Monday, October 29, 2012

I'm a Mormon. And I'm voting for Barack Obama.

So, it's election season.  Oh, you didn't know?  Kind of sneaks up on you*, I guess.

Which means it is time for me to get vaguely political, attempting to care about issues I don't really know much about, and trying to sound as sophisticated as possible when I talk about them.  (In other words, DISCLAIMER:  I'm an ignorant person.)

But allow me to attempt to rise above my ignorance, if only for the briefest of moments.

I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormon Church (which is how I'll refer to it hereafter for the sake of clarity).  I consider myself both a religious and spiritual person, with an emphasis on the latter term**.  I agree with the majority of the teachings of the Mormon Church and its prophet, Thomas S. Monson.  Do I think either of these entities (the Mormon Church or its prophet) is perfect?  Certainly not.  President Monson is still just a man and therefore inherently flawed; the Church's stewardship is given to regular men and women, who are also inherently flawed.  But, that said, I've found a whole lot of joy, peace, fulfillment, and comfort in the Church's teachings.  I believe strongly in the Mormon Church, and particularly--and most importantly--Jesus Christ (yes, I'm a Christian).

Now, some of you may have heard that Governor Mitt Romney is also a Mormon.  I think that's great.  I think it's cool that a Mormon has garnered such popularity in mainstream politics; I feel more validated as just a regular person who happens to have a certain set of beliefs, rather than a walking stereotype of Mormonism, because of what Gov. Romney has accomplished.  I feel an affinity towards him because of our shared faith.  I suspect (although I can't say for sure, of course, given that I don't know the man) that he is a genuinely good person.  I think he wants the best for himself, his family, and his country.  And, I have to admit, I'm strangely touched by crazy Facebook trends like this one.

But I'll be voting for the other guy.

Now, to be fair, this has a lot more to do with my personal politics than with either of the men running for president.  I believe equality is important, and that it should be an indispensable part of our society.  I believe that women who work the same jobs as men should be paid on the same scale as men.  I believe that women should be able to do what they want to do with their own bodies, and not be dictated to, in that regard or any other, by anyone else (And if men get Viagra covered by their insurance, BY ALL MEANS, give women birth control!  The logic behind that whole situation is outrageous to me.)  I believe that people should be able to love who they want to love, and be in the relationships that make them happiest.  I think of healthcare in terms of "right" rather than "privilege."  While I have the utmost respect for business owners and entrepreneurs, and think it takes a tremendous amount of tenacity, drive, and creativity to do what they do, I don't think they would be able to accomplish what they do without the help of friends, mentors, teachers, and--dare I say it?--government.  I think it is everyone's responsibility, but particularly that of the successful and the wealthy, to support others in turn, through charity, education, and taxes.***

And, honestly, the rhetoric of the conservative side of things is just bothersome, sometimes.  Saying things like "legitimate rape," and "Obama is a Muslim and will ruin this country" just doesn't seem helpful.  Now, I'm aware that the left has had their share of rhetorical diarrhea (forgive the imagery).  But, at least to me (and why not?  I'm biased, anyway), the fault seems worse on the conservative side of things.

What I'm NOT saying, here, is that Mitt Romney doesn't care about any of the aforementioned ideas, or that he endorses the crazy things extremists say.  Let me repeat:  I'm NOT saying that.  I think he probably does care a great deal about a lot of those things.  But the way he wants to approach them really doesn't strike my fancy.

President Obama's approach does (strike my fancy, that is).  And there's a lot more I like about him, besides.  I agree with him when he says that our national defense is no longer based strictly on the size of our navy.  There are a lot of other factors that go into it nowadays (let's be honest; there always have been), and I think he knows what those factors are and how to make them work for America.  I think that balancing the budget requires a lot more than a vague five-point plan.  And I think Pres. Obama has handled the last four years remarkably well, considering what was dropped in his lap in the first place.  In his next term, I think he'll continue to strengthen and lead our country through recovery and into success.

Now, I recognize I've focused, mostly, on pathos in this post.  And I don't feel bad about it.  This is how I feel about things.  I COULD cite a bunch of facts (and I'm sure a lot of people who disagree with this post will view that as a sleight; I'm not posting the facts because there ARE no facts that support Obama, right?).  I COULD point you towards the 31 straight months of economic growth, or show you how unemployment is the lowest it's been since December of 2008, or demonstrate how housing starts are at an all time high.  But I won't.  Because facts are boring, and I don't want to, and this post is long enough as it is, and this is my blog and I can do what I want.  So there.  And, ultimately, this post is about how I feel about the upcoming election.  My point of view on things, nothing more, nothing less.

