Satan exists. His power is real. This is why an understanding of his motivations and methods is critical to our survival. Shedding Light on the Dark Side will help both youth and adults understand the Adversary and his tactics so they can stand fearlessly on the Lord’s side in this battle of good and evil. Find out more…
I had an unusual and life-changing experience on Saturday night – watching a performance of some 15,000 young people of the Southeast Phoenix Valley in Arizona. The event was a cultural celebration commemorating the dedication of the Gilbert Arizona Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Held and televised on the eve of the Sunday dedication, the spectacular was the culmination of months of preparation by event planners, choreographers, costume designers, and technical crews. It also represented countless hours of rehearsal time from almost 15,000 teenagers from Gilbert, Queen Creek, Chandler and surrounding areas who could have easily thought of other ways to spend their spare days and evenings.
So it was with great excitement that we watched the mass gathering of talent for rehearsals at Gilbert’s Discovery Park — practically in the shadow of the completed temple — in anticipation of the March 1st outdoor extravaganza.
And then, the forecasts began to filter in. Rain Saturday night — possible. Rain — highly probable. Rain — almost certain. Rain – a 100% absolute, iron-clad, bet-the-farm-on-it, face-the-music, law of the universe, fact of life. “No,” I cried in anguish. “Surely the Lord in heaven would not allow it to rain on the expectations of so many dedicated youth and adults who have sacrifices so much for this day.” So I hoped and prayed. I’m sure thousands of others hoped and prayed. And since hope – and prayer – both spring eternal, we all had great anticipations of the miraculous, and a nice dry weekend.
And so on Saturday – it rained, and cleared, and rained again. As the performance time approached, the clouds gathered in their fierce and conspiring anger — and it poured in a torrent, drenching the field and the participants in a veritable cloudburst. And then, the Prophet and President of the Church, Thomas S. Monson arrived at the site. Fifteen thousand teenagers standing in the rain erupted into a thunderous cheer of enthusiasm for the evening’s honored guest – and the rain ceased, instantly. (I heard the roar of young voices shouting into the night from my home, one mile away.) The Prophet greeted the massive congregation with a wave and a smile, and almost immediately, the program began.
It was a miraculous moment. Of course within 15 minutes it began to rain lightly, on and off, throughout the evening. And for the last 20 minutes the rain began to fall harder, ending the program in a genuine flood, which seems to make the whole story less miraculous — until you think about it.
But being human, it’s natural for a few irresistible questions to go through our minds. Why, after the driest winter in years, would the Lord send the first huge rainstorm to Arizona on this important Saturday? Why would God stop the downpour, only to let it begin again? Why was the following morning so conspicuously dry? And why did the television camera invariably focus on some kid who had obviously not come to practice and had no idea which way to turn and when to kick? These questions, (except for that last one), provide us with opportunity to ponder the nature of the miraculous in our lives.
Here’s the point. No matter how you feel about God or even how you feel about Mormons, the entire experience was a miracle in many ways. It is a miracle that it does rain! (And in the arid Southwest desert, there are certainly more people who need it to rain than those who don’t. Their prayers were answered.) It was a miracle that it stopped! No youth on that field at Discovery Park will ever doubt the power of that moment when the Prophet arrived and the rains ceased. And finally, it was miraculous and appropriate that it started to rain again – and even to rain hard! Saturday’s cultural event was a celebration of the Mormon youth to honor heroes, in any age, who have struggled, sacrificed, and overcome. It was a recognition of their personal heritage. However, the courageous performance of thousands of Arizona youth, drenched in a winter shower, transformed the night into a memorial to the past and a legacy to the future. For they were not devastated by misfortune, but radiant with joy for the moment and hope for the future. I was overwhelmed as I watched the beaming smiles on the faces of the young people of Zion, as they danced and sang, filled with gratitude and praise, amidst a torrent of rain. Now that was a miracle!
Stephen J. Stirling
Paladin Smith, a high school history teacher, leads a well-ordered life in Southern California until, lured by an old friendship, he is enlisted to go to Crimea, in former Soviet Russia, on a simple mission of mercy: Persuade a former student, Victoria Grant to leave war-threatened Eastern Europe and return to the safety of America.
Paladin arrives in Crimea with nothing more than a debit card and a letter of introduction to Victoria’s mentor, the American Ambassador. But he quickly finds himself in the midst of an international conspiracy revolving around Victoria Grant, the US Embassy, the Royalty of Crimea, and the Russian Federation. What begins as a simple assignment to rescue an old friend soon becomes an adventure of multi-national intrigue and a challenge, to not only escape from Eastern Europe, but to preserve the independence of a nation.
Led by the Spirit and driven by a sense of destiny, Paladin must outmaneuver corrupt diplomats, ambitious tyrants, and powerful invading armies to save a free people from the jaws of dictatorship. Paladin Smith and Victoria Grant are about to change the world.
Persona Non Grata is a diplomatic term (from Latin) meaning ‘an unacceptable, unwanted, or unwelcome person’ – a penalty upon those few who fall out of favor with the governments of nations or kingdoms. It amounts to the revocation of all rights and the removal of any legal immunity or protection in that country. It is the lowest life form in the diplomatic community.
