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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Arrival of Muckwhip Paperback

MUCKWHIP and a (future) Target, Hunter Heimerdinger
IT'S HERE! The paperback for Muckwhip's Guide to Capturing the Latter-day Soul has arrived from the printer and is ready for shipment. Those who have pre-ordered the book should receive their copies very soon.


ALSO, the opening chapter of Tennis Shoes 12: Thorns of Glory is still being offered free to customers of the book OR ebook. If you order the book from www.frostcave.com, we'll already have your email address to attach the chapter. If you order the paperback from Amazon, you'll need to contact Chris through Facebook or his email address(cheimerdinger@gmail.com) to let him know so we can reply with an attachment. Those who order the ebook from KINDLE or NOOK must contact Chris at his email address, confirm the date and (approx) time of purchase, and we will email back the chapter as an attachment.

To order an autographed paperback for 33% off from Chris, go to: http://frostcave.com/store/?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=55

For AMAZON/KINDLE go to: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Muckwhip

For NOOK, go to: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Muckwhip?keyword=Muckwhip&store=nookstore

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"Muckwhip" Review from Veronica Machen

Ok, so I have been a fan of Chris Heimerdinger forever. I think I have read everyone of his books and most of the Tennis Shoe books at least twice. When Chris came out with his newest book I couldn't wait to read it. It's called "Muckwhip's Guide to Capturing the Latter-day Soul." I read it on the kindle and reality was, it was hard to put down.

The premise is a "devil" giving advice to his underling on how to trip up and to lead his LDS target astray. The book is a good read and honestly made me think about how much the adversary wants us to fall and the subtle things he does to help lead us off the path. I found myself visualizing the things that have tripped me up or made me stumble and resolved to do better. I also found myself visualizing "hosts of angels" surrounding me every time I say my prayers.

This was a fabulous book, one that can make you think. If you like Chris's work, you won't be disappointed.

Veronica Machen

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Launi Ritter's Review/Analysis of "Muckwhip's Guide"

What a clever premise! I seriously COULD NOT put this book down! Now and then, you'll come across a book with a super clever premise, but as you read it, the cleverness quickly peters out, it gets stale and predictable, and then it just ends when, frankly, even the author gets too bored to write anymore. **NOT THIS BOOK!!!**
"Muckwhip's Guide" is super clever and it stays real, fresh, and unpredictable to the very end, with a myriad of unexpected twists and turns along the way. I found I could totally relate to the experiences this poor "target" goes through, in all stages of my life so far. I also recognized the same crafty and cunning traps the adversary sets at every turning point in life, especially just when any important decision approaches.
As a missionary serving in northern California, I had to be always diligent to prepare my investigators and reactivated members about Muckwhip-like tricks and traps every time we would commit someone to come to church, get their life in order with gospel teachings, be baptized, pay tithing, and any other big step along the way. Many times we succeeded, but--just like the circumstances in this book--sometimes we did not.
Every RM knows that there's nothing like committing someone to baptism to watch the adversary pull out all the stops to keep it from happening! In the short week or so between commitment and baptism, the unthinkable ALWAYS happens - relatives and neighbors pop up with anti-Mormon materials, the investigator falls and breaks his leg, he suddenly gets called into work for 3 days straight (over his baptism date, of course), and old now-repented-of sins and temptations crop up and push their tender testimonies to the breaking point.
The adversary is sly and tricky, and Muckwhip's destructive advice to his evil underlings really does provide us with a sneak preview into just how jealous, dastardly, and cunning the evil one can be. There are always simple ways to sidestep the traps he sets, though, and we've got far more powerful forces on our side, rooting for us and guiding us along. Poor Muckwhip is in for a big surprise if he thinks all his old tricks will work on everyone!
When I was only halfway through with reading the book, I already loved it enough that I bought several extra copies that I plan to give away as Christmas gifts to my seminary students and family members. Since then, I've finished reading it cover to cover, and I'm happy to report that I LOVED it and will read it again and again. It's honest, down-to-earth, easy reading and it entertains and delights to the very last page. You may even find your vocabulary getting stretched, by accident!
Muckwhip's Guide to Capturing the Latter-day Soul makes the ideal non-stocking-non-stuffer for everyone on your list - teens, prospective missionaries, returned missionaries, youth leaders, bishops, parents, grandparents, etc. You won't be disappointed!


Monday, December 10, 2012

Review of "Muckwhip's Guide" by Laura Paulson

The following is a review/analysis of Chris's new book, "Muckwhip's Guide to Capturing the Latter-day Soul."
From Laura Paulson

"I just finished Muckwhip (on the Nook!) and loved it! I recommended it to my husband, and I doubt I'll get the Nook back 'til he finishes it (sigh). I actually found myself wanting to use it as a source for a comment in Sunday school!

"I found myself drawn into the book. It was not only interesting but insightful. There were times I was reading and had the "I've-never-thought-about-it-that-way-before" type of reaction. It's an amazing book! I LOVE hearing the point of view of the imps! It didn't feel preachy, and as such, I think I could probably entice my sons to read it when they get older!

"I would like to thank Chris for his books, and also to thank him for "Muckwhip's Guide to Capturing the Latter-day Soul." It was .. (mentally searching for a good word here) .. delightful, interesting, devilish?

Long story short, I enjoyed it.


To read sample "h-mails", order the ebook for Kindle, or just to learn more about this title, go to: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Muckwhip

For Nook, go to: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/muckwhips-guide-to-capturing-the-latter-day-soul-chris-heimerdinger/1113853731?ean=2940015817249

To pre-order the paperback edition OR a Combo Pack for ebook and paperback, go to: http://frostcave.com/store/?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=55

    Saturday, December 1, 2012


    For those who haven't heard, I'm announcing the release of my new novel, "MUCKWHIP'S GUIDE TO CAPTURING THE LATTER-DAY SOUL: The Inside Scoop for Teens, Missionaries, and Families on Avoiding the Pits and Snares of the Enemy."
    I know. Everybody's waiting eagerly for the next "Tennis Shoes" adventure, but I started writing "Muckwhip" 13 years ago. All I did was comb its hair and wash its face and nudge it out into the world so that I didn't detract much time or attention from plowing ahead with "Book 12: Thorns of Glory." (Read my blog from last week to get more info on this).
    SPECIAL SALE!! The e-book on Kindle is normally $9.99. But until Friday, Dec. 7 (ONE WEEK!), I have PLACED THE KINDLE EBOOK on MEGASALE for $4.99. That's 50% OFF FOR THE NEXT 7 DAYS! Go to:
    The actual book comes out in paperback in Jan. 2013 (one month!). The Suggested Retail is $14.95 HOWEVER, pre-orders are $9.98. PLUS! All those who PRE-ORDER the book from www.frostcave.com will ALSO be emailed the FIRST CHAPTER of "TENNIS SHOES BOOK 12: THORNS OF GLORY"! I'm currently polishing this chapter (I guess it's technically called the Prologue), so I ask all buyers to give me couple days before I start sending this attachment to ALL PRE-ORDER CUSTOMERS of the paperback edition.
    MY READERS ARE THE BEST!!! Thus, you guys deserve a GREAT DEAL!!!
    Chris Heimerdinger

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012

    Link to Free "Muckwhip" Chapters!

