Who and What is the Happy Warrior

The Happy Warrior is the title of a poem... and yes, I love this poem. I do not wish to be mischaracterized, for the most part poetry is not my bag. I am not an afficionado of literature nor am I a metro-sexual (I despise that term) but a dear friend introduced me to this masterpiece of prose several years ago... it has provided no end of inspiration. The Happy Warrior by William Wordsworth outlines the qualities of a magnificent soul. I aspire to possess even one or two characteristics that "every man in arms should wish to be."

This blog is a representation, in conversational form, of my voyage to wrap my arms around the world in which Mr. Worsdworth's warrior finds happiness.

(Standing disclaimer: Luckily tests of spelling accuracy ended in 4th grade otherwise I would still be in Elementary School. Be forewarned, spelling errors ahead. I subscribe to the wisdom of a great man who said, "I have utmost disdain for a man who can only spell a word one way." -Benjamin Franklin)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Change in the US: Nationalize the Private Sector... is this the change you wanted?

Well, President Obama promised change and over half of the voting citizens of the US were either naive enough to believe that his change meant something positive for our country or they also believe socialism and government operation of business is a better answer than old fashioned capitalism. By capitalism I mean the engine (combined with those good ole Judeo-Christian values like the Protestant work ethic that have come to be so maligned in the past quarter century) that drove the United States from a minor country to global leader in the matter of 200 short years. Not to mention becoming the most benign power in the history of the world -three times fending off totalitarian powers that would have enslaved the world had they been unchecked... this latter accomplishment in transpired in the space of 75 years.

So why then are we abandoning proven principles faster than Ralph Madoff spent investor's money? Why are we shaping our government to be something it is altogether not built to do? Why are the American people permitting their officials to usurp unprecendented powers and take the form of the very countries we, not more than one hundred years ago lamented, opposed and then freed?

I cannot believe the headline and news story displayed above. I remember in years not too long ago when I would read of far off countries seizing business sectors, commerce and other engines of industry... Those news reports sounded so far away, so removed from the reality of a democratic republc built on free market and responsible citizenry. What was once very far away and very foreign is altogether too close and too real. Our government is on the verge of controling the automobile industry, financial institutions and the energy industry (it already does by regulations). The question I have is not if this trend will continue but how premeditated and how designed was this? As Rahm Emanuel, Obama's Cheif of Staff, already brazenly declared, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” He, like his boss, have never disquised their objectives: “Things that we had postponed for too long, that were long-term, are now immediate and must be dealt with. This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.”
The problem is, too many people were not listening. I fear that we are only beginning to witness the much touted changes.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sermonette: Tough but True Parenting

Richard G. Scott
"Parents, don't make the mistake of purposely intervening to soften or eliminate the natural consequences of your child's deliberate decisions to violate the commandments. Such acts reinforce false principles, open the door for more serious sin, and lessen the likelihood of repentance."

-Ensign 5/92, p. 34

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wacky Wednesday 2009, Vol. 9

OK, so I've dug into the past and brought out a well known one... definitely worthy of a laugh, but come on, aren't we better than this? Please tell me that this darling young lady is not representative of our country's current intellectual state. Although it would explain some of the brilliant economic and political decisions that have brought us to our current situation... If it is fair to generalize from Miss South Carolina, we might not be the brightest people on the earth but we certainly are beautiful.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Study Findings: Organized religion and Christianity on decline in US

A few weeks ago all forms of news media (TV, radio, Internet and newspapers) focused on the findings of a recent research endeavor with the following headlines:

More Americans say they have no religion: Study finds percentage of Christians in the nation has declined (MSN.com)

Americans becoming less religious, study shows (LA Times)

The summary paragraph of the LA Times report reads:

Americans are increasingly turning away from many denominations, with the percentage who do not claim a religious identity nearly doubling since 1990, to 15%, according to a national survey.

