Are you getting ads you don’t want on your Samsung Galaxy phone when you open it? Sometimes they won’t let you close or click past the ad for several seconds, and it’s so frustrating. Look in your apps and see if there’s a “Peel Remote” app that’s showed up since you last allowed a phone update. (It’s black and yellow—I couldn’t find an image of it online.) Go to the Google Play Store, search for “Peel Universal,” and a list of apps will come up. Scroll down or just click on each one until you get to one that has an “uninstall” option, and uninstall it. (You can’t uninstall it from inside the app; you have to go to it in the Play Store.) Don’t pay any attention to a threat that this will affect the way your phone operates—you want it to affect the way your phone operates by getting rid of these ads! Samsung should not be able to install this app on your phone as part of an update without your permission. And there’s nothing in the ads themselves to tell you where they’re coming from or how to get rid of them. Boo, hiss, Samsung!
Recently, the town of Sandy, Utah notified residents that they couldn’t drink the city’s water (the problem has since been resolved). A release of undiluted fluoride into the water had resulted in lead and copper leaching from the city’s water pipes. City officials responsible for notifying affected residents didn’t do that until the contaminated water had been in their taps for days; residents notified the city that they were getting sick from drinking the water. The city had issued a statement only 24 hours before the “no drink” order that the water was safe to drink. Several people, including a 3-month-old baby, were sickened. And there is no safe level of lead in drinking water; it can cause neurological damage and other problems for children and infants, even infants in utero. Babies who drink formula, which is mixed with water, are especially vulnerable. The city was cited by the Utah Division of Drinking Water for failure to notify the public adequately and for exceeding safe fluoride levels. (See Amy Joi O’Donohue, “Utah City Delayed Notifying State, Public of Contaminated Water,” Deseret News, February 16, 2019, https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900056140/utah-city-delayed-notifying-state-public-of-contamination-water.html)
Your city should be sending you a water quality report once a year, but in the case of emergencies such as the city of Sandy experienced, we must rely on city officials for appropriate testing and communication to the public. Tragically, the city of Flint, Michigan, experienced contamination of its water by lead and other dangerous metals in 2014, after an emergency manager appointed by the state tried to save money by switching the source of the city’s water from Lake Huron to the heavily polluted Flint River. The Flint River water was extremely corrosive, and the city failed to treat the water (which would have cost about $100 per day); this resulted in lead and copper leaching from water pipes into the water. And city officials assured the public for 18 months, after residents began complaining about the appearance and taste of the water, that the water was safe to drink—even though they knew or should have known about the problem. Five officials have since been charged with involuntary manslaughter in relation to the water crisis in Flint.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician at Flint’s Hurley Medical Center, was seeing children with hair loss and rashes, and their concerned parents. By comparing Medicaid-required lead levels in children taken before the water switch and after, she was able to show that lead levels in children’s blood had doubled and even tripled. The state attacked her results for a week before admitting she was right. Then the state started handing out filters and bottled water, but 18 months of lead exposure had already affected children in ways that may not be known for years. (See Sara Ganim and Linh Tran, “How Tap Water Became Toxic in Flint, Michigan,” CNN, January 13, 2016, https://www.cnn.com/2016/01/11/health/toxic-tap-water-flint-michigan/index.html)
Dr. Mona, as she is called, wrote an excellent book about the water crisis in Flint and the investigation to uncover it, What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City (New York: One World, 2018). One infuriating thing is that the problem probably would have been addressed sooner, or not come about at all, in a majority-white, affluent Michigan city such as Ann Arbor or Grosse Pointe. Another infuriating thing is that the officials in Flint, and to a much lesser extent the officials in Sandy, seemed more interested in covering up mistakes and saving money, and avoiding public panic (even though it was time for intense concern), than in saving families and children from drinking water contaminated with lead.
One lesson from these types of events is that those in responsible positions must concern themselves more with taking care of the people who trusted them than with hiding their own mistakes, keeping up appearances, or saving money at the people’s expense. It is all a matter of asking, “What would I want for myself and my family?” It’s the Golden Rule: “Whatsoever ye would that man should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matthew 7:12).
When I thought I might earn a master’s degree in art history, I wrote this cycle of poems in response to an assignment for a history class on ancient art. It may not resonate in every detail with those who don’t know about ancient Egypt, but it may still be enjoyable as poetry.
