Notes and Essays by David Rodeback

If it’s not fiction, it’s a note or an essay, and this is the place. Choose a recent post, scross down to choose a category, or scroll further for a much longer list of posts — er, notes and essays. Thanks for reading!

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All the Notes & Essays

Reuben Harold Babcock - He Was Something

He Was Something: A Tribute

I went to a man’s funeral this week. He died shortly after his 94th birthday. Was he a man-out-of time? Are we a time out of men?

Barnes and Noble American Fork - Bookbuying Resolutions

My New Year’s Bookbuying Resolution — Join Me!

A new Barnes and Noble bookstore coming to American Fork prompts a bookbuying resolution for the new year.

man reading at a desk

That Teetering Stack of Books I Read in 2022 and 2023 (ish)

In which David Rodeback chats about 33 books he’s read in the past two years, give or take, and lists a few more. Fiction, non-fiction, and non-fiction about writing.

bright star in night sky - christmas reflections

“A Light to Lighten the Gentiles”: Christmas Reflections

Christmas reflections on the Light, the Life, the Truth, the Way — and why I think even secular Christmas celebrations can have some sacred effects.

class reunion - come as you are

Come As You Are: Reflections on Reunion

This is a reprint of a blog post from 2013, which in turn was based on something I said at…

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cross at sunset - celebrate Easter

Ten Ways to Celebrate Easter (Alone or Together)

Christmas looms large on the Christian calendar, but I’ve long thought that Easter should loom larger. There is no greater cause for celebration in all of earthly Christianity than the resurrection of Jesus Christ. So let’s celebrate Easter!

creche - Nativity scene - Christmas Reminds Me

Christmas Reminds Me

By nature reminders are not new thoughts, but Christmas reminds me of important things, I think.

stack of books - books I read

Books I Read Lately – Winter 2022 Edition (in September)

When I finish reading a book, I stack it on a certain shelf near my desk in my home office,…


Raphael’s Sistine Madonna, My Two Favorite Authors, and Mother’s Day

My two favorite authors, Fyodor Dostoevsky and Vasily Grossman, treasured Raphael’s Sistine Madonna from different perspectives. What that has to do with Mother’s Day …

Zion National Park - November 2021 - fall leaves and cliffs

Radiant Moments: A Thanksgiving Reflection

I began this Thanksgiving morning by setting myself a task: to describe my gratitude for specific things which are not…

pen writing - Good AF Writers

Where We Do Difficult Things:
Good AF Writers

Like Good AF Writers, most critique groups have three nerve-wracking activities in common: reading an excerpt of your writing aloud, hearing others’ feedback on your writing, and giving others your feedback on their writing.

man reading

Recent Reading: 10 More Books and a Memory

The more I read, the more I want to talk about what I read — and I’ve been reading more…

Abide with Me

“I triumph still, if Thou abide with Me” (a reflection)

One of the unsung joys of Christian worship — there may be a pun there, alas — is encountering verses…


Two Kinds of Christmas, Both Good (an essay)

Here we are, in the shortest days and longest nights of the year. It’s cold and getting colder — a…

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Thou, Lord (a poem)

For Max Olsen (1930-2020)** Thou, Lord, who groaned in agonyWhen darkness ruled GethsemaneAnd daylight mocked on Calvary,Whose perfect gift has…

stacked books

Books I’ve Read Lately (14 of Them)

Lately I’ve been finishing books I started reading in the last year or two — and enjoyed, but left unfinished….

Mount Timpanogos Temple

For Latter-day Saints, the Temple Is for Life Outside the Temple (an essay)

These thoughts are primarily for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who generally understand what we…

faith amid doubt

Faith Amid Doubt (an essay)

The presence of doubt does not require the absence of faith, only faith’s imperfection. We mortals typically act in faith despite our doubt, not because we have no doubt. If we doubted less, perhaps we would need less faith.

Carl Bloch - Jesus Turning Water to Wine

Reading the New Testament (Week 6)

This week’s reading is John 2-4. Jesus attends a wedding at Cana in Galilee, goes briefly to Capernaum, then heads south to Jerusalem for Passover, after which he preaches in Judea and briefly in Samaria on his way back to Galilee to preach.


Reading the New Testament (Week 5)

This week’s readings are Matthew 4 and Luke 4 and 5. They include Jesus’ temptations in the desert and his early preaching and miracles in Galilee, and Peter walking on the water.