There is so much to talk about with regard to the study, the findings (and what it says about contemporary society) and the media's reporting. I cannot tackle it all at once, nor can I really even scratch the surface of just one of these points. As for the issue of media reporting, let me at least encourage the reader to adopt this law of scientific research which should be applied to any article the media generates: Go to the source! Here is the actual study: ARIS Report Do not rely on someone filtering and reformatting what is happening in the world. Our lazy, half-hearted allegiance to the truth is going to exact a high price from us. We live in a world turned upside down -where bad is called good and good is called bad. The control, mischaracterization and blantant manipulation of information and of language (i.e. "it depends on what the meaning of 'is' is", redefinition of marriage, etc.) are essential weapons in the contemporary cultural war. This is not to say that the media is always complicit, often they are quintessential "useful idiots".

Sorry for the tangent, back to a summary of the research and portended consequences. I have not read the entire study (so yes, I am suggesting that you also take my word with a measure of cynicism) but it appears that several of the conclusions are accurate:

  • The American population self-identifies as predominantly Christian but Americans are slowly becoming less Christian.
    -86% of American adults identified as Christians in 1990 and 76% in 2008.

  • The challenge to Christianity in the U.S. does not come from other religions but rather from a rejection of all forms of organized religion.

  • The U. S. population continues to show signs of becoming less religious, with one out of every five Americans failing to indicate a religious identity in 2008.

  • The "Nones" (no stated religious preference, atheist, or agnostic) continue to grow, though at a much slower pace than in the 1990s, from 8.2% in 1990, to 14.1% in 2001, to 15.0% in 2008.

These are just a few of the "highlights". In sum, there are two conclusions I find disturbing: 1) the relatively rapid drop in "organized religion" between the 1990s and 2008 and 2) the rapid decrease (86% in 1990 to 76% in 2008 -10% is a huge decrease in the space of what is roughly a generation) of American's identifying themselves as Christian. Either of these two trends alone would give reason for concern. Their simultaneous occurence does not bode well for our society from a religious or from a totally secular perspective. So yes, the secular (agnostic and athiest) should be as concerned about these trends as the religious.

I will elaborate on the danger of both of these points in subsequent posts. Let me just summarize with a statement that may seem sensational, but which is nothing but an accurate and inevitable expecation if these trends continue: If the organized Christian influence within the country dies then so also will the United States die. The decay of organized Christianity will closely be paralelled by the decay of this republic, of liberty and generally of the great experiment that has been known as the United States of America.

This conclusion is not just the opinion of one pathetic social observer in 2009 (aka "me") but it has been the warning of some of the greatest minds -both American and not, both religious and not- since this nation began.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sermonette: The Principle of Compensation

I really like this doctrine. I don't know that I've ever heard it taught before in such clarity:

Joseph B. Wirthlin
The Principle of Compensation
The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss (trial, adversity, heartache, undeserved suffering and unrealized blessing). That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude.

-italicized portion added by myself so to convey the larger aspects of Elder Wirthlin's address not included in the quote above.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Government and AIG... I feel sick!

I apologize for my lack of posts this week… somewhere around Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning I grew ill. Periodically nauseous, I found myself on the verge of puking over the past several days. The source of my malady was, decidedly, not physical. I was finally able to identify the origin of my infirmity by carefully tracking every time I felt an urge to wretch.

The discovery was really quite interesting… Every time I would hear a news report about a politician or some other bureaucrat voicing their condemnation and outrage over AIG's payment of bonuses to executives I would make a run for the bathroom to avoid spewing all over the office or family room.

Don’t misunderstand me, I think AIG could not have made a worse decision (from a marketing, political or business perspective) but I cannot stomach the irony of Congressmen/women tripping over each other in an attempt to condemn fiscal extravagance, civic irresponsibility and violating the public trust. Are you kidding me? We are being lectured about proper stewardship of public funds from politicians… those who have spent more money than most Americans can count (what is our deficit now, hundreds of millions, billions, trillions?). These are lecturing about modest compensation packages when they have one of the most lucrative retirement plans of any private or public organization… When one after another these so called public servants and leaders (does that word mean anything anymore) is “forced” to excuse their nomination because they failed to pay taxes… are you kidding me? The legislative and executive wrote the instruction book for AIG to follow. They have modeled the slow path to financial collapse for almost seventy-five years. Does anyone really believe that “financial restraint” and “Congress” can be used, other than in a comedy routine, in the same breath?