Persona Non Grata is the story of one man, outcast and abandoned in a foreign land, being led by the Spirit with a chance to make a difference – and to change history.
I’ll give a synopsis soon.
With Christmas morning right around the corner, may I suggest the absolutely most perfect, awesome stocking stuffer on the planet for just about, practically everybody. Yes, you guessed it, I’m talking about “Shedding Light on the Dark Side”, the high-water mark for scholarship and insightful reading this holiday season.
Now, there are many fantastic bookstores out there. But my suggestion for retail purchases has always been Deseret Book — for their convenient and numerous locations as well as their volume and variety of merchandise. Great store. However Deseret Book does not seem to be able to keep “Shedding Light” in stock. (The graphic and tearful accounts of disappointed, would-be book buyers are both poignant and tragic.)
So, if you have searched in vain for the ideal gift for everyone on your Christmas list, (and you know what that is), you may want to visit one of the many other fantastic bookstores in the marketplace who carry “Shedding Light on the Dark Side.” Or order on line at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, or Books and Things.com. (You might also look for me in the parking lot at your nearest Deseret Bookstore — selling books out of the open trunk of my Toyota Echo.)
“Shedding Light on the Dark Side” is available at the following outlets:
Baker & Taylor (distributor for several national chains)
Ingram Book Co. (ditto)
Barnes & Noble (distribution centers in NJ and Reno, Nev.)
Book Barn (Show Low, Arizona)
The Brass Plates (Spoken Valley, Washington)
Deseret Book (distribution center in Salt Lake City)
Amazon.com (distribution centers in Tennessee, Arizona, Penn.)
Boyd’s LDS Books (Orlando, Florida)
Beehive Mercantile (Springdale, Aransas.)
Anderson Drug & Floral (Ephraim, Utah)
Confetti Antiques & Books (Spanish Fork, Utah)
Cover-to-Cover Books (Reno, Nevada)
Cover-to-Cover Books (Folsom, California)
Beehive Books (Bakersfield, California)
Nephi’s Books (Columbia, South Carolina)
Far West Books & Gifts (Kennewick, Washington)
Old Mill RV & Gift Shop (Hanna, Utah)
This Is the Place Bookstore (Kensington, Maryland)
Nauvoo Books (Midvale, Utah)
BYU-Idaho Bookstore (Rexburg, Idaho)
Wholesome Books (Heber City, Utah)
BYU Bookstore (Provo, Utah)
Book Plaza (Burley, Idaho)
Cardston Book Shop (Babb, Montana)
Inspired Lifestyles (Calgary, Alberta)
Moon’s LDS Bookstore (Dallas, Texas)
Seagull Book (All Utah locations)
Seagull Book (Mesa, Arizona; Henderson, Nev.; Idaho Falls, Idaho; Meridian, Idaho)
It’s nice to have friends — and I have almost 1500 of them. Who would have thought, when I began collecting about a year ago, that I would have met so many nice peoplein such a short time. So, I now have friends from France to the Philippines, from Japan to Germany, from Turkey to Tehran. I have friends in Italy, Russia, England, India, and China. My list of friends is a veritable United Nations of Facebook contacts. I have friends in a few places I cannot begin to pronounce, and at least a couple in locations so remote I don’t think they’ve been discovered yet.
So, when I say how much I appreciate the good wishes of my international assembly of internet acquaintences with regard to my book and my book signing — I truly mean it. The comment, “I would love to come on Saturday — but I’m in Zimbabwe”, still means a lot to me. But now I need a few of my lest distant friends to respond with equal generosity. I’m talking about friends who live distant ports of call like Phoenix, or Gilbert, or Mesa.
Therefore, I announce for one last time — or almost the last time — that I will be at the Mesa Temple Deseret Book (144 S MESA DR) on Saturday, December 7, from 1-3. I’ll be in place there, signing books, eating donuts, and giving away free stuff. I invite anyone to join me there. I’ll be waiting with a hearty embrace and a warm smile — all in the name of international friendship and shameless merchandising. See you at the store.
Writing, publishing and marketing “Shedding Light on the Dark Side” has been the experience of a lifetime. One of the great things about “Shedding Light” is that there is simply no other book like it on the nature and reality of Satan. Unmasking the adversary has been a satisfying mission.
Of course non-fiction is one thing. Fiction is quite another. And every author has “the Great American Novel” tucked somewhere in his file cabinet, waiting for the right moment to be brought forth to the world. Well, my novel is titled “Persona Non Grata”. And it’s official. It is going to be published!!! We’re looking at a release date sometime next July. So, somebody congratulate me. And remember the name, Paladin Smith. We’ve both been looking forward to this for a long time.
Since I misdirected people here to my blog page (www.stephenjstirling.com) instead of my author page (https://www.facebook.com/StephenJStirlingAuthor?ref=h) — which, of course are both really awesome sites — I am now obligated to say somenting clever here. I haven’t made a blog entry since my incredible trip to New York. But frankly, life in Gilbert Arizone continues to be equally incredible. My book, “Shedding Light on the Dark Side” is doing well. So well that teeming thousands have insisted that I do another book signing. Yes, and they are quite violent in their demands. To satisfy the blood lust of my readers, I will be doing another appearance at the Mesa Temple Deseret Book on Saturday, December 7, from 1 to 3. (Now, see my author page.)