So, even though I'm a Mormon, I'm voting for Barack Obama (and look!  I haven't been struck by lightning yet!  I'll have to wait until election day to tell you for sure, though).  Even though I don't think Gov. Romney is an awful guy--and I admit, I think he would do some good things for our country as President--I think Pres. Obama is the right man to lead in the next four years.  He would do . . . more . . . of the good things . . . ahem.  Hey, don't look at me like that.  I told you I was ignorant.

That's how I see things.  If you feel otherwise, feel free to let me know!

And, in the spirit of friendship, you should watch this, because it is hilarious, and will make your day.

*  And by "sneaks up on you," I mean "hits you over the head with a giant hammer, Super Smash Brothers style, like a year and a half too early."

**  Hopefully this goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway:  I also consider myself a seriously flawed person; my attempts to give up those flaws and weaknesses are a large part of what I consider spirituality, and one of the driving concepts behind my idea of religion.

***  A brief tangent:  I'm always just a little bit astounded that the majority of Christians tend to choose the Republican platform over the Democratic one.  While I was in church just this last Sunday, I listened to a scripture-oriented discussion on how people are so prideful these days that they think whatever they own, create, and accumulate for themselves is theirs and theirs alone, when in reality they should be thinking of all of the people that helped them accomplish and receive all of the blessings they have, and of ways they can share those blessings with others.  I'm sure that a whole lot of the people involved in that discussion also posted memes like this one on their favorite social media sites.  So, yeah.  I just don't get it.  Jesus' only requirement for healing was something called faith.  That sounds like a pretty good healthcare system to me.  He seemed to be in favor of helping the poor, afflicted, and downtrodden--not putting the rich on a pedestal.  When the most basic idea behind Christianity is becoming like Christ, I'm astounded at how many people seem to ignore His actions.  Maybe I just have the wrong idea about Christianity.

New Look

Just because.  I think the lighter tone suits the site well, don't you?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Wise Man Once Said...

If we follow our own will, we may get to the best places we can imagine.  But there are better places than we can imagine.
That's a quote from my friend Bentley (who is, incidentally, the man*).  I think it is brilliant.  And pretty relevant to my life, these days.

The idea, of course, is that there is genuine serenity and happiness in surrendering oneself to God, or the Universe, or a higher power.  I, personally, find that to be true.  But I've said too much already.  I'll just let Bentley speak for himself.  As it were.

Beauty in simplicity, and all that.

*  In a "he's the man!" way, not "he's 'the man'" as in "the establishment" way...just to clarify.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Abstract and Acknowledgments

As promised in my previous post, here is the Abstract and the Acknowledgments sections of my Masters Thesis:


Look Me in the Stars

Christopher B. Husberg
Department of English, BYU
Master of Fine Arts

Look Me in the Stars is a work of fiction comprising seven short stories and a critical introduction.  Elements of fantasy, speculation, and horror are woven throughout each of the stories.  While these elements sometimes tend to provide the reader an “escape” from reality, their purpose in these stories is quite the opposite, with the intention of bringing the reader closer to reality rather than further away.

The critical introduction that precedes the collection examines the author’s predilection towards speculative fiction, discussing literary influences and different methodologies for using fantasy as a window to reality.


I am profoundly grateful to a lot of people.  Here are some of them:

Thanks first and foremost to my thesis committee—Steve Tuttle, John Bennion, and Carl Sederholm—for their support and encouragement, and for their insightful suggestions, and for asking the questions that needed to be asked.  Thanks to Steve in particular for all the time he spent with each story in this thesis, as well as with all the stories that didn’t make the cut.  He’s really the godfather of this collection; he’s been around most of these stories since they were in rough draft form.  His comments, and confidence, were invaluable.

Thanks to those other professors and mentors, without whom this project would not be what it is today:  Kim Johnson, Trent Hickman, Pat Madden, Chris Crowe, Susan Howe, Doug Thayer, and Brandon Sanderson.  I can trace specific parts of this thesis to bits of advice and counsel each of you gave me, in class or otherwise, and it’s that sort of thing that has shaped me (and still shapes me) as a writer.

Thanks to those writers with whom I’ve spent the last two years:  Steve, Amber, Scott, Becca, Shelah, and Bentley.  Your comments are brilliant, your jokes are hilarious, and your singing voices and guitar playing skillz are off the hook, especially late at night in cabins near Capitol Reef National Park.  Also:  you’re all phenomenal writers (imho).

Thanks to my parents for reading to me and helping me tell stories when I was young.  You always encouraged me to pursue stories, both within myself and in the outside world, and really, without that, where would I be?  (Probably graduating from med school, by now.  Thanks a lot.)  You told me I could dream, and you believed in me when I did.  I love you both.