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Reading the New Testament (Week 4)

This week’s readings are Matthew 3, Mark 1, and Luke 3. John the Baptist preaches, baptizes Jesus, and is cast into prison. Jesus begins to preach in Galilee; calls Simon Peter, James, and John to follow him; and heals many including Simon Peter’s wife.

reading scripture

Reading the New Testament (Week 3)

This week’s reading is John 1. John speaks of the Word made flesh, answers the Pharisees’ questions about his own identity, and baptizes Jesus. Jesus invites Philip to follow him and praises Nathanael as a guileless Israelite.

King James Version LDS edition footnotes

Reading the New Testament (Week 2)

This week’s readings are Luke 2 and Matthew 2, which recount the birth of Jesus, the visits of the shephers and the wise men, Herod’s slaughter of the innocents, and the holy family’s flight to Egypt and eventual return to Nazareth.


Reading the New Testament (Week 1)

Mary speaks of prophecy and God’s power and mercy, of the House of Israel and of divine promises to Father Abraham. She celebrates God’s exaltation of the humble and poor, and rejoices, “He hath filled the hungry with good things.


Reading the New Testament: Introduction (Week 0)

A person whose heart and mind — today, on a given topic — are thorny ground may be excellent soil on another topic or on another day. In some cases that day may be far in the future, but God is patient, and we can be patient too.


“Fit Us for Heaven” (Thoughts on a Christmas Afternoon)

I’ve been thinking a lot about music during this Christmas season. Bits of text more than whole songs have had me pondering. I’ve long appreciated Christmas hymns which celebrate but also look beyond the (mostly) sweet story of the Savior’s birth.

Welcome to Utah sign

Neighbors, Strangers, Pilgrims, Friends

When we truly welcome others into our towns and neighborhoods – and homes, hearts, and circles of friends – we’re not just being nice. We’re obeying two key commandments. Both are literally as old as Moses.

Easter flowers

One Savior, Four Gifts (Easter Thoughts)

Four immeasurable gifts give meaning and permanence to all other good things in our lives. They open our eyes to the great human and natural beauty which surrounds us. They steady us when we stumble and lift us when we fall. … They bear sure witness of a time beyond time, when all that is good will continue, and all that is not will fall away.

Lorenzo Snow

Lorenzo Snow on Leadership (Sometimes the Lesson Is for Me)

Lorenzo Snow: “To become as God would wish us, we must accustom our minds to rejoice in seeing others prospered as ourselves; rejoice in seeing the cause of Zion exalted by whatsoever hands Providence may order; and have our bosoms closed against the entrance of envy when a weaker instrument than ourselves is called to greater honor; be content in magnifying a lesser office till called to a higher; be satisfied in doing small things and not claim the honor of doing great ones.”

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autumn leaves

Thanksgiving Thoughts

What if today is for thanking a deity who put me in a place and time in which I have food to eat and work to do, some freedom to enjoy as I’m doing it, some faithful friends around me, and a comfortable place to lay my head?


Circle the Wagons? Or Leaven the Loaf?

Our light is Christ. He didn’t circle the metaphorical wagons. He was famous for eating with publicans and sinners, for blessing the leper and the adulteress in their shame. He even defended such souls against the official wagon-circlers of his day. He told the elders and chief priests, “The publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you” (Matthew 21:31).

Elizabeth Babcock Rodeback and siblings

My Mother’s Mind

My mother’s love, her service and sacrifice, her canned peaches that were better than candy — all of these deserve…


On Writing: “I can’t teach you how to have something to say.”

Here are a few more gems — I know it’s been a while — from Ann Padgett’s “The Getaway Car:…

man in bow tie reading

About that American Fork Critique Group

Last time, I told you about the critique group held twice a month by the American Fork chapter of the League of Utah Writers. Here I’ll give you a better taste of how it works, in case you’re on the fence about whether it will work for you.

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Writing in American Fork (If You’re Serious)

American Fork’s chapter of the League of Utah Writers (LUW) meets twice monthly, on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month, at 6:00 p.m. We usually meet in the American Fork Library. Check the Good AF Writers Facebook group for current information.

waiting for dawn

Of Light, When We Cannot See It

The thing about actual predawn darkness is that you know it’s about to end. Dawn comes like clockwork. The troubles which darken our minds and hearts are less predictable. Sometimes the light seems so faint and distant that we wonder if it’s a mirage. Sometimes we cannot see it at all, and we are left to walk by faith alone – and to wonder whether we still have, or ever had, any of that.