    KINDLE! NOOK! The e-book is now available at muliple online locations. As I've already stated, a paperback edition of this novel is coming January. I just signed the contract with my distributor today, but I would presume you will find it wherever LDS-themed books are sold. And also in Costcos on the Wasatch Front! I've promised my distributor I'd do as many autographing events as they feel are necessary. The funnest place to do these is Costco, just because of the traffic. My hope is that I'll ALSO be able to offer customers the first couple chapters of the next Tennis Shoes book, just for good measure. :)

    Yes, this is a very different novel from any novel I've ever written. Some might think the concept is creepy or controversial. Shucks, maybe it is. But I had so much fun creating it. And frankly, those who take it too literally or seriously will miss the entire point. The purpose was never to dwell upon "devils" or Hell or other such dreary realities. Muckwhip's world is FICTIONAL. Everything was created for the sake of symbolism and metaphors. There is nothing funny or entertaining about REAL demons. In fact, I deliberately will not use that term. I'd rather stick with "devils" and all the stereotypical images this word conjures.

    SAMPLE CHAPTERS ARE NOW VISIBLE ONLINE! Go to: http://www.amazon.com/Muckwhips-Guide-Capturing-Latter-day-ebook/dp/B00ADZ04U8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354065419&sr=8-1&keywords=Muckwhip#reader_B00ADZ04U8

    We will also soon post a link for pre-orders of the hardcopy version. Stay tuned....

    Monday, November 26, 2012


    Finally, this cheeky little book that I originally wrote 13 years ago is for sale (at least in a few hours, after it finishes uploading) on Amazon. For Kindle go to: http://www.amazon.com/Muckwhips-Guide-Capturing-Latter-day-ebook/dp/B00ADZ04U8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354051856&sr=8-1&keywords=muckwhip

    Muckwhip's Guide for Capturing the Latter-day Soul will be available for Kindle, Nook, and Kobo. Nook and Kobo are still in the process of posting. This book will also be available in print (hardcopy) form, but not until after the first of the year. I hope to do an audio book version soon, but this will come out after the e-book and print versions.

    I've always loved this work, but quite honestly, my publisher--13 years ago--was very skeptical. They felt the LDS audience just wasn't ready for a book where "devils" are the main characters. To say nothing of finding them funny or ironic (or moronic). However, 13 years is a loooong time, and since then such phenoms as Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games have made (we hope) such a concept far less shocking. Keep in mind, these are fictional devils. Muckwhip's world is symbolic and metaphorical. Simply put, if you take it too seriously, you'll miss the whole point!

    The truth is, this was always a delightful work--a favorite as far as my writing goes and a story for which I was always very proud. Now, after a slight retooling and tweaking to make it appropos for today's audience, I'm thrilled to finally make it available to my readers.

    I've first announced this event here, on my blogspot. You are invited to be among the original readers to consume and review this novel. Please let me know what you think. And if you find any typos (doubtful, because we were just sooo careful!), let me know right away so I can fix them for all future downloads. Here's the book's backliner:


    In your hands is the clandestine correspondence of Muckwhip the Unmerciful, Viceroy of Vice, whose hyper-bureaucratic department in the Lower Realms is devoted exclusively to the destruction of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Muckwhip's infernal "h-mails" to his impish underlings are principally directed against Target 120–16A–44M (AKA, young Stuart Hansen) through his most challenging phases as a teenager, missionary, and husband in his daily struggles to emulate our Savior, Jesus Christ.

    Will Muckwhip's Target survive? Find out while catching an eye-popping glimpse into a world of unrestrained backstabbing and outrageous irony. In the grandiloquent tradition of Marlow, Milton, and Lewis, Muckwhip's Guide to Capturing the Latter-day Soul offers a unique perspective of the diabolical mind—providing readers with life-changing insights powerfully magnified by the enlightened backdrop of the Restored Gospel.  


    Sunday, November 18, 2012

    Mourning and Daylight

    It's been a difficult couple weeks.

    My father passed away on the day of the election. He'd been sick for quite some time, and he was a staunch conservative. I often expressed to him my confidence that Romney would pull out this election and come off victorious. He did not live long enough to know how wrong I was. He certainly knows now, I suspect.

    It was close. Very close. The Church received some incredible positive exposure, but not the kind of exposure that I felt a Latter-day Saint in the presidency would have brought. Maybe the Church wasn't ready. Maybe the world wasn't ready. Too many unanswerable questions. Still, we go on--as a Church, as a people, and as Americans.

    My son, Alex, received his Eagle Scout. We held his court of honor last night. As we stood and recited the "Pledge of Allegiance," I experienced strangely contradictory emotions. It felt as if those words no longer held the same meaning. In this election the majority of American appeared to knowingly (as opposed to four years ago) select a president and an administration who appear to support numerous tenets committed to dismantling the country where I grew up in. Yes, a negative fog has beset me since the election. I know I'm not alone. This one has been difficult to shake. Sure, I was disappointed years ago when Clinton was elected--twice!--but nothing so dark and foreboding overcame me then like it has now.

    Absolutely we must continue to hope that divided powers between the Senate, Executive, and House branches of government will keep things in check. But at the same time, there's nothing we can do to stop the implementation of Obamacare. Nothing we can do to stop the retirement and replacement of 2, possibly 3, Supreme Court Justices (approved, in the end, by our Democratic Majority Senate). And there seems little we can do about the whole culture of "gimme free stuff!" which seems to prevail among more Americans than ever before. Oddly, I sometimes perceive this same attitude of "entitlement" in the minds of young members of our Church. And even, depressingly, I've heard such sentiments within my own family.

    Remember the good ol' days? We used to chuckle about the old jokes of "Grandpa walking to and from school in three feet of snow--both ways!" The fact is, my generation DID have it easier than that of my grandparents. But my own children have had it, thus far, better than I could have even imagined in my youth. The cycles of righteousness and destruction in the Book of Mormon have flashed though my mind often over the past few weeks.

    At the same time, current events and statements in the scriptures should offer us incredible comfort and hope. The Lord has always promised safety to those who follow the living Prophet and "stand in holy places." Nevertheless, I'm frustrated by the percentage of youth--outside and inside the Church--who seem so easily seduced by a world where pornography is treated as commonplace and "normal behavior," where rationalizations against the strict adherence to commandments are rampant, and where the consumption of media that promotes lasciviousness, amoral attitudes, materialism, and "ends justify the means" has become perfectly acceptable and unavoidable.