Imhotep Speaks (cinquain)
king loved by Ra
to make a City of the Dead
guard thy passage onward
temple stepped to sky
will climb the steps
enter the solar boat
sail across burning sky by day
friend to gods, friend to kings
The Scribe (Spenserian sonnet)
Much-honored scribe of their will, I record
the sacred deeds of gods and kings of all.
In my papyrus miracles are stored
and tallies of the treasures of the hall
where I sit, watching, all writ by my reed.
My eyes miss nothing; my scrolls are the source
of stories to mount up the temple, lead
the eye to power’s glorious, blessed course—
of Amun, Ra, Osiris, Ptah, Thoth, Maat, all give
our god–king’s life and so our souls delight to live.
I am no warrior, nor a laborer,
to risk the battle, brown and sweat in sun;
no sting of whip from cruel overseer.
My king is my brightness; there is none
who does not nod in passing, see my place.
My family lives in comfort and respect,
all cool and linen-clothed and white of face.
My careful hand, so fair, lets me protect
our lives. I dream of scrolls, my ink, my reed; they’re mine,
In rows that rise beyond the reach of death or time.
Amarna: Nefertiti’s Secret (blank verse)
Though Nile refuse to flood and kingdoms fall—
though storm of sand envelop all the tombs—
my record shall say “priestess of Aten,”
and Queen of Akhenaten be my name—
I, Nefertiti, “beautiful of face,”
who whispers prayers at night to my god, Re.
No zealot like a convert. I have seen
my husband Akhenaten serve one god.
His mother, Tiy, once crowned with cobra gold,
now worships Aten in a cap of blue.
This Akhetaten is no match for Thebes,
the grandeur of the Temple of Amun—
I know of columns rising to the sky,
of warriors’ deeds, carved wonder, colored bright.
With other maidens, I learned to fear Re
and love Hathor, to follow woman’s ways.
Who lives with just one god? Who dies with one?
My proud King Amunhotep is no more.
This Akhenaten must not know my heart
is following the old gods, longs for Thebes.
So easy for a wife to disappear—
even a queen and priestess may grow ill.
But my devotion works its magic now:
for on the day we named my noble son,
I showed him to Amun, showed him to Re:
before they took him from me to the priests,
I whispered “Tutankamun” in his ear.
Hatshepsut, Pharaoh of Egypt (haiku)
“I am Hatshepsut, Pharaoh of Egypt,”
says my Temple
carved in rock.
Born of Amun-Ra,
a god, and Ahmose, the queen,
fragrant in union.
Crowned by King Thutmose.
I brought myrrh trees from far Punt.
I, his majesty.
Cover my breasts with
linen headdress; bull’s tail place
between my soft legs.
Beard my stone face as
Pharaoh—my tomb shall long grace
the Valley of Kings.
Hymn of Supplication (chiasm)
Thy daughter Nefertari sings to Isis:
Welcome me to thy temple, sacred one—
queen of the moon; its crescent adorns thee;
nourisher of Horus, to thee I offer rich perfumes.
Anoint my breasts that I may nourish my children.
let the moon grow full, as I grow full of life,
blessed by the gods as queen of Ramses’ house,
daughter of Isis, queen and mother of many.
Grant my children the love of many children,
blessed by the gods to approach the temple of life.
Let them wax in strength and hope and joy.
Giver of wisdom to thy sons and daughters,
Rich as river’s flood to feed the land,
Adorn me with silence and peace, as the moon sails the night,
ask thy King to welcome me to eternity
as Nefertari, daughter of his beloved Isis.
—Lisa Bolin Hawkins
In the Come Follow Me curriculum for January 27, 2019, we are reading and studying the first chapter of the Gospel of John. In John 1:19-34, we read that John was baptizing at “Bethabara beyond Jordan,” and that Jesus came to John to be baptized there (see 1 Nephi 10:7-10). Bethabara means “place of fording,” literally “house of the crossing,” and is considered to be a ford of the Jordan River near Jericho. Traditionally, this place on the Jordanian side of the river, now called Wadi Al-Kharrar, is reputed to be the place at which Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land when the waters of the Jordan were miraculously stopped so they could cross (see Joshua 3:13-17; 4:1-9, 21-24). The following poem explores the relationship between these two events—the baptism of Jesus and the crossing of the Israelites into the Promised Land—in the form of a chiasm,* with the central thought being “We cross from death to life through faith in Christ.”
