being shut out of their presence for a season while we are here on earth in the "testing phase" of our eternal existence. (Abraham 3:24-26).

For reasons of propriety, I will briefly divide the temple ordinances here into three major parts written about and discussed extensively elsewhere.

Initiatory Ordinances

Following baptism, the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost and priesthood ordinations for men, the initial part of the temple ordinance is initiatory in nature and pertains to preparatory symbolic washings and anointings. These preliminary ordinances are a type and shadow of events yet to come when we have fulfilled our covenant duties to preach the gospel and administer its blessings to our fellowmen. (See Ezekiel 3:18-21; Acts 18:5-6; Jacob 1:19; 2:2; Ether 12:38; D&C 88:81-82).


The second part endows God’s children with knowledge and spiritual power if we are faithful to keeping our covenants, and it pertains to the four priesthood keys in order to fulfill our covenant duties. Once admitted to the temple both men and women are freely given these keys of understanding, knowledge and wisdom we will need to regain our full fellowship with God.


In the third part God’s children enter into sealing ordinances, the first being the conditional sealing ordinance of the new and everlasting covenant of marriage (see D&C 131:2, 19), that we might someday become kings and queens over our own family kingdoms in eternity IF we remain faithful to our temple covenants.

President Boyd K. Packer
President Boyd K. Packer makes it clear that both the man and the woman are involved together in all these sacred ordinances:

Those who tell you that in the kingdom of God a woman’s lot is less than that of the man know nothing of the love, akin to worship, that the worthy man has for his wife. He cannot have his priesthood, not the fulness of it, without her. “For no man,” the Prophet said, “can get the fulness of the priesthood outside the temple of the Lord” (see D&C 131:1-3). And she is there beside him in that sacred place. She is there and shares in all that he receives. Each, individually, receives the washings and anointings, each may be endowed. But he cannot ascend to the highest ordinances -- the sealing ordinances -- without her at his side. (“The Circle of Sisters,” Ensign, November 1980, 111).

Again, the fullness of the temple ordinance pertains to the second Melchizedek Priesthood key. These things are administered freely to worthy men and women and pertain to the spirit of Elijah and Messiah:

"The spirit, power, and calling of Elijah is, that ye have power to hold the key of the revelations, ordinances, oracles, powers and endowments of the FULNESS of the Melchizedek Priesthood and of the kingdom of God on the earth. . ." (TPJS, 337).

"The spirit of Elias is first, Elijah second, and Messiah last. Elias is a forerunner to prepare the way, and the spirit and power of Elijah is to come after, holding the keys of power, building the Temple to the capstone, placing the seals of the Melchizedek Priesthood upon the house of Israel, and making all things ready; then Messiah comes to His Temple, which is last of all." (TPJS, 340).

In summary, each of the four priesthood keys is administered to men and women through the priesthood. Faith is administered through the priesthood, the preparatory gospel is administered through the priesthood, the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost, the First Comforter, is administered through the priesthood, and the temple ordinances pertaining to obtaining the blessings of the Second Comforter are administered through the priesthood in the temples.

With Scott Strong years ago, I wrote extensively about the priesthood keys, and have shared it here for anyone who would like a free pdf copy of the book's manuscript.

Salt Lake Temple
 As you prepare to go to the temple, Merilee, recognize that everything you will need to ensure your eternal exaltation in the presence of your Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, is administered to you there, subject of course, to your faithfulness. All the promised blessings are only efficacious IF we keep our covenants. If we do not, we are promised we will be in Satan's power. (Alma 34:34-35).

In my own extended family I have seen examples of each - those who were faithful and those who were not. I know the promises are true for each. I know we can remain faithful and inherit eternal life. I also know we can reject God and come under Satan's power, even to the destruction of our bodies in the flesh. The temple ordinances are designed to help us love, honor and serve God, sanctify our minds and bodies in this life and prepare ourselves for eternal life.

In the Mountain of the Lord's House (Isaiah 2:2) we receive all the promised blessings conditionally, based upon our individual faithfulness.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Thoughts on Father

Helen and Brent Goates
There is nothing to compare with being the father of a righteous posterity. I said "righteous," not perfect. For me the definition might be a little different than what you may have heard. "Righteous" equates to "repenting" with me.

The record of  people contained in The Book of Mormon is where I take my cue - sometimes the Lamanites were righteous because they were repenting. The Nephites were righteous too, but only when they were repenting.

