Looking dumb and feeling shame is miserable in real time. But there is something wonderful about embarrassing moments in retrospect. Maybe it’s how they knock us down to human size and make us laugh at ourselves.Read More
Justice Antonin Scalia was good at his job. He usually got the case before him right, which is impressive enough. He was also right in a broader, long-game sense. He was the justice, more than any other, who stood athwart the imperial judiciary yelling stop. Thus, even when he was a lone dissenting voice, he showed generations of thinkers and lawyers the way.Read More
Friends and family have asked me about the trial last week. It's hard to do the thing justice in an ordinary conversation, so here's a quick break-down:
In July 2008, our client, a four-year-old girl, was sexually assaulted here in Logan, Utah at the workplace of North Eastern Services, Inc. ("NES") by an NES employee. NES assists individuals with mental disabilities who live in residential neighborhoods. The employee was a meth addict who had previously been fired by a similar business for sexually abusive conduct ...Read More
Anthony Kennedy's gay marriage opinion is a prose atrocity. Absurdly grandiose. Hopelessly abstract. Orwellian in its overwrought insistence on vaguely defined "liberty." Worse, the opinion is poor law, even judged by the less than rigorous standards of current constitutional law. It is completely unmoored from the text, structure, and history of the Constitution. It is even unmoored from the Supreme Court's convoluted equal protection and due process jurisprudence. Ultimately, it is not law at all, but simply a naked display of power: we think this is right and you can't stop us from making it so.Read More
I will miss Elder L. Tom Perry. When I saw the news that he was ill, I remembered being in the MTC, the Missionary Training Center, in Provo in the fall of 1995. Elder Perry came and spoke to the thousands of missionaries there getting ready to be shipped out to points all over the globe.Read More
This was a case in Utah County involving a failed real estate development. The plaintiff was a Japanese investor who lost his approximately $3.5 million investment. Our clients, the developers on the ground here in Utah, were great guys who did everything they could to save the project under very difficult circumstances ...Read More
So a politician is asked whether he "believes" in evolution. It's a dumb question. Science is valid or invalid. It doesn't require our "belief." And science certainly isn't the product of politicians' declarations. The politician is a conservative, and the journalist's game is transparent enough: it's an attempt to mark the politician as a rustic, a rube, a believer.Read More
"This short vignette in “Mission Rules” is an example of realistic fiction that deals with the experiences of a Mormon mission. Too often the genre is cast in a forced positive light (a clumsy attempt to serve as a spiritual potion) or in a memoir tense, that usually serves as a tale of sacrifice that leads to enhanced spirituality, either for the narrator, the investigators, or both."
"What we don’t get much of, at least in books, is the missionary experience devoid of spirituality or drama; instead a narrative of what it’s like for young adults to be thrust into a mission, a culture and land they are novices in. Becoming diplomats, problem-solvers, counselors, ministers, and so on, come with mistakes, frustrations, anger, happiness, disillusionment, repressed passions, spirituality, ego, regret, and sometimes, as much wisdom as can be spared on a person so young."
A sample for your consideration:
SH: What draws us to missionary stories? Why do we like placing missionaries in perilous situations?SPB: Being a Mormon today is a soft and cushy ride compared to what our pioneer ancestors saw with one significant exception: full-time proselytizing missions. Missions are perilous! Physically, spiritually, you name it! Missionaries are repeatedly forced to confront challenges to our peculiar beliefs and history head on. Missionaries fight, on a daily basis, human indifference to God. Missionaries face unspeakable physical dangers compared to the safe homes and families they left behind. I had experiences I didn't write home about. I had experiences I still haven't told my mom about, and I probably never will. I think Millstone City derives some of its intensity from Mormons' very sensible anxiety about the perils of missionary service. I know I have my anxieties about these things on behalf of my own children, and they are all several years from being eligible to serve. Mission stories draw on the fact that missions are the final frontier for the Mormon pioneering spirit.
My collection of missionary memoir short stories called The Mission Rules was officially published on December 15, 2012. Just in time for me to hand out copies to friends and family for Christmas! It is available in paperback and on Kindle.
I posted an earlier version of The Mission Rules a few years back on my old, now defunct, website. It was called "All the Great Lights" back then. Since then, I decided I was sufficiently proud of these stories to have them professionally copy edited, to edit them once more for content and clarity, to organize them in a more coherent manner, to take the time to design a cover and on and on and on! It was a fair bit of work, but it was a labor of love. I hope you check it out.
"Where I think Millstone City really succeeds is as an exploration of character. In Carson and Nordgren, Bailey creates missionary characters who are both flawed and sympathetic, in interesting ways. They’re motivated to do good, but they’re not angels. They’re also pretty darn scared. But I thought that the most interesting portrayal of character was Heitor. Yes, the guy is a killer. Yes, he’s wrapped up in some pretty serious stuff. Yes, his first instinct is self-preservation. But he’s also a boy who loves his family. A boy who probably believed, when he was hearing the missionary discussions, that there might be a chance that he too, could someday serve. The novel doesn’t draw overt conclusions about Heitor’s eternal state, but it does show Heitor struggling with the consequences of his actions.
"The thing I like best about Millstone City is that it’s eminently readable. I’ve read a lot of “Mormon” mysteries in the last year, and none of them holds a candle to this. I want to recommend it to my friends, push it into my husband’s hands, and tell them all to go escape to Brazil for a few hours."