The report that finally brought me to me knees at the porcelain throne was Republican Senator Charles Grassley’s condemnation. He said he would feel better if AIG's top managers were to "take that deep bow and say 'I'm sorry' and then either do one of two things: resign or go commit suicide." Such a suggestion is brave talk considering the recent low estimation of Congress by the American people. Senator Grassley should hope that calls for suicide do not become vogue or he may discover, as did Maximilien Robespierre, that history has a strange way of revisiting its instigators.

The finger wagging and tongue lashing is, like government fiscal incompetence, reaching epidemic proportion. And lest we, as citizens, feel secure on our inch and a half higher plot of moral ground let us remember that we are the ones who have allowed this crowd to run our country. Finally, to anyone who has spoken or thought violence toward AIG employees or their families, shame on you. Are we really this close to incivility and mobocracy?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wacky Wednesday 2009, Vol. 9

There are few things that are defining of a generation like the Star Wars story (it spanned 25 years for goodness sake). Is it possible that there exists somewhere in the industrialized world a person who does not know the Star Wars story in great detail? Where on earth have you been?

Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it) from Joe Nicolosi on Vimeo.

A lover of language and the word I detest

I am a lover of language. I think I’ve shared that sentiment in previous posts. Because I feel something of a reverence for words, I also become quite irritated when words are abused or when language is made vulgar. Today I want to share a word that I despise. It was introduced not too many years ago and as such is one of those handful of new words that comes into being every year (a fascinating phenomenon –the birth of words that is- in itself and merits a discussion at a later time). Generally speaking I do not have a problem with the evolution or creation of words, in fact, I would have to list both Noah Webster and Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) in my list of top 100 heroes exactly because of their contribution to the English language.

It is not, therefore, the newness of this word that I despise but its contribution to the profanity (an interesting word in and of itself, look it up and most will find that it does not have the monotone meaning it is most famous for) of modern culture. I will not tease you any longer; the word is “metrosexual”. Merrian-Webster defines a metrosexual: a usually urban heterosexual male given to enhancing his personal appearance by fastidious grooming, beauty treatments, and fashionable clothes

I despise this word for much of the same reason I am completely repulsed by the “f” word (yes, as Ralphie says “the queen mother of dirty words, the "F-dash-dash-dash" word!”). Even more than the meaning behind the “f” word, it is possibly the best evidence that mankind is an imbecilic creation of degenerate intelligence. This word alone causes me to be ashamed as a member of the human family. I can envision Neanderthal man using it with frequency and skill but by people with IQs higher than 70? My biggest problem is that the “f” word has become a spacefiller, it is the only way people know how to express anger, frustration, disdain, annoyance, or any other negative high emotion situation. It might as well be a grunt. Literally it is profaning language. Is this the best way we can express our negative reaction to a situation? Really, one word sums up the nuance of a million unique situations or circumstances? It is the lowest rung, the most base, the most simpleminded category of expressing a negative emotion (by the way, why isn’t there a corresponding word for positive states or conditions that is used with such frequency?).

Work with me now. My revulsion of the term “metrosexual” follows the same rational. Why have we come to define all our human intricacies, our foibles and characteristics on the single scale of sexuality? Really, is the best way to describe my certain behavioral idiosyncrasies by some measure of “sexual”? The sexual element of my being is but one small element, what about my mind, my values, my intellect, the way I treat others, etc. Why have we come to such a narrow definitional or categorical parameter as to focus on our sexual aspect? As for an alternative word, I have an idea, how about “metrohuman” or “metrobeing”?