    Sure, there are stellar exceptions to these pervasive corruptions. The fight continues. And fight we must. But every day I feel as if I gain a greater appreciation of the emotional turmoils that must have plagued the Prophet Mormon. He strived all of his life to help his people change their apostatizing ways. They wouldn't listen. He watched them perish. If Mormon hadn't had the enlightened labors of abridging and transcribing the Book of Mormon to keep him occupied--as well as transposing the records of Ether and Mahonri Moriancumr--I wonder if he'd have been able to maintain some semblence of sanity. Without the comforts of Heavenly Father's Spirit, and the words of Heavenly Father's prophets, it seems it might have been easy for him to sink into the depths of despair.

    As for the Saints of our day, we can all reflect on marvelous announcements within the Lord's Kingdom. Specifically, I point toward recent news about changing the age of eligibility for missionaries. Apparently this has led to a 400% increase in applications to serve. My own son is part of this. Within two weeks of President Monson's announcement, 18-year old Christopher Ammon had submitted his papers. He received his call on Wednesday. We were all present as he opened and read his letter from the First Presidency. He will be serving 24 months, Spanish speaking, in Medellin, Columbia.

    As for the future, and in particular the future of the United States of America...I really can't say. The backlash of Obama's first election led to the galvanizing and inspiring movement known as the Tea Party. What will happen this time? It's too early to say. But something is brewing. I feel sure of it. Still, I have no idea what it is, or whether it will be successful at making headway toward preserving the principals that I took sooo much for granted all my years growing up in the greatest nation the world has ever known. Yes, I lived a life of freedom. I never knew anything else. I still don't really know anything else. But I'm afraid it may be  part of God's plan that many of us will not get off so easy.

    More than anything else, I've reflected over the last few weeks about the meaning of "hanging by a thread." Many will understand what I'm talking about. It's a reference to a certain prophecy voiced by Joseph Smith in 1842 about the Elders of the Church stepping in and saving the Constitution. Before this election I felt strongly that Romney was part of the contingent that ultimately would lead that effort. The notion, however high-fallutin, hit me particularly hard one day last summer after I heard Rush Limbaugh literally say that "The U.S. Constitution is hanging by a thread!" Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, and other conservative talking heads proclaimed much the same concept. Thus, I wondered how Romney could possibly lose. His election seemed a direct fulfillment of Joseph Smith's revelation!

    Oh, how foolish I feel now. Obviously I was wrong. So many conservatives were wrong. And suddenly it seems obvious: We probably have no clue yet what it really means to be "hanging by a thread." Yes, we've experienced some discomforts--economic and otherwise. But nothing we've experienced may quite equate with what that phrase truly means. I'm concerned that soon we'll have a deeper understanding of that phrase than ever before. The only question is when, and what happens between now and then.

    Still, the solution for us as individuals is the same as it has always been: Gird up your loins. If you have unresolved sins in your life, get them resolved--NOW! If you've been lax at following the prophets' admonitions about getting out of debt, gathering a year's supply of food and staples, and learning the principals of self-reliance, I fear the clock may be running out. And I fear many of our acquaintances, close friends, and even close family members, may not survive the oncoming scourge and the great sifting that is destined to take place of the wheat and the tares.

    What's important is where you stand. Where I stand. Some days I feel like I'm personally standing on a pretty firm foundation. Other days my personal footing seems a bit unstable. So I have to remind myself: It's about faith. About repentance. And it's about enduring to the end. These are nothing new. They're the same principals we we've been taught all of our lives. And I hope, for many of us, they are beginning to resound in our hearts with greater amplification than ever before.

    Be still, and know that He--above us--is still God.

    In other news, I do have a new book coming out soon. No, it's not my long-awaited Tennis Shoes book. It's called Muckwhip's Guide to Capturing the Latter-day Soul. It's a book I originally penned 12 years ago and spruced up from time to time over the last year. The release of this volume now--after everything that's happened--seems uncannily timely. Muckwhip might even be out as an e-book as early as the end of this upcoming week. The hardcopy edition will be out early next year. I'll talk all about it very soon and post the cover. Yes, Thorns of Glory is still underway. Honestly, the last month has presented more than a few distractions. I apologize for that. Still, as I've often promised, the wait will be worth it.

    Copyright @ Chris Heimerdinger 2012

    Saturday, September 1, 2012

    Thanks Clint! You Just Handed Us the ELECTION!

    That might seem like a rather cocky headline just a few days prior to the oncoming scourge that will be the Democratic Convention. At present, liberal pundits are excoriating Clint for his speech in Tampa. It's been a phenomenon to observe. Comedians like Stewart, Colbert, and Letterman no doubt will exploit the moment for all they feel it's worth. But the truth is, all the fury that folks like Michael Moore and a score of others have expressed over Clint's 10-minute tirade has launched this clip into the "viral-sphere." By now the number of Americans who have not watched it in its entirety is dwindling fast. And because of all the attention that liberal Democrats have personally drawn to it, they have no one to thank but themselves.

    Yes, it will likely get more Youtube hits than even the speech of Mitt Romney. Don't get me wrong. I loved Mitt's speech. It was a brilliant combination of statements that humanized his appeal at the same time that it made it clear he is more than up to the job to become our next commander-in-chief. Though Obama-ites will do their best next week in Charlotte to resurrect the "etch-a-sketch" label Mitt received at the end of the primaries, I believe he has successfully shed this image forever. Still, despite all that Romney and Ryan and Rubio and Christie may have said in Tampa, I believe it might have been Clint who clinched the deal.

    I watched it live. And I confess, I felt as nervous as Ann Romney looked. It was a nail-biter. He did appear elderly, a bit dissheveled, and way unpolished. I wasn't so sure at first about the "empty chair" schtick. Now I think it was brilliant. Who is Barack Obama if not an empty chair? But in spite of all the memes and philosophies that appear to have sprung up POST-speech, I have to admit that from the first instant this guy struck me as an icon of Americana. I was proud that he supported my candidate and I felt he might indeed make this moment quite special. It just doesn't get any bigger! Maybe if John Wayne were still alive. However, Clint Eastwood's politics are far more blurry than Wayne's. And in today's discordant America, I think that probably worked better. Eastwood has supported candidates from both sides of the aisle. I'm quite certain I disagree with him on certain social issues. But he wasn't talking to me on Thursday night. Or maybe he was. Heck, maybe he was talking precisely to me.

    Honestly, he came off as just a regular guy. A bit of a coot. But with obvious wisdom and decades of experience behind that graveled voice and legendary wrinkles. He's a guy who clearly doesn't relish politics. Sure, he knows it's an unfortunate necessity, but most of the time he just has better things to think about. He seems most comfortable lampooning the whole affair. But doesn't that represent the attitude of most Americans?