House of the Crossing (a chiasm)
Joshua pointed out the Promised Land
across the Jordan. They must take the step
to stop the flood and cross the riverbed
dry-shod. No vengeful Egypt drove them now,
as when the Red Sea showed escape from death
or bondage. In this quiet, peaceful spring,
Israel stepped between the Jordan’s floods,
cast off the wilderness and were reborn
into the ancient covenants with God.
And still the water flows o’er Joshua’s stones:
Remember, Israel, the covenant birth,
that crossing Jordan conquers death for life—
We cross from death to life through faith in Christ,
as He upon the Cross conquered through death
what Bethabara’s covenant birth began.
And still we take the water and the bread,
remembering our covenants with God;
we cast off sin and death to be reborn,
drowned, drenched, and streaming hope and gratitude.
In quiet peace He breaks the bonds of sin
and death and gives the gift of our escape,
His hand outstretched in love to carry us
and all our burdens through the trials and pain,
if we but take the step, take up the Cross,
as Jesus points to our eternal home.
Lisa Bolin Hawkins
*A chiasm, or chiasmus, is a Hebrew literary form where the writer’s original thoughts are echoed in a reverse sequence, usually around a central, essential point. It is frequently found in the Old Testament and in the Book of Mormon. See John W. Welch, “Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon,” New Era, February 1972, https://www.lds.org/new-era/1972/02/chiasmus-in-the-book-of-mormon?lang=eng&_r=1
“Antigone,” by Frederick, Lord Leighton
I wrote this poem after reading Jean Anouilh’s play Antigone for a French class in about 1995, although this poem, like Anouilh’s play, draws from the original tragedy by Sophocles and in my mind, a little of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, the French Revolution, and the Holocaust. Anouilh’s play was first produced in Paris during the Nazi occupation, and is widely understood to parallel the French Resistance during that time. I like the way tricot (knitting in French) sounds like the knitting needles clicking. Eurydice was the mute wife of Creon and aunt to Antigone, who performs funeral rites for her brother, Polynieces, when Creon has forbidden that as a way to dishonor Polynieces. Eteocles is Polynieces’ brother; Haemon is Eurydice’s son and Antigone’s fiance. It’s a tragedy, so everyone dies, and Eurydice is left to knit and mourn.
Her brief yet Sophoclean voice now dumb,
she knits (tricot, tricot) recording all,
The needles flash and clack; one pulls at one
(tricot, tricot) and then they turn:
There, in the space of templed needles,
Fate stares out, smiles or frowns (tricot),
and weaves out Death.
All Death. Madame DuFarge, recording all,
not silent, but the clack of needles drowned
by drums and tumbrels, pleas for mercy, prayers,
the slide and thump of metal slicing through
to wood, and then a cheer, and then the drums;
(tricot) the women watch and knit the Fates.
Eurydice, with Fate, sees Death’s parade,
The jackboots on the cobblestones, the harsh
accent of Nazis speaking le français.
Perhaps she went from safety just to see
the flock of yellow stars caged at Drancy.
(tricot, tricot) their tumbrels are boxcars
Then Auschwitz, worse than Hades. “God!” they cry.
“Gods!” She hears the cry and knits it in,
(tricot, tricot) and when she hears the news:
Antigone has gone to join them now—
Eteocles, the hero, hailed by all,
Polynieces, the rebel, left to rot,
Her own Haemon, her son, taking Death’s pact
To die with her uncompromising niece—
Antigone is dead! (tricot) Is dead!
Eurydice must pause (and no one sees):
She sighs, lets fall a tear, and
drops a stitch.
by Lisa Bolin Hawkins
I look forward to experiencing the changes in the temple ceremony that have been written about in the Salt Lake Tribune this week. In honor of that, I share this poem, written in 2011, about the temple experience.
Through the lace I touch soft evidence
of deeper meaning, like the veiled face
of a bride who sees life end and yet begin
and yet continue, called to follow
in the steps of all the brides who ever
promised. We are all brides, male or female,
old, young, layered with water, oil,
robed in carefully marked clothing,
all invited to the wedding
if we trust, submit, and enter
into death that raises us to life: eternal.
All adorned with covenant bows,
like knots of willing hands in clasp
that won’t be broken, tying together
hearts, minds, souls, and strengths.
We feel the sheer white curtains billow
in the breeze of whispered sacraments.
Our spirits hear; our lips give answer: truth.