Why not “metrohuman” instead of “metrosexual”? Because there are elements, forces and philosophies that would reduce this life to a matter of sexuality. They would have us define ourselves by this one narrow category. They would have us believe that life is about sex and nothing more. Changing language (including redefining and introducing new lexicon) is one of the fronts where this struggle is being played out. The sexualization of language is directly connected to the sexualization of culture, values and attitudes. Language is a primary component of a culture. Consider the lyrics of this popular song from a few years ago: “You and me baby aint nothing but mammals so lets do it like they do on the discovery channel!”
Just words? Is metrosexual just an innocent descriptive word? Consider the commentary (regarding the aformentioned song) of a blogger who was raised with the vernacular of this generation:
Hot lyric from an old song!!!
Seriously we are all animals and other animals get it on so why do we have to be spurned. You ask who is we...Homosexuals!!!
I am a proud bisexual female! It gets aggrivating when people look down upon me and my girlfriend for being human. For acting on the impulses that God has given us. You might not agree with it but at least keep you opinons to yourself.

Words matter. I say again, I detest the word “metrosexual” and the general profaning of language.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mom's Opus

The captivating Mrs. Wicke recently walked a path familiar to women but one that men will never understand (except for those who want to take a chance and compare the pain of passing a kidney stone to giving birth... I have not yet passed one nor am I brave enough to compare anything to the experience I observed two weeks ago). In honor or Mrs. Wicke and at the commencement of Spring Break 2009 when both Logan and Griffin are home to try her patience, I present the "Mom Opus". This is for you Mrs. Wicke, the mother of my children; I stand in awe of the work you do and the miracles you are making in the lives of our children:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sermonette: Making a difference in the world

Glen L. Pace

"Wherever we live in the world there is pain and suffering all around us. We need to take more initiative as individuals in deciding how we can best be of service. The fact that a particular activity is not sponsored by the church doesn't mean it is not worthy of a church members support. As individuals we should become knowledgeable of the opportunities around us. I hear that some members suffer from "action paralysis" waiting for the church to put its stamp of approval on some organization or another. The church teaches principles, use those principles and the Spirit to decide which organizations you would like to support. Good things can be done through the church organizations, community organizations and very often through no formal organization at all. We must reach out beyond the wall of our own church. In humanitarian work as in other areas of the gospel we cannot become the salt of the earth if we stay in one lump in the cultural hall. We need not wait for a call or an assignment from a church leader before we become involved in activities that are best carried out on an individual or a community basis."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Who is Thomas Wicke and what makes him tick?

We live in a day where people have profound divisions amongst fundamental principles and philosophies of life. I am not talking of philosophy as meaningless theoretical or intellectual ideas but rather of beliefs, attitudes and values that guide our approach to life, that inform our actions and dictate the way we treat other people. I am talking about the core of what motivates you and I to act toward others individually and collectively. An example will be useful. There appears to be a growing divide between people who believe in the reality of a God and those who not only disbelieve but hold that such a belief is wrong, ignorant and harmful to humanity. These two groups are on a collision course since this fundamental tenant of faith informs their core beliefs about the place of mankind in the world, the value of life, what is moral, what is legal, what behaviors are acceptable, etc. That one question fundamentally shapes our social, political and economic world and as such inevitably affects one another.

The God-no God division is but one of the fundamental philosophies that identify us. There are several others which are currently up for debate. Unless we are clear on our stance –unless we have given sufficient and serious thought to these core ideas to arrive at an informed stance- we will be ungrounded, confused and pawns caught in the dangerous netherland as the two sides battle out the most important questions of human experience.

Can you state categorically and clearly what you believe? Are you equipping your children to make a sound and solid evaluation of the same issues? Here, then, are a few of my articles of truth:

• I believe in a Supreme Being who is our creator and who has authority to dictate our acceptable behavior.

• I believe He is intimately concerned with us and the condition of our lives. I believe He wants us to know Him, to develop a personal relationship with Him and even to become like Him.

• I believe He has higher priorities for us than comfort and ease. His objectives for us extend beyond this life and as such do not always make sense from our current perspective (i.e. our discomfort over the reality of injustice, suffering, pain, and similar conditions).

• I believe in a spiritual as well as a physical realm of reality. I believe the laws that govern the physical world and the laws that govern the spiritual world are not mutually exclusive.