    No one else could have delivered the impromptu speech that Clint delivered. Not Rush Limbaugh. Not Sean Hannity. Not even Ronald Reagan. Just like his soft-spoken hero from the spaghetti westerns, Clint Eastwood represents "everyman" in a way that is slightly different from other Hollywood legends, but equally visceral. I believe he represented that same simple, hardcore, tough-guy character last Thursday night, and any effort that progressives might make to dismiss or deride what he did or said will come back to bite them--severely. Trying to knock this guy off his perch is like trying to knock ALL Americans off their perch. We're not perfect. Sometimes we ramble and fail to express ourselves in the most eloquent manner, but at our core we are solid. We are indefatigible. So when Clint opined (essentially, loosely): "We own this country. It belongs to us. It doesn't matter if you're a Republican or a Democrat or a Liberatarian or whatever--You guys are all great. And if the man we hired as president isn't getting the job done, well...we gotta let 'em go," he was again speaking as that same "everyman" from his iconic film roles. He was the no-name gunslinger. He was Dirty Harry. And the common-sense effect his words had (or will have) upon the presidency of Barack Obama will be withering, devastaing, and ultimately destroying. I believe Clint did more to unseat our Socialist-leaning POTUS than any other player in Tampa. He said things no polished politician or well-rehearsed "actor" might have said. Clint Eastwood, because of his undeniable status as a living icon, may have been the only one uniquely qualified to say the things he said. He really had no bone to pick in Tampa. No particular ideological horse in any race. And if he'd presented his speech in a polished, showman-like manner, I don't think it would have had nearly the impact. Or sudden impact (forgive the pun). It wouldn't have been real! It wouldn't have drawn the (necessary!) scorn and derision from the left. Let's face it. This thing shook 'em up over at MSNBC and the Huffington Post. It was a God-send. It inspired a viral video. I saw it live, but I've watched it twice more since, and frankly, the empty chair thing was a stroke of genious. The symbolism--probably entirely unintentional--will live well beyond this election cycle.

    The point is, that it was me up there on that stage. And it was you. Or perhaps more accurately, it was the undecided, independent voter who just wants to live his life and forget about politics after Nov. 2nd. Honestly, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan already have my vote. Romney could have read the phone book Thursday night for all I cared. But I believe Clint Eastwood reached out to something more at the heart of this country, more central to what it means to be an American, and it was something that few others would have been able to reach. God bless him for it.

    I'm not saying this roller coaster ride is over. Next week is going to be particularly bumpy. But when the smoke clears, the dust settles, and when, on November 3rd, the bad guys are all lying dead on the streets of Laredo (or Dodge or wherever), the man to thank just may be that lone, no-name gunman riding silently off into the sunset. Sure, he left some carnage in his wake, but ultimately what he left us was peace, prosperity, and hope for the future.

    Chris Heimerdinger

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    Tax Cut Extensions - Guest Post