This business of repenting and forgiving must be the reason we were organized into families. We get to use all that fertile lab material readily available to us in the most intense personal relationships we can imagine. We have family members. Sometimes we love each other. As we grow older we learn to loathe them, anger arises and gives vent in our hearts, and sometimes we actually have to relearn love in our old age. Whatever the case may be, we will all admit learning to love one another is often a lifetime endeavor not easily mastered, yet we long to be more like Heavenly Father and sooner or later we must learn to love just like He does.

Bishop Goates, 1954
We can learn much from the lessons of the scriptures about our own lives. In recent weeks I have been reflecting about the life of my own father, Lesley Brent Goates, who celebrated his 90th birthday. He was born on a memorable day - 2-2-22 - Groundhog Day. In their later years it was the practice of my parents to annually rent the Bill Murray movie on his birthday and watch together. Mom passed away on Easter weekend, 2000. He still misses her intensely. Life without her has not been easy, but bearable in the knowledge he will once again be with her. Theirs is a marriage that was "sealed" in the temple for time and for all eternity.

The fanciful ideal of true love is commonplace among mankind, whether they have a knowledge of the restoration of priesthood keys or not. Every so often a movie comes out to remind everyone of how eternal our spirits are by nature. "Ghost" is an example. "Sixth Sense" is another. Our spirits live on beyond the grave, awaiting the day of resurrection where they will be reunited with the bodies now entombed in the grave.

Helen Lee Goates
There is little doubt in Dad's mind that he will see Mom again, not only to be reunited in the spirit world when he dies, but also in the resurrection of the dead on the morning of the first resurrection when it comes. That is why Mormon funerals are always so full of hope. Death is never the end. In death one merely walks through a door into a different room, but there is nothing permanent about death. It is a temporary stage of progression.

As I reviewed Dad's life and put together a slideshow for the occasion, I was reminded of all his good qualities. I surveyed a life well-lived. From the moment he put his feet on the straight and narrow path leading toward eternal life, his footsteps never faltered, he never deviated, nor did his devotion to the truth and building the kingdom of God on earth ever slacken. His is a remarkable record of achievement, perseverance, hard word and unstinting discipleship. It is a life worthy of emulation, to be sure.

Helen and Brent, 1975
The thing that was impressed upon me again and again was his perpetual smile. The goodness of his soul, the strength of his eternal spirit, radiated out to me in picture after picture. It didn't matter whether he was in high school, serving as a missionary in the last group of missionaries who went to Texas during World War II, or all the years of his working life. In it all there was his radiant smile, constantly glowing and ever-present.

His was an extraordinary life of discipleship. At an early age his desire to obey God was stamped into his DNA. He had faults - he was full of them - and as his oldest son I could easily document them. I saw the best and the worst of him. It's strange, somehow, isn't it that when we grow older the faults of others seem to dim in our memories, permitting us to focus almost exclusively on their goodness. Thank the Lord for a faltering memory as you grow older, allowing us to remember the best of times and deselect the worst.

Huntsman Games Hall of Famer
So it is with Dad. He has managed to live long enough for this son to see only into his heart, the purest essence of his eternal spirit now occupying an increasing feeble physical frame. In recent years he became an inductee into the Huntsman Senior Games Tennis Hall of Fame. He hit a lot of tennis balls in his life, and now his exploits on the court are forever enshrined.

He hit a lot of those balls with me. I finally beat him when he was a mission president, and if you press me to the wall I'll tell you I "let" him beat me up until then just so I wouldn't shatter his brittle ego. He was a phenom on the courts, and from his earliest days until he just couldn't physically pick up the racket any more his twisting second serve took a wicked "up and away" hop off the court that was nearly impossible to return even at a slow pace.

State Doubles Champs (l to r),
Brent Goates and Chauncy Peterson
vs. Rick Warner and Billy Koch
When he was once a striking 6'1" (with all that youthful hair he would have looked about 6'4"), he now barely clocks in at about 5'3". In recent years he has become the amazing shrinking man due to chronic and painful arthritis and scoliosis and osteoporosis of the spine. His spine and aorta on an x-ray look more like the winding Mississippi, where once in his youth he stood ramrod straight as an arrow and excelled at basketball and tennis.

