Sunday, January 20, 2013


Night before last, I had a disturbing, haunting dream.  I dreamed I was working outside at the apartment in the South Valley – a semi-rural, largely Mexican part of town.  (It used to be populated largely by Americans of Mexican and Spanish ancestry, but that has changed – and is a different story.)

In my dream, a rough-looking man and a little girl came into the yard. The man spoke to me in a heavy Mexican accent, and said, “You wanna buy a girl?”

I thought he was kidding, and said, “Are you selling one?”

“Yeah,” he said, “This one,” and pushed her in front of him.

Still thinking he was trying to make a point or run some kind of con, I went along with him.  I looked at her appraisingly, and said, “Shoot, I wouldn’t give you more’n fifty bucks for that one.”

He said, “Cash?”

“Sure.  I’ve got that much cash.”

“Okay,” he said, and held out his hand.

I gave him fifty bucks. He shoved the little girl toward me and handed me a paper sack with a few clothes in it, then spun and walked off up the street.  I looked at her, then at him, and realized he wasn’t kidding.  “Hey, what the hell?” I yelled at him.

"Her mother is a puta and ran back to Mexico, and my girlfriend doesn’t like her.  I don’t like her, either.”

“Well…”  I couldn’t think of anything else to ask.   “What’s her name?”

“I don’t think she has one.  I just call her Stupid,” and he was gone around the corner, walking rapidly, not looking back.  Not once.

I looked at the little girl.  She stood erect, with her hands folded in front of her, eyes fixed on the ground about ten feet away.  She never spoke or looked at me, and she never looked at the man.  I gently stroked the back of her head and said, “Well, come on in, then,” and walked inside.  Without a word or gesture, she followed me.

And that’s all I remember of the dream, but that little girl has haunted me the last two days.  Where did such a vivid, heartbreaking dream come from?  Was it some random data generator in my head, spitting out whatever insanity it came up with?  Then today, I was telling a friend about the dream and suddenly realized the origin of it, and that is not a different story.


On Thursday, I was running some errands in Albuquerque, and in my travels, I saw three billboards and two bus wraps that warned of “human trafficking.”  This, of course, is a euphemism for human slavery.  One bus had a picture of a man with a mustache, and the caption, “He wanted to take care of his family.  Now he’s a slave.”  Another had a wrap all the way down the side that had pictures of women and children of different races in the windows, as if they were looking out, with the caption “We are not for sale!”

When I was in Texas a few years ago, I was struck by the fact that almost all businesses had signs in their doors or windows reminding people that it is illegal to traffic in human beings. I thought, “Maybe if they’d call it slavery, folks would remember from their schooling that it was made illegal some years back.”

We never saw such signs until the last decade or so.  I’m sure there has always been some trade in humans, especially women and girls, from time immemorial, but it was never so prevalent that we had to have billboards and signs in windows to remind people not to buy or sell their neighbors – as you’d remind them to buckle up, or to shop at Wal-Mart.  I have wondered if we are really and truly so…  I don’t even know what the word is, that we really need such reminders -callous… cynical…self-centered…uncaring …isolated from reality…?

The answer is pragmatically obvious, I guess.  If we were moral enough that we didn’t need the warnings, we would be moral enough to not have the problem.  If people really understood what a horrible thing slavery is, only the most barbaric and deviant among us would engage in it, and it wouldn’t be all that hard to find them and string them up with their own entrails from a lamp post somewhere.  Maybe that would be more effective, since if you talk to people about right and wrong, and they don’t give a damn about it, you’re wasting your breath and money.  Perhaps we should just say, “If you engage in the slave trade, you will be lynched in your own guts.”

So, apparently we do have the problem, although there is a distinct possibility that the media and the moral mavens in the government – those who haven’t the guts to say no to slavery, but, man, if you have an AR-15, they’re gonna be on you like ugly on an ape – are making it up.  The press and the academics and the nannies have been known to completely fabricate things in the past.  But intuition tells me there really is a problem with human slavery in the oldest constitutional republic in the world – in the nation that once was the beacon to all the world’s downtrodden – in the nation that was a city on a hill.