    **This is a guest post.  
    The views expressed in this post are not necessarily shared by Chris Heimerdinger**

    With all of the talk about “extending Bush era Tax cuts” and whether they should be extended and to whom, I thought I would pop in and tell you my thoughts.  I know that not everyone has the time to read or watch the news or the desire to read the same kinds of books I do, so hopefully I can help explain what is going on.  I will be as short and succinct as possible (I know you ladies and gents, unlike myself, lead interesting lives ;)
    Hopefully my tax accountant family members will chime in if I get something wrong.
    First of all I feel that I should define a few words that are often thrown around in elections years.
    GDP or Gross Domestic Product – This is the total value of goods and services provided in a country in one year.  In ordinary speak: the total value of all of our exports, all sales of goods, all sales of services and basically all money earned for everyone in the US combined.  What I do NOT know is if it only entails goods and services, or if this also includes investment income (401k, IRA’s etc.)
    U.S. Debt – The amount we owe to other countries, people or to our own citizens in the form of treasury bonds.  In ordinary speak: the total amount the U.S. has borrowed including interest.  Think of adding your mortgage, students loans, car loans, credit cards, other personal loans you may have, etc together.  As of this writing, the U.S. Debt is about $15,895,000,000,000.  You can see what it is nowhere.
    Deficit – The amount we are short when we subtract our expenses from our income.  Think of balancing your budget or checkbook and if you are in the red at the end of the month, you have a deficit.
    Ok.  Now that we have our vocab lesson out of the way we can get into the fun stuff.  I’m sure you have heard on the news how there are two different tax bills floating around there.
    1. Extend the “Bush Era” tax cuts to everyone (this is the one the House of Representatives likes)
    2. Extend the “Bush Era” tax cuts to everyone making under $250k for married filing jointly and let them expire for everyone else (this is the one the Senate likes).
    I think my explanation so far has been unbiased and correct (to my knowledge).
    Now I depart from unbiased and move completely into my opinion.  Feel free to disregard it or adopt it as your own.  Obviously I would prefer you share my opinion, because I’m right :)
    Lets get one thing straight.  These tax cuts started in 2001.  After 11 years, I think it is foolish to continue to call them “tax cuts”. They were tax cuts at the time, but they have been extended for so long that they are now the status quo.  This tax system is all that anyone who entered the work force since 2001 has ever known, including myself and most people that I graduated high school with.  That is the reality, so I will no longer be referring to this argument as whether or not we should be “extending tax cuts” but  whether or not we should “raise taxes” on families making $250K or more.
    It should come as no surprise to you, especially considering my fondness for Milton Freidman, that I am in agreement with the House in that we should not raise taxes on anyone.  As good old Milt said, ““I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever possible.”  I feel that way because I think that I can do better things with my money than the government can.  For every dollar that I send to Washington, the federal government wastes half of it in regulations, unnecessary bureaucracy and pork.  I would rather give one whole dollar directly to a hungry person, than let the government pocket half of it and then divide what is left between infrastructure, military spending, social security and all of the programs that are supposedly there to help feed the hungry.
    I should clarify something before some of my friends and family have a conniption.  I am not an anarchist.  I do believe in the federal government and I do believe they have a roll to fill and that yes, they do need tax dollars to run.  I do not believe that every pie the Federal Government currently has it’s fingers in is a necessary pie.  There are those that think that because I am not for nationalization of something, means that I am against the thing itself.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.  I just believe that the thing can be done better, more effectively, more efficiently and more cost effectively by either the state, town or person.
    For example if I were president, the first thing I would get rid of is the Department of Education.  Some would assume that means I am a barbarian who think people shouldn’t learn.  It would surprise them to know that I spend more hours a day educating myself and my children then most people do while at their full time job.  They would be surprised to know that I think that education is one of the most important things people can do to better themselves and expand their sphere of influence.  A few years ago, the average cost per student in my state was nearly $13,000 per year, with a peak of $24,000 in one city.  The per student cost in my home is a tiny fraction of that (and I am including myself as a student which includes my ever growing history/political book addiction and Matt with all of his $400 medical books). Granted I don’t have a salary, and I double as the cafeteria lady and the janitor, but nor do I have union dues to pay and union regs to deal with.
    I also believe that you can’t force someone to learn, but it’s something you have to hunger for yourself.  Education is not a “one size fits all” program that can be dictated from Washington. No matter how much money is thrown at it, our children will not succeed unless we stop micromanaging everything that they do and allow them to be themselves.  It is no coincidence that our graduation rates drop every time Washington gets it’s dirty little fingers into our education requirements.  Our country once led the world in primary education, but history has shown that the US Dept. of Education is one of the worst things this country has done to teachers and students.
    That is just one example.  I could give you many more.  All you need to do is ask :)
    There is another reason why I am against raising taxes at all.  I’m sure you have heard something along the lines of “the rich will get tax cuts on the backs of the poor and middle class” or “the poor and middle class will have to pay for the tax cuts for the rich”.  These talking points are nothing more than blatant lies.
    If you get up every morning and go to work, the paycheck you get at the end of the week is the money you have earned with a healthy chunk of it confiscated for taxes (like state, federal, FICA and Mediwhatever).  You worked, you got paid.  If your tax rate is lowered you get to take more of that money home to use how you see fit.  If your taxes are raised you have less of it to use.  It really is that simple.
    Lets pretend that my tax rate goes up but your tax rate goes down.  I have more money go to Washington and less in my pocket to buy groceries.  You have less go to Washington and more in your pocket.  My money did not go into your pocket.  It went to Washington.  Therefore, I did not pay for your tax cut even though I have less money in my pocket and you have more.  You were just allowed to keep more of your own money that you earned and I was allowed to keep less of mine.
    But it’s even worse than that.  The talking heads keep talking about how ”the poor and middle class will have to pay for the tax cuts for the rich”.  They are, in essence saying that if everyone pays the same thing they have been paying for the last ten years, then, somehow the poor and middle class are paying more… even though they are paying the same.
    It comes down to a basic ideological difference between the Big Government politicians and myself.  I believe that I earn my money.  It is not given to me by the government.  I provide a service or product directly to another person and they pay me for it.  If, for some reason we lived in a communist nation where everyone got the same paycheck directly from the government no matter what job they had or how long they worked for or whether they worked at all, then maybe we could say that our money comes from the Government.  But it doesn’t.  The government doesn’t create or make anything, it “makes” it’s money by confiscating it from someone who did make something.  The government cannot pay for something without having first taken that money from someone else who, chances are, will not benefit from what the government wants to do with that money.
    Before any of you scream “but you are in the military, you ARE paid by the government!” Yes, you are right.  We are in the military and we are paid by your federal tax dollars.  We also provide a valuable service in exchange for that payment and we also pay taxes on that paycheck, so in a sick sort of way we are helping to pay our own salary.  Even within the military we do not all get paid the same.  Matt has a select set of skills and knowledge that are hard to come by in the Military, so he is paid more than someone with a job that anyone can be trained to do.  While both jobs are important, one is more easily replaceable than the other.  That is supply and demand.  Even someone who starts out at the bottom can acquire skills and knowledge that make him/her less replaceable, and as such, their compensation goes up.  That is how it works.  The more you know and the more you can do, the more valuable you are, even in the military.
    I cannot say the same for all government programs.  Throw unions into the mix and it’s even worse.  But that is a post for another day ;)
    Tax avoiders are not the same as tax evaders.  Our tax code is 73,608 pages long.  (That’s about 26.5 feet tall) Those pages are full of rules and regulations and what some people call “loopholes”.  I don’t call them “loopholes” I call them tax deductions.  Honestly, when was the last time one of us said, “You know, I don’t think I’ll take the mortgage deduction or the charitable donation deduction.  I don’t want to take advantage of these unfair loopholes.”  Um… never.  Even these holier than thou Hollywood elites who are clamoring “for the rich to pay their fair share” hire really smart tax guys so that they can pay as little tax as legally possible.  In fact, many of them, while they live in California, have legal residency in a state that has no state income tax.  So what they are really saying is that everyone else should pay their fair share, because they are paying more than enough.  Kind of like how Warren Buffet is saying the rich should pay more while at the same time suing the IRS to get the $1 billion he owes in back taxes lowered.  That is what the rest of the world would call “hypocritical”.
    The reality of the situation is that most of these big bad corporate businesses and rich guys aren’t cheating on their taxes.  They are taking legitimate tax deductions so that they can lower their tax burden, which can come to more than 50% depending on the state they live in (**cough** California).  So next time you hear the words “tax loopholes” just replace the word loophole with deduction and it will shine a whole new light on the situation.  When you hear politicians talk about “closing loopholes” remember what that means for you and your wallet.  I’m all for a simpler tax code, but I would get there by starting from scratch, rather than adding onto the monstrosity that we currently have.
    No one clamoring for tax hikes thinks that it will be more than a tiny drop in the ocean of debt and deficit that we currently have.  It is entirely about “making the rich pay their fair share”.  They are far more concerned about punishing those who make a lot of money then they are about getting our Federal Government’s fiscal house in order.  So what I want to know, is how people who make 250k somehow make it into the “millionaire and billionaire” category.  Last time I checked, 250k was a farcry from 1 million.  You know already that I am not in favor of a progressive income tax in any way shape or form, but it is honestly not a deal breaker for me.  But punishing productive and hard working small business owners (and therefore their employees) is far more “unfair” than than anything that I might suggest.  For 2009 the tax breakdown was as follows
    Percentiles Ranked by AGI
    AGI Threshold on Percentiles
    Percentage of Federal Personal Income Tax Paid
    Top 1%
    Top 5%
    Top 10%
    Top 25%
    Top 50%
    Bottom 50%
    Note: AGI is Adjusted Gross Income
    Source: Internal Revenue Service
    How is this at all fair?  The top 10% of earners in our country paid more than 70% of our country’s taxes and the bottom 50% paid almost none?  I understand that it is less of a burden for a millionaire to pay taxes than someone who makes 20k.  I also know that the person who makes 20k qualifies for several governmental welfare programs (even more today than 2009) and so they don’t really feel that pinch do they?  Nor do they have any sense of ownership in the country they are benefiting from.  In essence “they didn’t build that”, did they?  Yet they are enjoying all of the perks and more than those of us who do pay taxes.  All they have to do is get the average income low enough so that 51% of the population are on welfare, then have them continually vote for bigger and bigger welfare checks!  That, my friends, is what some of us would call “taxation without representation”.  I seem to remember a war that was fought over that principle.
    Lets get one thing straight.  The current tax code is not fair at all, because the “millionaires and billionaires” (and apparently that means everyone making above $250k a year) are carrying nearly allof the burden, not because they aren’t carrying enough of it.
    This brings us to the final clarification I would like to make about the current “to raise or not to raise” debate.  Another phrase you will hear thrown around a lot is “Clinton Era”.  A lot of people are saying they just want to get back to “Clinton Era” tax rates.  People remember the 90′s as a very prosperous time, and it was.  We cannot, however, get ourselves back in to the prosperity of the 90′s by having “Clinton Era” tax rates alone.  I would be supportive of “Clinton Era” tax rates if we first got back to “Clinton Era” regulations, “Clinton Era” spending levels (including entitlement spending), ”Clinton Era” GDP, ”Clinton Era” GDP to spending ratio, ”Clinton Era” foreign relations (aka not being in five wars), had “Clinton Era” deficits (aka none for half of the time he was in office) and for good measure, we should probably have someone invent something that will absolutely change the world as fundamentally and completely as the Internet did.
    Raising taxes cannot possibly have a positive effect on the economy unless and until we attack the regulations with a chainsaw, fix entitlements, get out of these wars; and for heavens sake, stop increasing the spending!  Unless and until that happens, raising taxes should be the last thing on anyone’s mind.
    A big Thank You again to Chris for letting me post on his sounding board!