My love for Dad has grown intensely in this past month as I put together the slideshow of his life. I suppose there are few sons who really arrive at "getting" their Dad. Father and son relationships are somewhat like Mother and daughter relationships. It's complicated. On the one hand you love them for all they have done for you, on the other hand you wish they'd just butt out and let you do it yourself. When they offer a helping hand, often even money on the barrel head without a moment's hesitation when you need it most, you return thanks by your ingratitude and indifference until you need their resources again. And even then you sometimes hate them for their willingness and eagerness to rush to your help. Like I said, it's complicated.

I mentioned we could learn a lot from studying the lives of our scripture heroes. Father Jacob, whose name was later changed to Israel, was such a patriarch. The very name "Israel" suggests so much, a chosen people down through all the ages of the earth's existence. It was of Israel, as a people, to whom the Lord referred when He said, "Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. . . he kept him as the apple of his eye." (Deuteronomy 32:9-10). "And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh," Moses was instructed, "Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn." (Exodus 4:22). Elsewhere we learn more about Israel as the Lord's people, "But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend." (Isaiah 41:8).

Despite her routine backward slides as a people, the record all through Isaiah reflects, "Yet my hand is stretched out still," reminding us all that a necessary mid-course correction in our own lives is always in order and desirable because whenever and wherever it occurs, we are immediately welcomed back into the bosom of the Father and the Son as though we had never deviated.

The innocence of Christmas Eve
Any father in mortality who is making every effort to honor his covenants with God will find his burden immediately increased when a son transgresses for a season. The innocence of youth is too frequently replaced with sin and transgression. Sometimes the path back is torturous, long and winding. When a son rebels and turns his back on the very One with whom the father has made the covenant to obey, honor, sacrifice and serve at all costs, it is painful.

There are numerous examples in the scriptures of these fathers, almost without exception most are the revered patriarchal fathers with whom we are so familiar. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and before them Noah and Adam immediately spring to mind. We learn much about parenting rebellious sons from Lehi's and Sariah's family in the early chapters of The Book of Mormon. Each has one or more sons and daughters who rebelled against God and turned away from their covenant blessings. Most blamed their parents on the way out the door. The trend continues to this very hour. Blaming others, particularly your father or mother, for every ill that besets you has never been more fashionable, and it has never been more in error than today. No matter how badly you were treated as a child, it is possible to reclaim the ground you think they stole from you. It is forever possible to forgive them, forgive yourself and get back on the path, cherishing the best your parents offered, and rejecting their worst traits while still loving them.

June 24, 1946, a new Goates/Lee generation begins
Consider Jacob's agony with his posterity. Reuben, the birthright son, his firstborn, committed adultery with one of Jacob's wives. He had received a stunning pronouncement in a blessing from his father: "My firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength. . ." (Genesis 49:3). Imagine the blow to Jacob upon learning of his son's adulterous behavior. The burdens a man must carry in life as he moves forward with his posterity in the deep roiling oceans of life are magnified considerably by the disobedience and rebelliousness of any members of his family. Often, children are burdened by the same disobedience and willful rebellion of their parents, so let's not imagine the burdens only operate in one dimension.

At various times in his life we have record that at least four of Israel's sons were deviant in their discipleship, adding sorrow to their father. All of his sons except little Benjamin were culpable in the plot to kill Joseph at one time. Reuben saved him from certain death at the hands of his brothers by suggesting they should just throw him into the pit instead, and later it was Reuben who attempted to retrieve Joseph from the pit to deliver him back to his father. (Genesis 37:21-22, 29). Even Judah had no appetite for Joseph's blood. (Genesis 37:26-27). But the nefarious plot to destroy the birthright son was hatched up in "group think" among all the brothers because like so many families today, one righteous member of the family became the scapegoat for the sins of all the rest. Jealousy, envy, pride, desire to cover one's own sin -- all qualify as motivations.

Sometimes Satan is enabled by our self-deception to the point the truth becomes convoluted and twisted beyond recognition and a fantasy world ensues where distinguishing between truth and error becomes nearly impossible. We come to believe and defend a lie. The whole history of the Nephite and Lamanite civilization is ample evidence of what can happen.

Ute hoopster, 1942
The story of Israel's sons and their devious plot, while not completely known to him at the time, would have been enough to break the spirit of the average man and possibly even cause him to reject his family. But Israel was no ordinary man. Neither is Brent Goates. He never abandoned them, even the worst of them. Israel knew his eternal possibilities with his numerous posterity. He trusted in the promises. He also knew those promises were only going to come to pass through his posterity, so he never gave up reaching out to them, succoring them, feeling after them. In short, he was trying to become like God himself. He knew and believed in the infinite love and mercy embodied in the atonement of Christ. He knew and trusted in the limitless availability of repentance and forgiveness, and their ultimate redemption.