“Every Good Thing”

Peter said that the Savior “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). What if he had said something slightly different: “he…

marching band

Energies: At Rest (A Photo Tribute to Marching Bands, Part IV)

The fourth and final part of this photographic celebration of high school marching bands isn’t potential or kinetic or unusual….


Energies: Unusual (A Photo Tribute to Marching Bands, Part III)

Part III of my happy photo essay features more images from last fall’s state and regional high school marching band competitions in…


Energies: Kinetic (A Photo Tribute to Marching Bands, Part II)

Here is Part II of my amateur photo essay, with more images from last fall’s state and regional high school marching…

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven, Chris Cleave

Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave is Forgiven

Two novels I’ve read in the past year stand head and shoulders above the rest. The first is Chaim Potok’s The…


Energies: Potential (A Photo Tribute to Marching Bands, Part I)

Introduction — and My Marching Band Withdrawal After four years with a mellophone player in the American Fork High School…


Short Take: Skipped Are the Words of Isaiah?

I recently baked some fresh Alaska salmon. It practically melted in my mouth. I almost didn’t need teeth. But I…

Simply Good Books

Reading in Transit: Jana Riess and Julie Schumacher

Context (or Chatter) I spend more time writing than reading, these days — too little of both — and I…


Short Take: Parallel Experiences

In 1 Nephi 1 Lehi’s experience resembles Joseph Smith’s later experience with visions and the gold plates (see Joseph Smith…


Tokens of Thanks

One of my first conscious acts on this Thanksgiving morning was to pull a folder from my file cabinet and…


Short Take: “The Lamb . . . Shall Feed Them”

Sometimes, when reading the Revelation of John, we come across gems which don’t require us to decode a lot of…

American Fork High School Marching Band

The Gift of Marching Band

I’m driving south to St. George, Utah, today for my middle son’s last two competitions as a member of the…


Short Take: Paul, Agrippa, Grace

Paul tells King Agrippa what he did at Jerusalem and elsewhere: “Many of the saints did I shut up in…


General Conference and My Obedience

How much of what I hear in conference — or in other church meetings, or read in the official writings of Church leaders — am I required to obey, as a committed Latter-day Saint? Am I permitted to employ my own reason and inspiration to choose the counsel which applies to me, adapt it to my circumstances, and ignore the rest, or is that too much like selective obedience, which is a lot like disobedience? How nearly does counsel given by church leaders approach the status of scripture? Is counsel the same as commandment?

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Famous Frog, Infamous Logo, and Grammatical Football Fans

This week has seemed a bit odd to me, where matters of language and writing are concerned. To wit: Fruits…

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Rereading Scout

Decades ago, I read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and immediately declared it one of my favorite books. Then,…


Short Take: “And Lifted Him Up”

“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple . . . And a certain man lame from his…


My Bishop Shoes

In 2002 I was called as bishop (lay pastor) of a large, unusually challenging LDS ward (congregation). I had served…


Short Take: More Than a Sower

In Jesus’ Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3-9, 18-23) seeds fall in different places. Some are eaten immediately by birds….


Lenten Reflections

In the Protestant tradition, today is the last day of Lent. (The precise span is different in other traditions.) Unlike…

good Samaritan

Short Take: One Parable, Six Roles — Good Samaritan

In Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), a man is robbed and badly beaten. Some people help him,…


Barber Baby Bubbles and a Bumblebee (and Me)

This week brought two noteworthy birthdays at 180fusion, where I work. For the company’s 5th birthday we had ice cream…

daily bread

Short Take: “Our Daily Bread” – The Source of All Life

In the scriptures Jesus both prays and teaches prayer. His best-known instruction is what we Christians call the Lord’s Prayer…


Nathaniel Philbrick’s Mayflower

A few years ago, not more than four, I decided it was time to enlarge my understanding of period of…


Short Take: Shepherds and Lambs

God invited shepherds to visit the manger that night, then bear witness – not religious, civic, or business leaders (Luke…


Is It Too Late to Think (or Read) About Christmas?

