Sunday, November 30, 2008
I hope everyone had a good Sunday. It was actually a nice one here. I wish school didn't start again tomorrow, but it has to if we want Christmas break to come :)
I'm a little lacking for topics the last few days, so I fear I might be running a dry well here. I have a lot on my mind concerning the Church and my involvement in it, what it all means, and I've other things to attend to this week. It's always a goal of mine to post once a day, but sometimes that isn't very realistic. Like I said, I don't want to force any entries and the last few days I've felt empty. I don't want to find a topic to get angry about or upset over if I'm not already there. I also don't want to not write about something just because it's happy or praises something.
This blog isn't intended to bash the Church. It's meant as a venue for me to ask questions and explore their answers and pull my hair out at stupid things like scrapbooking and other crap like that. It's a venting venue, too. Sometimes I worry I spend too much time worrying about such things. I do have a lot to say, but to find topics when they're not there doesn't do anyone any justice at all.
It's been balm to my soul to have other, like-minded people come here and talk with me. It's been amazing to have those who may disagree with me, but still find me interesting enough to stick around with. It's humbling and has helped me greatly. Thank you.
I'm afraid I can't be as honest with you all just yet as I'd like to be. I'm just not there. Sometimes I'm afraid to admit to myself what I think. I've some crazy ideas. I've expressed a few of the milder ones here and thankfully have found I'm not alone. Part of me wants to run with that, see how far I can go and still not be alone, but what if I find that line and cross it? I know I can always find like-minded company, but that doesn't mean it's good or right. I just know isolation sucks and it's good to know you're not alone. I can go to church and pretend, but it only goes so far. You can be surrounded and still alone.
It has surprised me how difficult it is to "be real." Much as I want to be and the little I have been, it's difficult to just let go. I guess I'm not ready for it yet. Maybe I'm just being lame and rebellious - let's face it, the most rebellious I've ever really been was when I joined the Church.
But to attribute my dissenting thoughts and opinions, both that I've already written about and those that are budding now to "rebellion" is dangerous. Perhaps my thoughts are valid and true. Perhaps they're not.
I won't lie and say I'm not a prideful being. I always have been. This blog doesn't help deflate that balloon much. I've been spoiled in more ways than one, and not necessarily in the traditional "have what you want" sense.
I'm not sure how to be wrong. That's not to say I haven't been wrong in the past - Lord knows I have been, but I don't like to write something unless I'm at least 75% confident in it. Sometimes I forget that. This blog has helped me develop a bit of a thicker skin, and for that I'm grateful.
I'm always open to being wrong. I guess I don't know how to explain this. I think it's more the chastisement I've never liked. I've received it, but I've always worked so hard to always be "good" that I'm not exactly used to it. I care entirely too much about what people think. I do like expressing dissenting opinions, I've always found it interesting to go against the norm and challenge traditional thought, but it's never bitten me back before. This could.
I don't know how to disappoint people and where I am right now I'm afraid I'm bound to disappoint someone. Probably a few someones. I've far too much respect for people on both sides to disappoint anyone. Right now I need to respect myself more. It's very scary, though.
To question the Church puts me in a very weird spot. I know the Church would chastise me for it in some ways (I know they would if I left). I know a lot of people I've spoken with online (both here and on other sites) might wag their finger at me for ignoring issues that perhaps shouldn't be ignored.
I'm in a very weird spot.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
A Walmart greeter was trampled to death yesterday morning as a literal stampede of people knocked him down in their fury to get the latest and greatest deal.
But this entry isn't about that. I'm pretty sure we're all smart enough to get what this does speak to - materialism, Christmas over consumerism, etc. The fact that we're so intent on getting what we want that we don't even notice we're trampling a man to death. Literally.
I figured we'd all understand that, and then I read this article.
Here's an excerpt:
"This incident was avoidable," said Bruce Both, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1500. "Where were the safety barriers? Where was security? ... This is not just tragic; it rises to a level of blatant irresponsibility by Wal-Mart."
Wal-Mart said it had added additional internal security, third party security, more store associates and had worked closely with local police. "We also erected barricades. Despite all of our precautions, this unfortunate event occurred," Hank Mullany, a Wal-Mart senior vice president, said in a statement.
So we're blaming Walmart for this? Not the mindset of the people? I don't know everything, but I'm just having a hard time wanting to blame the company. I know we all want Walmart and like companies to have a labor union (they don't as of right now right?) but this isn't where our focus should be. Let's not politicize this. A man died a brutal death at the onset of the Christmas season. Joy to the World, Peace and Goodwill to all Men.
We need to be screaming about the people who didn't give a shit enough. The mob mentality all for a good deal. Like others have said, there is nothing, absolutely nothing in that store that was worth a man's life.
Forget about Walmart. Let's stop blaming Walmart. I'm more concerned about the mentality of these people. Apparently some shoppers were pissed off when the store announced it would be closing because of the fresh tragedy. Others were trampled as some attempted to help the man.
