On a Day When I Miss My Dad

I put a photo of an ultrasound into Dad's coffin on February 27.  The viewing before his funeral hadn't started yet, and no one was watching.   The ultrasound was of the fetus who is still becoming Olive Aisley Wagstaff, my next granddaughter, my father's fourth great granddaughter.  On February 18, the day before Dad died, I told him that Julie, my baby girl, had heard her baby's heartbeat.  Dad said a typically "Dad" thing.  "That's wonderful!" That little conversation happened just before I tu … [Read more...]

Robert Blair Obituary, Part 4: The Story Teller’s Last Stories

Note: This post includes a photo of Robert Blair's lifeless body in the last part.  If photos of dead bodies cause you anxiety, please do not continue.I have written the previous obituary segments in third person.  This one will be in first person. In 2005, Mom and Dad were in China, where they had taught English for five years. Dad had lost most of the function in one kidney.  Now, the second kidney failed. All of us Blairs joined in prayer that we'd find a way to get him home f … [Read more...]

Death of a Latter-day Saint

Embedded in this post is a youtube link to my father's funeral.  This is something I would want everyone studying the Latter-day Saint faith to listen to as an example of what a Mormon life is or can be.My father, Robert W. Blair, was born Mormon, but was planted deep into his faith through associations with many religions and cultures.  His earliest experience of devotion happened after he viewed the Catholic film Bernadette, and, on his way home from the theater, knelt in prayer to de … [Read more...]

Risen and Rising

My fundamental belief as a Latter-day Saint is that we are continuously in process of either blossoming or withering, that our potential is infinite and our mortality only one phase of our eternal learning. I have often said that mortality is pre-school, in which we learn (or refuse to learn) the basic principles of the gospel—faith, repentance, forgiveness, charity. I believe that most religions espouse these virtues, and that eventually all will become one, with Christ at the head. In other w … [Read more...]

The Future of Mormonism (the Next Five Years)

Editors' Note: This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on the Future of Faith in America: Mormonism. Read other perspectives here.Despite claims that the sky is falling and multiple reproductions of trumpeting Moroni are toppling from various spires, the future of Mormonism is bright. We are on a bridge. The past five years include the LDS Church's huge step into transparency.  The hard historical issues visited by official essays were shocking to some, validating to others, and ign … [Read more...]

Christmas Church in China

“Do you actually believe in GOD? Do you PRAY to him? Do you think he lives in the clouds?” These were the chants of my parents’ students in Shandong, China upon learning that Mom and Dad were Christians. The questions mocked–as though the askers had been collectively coached in how to deride religion. But outside the classroom, the questions and the tones changed. The year was 1980, just a decade after the Cultural Revolution. Mom and Dad, accompanied by my baby sister (Carol), were teachin … [Read more...]

That “Third” Conversation? Never, No Never!

Fourth grade can be terrible. Not only do you get introduced to hard math, but all the kids start experimenting with identity and control. In my fourth grade class, a particular girl was in charge. Of everything. If she liked you, she would call you to tell you what color of dress to wear. (Yes, this was in the days when girls always wore dresses.) Sometimes, she would test your loyalty. She did this to my classmate, Laurie. She told Laurie to twist Barbara Hatch's arm. We were all at … [Read more...]


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