It’s December 27. Some people would call this the Third Day of Christmas. Some people think December 25 is the…


Short Take: Huldah the Prophetess

King Josiah ruled Judah in Jeremiah’s and Zephaniah’s time. Tradition has Jeremiah teaching in the streets, Zephaniah teaching in the…


Thankful Reflections on an Interesting Year

Today is Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays – and perhaps you’ll forgive me if I parse that word as…


Ann Padgett on Writing: “I Learned How to Forgive Myself”

From Ann Padgett’s “The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir about Writing and Life” (This Is the Story of a Happy…

John Miller - AF Band Bash

Music Is the Heart

I know the educational reasons for having music programs — and drama and sports and other such programs in schools….


Short Take: “There Shall Be Showers of Blessing”

God commanded Ezekiel to “prophesy against the shepherds of Israel.” His people’s leaders were neglecting their duties – and worse….


It’s Because She Writes Like This

This site is quite new, and I have a long backlog of things to add, including favorite links on several…


Huntley Fitzpatrick: “I passed on the scotch and the smokes, but kept writing.”

Yesterday, somewhat randomly, I ran into an author’s biography at, to which I point you for its style as…


Most of It Comes Down to This

Of late I’ve been less present here at my new non-political blog than I want to be. This is mostly…


Building Our Refuge

We all have things in life which cause us to seek refuge – either refuge from our troubles, or at…


Short Take: “Fear Not, I Am with Thee”

Much of Isaiah’s writing applies to the modern House of Israel – that is, to us. God knows each of…

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Marilynne Robinson: “As if People Were Less than God Made Them”

From Marilynne Robinson, “Freedom of Thought,” in When I Was a Child I Read Books (New York: Picador – Farrar, Straus…


Ann Padgett on Writing: Robyn the Critic

From Ann Padgett’s “The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir about Writing and Life” (This Is the Story of a Happy…


A Gem from General Conference: Divine Aid

Here are some favorite words from LDS general conference yesterday. The speaker is Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum…


What Mormons Mean: Translating General Conference (into English)

Every church or religion has its own vocabulary, which can easily make its meetings seem strange to outsiders. Latter-day Saints (Mormons) are no exception. We even think friendship is a verb; the ripples from this barbarous pebble are sometimes conspicuous. It’s a good thing the Lord is merciful. He gives us excellent, beautiful languages, and we insist on . . . But I digress.


Ann Padgett on Writing: “Imagine running over a butterfly with an SUV”

From Ann Padgett’s “The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir about Writing and Life,” in This Is the Story of a…


Novelists Writing Essays . . . and a Novel

I had an hour to kill in a university bookstore a while back. The results were more less predictable. I…


What Mormons Mean: “The Church Is True”

If you spend any time in church-related settings with Mormons — members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — it won’t be long before you hear the words, “I know the Church is true.” What do we mean when we say our Church is true? What don’t we mean? Should you be offended, if you’re not a Mormon?


A Brief Personal Declaration

My aim at Bendable Light, when I write about faith and religion, is not to proselyte. It is to explore…


C. S. Lewis on Prayer and More

I was looking for some things C. S. Lewis said on praying for people we don’t like, including tyrants, for…


Short Take: Micah on Pleasing the Lord

It’s natural to wonder: in the endless list of things I could or should be doing, what would most please…


Short Take: Elijah’s Post-Miracle Depression

After calling down fire from heaven, Elijah commanded 450 false priests to be slain. King Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, was enraged…


Short Take: Do We Praise Enough?

One verse of a favorite modern psalm begins, “Praise to the Lord! Oh, let all that is in me adore…


Short Take: Here Am I

When Samuel heard his name one night, he thought Eli was calling him. He answered, “Here am I.” Eli had…


Short Take: Old Law for New Times

The Law of Moses is a lower law, compared to the Gospels’ higher law, but the higher law’s highest principles…


Short Take: Using the JST

One purpose of the Book of Mormon is to establish the Bible’s truth (1 Nephi 13:40). Another is to restore…


Short Take: Agency and the Alternative, Part Two

(Continued from February’s newsletter.) We often assume that Lucifer’s alternative to our Father’s plan was to compel everyone to do…


Am I My Neighbor’s Neighbor?