• I believe that science is a powerful avenue to obtaining truth about the physical (measureable) world. I also believe that science is not equipped to answer every question or discern every truth. I believe there is a spiritual reality for which science, by its own guidelines is entirely incapable of navigating.
• I believe one of the primary responsibilities of mankind is to live a moral life (and referencing an earlier statement: I believe in the existence of a Supreme Creator who has the right to define what is moral).

• I believe objective truth exists even if we do not have a complete understanding of the basis for that truth.

• I believe there cannot exist any claim of freedom without a corresponding obligation of responsibility.

• I believe every man, woman and child is a sovereign entity possessing agency to make choices, also to possess spiritual, political and moral responsibility for themselves.

• I believe that every individual is free to act according to their conscience but actions carry corresponding consequences that, by spiritual and physical law, affect subsequent freedom of action.

• I believe the family unit and organization is the fundamental unit of life and the degree to which it is functional and intact as nature intended (comprised of a male a female and offspring) it provides the best physical, emotional, spiritual and mental resources for the promulgation of nations and civil society.

• Patience, concern for others, generosity, gratitude and all the ennobling virtues must be learned and then mastered through practice.

• The default conditions of this life are evil, decay and death (these represent the modal conditions of this world) Goodness on the other hand must be consciously developed through discipline and constant effort. This condition has been aptly illustrated by the well known phrase: All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.

This is not an exhaustive list nor is it adequately elaborated but it is a sufficient beginning to comply with the imperative "know thyself". We are rapidly coming to a time when knowing what you stand for is essential. This knowledge guides everything else.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Wacky Wednesday 2009, Vol. 8

Another installment of man's ladder fetish. Why is it that such a simple object displays perfectly man's greatest downfall (yes, pun is very much intended).

Everyone else could see it coming, how is he so blind that he did not?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Research Roundup, Introduction

Anyone whose spent serious time in graduate school will admit several aspects of research and scientific findings that are less known by the general public. As with any trade or profession, some of these are somewhat incriminating and others are simply a factor of the insight one gains by deep immersion in the subject matter and methodology of scientific inquiry. While there is some important distinction between the “hard” and the “soft” sciences (my own expertise existing in the latter of the two, generally the study of social, political or group behavior known as the social sciences) there is substantial common ground and scientific fundamentals between the two categories.

For some time I’ve wanted to introduce a weekly posting where I will share recent research endeavors (including findings and my own commentary) of various topics germane to the theme of this blog. I’ve delayed this effort due to the necessary caveat that should always be given when speaking of research findings, especially when it is broadcast through the medium of contemporary media. In other words, when reading something that is purported to be research by someone with a few letters after their name (who thereby claims to be a researcher), the reader had better beware. When that research is reported by the media, the reader had better move beyond “beware” to whatever the next level of caution is.

This is not to say that there is some grand or small level conspiracy. This is not to cast suspicion on the motives or competence of the academic intelligencia (although a healthy level of cynicism and outright questioning is not only healthy to the advance of science but at the very foundation), but on the other hand, there is nothing so dangerous as a general public who has bequeathed their reason and mental capacity to a class of knowledge elites and so-called experts. We are, it seems to me, dangerously tending in this direction. An irony of this age is the benefit and the danger of specialists, experts and the sophistication of knowledge. Common sense has given way to singular knowledge. We’ve moved from a society with a broad base of knowledge (that leads then to common values, understanding and equality) to individuals who are established a experts to whom we defer. Clearly the optimal condition is some type of balance. Due to lack of time I recommend a fantastic (and short) book, The Careless Society by John McKnight. Besides I am drifting from the core of the topic.

