Recently Read Books

  • A Delicate Truth- John Le Carre (fiction)
  • Perfect - Rachel Joyce (Fiction)
  • The Expats - Chris Pavone (Fiction)
  • An Event in Autumn - Henning Mankel (Fiction)
  • Winter in Madrid - C.J.Sansom (Fiction)
  • The Brothers - John Foster Dulles and Allen Dulles - non-fiction
  • LIfe Among Giants - Bill Roorbach (Novel)
  • Empty Mansions - Bill Dedman (non-fiction)
  • Woodrow Wilson (non fiction)
  • Lawrence in Arabia (Non-Fiction)
  • In Sunlight and In Shadow by Mark Helpren (Fiction)
  • Lesson in French - Hilary Reyl (fiction)
  • Unbroken- Laura Hillenbrand (Non-Fiction)
  • Venice, A New History- Thomas Madden - (Non- Fiction)
  • Life is a Gift - Tony Bennett Autobiography
  • The First Counsell - Brad Meltzer (Fiction)
  • Destiny of the Republic - President James Garfield non-fiction by Candice Millard
  • The Last Lion (volume III)- William Manchester and Paul Reid (non-fiction, Winston Churchill)
  • Yellowstone Autumn -W.D. Wetherell (non-fiction about turning 55 and fishing in Yellowstone)
  • Everybody was Young- (non-fiction Paris in the 1920's)
  • Scorpion - (non fiction US Supreme Court)
  • Supreme Power - Jeff Shesol (non-fiction)
  • Zero day by David Baldacci ( I read all of Baldacci's Books)
  • Northwest Angle - William Kent Krueger (fiction - I have read 5 or 6 books by this author)
  • Camelot's Court-Insider the Kennedy Whitehouse- Robert Dallek
  • Childe Hassam -Impressionist (a beautiful book of his paintings)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Freedom of Religion Freedom From Religion

I would not describe myself as religious.  I have a spiritual side but I am not religious.  I was born and raised Mormon and have great respect for that religion and agree with some of its teachings but not all.  Now, when I go to church I go to Catholic Church with the Lovely Sharon, a born and raised Catholic.  I have great respect for that religion and agree with some of its teachings but not all.  I consider my spiritual leader to be Monsignor Moore in Draper Utah one of the bet men I know.  So with that background I want to go into a tirade over the current mess with religion and politics.
Freedom of religion, as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, involves two important components. The first is a prohibition on the "establishment of religion" by government - the separation of Church and State; and the second, ensures that the government allows for the practice of religion. The Amendment reads: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" (Constitution). Also, the Fourteenth Amendment supports freedom of religion as it includes a provision protecting the rights of individuals from the encroachment of state law (Constitution).
I find the litmus test that some current candidates and many of the electorate (primarily the religious right) attempt to impose on the presidential election process. Consider:

·        Romney is a Mormon and not a Christian and therefore some consider him not suitable to be president.  I don’t want Romney to be president but to rule him out because he is a Mormon is total horsepucky.

·        Many of the religious right question President Obama’s claim to be a Christian just as they questioned his citizenship before his birth certificate was presented.   Here is an interesting  snipet from a New York Times Blog ( :

 The Rev. Franklin Graham, son of the evangelist Billy Graham, said on Tuesday that he was not sure if President Obama was a true Christian and that he could not definitively say that the president was not a Muslim.

“He’s come out saying that he’s a Christian,” Mr. Graham said of Mr. Obama in an interview on the MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “The question is, what is a Christian?”

Asked if he would declare that Mr. Obama was not a Muslim, Mr. Graham replied, “I can’t say categorically, because Islam has gotten a free pass under Obama.” Mr. Graham cited the rise of Islamic parties in the Middle East as part of the Arab Spring and what he called a weak American response to the growing persecution of Christian minorities in Africa and the Middle East.

“All I know,” Mr. Graham said, is that Mr. Obama “seems to be more concerned about” the Muslims of the world than “the Christians that are being murdered in the Muslim countries.”

In fact, the Obama Administration has spoken out for the rights of religious minorities and has condemned the growing violence against the Coptic Christians in Egypt, for example, calling for punishment of those responsible. But it has not heeded the call by Mr. Graham and some other evangelicals to threaten an immediate end to American aid to Egypt or other countries where Christians have suffered.

"If he says he’s a Christian, I’m not going to say he’s not,” Mr. Graham said of the president. “For me, the definition of a Christian is whether we have given our life to Christ and are following him in faith and we have trusted him as our lord and savior.”

This is not the first time that Mr. Graham and other evangelicals have cast doubts on Mr. Obama’s Christian beliefs. Last weekend, Rick Santorum, the Republican presidential candidate who calls himself a conservative Catholic, said that the president was guided by “some phony ideal, some phony theology.” He later said that he was not questioning Mr. Obama’s Christianity, only his view of man’s place in nature.

            Last October, Rick Santorum gave an interview with an Evangelical blog called Caffeinated Thoughts, in which he said contraception is “not okay,” and that this would be a public policy issue he would tackle as President.  Do we really want the government to take a position and advocate for no contraception?  This is truly a position of violation of freedom from religion.