[toggle title=”Author’s Note”] This essay was published in my local LDS ward’s (congregation’s) newsletter in October 2013 and was adapted…


Leonard, Pronto, Hooptedoodle

Elmore Leonard passed away last August. He’s been called the greatest crime writer of our time, but that’s not a…

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The Big, Thumping Heart of American Fork

In November, when the American Fork High School Marching Band was in Indianapolis for Grand Nationals, I wrote something that…


Review: David Lodge, Nice Work and Thinks…

[toggle title=”Author’s Note”] Years ago, I tried my hand at a few book reviews. Here is one of them, because…


Review: David Czuchlewski, The Muse Asylum

[toggle title=”Author’s Note”] Years ago, I tried my hand at a few book reviews. Here is one of them, because…


Art without Adrenalin: A Review of David Baldacci’s Wish You Well

[toggle title=”Author’s Note”] Years ago, I tried my hand at a few book reviews. Here is one of them, because…


Review: John Garrard and Carol Garrard, The Bones of Berdichev: The Life and Fate of Vasily Grossman

[toggle title=”Author’s Note”] Years ago, I tried my hand at a few book reviews. Here is one of them, because…


Short Take: Agency and the Alternative

We’re taught of a premortal grand council (Joseph Smith used the term), where all of our Heavenly Father’s spirit children…


Review: John Grisham, The Testament

[toggle title=”Author’s Note”] Years ago, I tried my hand at a few book reviews. Here is one of them, because…


Short Take: Eight Tips for Loving the Old Testament

Read with Your Mind Slow down. We’re to learn and experience, not check a box or win a race. Read…


Short Take: “The Most Correct Book”

The Book of Mormon’s title page suggests the book may contain “mistakes of men.” Joseph Smith called it “the most…


Short Take: How Much Shall We Hope? For Whom? For How Long? Why?

Mormon wrote that God’s ongoing work to save each of us will not cease, “so long as time shall last,…


Short Take: “Your Words Have Been Stout Against Me”

When Jesus visited the Nephites after his resurrection, he filled in some gaps in their own records (3 Nephi 23:6-13),…


Short Take: The King’s Prayer

King Lamoni’s father, a Lamanite, is learning the gospel from Aaron. He wants immortality and eternal life. He wants the…


Short Take: It’s Okay to Be Human

Tucked between splendid sermons and dramatic events in scripture is something we often overlook: down time for God’s exhausted servants….


Short Take: A Psalm of Alma

In the “Psalm of Nephi” (2 Nephi 4:6-15), Nephi laments “the temptations and sins which do so easily beset me”…


Short Take: Another Side of the Atonement

In the garden and on the cross, Jesus suffered the penalty justice demands for our sins, so that we can…


Short Take: We Are All Ministers

We’re often taught that to hold the priesthood is to be called to minister to God’s children – to teach,…


Short Take: “We Search the Prophets”

Nephi’s brother Jacob looks back on his life and writes, “We … had many revelations, and the spirit of much…


Short Take: 2 Nephi 2

I once heard Elder Jeffrey R. Holland say that, if you could keep only one chapter in the Book of…


Short Take: A Pattern in 1 Nephi 1

Here’s something in the first chapter of the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 1) which is probably not a coincidence. Lehi’s…


About Me

Not all my notes and essays are about faith, religion, or scripture. Not even remotely. But when they are, it’s relevant that I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I won’t complain if you use the nickname Mormon. By my definition (not everyone’s) I’m a Christian. Whatever you call yourself, you’re welcome here. I write to explain and inspire, if I can; to discuss and explore — not to proselyte.

My religious writings are sometimes apologetic, in the sense of reasoned argument justifying or defending my faith by explaining it. But I make no apologies (in the conventional sense) for having faith, for having a faith, or for presuming to discuss and ponder.

While we’re on the subject, James said, “Faith without works is dead.” I’ll buy that. Here are some other postulates:

  • Faith without brain cells is mostly dead, too, but probably doesn’t know it.
  • Yesterday’s faith is of little use today.
  • Faith and action are not contradictory concepts.
  • Thinking and believing are not mutually hostile activities. They are the most natural and necessary partners in the universe.
  • Sometimes Latter-day Saints (Mormons) need to be translated, before what they do or say makes much sense to other people, even other believers. I do some of that here.

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Disclaimer: I am in no way or degree an official spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or its leaders. They don’t tell me what to write. They don’t tell me what not to write. I’ll take credit for any errors here. If you find any truth here and care to give proper credit, please aim it far, far above my pay grade, where it belongs.

From the Author

David Rodeback

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And if you’re interested in my published fiction, which mostly isn’t about politics, check out my two published collections at 60 East Press.

David Rodeback - published fiction books

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