    Saturday, July 21, 2012

    Photos, Facebook, and New Fanpage

    Greetings Tennis Shoes Fans!

    Chris Heimrdinger in July 1978 with
    Kodak Ektasound Super 8 Movie Camera
    I've had my nose to the grindstone writing. Felt it was finally time to come up for air. My mom sent me a photo of when I was an aspiring filmmaker wayyy back in the summer of 1978. It was the year after Star Wars was released. The biggest films that summer were Grease and Christopher Reeve's Superman. I was very much a wannabe filmmaker and had just finished MY first feature film--a monster movie called Stalking Wind. (I really ought to get that thing on YouTube. Right now it's only in Super 8 and VHS formats.)

    I wanted to announce a new Facebook Fanpage developed by Brandon and Alexa Wilcox. Go to This Link. I hope this becomes a fun place for fans to get unique information. Brandon and Alexa have begun to set up a cool "timeline" that I intend to add to or embellish (in my copious spare time). But hey, they've already put up a ton of stuff.

    I know folks want updates. The next Tennis Shoes book (Vol. 12), I was pleased to discover, is writing itself. I just peek at it from time to time to see how it's coming. Very exciting so far. But my guess is that we're still looking at summer/fall of 2013. It's like writing War and Peace right now (Hey, that could have a double meaning! Except mine was mostly related to sheer Tolstoy-ian length). As I've always suspected, Thorns of Glory will probably get chopped into two books, but I won't let any part of it get released until the whole thing is complete and turned in to the publisher. That way fans can be assured that if a second part is withheld, it will be released within 3 months (or so) of the first part.

    I finished a rewrite of my screenplay for my Christmas novel, A Return to Christmas. My production manager wanted me to trim the budget, so I accommodated...I think. Official fundraising starts soon.

    Also, this month, on the 29th of July, Hunter Helaman turns the big "1" year(s?) old! Left is a recent photo. He's not walking yet, but he has definitely "stood" on his own for several incontestible seconds. He also clearly says, "Da-Da." Must be hard for a mother to go through so much intensive labor and work caring for baby that first critical year, and then the first word the kid utters is "Da-Da."

    Okay, shameless plug. Gotta try and keep my lights on for another month. I've gotten my hands on several classic books, including my original Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites Board Game. Obviously this is a collector's item, but I found (or assembled) 3 pristine copies/editions. Along with that, here's some other stuff I think are either rare and interesting finds or new releases. Many are the only copies I have in my possession. So when it's gone....you get the picture.
    3 Games For Sale on AMAZON!
    (Note: 1 New and 2 Collectibles)
        BEARS and PRAYERS           Classic Talk CD!
    Classic Book of Mormon
    Graphic Art Book by
    Don Allred


    Classic David Glenn Hatch!Rare Novel From
    Robert Kirby
    Classic Book from
    Patricia T. Holland

    Older Classic From
    Duane S. Crowther
    A Dorothy Keddington
    Rare Classic!
    Great Price on Great
    Traci Abramson Novel!

    On Mega-Sale For
    FrostCave Customers ONLY!

    GLORY, VOL. 9
    Last Volume of
    Ron Carter's Epic Series
    Newest Mystery From
    Besty Brannon Green

    My best to you and yours on this unique Utah Pioneer Celebration on Tuesday, the 24th!!

    Stay close to the Lord,
    Chris Heimerdinger

    Tuesday, June 26, 2012

    Voting Criteria for Latter-day Saints

    Sure, the Church is politically neutral and doesn't endorse candidates. But does that mean the prophets have said nothing about who and what to vote for?
    Guest post by Jelaire Richardson and Nathan Richardson

    Imagine if someone asked you what kind of music you like to listen to or purchase, and which kind you avoid. You tell her your favorite genres and list a few of your favorite artists and songs. You also tell her which genres and singers you don't like. When she asks you why you choose the way you do, you tell her, "Well, a big part is because of what the living prophets have taught about music and media."

    Your friend gets a disapproving look and says, "The Church maintains strict neutrality on music. It does not endorse or sanction individual bands, or record labels, or genres."

    You reply, "Well yeah, I'm not saying they've compiled a list of individual songs or artists that are approved or prohibited. But they've definitely given some specific advice on what to seek out, and warnings on what to watch out for."

    "I thought they just gave the general advice that the members should 'choose artists they believe will most nearly carry out their ideas of good music.' Can you give me an example of anything more specific than that?"

    "Well, For the Strength of Youth says, 'Do not listen to music that encourages immorality or glorifies violence through its lyrics, beat, or intensity. Do not listen to music that uses vulgar or offensive language or promotes evil practices.' So I'm definitely not going to listen to someone like Marilyn Manson."

    “The Church does not micro-manage the members’ decisions on music. It's wrong of you to give people the impression that the Church has official positions on individual musicians. It's going to make people think Mormons are brainwashed.”

    "I wasn't saying anything like that. But we do have more than just vague directions. We have guidelines to help us choose wisely, and in some cases those guidelines are fairly specific. What do you base your choices on?"

    "Oh, aesthetic qualities. How much it appeals to me. Concepts I learned in my music theory class. Nifty album art. I don't think the Brethren would have advice one way or the other on whether I listened to, say, Marilyn Manson. In fact, I bet I could find general authority quotes that were in favor of his music. Besides, you're never going to find musicians who don't swear. They all do it. And any who don't are probably so sappy or amateurish that they'd be terrible to listen to."

    *   *   *

    Of course, in this story, the friend is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. While the Church might not have a detailed, specific position on individual people or groups, that doesn't mean they've given no counsel on how to choose music. A wise, faithful Latter-day Saint will search out the prophets' counsel and try to make his own criteria match the Brethren's.