As my hand rests on the altar,
on the lace-clothed stretch of velvet
where our hands hold to each other
as our eyes each hold the other,
seeing, as in endless mirrors,
end, beginning, all-encompassed
by our story; by the sacred word: forever.
by Lisa Bolin Hawkins
The question in the New Era, the youth magazine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to be answered in the February issue, is: “If Heavenly Father has so many children, how can He know me personally and care about me?” Because the New Era prints the responses of the youth, and is unlikely to print the thoughts of an adult, I’m printing my answer here.
1. Our Heavenly Father is the Creator and Father of our spirits, and loves each of us as a perfect parent loves his or her child.
God is our Father, and created us individually as His spirit children (Acts 17:28–20; Bible Dictionary, “God”). In Isaiah 49:15, God compares His love to that of a mother for her child—and says that even if a mother could forget her child, “yet I will not forget thee.” We are the reason for the creation of the universe and of our planet Earth, as the Lord stated, “This is my work and my glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). Even if it can be difficult for earthly parents to know each of their children, pay attention to them, and even sometimes to love them as they need, these things are not difficult for our all-knowing, all-powerful Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
2. Our Heavenly Father is not limited by time, as we are.
While it is probably impossible for us to understand the physics and physiology of Godhood, we do know that our thoughts are not like Heavenly Father’s thoughts. “My ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts,” He taught the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 55:8–9). We know that God is not limited by linear time, as we are and must be in order be tested in our mortal lives (Abraham 3:24–25). Somehow, “all things are present to God” (Moses 1:6)—“all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto man” (Alma 40:8). What this means is that, unlike us (1), Heavenly Father is able to think about and do more than one thing at a time. The Christian theologian C. S. Lewis taught this principle (2):
Our life comes to us moment by moment. One moment disappears before the next comes along: and there is room for very little in each. That is what Time is like. … Almost certainly God is not in Time. His life does not consist of moments following one another. If a million people are praying to Him at ten-thirty tonight, He need not listen to them all in that one little snippet which we call ten-thirty. Ten-thirty—and every other moment from the beginning of the world—is always the Present for Him. … He has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. He does not have to deal with us in the mass. You are as much alone with Him as if you were the only being He had ever created. When Christ died, He died for you individually just as much as if you had been the only [person] in the world.
Because He is able to see, think about, and work with all of His children as individuals in their own time and place, Heavenly Father is able to know and love each of us.
3. Our Heavenly Father works with us one by one.
It is an important principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ that the Lord works with us, and we should work with each other, one by one. When the Savior came to the Book of Mormon people after His Resurrection, He called them forth one by one, even though there were 2,500 people in the congregation (3 Nephi 17:25), so that they could know that He was the Messiah. This individual experience with the Savior was so moving that the people cried, “Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the Most High God! And they did fall down at the feet of Jesus, and did worship him” (3 Nephi 11:13–17). He also blessed and prayed for their children, “one by one” (3 Nephi 17:21). “Certainly there is a profound and tender message here,” Elder Ronald A. Rasband taught. “Jesus Christ ministers to, and love us all, one by one” (3).
Similarly, when we go to the temple to perform sacred ordinances for those who have passed away, we perform the ordinances for each individual, one at a time. Each of us is so important that we are offered the love of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and may choose to accept it, only as an individual. Elder M. Russell Ballard taught that the Atonement “is infinite and eternal, and yet it is applied individually, one person at a time” (4).
How does Heavenly Father know and care about you, when there are so many of us? How can He know each of us personally? Because He is the Almighty God, and the rules of physics and time that we are bound by do not bind Him. He loves each of us as our tender parent, as His precious son or daughter. When you turn to Him in prayer, He is present for you as though He were kneeling beside you, ready to listen, comfort, and bless you. You are His beloved child. Just as you desire your own experience with Him, He desires His own experience with you. As Saint Augustine taught (5),
“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.”
1. See Sanjay Gupta, “Your Brain on Multitasking,” CNN, August 1, 2016, https://www.cnn.com/2015/04/09/health/your-brain-multitasking/
2. C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: HarperCollins, 2001), 167–168.
3. Ronald A. Rasband, “One by One,” Ensign, November 2000, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2000/10/one-by-one?lang=eng
4. M. Russell Ballard, “The Atonement and the Value of One Soul,” Ensign, May 2004, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2004/04/the-atonement-and-the-value-of-one-soul?lang=eng
5. St. Augustine, quoted in “25 Historic Quotes about God’s Love,” https://www.mormon.org/blog/25-historic-quotes-about-gods-love