            The Obama administration recently advocated that church sponsored businesses such as universities and hospitals that employed and served non church members must provide for contraception as part of their health care plans.  The opposition to this position by the Catholic Church and others is truly an avocation of freedom of religion and I was glad the Obama administration backed off on their position.
             Santorum has said “We look at the shape of mainline protestantism in this country and it is in shambles, it is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.”  Santorum, a Catholic is critical of Protestant churches.
             One of departed candidate Rick’s Perry’s religious advisors, Robert Jeffress, has called both Mormonism and Catholicism cults.  Perry did not disassociate himself from the comments but rather said he agreed.
            So in this time of financial meltdown and worldwide threats to the way of life we as Americans want and believe we are entitled to, we are faced with candidates and their supporters saying (i) Mormons are a non-Christian cult; (ii) Catholics are a cult, and (iii) protestants are gone from the world of Christianity.  Doesn’t this remind you of the 1500 year battle between Shia and Sunni Muslims?  Our religion and our beliefs are true and of God and yours are not.  And because yours are not, you are at worse evil or at best, not qualified or otherwise a proper person to be an elected leader in America.
             This kind of thought seems so contrary to what America is about. Do we really want a government that is a theocracy built around the ideals and litmus test of some select religion?  I don’t like the Mormon theocracy we have in Utah state government and certainly don’t want to have the same on a national basis.  America is diverse religious and non-religious country.  We have all kinds of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and atheists that make up our country, all of which are entitled to constitutional protections.

             We should celebrate our freedom of religion, but we should also celebrate our freedom from religion.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Book Recommendations

I have added four books to this list of books on the top of this page.  I would estimate that for every three books I read, I only add one to the book list.  However, all four of the last four books I read have been added to the list, and to avoid an unwieldly list, I have removed several books which I normally do.  A brief description of the recently added books is as follows:

Kill Shot by Vince Flynn.  I have read most, if not all, of Vince Flynn's books.  His continuing character is Mitch Rapp a U.S. agent/assassin.   Mitch is a stud and all of the bad guys are killed in this book.  If you like the spy/acytion/suspense genre you will like Vince Flynn's books.  His website is

Supreme Power by Jeff Shesol.   My good friend David Z from Palm Desert not only recommended this book to me, he lent me his copy as well his his copy of Scorpion.  I have just started reading Scorpion and will add it to my list when I am done.  However, I have read Supreme Power and it is a long but a very interesting and worthwhile read if you are interested in the early Franklin D. Roosevelt administration.  Here is a description from Alan Brinkley of the New York Times Review of Books

In 1937, a few months after his landslide re-election to a second term, Franklin Roosevelt set out on one of the boldest and most dangerous courses of his presidency. The conservative Supreme Court had already struck down a series of New Deal programs. Roosevelt feared that the mostly aged justices would go on to destroy the rest of his legislative achievements before he would have a chance to make any new appointments. As a result, he proposed a “reform” of the courts that would, among other things, have added an additional justice to the Supreme Court for every current justice over the age of 70. It became the most controversial proposal of his presidency — so much so that it nearly paralyzed his administration for over a year and destroyed much of the fragile unity of the Democratic coalition.

I am a history buff and the period from 1920 to 1950 is undoubtedly my favorite period to read about.
Our country's current financial problems seem like a rerun of what was going on in the period covered by this book.

The Private Patient by P.D. James.    I have read several books by P.D. James and have enjoyed each of them. She is described on her website

 P. D. James is the author of twenty books, most of which have been filmed and broadcast on television in the United States and other countries. She spent thirty years in various departments of the British Civil Service, including the Police and Criminal Law Department of Great Britain's Home Office. She has served as a magistrate and as a governor of the BBC.

The website includes the following description about the Private Patient:

Cheverell Manor is a beautiful old house in Dorset, which its owner, the famous plastic surgeon George Chandler-Powell, uses as a private clinic. When the investigative journalist, Rhoda Gradwyn, arrives to have a disfiguring facial scar removed, she has every expectation of a successful operation and a peaceful week recuperating. But the clinic houses an implacable enemy and within hours of the operation Rhoda is murdered. Commander Dalgliesh and his team are called in to investigate a case complicated by old crimes and the dark secrets of the past. But Before Rhoda's murder is solved, a second horrific death adds to the complexities of one of Dalgliesh's most perplexing and fascinating cases.

Night Vision by Randy Wayne White.  Randy Wayne White's continuing character is Doc Ford, a marine biologist/black-ops guy.  The following is a description from the Randy Wayne White website (

Trouble is brewing at a Florida trailer park populated by illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America : the park’s manager, a steroid freak who dabbles in snuff movies, draws his expendable talent from the immigrant population, but he’s managed to offend a drug lord, who isn’t pleased that his female customers are turning up dead. Matters are further complicated when an adolescent girl, Tula , rumored to possess mystical ability, sees the manager feeding a body to his pet gator. Doc Ford, Sanibel Island marine biologist and sometime black-ops agent, is drawn into the trailer-park trauma by his longtime friend Tomlinson, the aging hippie whose own mystical inclinations have brought him into contact with Tula . When the steroid freak kidnaps Tula , Ford is forced to go full commando—night-vision goggles and all—to track down the girl and dispatch the numerous bad guys.

The Lovely Sharon and both love to read.  I enjoy sharing recommendations with friends and receving recommendations.  If you have a suggestion, email me or leave a comment on this blog.