Thanks to all the other family members, both in-law and regular type, who love and support me through these crazy dreams of mine.  There are far too many of you to list, but your confidence in me, your faith, and the way you live your lives are inspiring.

And of course, and always, and forever thanks to my wife, Rachel.  This is something I literally (and I mean it with the literally) never could have done without you.  You support me in all of this, in more ways than one, but—even better—you think I’m cool because of it, and that makes you amazing and wonderful and full of grace and all sorts of awesome things.  Okay, you were already all of that stuff.  I just wanted an excuse to say it.  Everything I write is, and will always be, for you.

My Little Masters Thesis

So, yeah, I wrote a Masters Thesis.  (Is it Master's or Masters?  I'm too lazy to Google it [wow...that is really lazy].)  And you know what?  The whole process was actually pretty cool.  At least I think so.

The thesis was titled Look Me in the Stars.  Strange title, you say?  Yeah, little bit.  It actually derives from a line in Robert Frost's* poem "A Question":
A voice said, Look me in the stars
And tell me truly, men of earth,
If all the soul-and-body scars
Are not too much to pay for birth.
That poem has been on my mind for some time, and it sort of worked its own way into the title.

The thesis is a collection of short stories (seven of them, to be exact--no coincidence there) that all treat, with varying degrees of heavy-handedness, the plethora of delightful and crappy things that we all go through in life.  Ok, it mostly revolves around the crappy stuff (hence the titular poem).  The delightful stuff is boring anyway.  Each story also incorporates some aspect of speculation or fantasy, as well; from time travel to the zombie apocalypse, it's all there.  And, well, I'm kind of proud of it.  Look, here it is:

In all its glory!  Pretty cool, no?

For those interested, here are some stats:
Total word count:  38,461
Total page count:  133
Contents:  7 short stories ("Rewind," "The Reception," "On Redemption," "Chronosingularity," "In the Details," "Oneirology," and "Look me in the stars"), Critical Introduction, Abstract, Acknowledgements, Table of Contents, and Title Page
Start date:  This is a tough one.  The first draft of the oldest short story in the collection dates back to 7 Feb 2009, and I suppose that is as good a start date as any.
End date:  Final draft was submitted on 15 June 2012.

Overall, it was a really great process.  Much more enjoyable than the whole Honors Thesis thing (which actually wasn't that bad for a critical thesis...but nowhere near this cool).  And my defense was fantastic.  I was lucky to have three pretty amazing professors ask some really interesting questions amd give some really helpful feedback...and it was actually kind of fun; a far cry from the purgatorial panel I had feared.  I don't know many people who can say they genuinely enjoyed their thesis/dissertation defense, so I'm glad to be part of that elite group.

I'd give you a link to check out the entire document on BYU's Electronic Thesis and Dissertation website, but you can't find it there.  You see, as an MFA student dealing with a creative work that might actually be a source of income (however modest) in the future, I don't have to release it to the public.  So I didn't.  Instead, I'm currently in the process of getting at least a couple of the stories from my thesis published in literary journals, magazines, etc.  And, trust me, as soon as I find a home for any of these stories, you guys will be the first to know.  Okay, maybe not the first.  My wife will be the first.  And actually my parents will be second.  And then I'll have some other friends and family members I'll want to tell right away.  So you guys are maybe five or six down on the list...but you'll get the news relatively soon :-).  Priorities, you see.  You understand.

Also, I think I'll paste the Abstract and the Acknowledgements sections in the next post, just so you can get some more specifics about the project...and because there were a whole lot of people who helped me out with the project, and they deserve all the thanks they can get.

In fact, I think I'll get on that right now.

*  Robert Frost is one of my favorite all-time poets, by the way.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Did I mention that I'm now officially an MFA graduate?  No?  Well, then.

I'm now, officially, an MFA graduate.

Okay, so the news isn't that current.  It actually happened in June.  Still, I have to admit it feels good to be a Master, even if it is just of fiction writing*.

And you know what?  The whole thesis thing wasn't half bad.  The defense was a pleasure, and I'm very happy with the finished product.  There's more to that story, but I'll save that for another day.  In the mean time, I'll probably never post on this blog again.  Or, at least, that's what you should tell yourself.  That way you'll be delighted when I actually DO post something up here.  Later this week, for example.  (Low expectations are the key to happiness, after all.)  So, until then never! :-)

P.S.  Please, please get the title reference.  If you don't, you are dead to me.

* And, even though I have the title, I have to admit that I don't feel much like the master of anything--especially not fiction writing.  I've still got a long way to go where that is concerned, I think.  But, I'm smarter about it than I was two years ago, and if that happens every two years from here on out, I'll be happy as a witch in a broomstick factory (ick...those Geico commercials are really getting to me).