    I’ve talked to many Latter-day Saints about who they support for elections, whether presidential, state, or local. Sometimes I'll share statements from the prophets about what principles we should have in mind when voting. I have been surprised that some Latter-day Saints respond kind of like the friend in this story. They discourage the practice of applying the gospel to government and law. They might say, “The Church is politically neutral. It does not endorse candidates or parties or platforms.” That's true, but I've been surprised to hear them misapply those facts and come to conclusions like, “The Church has no position on politics at all. The Brethren have individual opinions, but they have made no official statements on laws or government that we should feel bound to follow.” Conclusions like this are incorrect. While the Church is definitely politically neutral regarding individual people, parties, or platforms, it is not politically neutral on principles of government. In some cases, they have even endorsed or opposed specific bills by name. Modern prophets have given us all kinds of counsel on what criteria to consider when voting and being politically involved. If we are wise, we'll search out the prophets' counsel and try to make our voting criteria match the Brethren's.

    The purpose of this article is to share what the prophets have said we should consider when voting. It may or may not change who you vote for, but that's not really my goal. Even if it doesn't change who or what you support, I hope it helps you support them for the right reasons.

    Describing your usual approach

    I came up with a little "worksheet" to help learn what the prophets have taught about politics. I listed the reasons I have heard most frequently from Latter-day Saints for why they might support any given candidate. I also tried to read up on what the prophets have said on the subject. I learned a few things I hadn't been aware of before. And even where I had been using the prophets' criteria, I hadn't always been very good about studying the candidates or proposed bills to examine how well they were meeting the criteria.

    I invite you to use this chart to examine your thought process in the past. What have you considered when voting for a candidate? Go ahead and get some paper and a pencil (or print this chart out). No, really—go ahead. This exercise will be fun and hopefully helpful by the time you’re done. Read the chart then follow the instructions below it. Rank the Issues. First, in the far left column, rank the most important to least important issues (1 = Most important, 7 = Least important) in the order that you personally have considered when looking at candidates to vote for. You can be honest with yourself. If you find yourself thinking, “Oops, I should have considered that, but I haven’t yet,” then don’t be afraid to honestly reflect that in your ranking. Remember, these rankings are based on what you have considered up until you had read this article. You’ll have a chance to later re-rank things based on if you’ve changed your mind after reading this article.

    Rate Your Familiarity. Now that you’ve ranked the qualities that you have considered in the past for candidates, go ahead and rate on a scale of 1 to 5 how well-informed you are on your candidate’s performance in each area (1 = Very informed, 5 = Not informed). You are not rating the candidate’s performance, but rather your knowledge of his performance. For example, I might have ranked Constitutionality as a “1” under the “Priority” column, and my candidate may be perfectly Constitutional, but I may not have studied his voting record close enough to really be sure of that. In that case, I would rate my familiarity with his Constitutionality with a 4 or 5.

    What have the Brethren said?

    Now that you’ve ranked the issues and rated your knowledge, let’s take a look at what perhaps some of the top-ranked qualities should be if we take to heart what Church leaders have counseled us to consider when we examine candidates and their policies. Check to see how your priority ranking numbers compare. Are your highest ranked ones among the highest ranking ones the Brethren have counseled to consider? Here are three qualities Church leaders have counseled us to look for in a candidate (not necessarily ordered by priority). There may be others, but these are the three criteria that I have encountered repeatedly in my personal study.

    A. Morals: Is the candidate honest, good, and wise?

    “Members are encouraged to register to vote, to study issues and candidates carefully, and to vote for individuals whom they believe will act with integrity and sound judgment. Latter-day Saints have a special obligation to seek out, vote for, and uphold leaders who are honest, good, and wise (see D&C 98:10).” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, 21.1.29, “Political and Civic Activity“)
    “Note the qualities that the Lord demands in those who are to represent us. They must be good, wise, and honest. Some leaders may be honest and good but unwise in legislation they choose to support. Others may possess wisdom but be dishonest and unvirtuous. We must be concerted in our desires and efforts to see men and women represent us who possess all three of these qualities.” (President Ezra Taft Benson, “The Constitution—A Heavenly Banner,” BYU devotional, 16 Sep 1986)
    Of course, this immediately raises the question of how to gauge whether someone is “good.” We’re not their bishop, and we’re not the eternal Judge of individuals’ souls. But “while it is true that you should not condemn others or judge them unrighteously, you will need to make judgments of ideas, situations, and people throughout your life. The Lord has given many commandments that you cannot keep without making judgments” (True to the Faith, “Judging Others“), and one of those is the commandment to make at least a basic assessment of a candidate’s morality.

    Perhaps one place to start is by listening to character witnesses of friends and business associates who know the candidate well. Exaggeration and spin are common, but if multiple first-hand accounts keep surfacing of a candidate’s right or wrong habits, they might be worth considering. Or you might look at how they keep the most important promises of their lives, such as their wedding vows. When President Gordon B. Hinckley was asked about a politician’s extramarital sex scandal, he said, “The position of the President of the United States of America carries with it a tremendous trust. … George Washington [said] he hoped that ‘the foundations of our national polity will be laid in … private morality … which can … command the respect of the world.’ … Is it asking too much of our public servants … to give moral leadership to the world?” (Larry King interview, aired 8 Sep 1998)

    As President Benson noted, not every leader who is honest and good is necessarily wise. How do we know if a candidate is wise? The other two qualities below might answer that question.

    B. Prophetic counsel: Is the candidate aligned with positions the Brethren have taken?

    “Today I would like to propose … questions which every Latter-day Saint might well ask as he attempts to appraise any program, policy, or idea promoted by any would-be political leader. … I think they will provide a safeguard in electing to office men who will meet the requirements which the Lord has set forth in the revelations. … Is [the program, policy, or idea] right as measured by the counsel of the living oracles of God? It is my conviction, my brethren and sisters, that these living oracles are not only authorized, but are obligated to give counsel to this people on any subject which is vital to the welfare of this people and the upbuilding of the kingdom of God.” (Elder Ezra Taft Benson, “Our Duty as Citizens,” general conference, October 1954)
    I’ve frequently heard some Latter-day Saints say, “We shouldn’t use quotes from the Brethren to determine our political choices.” Not only is that untrue, but we are obliged to assess whether candidates and policies measure up to what prophets have advised, according to Elder Benson’s counsel in general conference. Now, it's a different matter to discern the best way to interpret or apply a given prophetic statement to a given political matter. That's certainly up for discussion among Latter-day Saints. But I don’t see how there could be any question as to whether prophetic statements should be among the determining factors. Of course they should. As long as the discussion is civil and informed, we should welcome the insertion of prophetic counsel.