As for other holiday events, Diane and I spent an absolutely incredible Thanksgiving without any of our children coming home. (They never call. They never write.) Very dull actually. ( We ate turkey sandwiches down at the retirement home where a modest feast was served for elderly residents and their families. Nobody even noticed us. It was delicious.) I am looking for a better turnout for Christmas — and certainly next Thanksgiving.
I guess I should finish my New York travelogue. Otherwise everyone will think I never got home. I’ll try to be brief. After a full Friday in town Diane and I met Ken and Marina Inagaki — isn’t that a great name, “Inagaki” — and prepared to enjoy our last evening in the city that never sleeps. Running a little late, we caught a taxi to get us through midtown Manhattan for our final activity. (What a wild ride! It was worth every penny.) A few minutes later we hopped out of the cab at the waterfront and ran to the waiting pleasure boat for a two hour excursion along the city shoreline. There are few sights like the New Your skyline, reflecting off the East River like a glittering jewell in the night sky. We churned through water beneath the Williamsberg, Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges out into the Upper Bay, where the boat slowed and seemed to stop for several minutes, only a few hundred feet of what was once called Bedloe’s Island. There, against the shinkng backdrop of metropolis, stood the brilliant figure of the Statue of Liberty. I stared at her in silence and profound emotion until the boat turned and headed back up river. I thought long on what she is, what she was, and what, God willing, she yet shall be as I watched her grow smaller in the distance over the rippling water. She was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
The next morning we relaxed and took it easy, wandering at leisure through Queens with Marina and Ken, meeting friends, shopping for a scarf and other valuable commodities, and grabbing one last New York meal before we hurried to JFK for our departure. The two little standby Stirlings nearly got bumped, but made it aboard for our long cross-country flight to warmer climes and wide open spaces. I must admit, it was good to return to Arizona. But I can well understand why 13 million people love New York and call her home. It is a passion that is romantic, exciting and childlike all at the same time. There will always be something about New York. And having been there, having walked her streets and breathed her air, and having bumped and jostled with her good-hearted people on the busses and subways — I suppose I will always feel a part of that affection in my own heart forever.
Thanks New York City. It was a great visit.
There are so many things to do and see in New York City that is is just about impossible to give a full accounting. In my last report I forgot to mention our visit to the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the Juliard School of Music — as well as the Manhattan Temple right across the street. We spent an afternoon touring Grand Central Station. (It’s not just grand, it’s huge!) We also took a ride on the Statten Island Ferry to get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. We couldn’t stop at the island and see the monument because — I am told by New Yorkers — evil Republicans have shut down the entire government, removed subsidies for hoe handle production, deforested several Alpine ecosystems, and caused other reprehensible acts too numerous to mention, in their lust for what they call “fiscal responsibility.” (I obviously need to follow current events a little more closely to stay in the know. But this has really gotten us off topic.)
Since then we have visited the Magnolia Bakery and had the most heavenly banana creme pudding on the planet. I also took Diane shopping at some of “those stores” on 5th Avenue to get Brooke something for her birthday. And — perhaps the highlight of my whole New York trip — I made a special trip to the legendary Webster Hall, where Lindsey Stirling began her performing career here in the Big Apple a year and a half ago. (I didn’t go inside, but I understand there is a statue of her in the lobby.)
Yesterday, Marina took us to the Metropolitan Museum of Art where we saw a lot of Greek statues, Egyptian mummies, and more European paintings than you could shake a stick at. That was a little too much for Marina, who took the morning off today, while Diane and I returned to the Met — on our very own. (It was scary taking the subway into Manhattan by ourselves, but we were extremely brave and capable of taking care of ourselves in a major metropolis.) When we finally found the museum we enjoyed ourselves no end until our feet and brains could endure no more. (There IS a saturation point on the daily culture absorbsion scale.)
Marina met us on the street in front of the museum — and not a step closer — and we went out for Thai food. (Lots of peanut butter. Very tasty.)
Friday night was the most awesome of all. But I’ll reserve that for my final New York Post.
What a week — or half a week so far. Marina and Ken have been the finest hosts, and Marina (see “A Few Notes on My Family”) has been the perfect tour guide. We’ve already seen Rockefeller Center, the Museum of Natural History, The Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, and the 9-11 Memorial. We’ve eaten street meat, hot dogs, Chinese, an awesome pizza, a Shake Shack burger, and the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Last night we hit a broadway play, this morning we went boating and strolling in Central Park, and this afternoon we wandered through the New York Public Library and then climbed to the top of the Empire State Building — we did that in an elevator — for the most spectacular view I ever saw. Lindsey was right. New York might just be the most awesome city in the world — other than Gallatin, Missouri. (Although there is much less to do in Gallatin.)
Anyway, there’s my progress report. We’ve done a lot of stuff! (Still haven’t seen Grant’s Tomb though.)