Point being, research yields tremendous insight into the world we navigate but it should not trump all other formal and informal avenues toward knowledge. Here then are just a few guidelines when encountering research findings:

1. research findings provide small snapshot into the now of a constantly changing realm of knowledge.
2. research can only deal with the measurable world (although some of those measures are extremely sophisticated -consider the quark, the mind, dark matter, quantum physics, etc.)
3. when research findings do not square with common sense, tread slowly and apply a thoughtful evaluation.
4. research uses statistics, and like accounting, can be manipulated to move toward many conclusions (some of which are valid and others less so)
5. research is about finding “interesting” results. Much that is important is never publicized because it does not comport with personal, scientific, political or institutional agendas. Again, this is not necessarily due to some purposeful nefarious motive.
6. much research is extremely sophisticated and impossible for the media to cover the important (even vital) subtleties in the limited venue with which they operate.
7. media exists on the dramatic, on the striking and the “newsworthy”. Findings and conclusions are often too boring in their specificity and sophistication for the media to bother with. Its not that they are lying but the shocking finding might not really be so shocking when it is reported in its entirety.
8. the media is a filter that has an agenda (to make money and to gain audience). Accurate portrayal of research often does not comport with those fundamental principles.
9. As with all things, not just research, go to the source. Do not rely on what someone says that someone else said, found or discovered.

These are just a few guidelines when considering research and purported findings. There are more, perhaps we can revisit these later… I think I’ve successfully put most of you to sleep for now. Bear with me, the fun part (the actual research) is soon to come! Here is a little teaser:

- Americans becoming less religious, study shows. Americans are increasingly turning away from many denominations, with the percentage who do not claim a religious identity nearly doubling since 1990, to 15%, according to a national survey.

- Research has shown, in well over 3,000 papers on the subject, that happier people are often healthier, more successful, harder-working, caring, and socially engaged.

-Being lonely makes you get sick faster

-Family meals and teen’s psychosocial wellbeing: adolescents of both sexes who seldom or never eat with their families are more likely to use tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana, more likely to receive low grades in school, more likely to suffer from depression, and more likely to think about suicide.

-Criminality and broken homes: data clearly identify family structure as a predictor of teen criminality: "Adolescents in single-father families report the highest levels of delinquency," report the NICHHD analysts, "followed by those in father-stepmother and single-mother families. Delinquency levels are lowest among adolescents residing with two biological, married parents."

- Study Links Explicit Lyrics to Teen Sex

Tune in for more on these and other fascinating subjects...

Monday, March 9, 2009


My life has been full of them. Here are three of the most recent:

1. Small hands.

2. Modern medicine,

and its effects (picture taken during height of contraction).

3. A healthy, beautiful baby.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sermonette: Preparing our children for the reality & function of tribulation

It has been said that "remember" might be the most important word in the dictionary. I've recently foraged through a collection of quotations and throughts I've collected over the past twenty years. As I've reviewed these, my mind has been brought back to a remembrance of many beautiful truths. This exercise has been refreshing and inspirational. Most of these quotes are small exerpts from religious addresses. These are perfect fodder for pondering on a Sunday afternoon. Hence I am going to begin posting some of my favorite passages, one per Sabbath. I hope they lift your thoughts to higher places; to a higher appreciation of God, his purposes for human kind and the divinity that is in each of us.

Neal A. Maxwell
"I’d like to talk to you about a fairly deep doctrine for a minute. We have got to do a better job than we've been doing in preparing ourselves and our sons and daughters to understand that life is not a bowl of cherries. We have now had several decades of relatively uninterrupted prosperity. It isn't going to be that way, that is an atypical period I'm sorry to say.
One of the urgent needs we have to enrich family life is to help our children and ourselves understand that a certain amount of tribulations, trials and suffering are to be expected."
-Being a Celestial Partner

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Welcome Baby Lincoln!

On Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009 little Lincoln DeeRay Wicke entered this grand world at 8:10 PM. He weighed in at a strapping 8 pounds even and spans 20.5 inches from head to foot. For lack of time to expound on the specifics, here are some pictures. Mrs. Wicke and baby Lincoln are doing very well (hopefully getting some rest from the dramatic physical changes they've recently gone through). The miracle of life and the blessings that surround our family continue to increase!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Wacky Wednesday 2009, Vol. 7 (special Monday edition)

This video (see below) will give you a lot of laughs and a lot of truth (once again, you can either laugh about our current situation or you can cry... at least laughing releases endorphins).