    How informed are you on the Brethren’s counsel? (Personally, I’ve frequently fallen dismally short.) Can you, off the top of your head, give specific reasons from the Brethren about why you would or wouldn’t support a given policy? What about words of ancient prophets on principles of government or warfare? I think the best place to start would be general conference talks (for 1971--present, see lds.org; for 1942--1970, go to scriptures.byu.edu and click “General Conference” just under the title). And heck, while we’re trying to immerse ourselves in this, the Brethren have also written much “unofficial” literature on government. Since we often go quoting Gandhi or Mother Teresa about government, shouldn’t we also at least look at the opinions and writings of inspired prophets, seers, and revelators—even when they’re not official stances of the Church? That way, we can use prayer and discernment to help us make our decisions based on the knowledge we’ve acquired by filling our minds with all this great counsel. One helpful source I’ve found it LDSFreedomPortal.net. It is a very thorough list of books, talks, and other material written by prophets and apostles on the topic of government (much of it hyperlinked to read online). This is a great place to start, just to get a feel for what’s out there.

    C. Constitutionality: Does the candidate follow the Constitution?

    Canonized scripture specifies that the "Constitution ... I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles" (D&C 101:77). There are many, many statements along these same lines by prophets and apostles, so here are just two:
    “Next to being one in worshipping God, there is nothing in this world upon which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States!” (President David O. McKay, general conference, October 1939).
    “Every Latter-day Saint might well ask as he attempts to appraise any program, policy, or idea promoted by any would-be political leader, … Is it right as measured by the Constitution of this land and the glorious principles embodied in that Constitution? Now that suggests that we must read and study the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights, that we might know what principles are embodied therein.” (Elder Ezra Taft Benson, “Our Duty as Citizens,” general conference, October 1954).
    This is perhaps the most daunting implication of following the Brethren’s counsel, because it means lots of reading, research, and educating oneself. I’ve dragged my feet in the past because it seemed like such an intimidating task with no clear way to start and no end in sight. Also, while the gospel is fairly clear-cut on the basic issues (for example, don't have sex outside of marriage. Period.), when it comes to law and the Constitution, intelligent and sincere people often seem to come to vastly different conclusions.

    Still, where the Lord commands, he blesses the smallest initial efforts, which is where I am currently. You can start by reading the Constitution itself. It’s definitely more formal and involved than the average news article, but it’s not really that long. You might consider starting with a simplified Constitution. Others more informed than myself (which means most people) can probably recommend other good places to start your personal Constitutional education.

    (Note: this criterion would logically apply mainly when voting about things at the federal level in the United States. State and local candidates should of course abide by state constitutions and municipal charters, but that isn’t as much of a focus of the Brethren, at least from what I’ve read. The federal Constitution seems to carry a unique doctrinal prominence. Of course, it’s also important for state leaders to understand the federal Constitution in order to understand how it bears on their own responsibilities. As for Latter-day Saints in other countries, this counsel may apply less or in different ways, as the Spirit dictates, I suppose.)

    What have the Brethren not said?

    Interestingly, as I’ve read up on the Brethren’s counsel on what criteria to use when selecting candidates or laws, I have never heard them say we should vote for someone because he or she
    • Has the best leadership or business experience to (for example) turn the economy around
    • Has the best chance of beating another candidate
    • Will have a good impact publicity-wise on the Church worldwide
    • Is a member of the LDS church
    I don’t think any of these are necessarily bad reasons (although the Church-membership criterion has the potential of being short-sighted and quasi-Gadianton-like or cronyistic). It’s very desirable to have a leader with experience or influence. But all these reasons should take a back seat to the more important criteria laid out by the Brethren. In other words, the list above should be secondary considerations; our primary considerations should be those which the prophets give: personal morality, wisdom in following prophetic counsel, and wisdom in following the Constitution. Unfortunately, when I’ve heard Latter-day Saints explain why they were voting for a candidate, they frequently don’t mention the primary considerations that the Brethren have given. I would hope that, after encountering the statements above and the many others which could be shown, they would give greater priority to the primary considerations than to the nice-but-not-crucial secondary considerations. From what I can tell, it seems like if the candidates we support do not fit the primary criteria, then the secondary criteria should not be reason enough for us to vote for that person. It seems safe to say that the secondary criteria should not override primary ones.

    Re-evaluating your approach

    Now that you’ve seen some of the prophetic counsel that we’ve been given regarding selecting candidates and positions, I suggest going back to the ranking chart and seeing if your order of priorities has changed. And if you feel like you have a clearer vision of what the Lord expects of us with civic involvement, I also suggest taking the steps necessary to educate yourself and improve your self-rating of how familiar you are with any given candidate or proposed law. Don’t expect to learn all there is to know overnight, but neither expect that we can put off our informed involvement forever. The First Presidency has been very clear that "Latter-day Saints are under special obligation" to be educated and active at all levels of government.

    As a I final thought, I just want to clarify something: While it's important that Latter-day Saints be united on what primary criteria we should use when voting, I've never seen any reason to assume that if we all did, it would mean we would all vote for the same candidates or the same laws, every time. Using the same criteria does not always mean coming to the same conclusions (as with the music example). Good, faithful individual members of the Church can righteously apply prophetic criteria without liking the exact same musicians, but it's pretty certain that discerning people are going to avoid those musicians which clearly violate the most basic standards. Likewise, even apostles come to different conclusions from each other (for example, James E. Faust was a Democrat), but you can bet they agree on the inspired criteria from which they draw their conclusions.

    I think the main reason saints will differ is that we apply these criteria differently, or give them different weight, depending on each case. To give a generic scenario, let's say that two Latter-day Saints study Senator Foghorn's personal and career life, as well as his voting record. One Latter-day Saint may conclude that he is basically moral and wise in his decisions, while another might conclude that he is not. Either way, though, they are both using the same criteria, which is what the Lord's representatives are hoping for. In another scenario, let's say two LDS voters agree that Senator Foghorn's morals are iffy, but his voting record is largely aligned with prophetic counsel and Constitutional principles. The first person might decide that the wise leadership decisions outweigh the poor moral ones, and the second person might decide the moral failings are too serious in this case to be ignored. Again, even though they're voting differently, they are both using the same prophetic criteria and thus obeying the Lord's counsel to "study the issues and candidates carefully and prayerfully" in light of the inspired criteria explained above.

    What I gather after reading the prophets' words is that the Lord wants us to all agree on what we should be looking for in a candidate or a law, even if we check different boxes in the voting booth. It's only when we dismiss that prophets' criteria that we're on shaky spiritual ground. If we think private morality or Constitutional consistency don't matter in our public servants, or if we are so enamoured of more glamorous characteristics that we habitually excuse failings in the crucial ones, we're in bad shape.

    Jelaire Richardson composes piano music on the rare occasion that her children allow it. She also plays racquetball and soccer on the rare occasion that her bum knee allows it. She loves the U.S. women's national soccer team.

    Nathan Richardson is creating a custom edition of the scriptures and is excited that at least two non-LDS friends have started reading the Book of Mormon because they liked the new layout. His wife is teaching him racquetball, and he is teaching her patience.