We  have, after all, seen the type of thinking that enables such travesties.  It has been pushed at us from  our pre-school days, in ever-increasing intensity and sophistication, right through college and beyond.  The individual is nothing.  Culture is everything.  Society is the supreme authority over the individual.  People only exist as sacrificial goats, to be bled, by the state, for the benefit of Society.  Women are just life support systems for vaginas, and vaginas are just highways for more little welfare checks and tax deductions.

Yeah, I really do see it as being that dark.  And it tears me all to pieces.  I’ve always been real big on individual liberty, and the value of the individual human being.  Even when I was an atheist, I could see that humanity is capable of the most sublime, heart-stopping virtue and beauty, if they are left alone to flourish.  As I write this, I see in my mind my daughters, my grand- and great-grandchildren, and my eyes are filling with tears.  My darlings, I am so very, very sorry to have allowed your world to become like this.  I was so foolish as to think it couldn’t really happen!  Had I seen, when I was 30, what I see now, I’d have taken a different path, and it would have been terrible, dark, and bloody.

And it probably wouldn’t have made a flippin’ bit of difference.

Deo Vindici

Sunday, January 6, 2013


In Sunday school today, one of the brothers asked us to talk about the gifts we have received from God, and specifically, those gifts that are very personal, and perhaps not obvious to others.  The first thing that occurred to me was the gift of a felicity of expression that allows me to organize information and express it with clarity and, on the good days, with power.  Then another thought struck me, as thoughts often do at such times, that was so unexpected that I could not express it, and frankly did not believe it. Having pondered it for a while, I believe I will share it now.

I have been blessed with the gift of sin.  You can see why that idea did not compute at first!  How can a sinful life be a gift?  Because it is part of what makes me unique, especially in the church.

The church is filled with men and women who have lived exemplary lives.  These folks are the real deal; they are not the self-righteous hypocrites that have turned so many people off to church, and even to God.  These are good people – real people – who have lived good lives.  Their children, however, are just starting their lives, and there is no end of temptation, negative example, and social pressure to live other than good lives.  Like so many parents in all churches, sometimes these adults just can’t relate to that stuff.

But I can, because I have lived a lot of it.  I have seen, first-hand, the power of temptation and the corrosion of sin – of how sin creeps upon us in increments.  Alexander Pope said, “Vice is a monster of so frightful a mien as to be hated needs only be seen; but, when oft we look on her face, we pity, then endure, then embrace.”  Pope nailed it.  I have an understanding, albeit an imperfect one, of how cause and effect can be separated by years and by many seemingly disparate events.

The Scriptures tell us there must needs be opposition in all things.  If we didn’t have dark, we could never understand light – or wrong, right – or misery, happiness.  Had I not lived the life I did, I don’t know if I could have ever grasped the real glory of being cleansed by baptism and living with the Holy Ghost as my companion and comforter. Some men may be capable of that kind of enlightenment without the contrast to the past, but I was not.

Now, having come so far out of the darkness, I can speak to these young people in humility, and, on the good days, perhaps with some power.  I would never claim to have exclusive authority over these lessons, or that their parents can never teach them.  I do know, though, that some of the lessons and principles are beyond the ken of their parents, and on those occasions, the gifts of sin and expression enable me to impart wisdom to these young people whom I love so dearly.  Most precious of all has been those instances when I was able to impart wisdom to my own beloved daughters.  For these occasions, alone, I weep in gratitude to My Father in Heaven.

Now the question begged is this:  “How many years ago did My Father in Heaven begin to shape me and guide me toward this point?”  The answer is in the Scriptures:  From the foundation of the world.  And that, Brothers and Sisters, friends and neighbors, is mighty humbling.