So he sailed on through the troubled waters of his tortured familial relationships, never wavering, never doubting and offering an example of constancy in faith. He turned neither to the right nor the left -- he charted and kept an undeviating course in righteousness, because he must certainly have known in time his sons would one day be gathered back into the family fold and they could repair together the harm that had come to them if they could find the path again he had forged for them through the "great deep." He had a clear vision of his divine destiny. Generations came through his faithfulness. We are the blessed recipients of his goodness today. He chose to endure with faith and hope, even when his father's heart was broken.

Certainly Israel would accept some blame for his children's wayward natures. After all, like all mortal men, every father passes along undesirable traits of personality. Perhaps a quick temper, an angry temperament that flashes judgmental decrees, or a tendency to meet out swift and seemingly harsh discipline without empathetic listening skills. Some intense fathers (not singling anybody out here) have even been known to lecture their children well into their adult years, so earnest and eager is their desire to correct their obvious faults. All this causes friction and tension in families.

But rest assured. God does not wander around heaven wringing His hands daily over the obvious deviations of his sons and daughters living here on earth in mortality. Instead, even He bows beneath the rod of moral agency, and gives each the maximum latitude to make choices, reminding them they alone are accountable for those choices. Blame your fathers and mothers if you like for all your sins, He would say if He were here, but realize that only when you one day come to your senses and look yourselves in the mirror can you begin to see more clearly what you need to do. That usually involves repenting, and only you can do it if you will. God leaves the decisions all up to us, and in family life we all get ample opportunities to learn how to repent and forgive. We're all family lab rats, and we all get to experiment on each other.

Bruce, Brent, Helen
Audrey, Leda, Les Goates
We all came from somewhere (someone) and we're all headed somewhere (with lots of someones). There's a reason the bridal sealing rooms are flanked on each side with mirrors on the walls to remind us life is eternal in both directions.

One can imagine a father like Israel forgiving nearly everything except something that disastrous like your firstborn birthright son having sex with your own wife, and yet even that, we learn, was forgiven. It cost Reuben losing his birthright to younger brother Joseph, but the record shows even the tribe of Reuben will one day be gathered back in with all the others to receive in time ALL the birthright blessings in full. Sometimes change takes time, and sometimes only the passage of time and the rounding out of all the sharp edges can make of each of us a polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty, like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the righteous patriarchs who followed in their wake.

Men like Lesley Brent Goates. Happy 90th Birthday to you!

Dad's fond of saying these days, "I'm the last leaf on the tree, and the wind's blowing harder." He's at the end of the path leading to the tree of life, and in not too many days hence he will partake of its fruit. At his funeral there will be no sorrow in his passing. He knows, and we all know, what will happen next when he passes through that door up ahead.

In death, for him, there is nothing but deferred rejoicing awaiting him.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Utah Caucus Night is March 15th at 7:00 p.m.

From the Utah Republican Party tonight:

Caucus Night is just five weeks away on Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 7 p.m.!

There are several ways you can learn more about Utah’s Nomination system. Please share these resources with your friends. First, here is a link for a great overview of how the Caucus Convention process works.

The Utah Republican Party has developed a Caucus Awareness program taught by certified Caucus Ambassadors.  These Ambassadors are all across the state and are training voters on the importance of the Caucus system and how to make the most of the Caucus experience.  You can find a list of Caucus Ambassadors in your area and the trainings that are currently scheduled on the events calendar. If you would like to schedule a training, contact Party HQ at 801.533.9777 or  You can also find the 2012 Caucus Rules here.

Other groups, organizations and campaigns are also conducting delegate trainings. The Party has a certification process for these groups to ensure that correct Caucus Rules and procedures are being communicated.  We encourage any group who is training delegates to become certified. If you have any question as to whether or not a person, campaign, group, or organization is a certified by the State Party, please contact Party HQ at 801.533.9777. We will also be posting a list certified trainers and groups at so voters will know they are being trained by a certified trainer.

If you are a group, campaign or organization who would like to become certified, there will be a Certification meeting on Thursday, February 16 at 10 a.m. at Party HQ.

Finally, every Precinct Chair and Caucus Host will be trained via their county party on how to run a successful Caucus.  If you are a Precinct Chair, please attend a meeting in your County to be trained and to pick up the materials you will need to conduct your Caucus meeting.