Jane Elizabeth Manning James

We draped a sheet across a metal trellis and called it a covered wagon. We used the sacrament table for Jane James’s bed. We let Elijah Able use the podium, and we put the choir in the cushioned seats by the piano and organ. This was our Genesis meeting on Sunday, March 5th, 2000. We debuted my play I Am Jane to a diverse audience that included LDS apostle David B. Haight, whose ancestor had been in Jane’s 1847 pioneer… Read more

The Story I told Him, Part 4

He watched the sun sink. The sky was growing dark. He hiked higher, higher, higher. Then, directly above him, but far too high for him to even imagine touching, there was a pin prick of light. A few moments later, another appeared, and then another, and another. The darker the sky got, the more these lights revealed themselves. It was as though the sky itself had little holes in it, and each hole let out a hint of the brightness… Read more

Dayenu! (It would have been enough!)

(During some Passover celebrations, Jews drop bits of wine on a napkin, citing each plague which G-d caused to come upon the Egyptians and saying, “Dayenu!”, or “it would have been enough with only that!”) In 1998, when I was beginning to learn about black pioneers, Susie Mae Thomas started coming to my ward, though she didn’t live in my boundaries. In retrospect, her presence was a miracle for me. Though she couldn’t speak because of a stroke, she was… Read more

Darius Gray: Atlas with the Flu

Elsie Gray was close to miscarrying her baby, and had already had several miscarriages. She summoned the “Sisters”–Pentecostal women, who anointed her womb with consecrated oil and ministered to her, dedicating the fruit of her womb to God. Darius Aidan Gray was born healthy on December 12, 19?? (no, I won’t reveal his birth year), though he suffered health problems for much of his childhood. As a teen, he read about Sampson and decided that he would do as Sampson… Read more

The Story I told Him (part 3)

David of Nebula Part 3 of 4 Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. David walked towards the nearest armchair, glancing around. There were paintings on the walls—of big rocks and many hues. “But you did see the lights back then,” David said. “Of course. I waited thirty years before I wrote it down, though. Perhaps I left out a detail or two. And perhaps I missed a few things. Well, I didn’t see the rainbow, did I. Apparently,… Read more

My brother–in an Otavalo cemetery

This beautiful essay is by my brother, Dell Blair. Dell and I love Central and South America. Dell speaks Quichua and Spanish. Our siblings tended to go more to China. Dad went everywhere. This is one of the great Blair legacies. We do not tour. We root ourselves in places and people. Dell’s essay shows it so movingly. Amado Maldonado. Shoulder deep into the dark soil the shovel tip snagged the edge of another casket. “Good,” said Rafael. “Dig to… Read more

The Story I Told Him, Part 2

David of Nebula Part 1 (of four parts) is here. An audio CD of the story is free with a tax-deductible donation to the film Heart of Africa. Part 2 Again, David faced the door and knocked—three times this time, as hard as he could. He glanced behind him to see one last trace of the arc. It was gone. He could hear steps. They stopped just inches away, right behind the door. The knob moved, and the door opened—just… Read more

The Story I Told Him

Several years ago, I was sitting on a cabin porch with my son. We watched the stars and talked openly. It was a hard but needed talk, the beginning of our deeper friendship. At one point, I told him a story. I will post the story here in four parts, beginning today. I have made an audio CD of it, which I will send to anyone who donates to the Heart of Africa film. (Honor system. If you tell me… Read more

Mormon Women Bear

I will be making calendars of various bear Mormon women/females. I am doing this as a protest. Yes. It is controversial. But as Edmund Spenser said: “Be bold, be bold, be not too bold.” I am being boldly bold, but not boldly boldest. Show your support for this protest against oppressive patriarchies by donating $20.00 to Heart of Africa Read more

How Could We Have Forgotten Our Mother?

Mom reading The God Who Weeps to Dad I talk a lot about my dad and often neglect to talk about my mother. This post is for her. The picture, one I took with my phone (sorry!), shows her doing what she does every night. She reads to my dad. As visitors drop by, Dad sometimes talks about how grateful he is for what others do for him. “My wife, Julia,” he says, “reads to me every night. She serves… Read more

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