The agony of martyrdom is almost too much to bear. In the early hours, when the loss is fresh, there is no comfort in knowing Glory will live on. We speak of the martyrs in History but we cannot know the actual pain they suffered in their final living hours. They enter the realm of the mythic, but we must never forget these were men like ourselves. When their flesh is torn, they cry out. They suffer as you or I would suffer, although more bravely. Remember Christ. Although I am now an enemy to Joseph's legacy, I shudder when recalling his pain.
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I trust you have seen the ocean. If you have, then you have witnessed the divine. How barren the ground is in comparison! If I could count the hours I have spent staring out at it! And yet those hours never feel lost. I cannot imagine how else I could refill them were I given a second chance.
I must say a few words about memory. It is full of holes. If you were to lay it out upon a table, it would resemble a scrap of lace. I am a lover of history . . . [but] history has one flaw. It is a subjective art, no less so than poetry or music. . . . The historian writes a truth. The memoirist writes a truth. The novelist writes a truth. And so on. My mother, we both know, wrote a truth in The 19th Wife"" a truth that corresponded to her memory and desires. It is not the truth, certainly not. But a truth, yes . . . Her book is a fact. It remains so, even if it is snowflaked with holes.
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We struggle throughout our lives to learn to accept the shell that transports us through this world, and many of us take great effort to change it. I believe everyone has at least once looked in the mirror and thought, 'That is not me. I am someone else. The world cannot see me as I really am.'
If the Latterday Saints had not abandoned plural marriage, they would have remained a fringe religion and would never have moved into mainstream American culture. Today, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints thrives. It is one of the fastest growing religions in the country and is the most successful American-born religion.
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The soles of the best writers, a professor once told me, are worn down to holes. This is an incomplete measure, but the image of a writer grinding his or her shoes against curbs and cobblestones stuck with me. The story is always out there, the details around the corner or down the alley.
I usually don't throw around the word 'fabulous,' but how else to describe buildings decorated with mirrored water dragons, serpents tiled in colored glass, and hundreds - no, thousands, no, tens of thousands - of gold-leaf Buddhas? Luang Prabang has more than 47,000 residents, but its Buddha population must be ten times that.
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I first read 'The Scarlet Letter' when I was fifteen. In it, I found a familiar vision of religious intolerance to the one around me. I grew up in the 1980s, when televangelists, with their fluffed up hair and their tears, self-righteously denounced all kinds of sinners, reserving a special, full-throated enthusiasm for gay people.
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