My heart and thoughts go out to this man's family. What a horrible, horrible way to begin the best season of the year
Friday, November 28, 2008
There's definitely a ridiculous marriage culture within the LDS community - agreed?
We all know of someone who has met someone, married, and had kids all within one year. Perhaps you've heard the stories of overly hormonal and stifled BYU students who marry, have sex, and then get an annulment. We know of the girls at BYU-Provo and -Idaho who joke about majoring in "M.R.S." (I'll admit I didn't get this joke right away. It's a groaner).
I've also heard stories of girls checking the guys out - not their butts or physique, necessarily, but for garment lines.
We don't send our daughters to college for them to get an education so much as we send them out to get married - preferably to a freshly returned missionary. The thicker the residual accent the better.
My husband's aunt stopped by our house the other day with a bridal shower invitation, relieved her daughter was finally getting married. She bemoaned the fact that it took her daughters so, so very long to marry. In fact, she still has one unmarried daughter who is probably 25 or so. She wants to know what she's done wrong?
I know another girl who is 24 who isn't married. Her mom won't leave her the hell alone.
We all know Brigham Young's famous (or infamous) quote that states any unmarried man over the age of 26 is a "menace to society."
Do we really think this helps our girls' out? Our boys? The pressure is absolutely immense. And yet...who am I to talk?
I was baptized on May 7, 2000. I was eighteen years old and already fluent in Molly Mormondom - We were supposed to lust (oops, I mean get googly-eyed) over fresh, Peter Priesthood return missionaries and get married. The sooner the better.
I mean, the hour after I was baptized some dude had his arm around me at a fireside. WTF?
Then I started dating a guy who was six years older than me. I'll call him "Mark." His family was on him hard about getting married, and once he introduced me to them the inevitable came out. "So, when are we going to Oakland?" they asked. He squeezed my hand and smiled.
We broke up soon thereafter.
Honestly, I didn't feel the pressure until my friends started getting married. The day it hit me really hard was the day I visited a newly married friend's house for dinner. I wanted to get married.
Fast forward to December 2000 when I met my now SIL. I think Mark and I recently broke up by the time we met. Anyway, she got it into her head soon after we met that her brother, who was on a mission at the time, and I should get married one day. I played along with it. The pickings were slim in our area. Sure, we had a few pieces of eye-candy coming home, but it seemed like a fabulous idea to be my best friend's SIL.
I wasn't very serious about it. It was fun.
Then I saw his picture.
It was like lightning hit me. He looked absolutely and undeniably familiar to me. It didn't hurt that, hello, he was gorgeous, but that was secondary. To use a tired cliche, it was like being hit with a ton of bricks. I knew. I can't explain it anymore than that.
It was over. It transcending knowing. I was committed. He was already mine.
Though other boys returned home from their missions before Eric came home, I waited. My best friend worried about my waiting. Suddenly her fun little idea was becoming far too serious for me. She said she still wanted it to happen, but she wanted to be realistic, too. It didn't help when one boy in particular came home and shocked the hell out of me by initiating conversations with me. It didn't take long for me to recognize when a boy wasn't merely talking to me, but interviewing me. This one boy, quite popular with the girls, was everything I'd ever been physically attracted to.
But I didn't want him. That worried my friend.
"You're not waiting for Eric, are you?"
I could only shrug. I was waiting, but I'd learned quickly to keep that to myself. Though LDS culture tends to encourage lightning fast courtships and engagements, they didn't react well to my never having met someone and yet knowing.
But I did. I still do.
Eric came home two months early from his mission on July 26, 2001. Considering what happened that September, it was probably a good thing. We already had one friend whose flight home from Korea was postponed because of the WTC attacks. As a quick sidenote, something that always seems significant to me for some reason, I was at his mom's house on 9/11. Sick. I'd never felt more at home than that day at his mom's house.
Anyway, our first meeting happened to be the day he came home. My best friend invited me over, and though it seemed rather stalkerish to me, I went. I'd had dreams. He was the literal first thing on my mind in the morning. I couldn't get enough of his pictures, of wondering why I wasn't there. I think I probably wasn't because, well, he probably wouldn't have gone on his mission.
So I was there. Nobody in his family looked at me weird for being there. I was there all the time anyway. I was already family. Other people thought I was stalking him, but whatever.
It took Eric a while to be able to even look at me, let alone speak to me, but in time it came. He says now he knew I would be at his Mom's house a lot, so he made a point to be there.
Oh, hell, everyone. You can go read it for yourself. I wrote a prose piece about it at writing.com. It's called Like Breathing. Go read :)
So I knew. I knew. We married in March 2002. Eric and I have been through our trials - hard times, not counting the three kids in 2 1/2 years or having him work the graveyard shift full time and go to school full time. It doesn't count the numerous apartments we've lived in or any of the regular crap all married couples go through. We've had our trials, and I've never wavered. I don't intend to, and I'm still as happy as I was when we first met and first married. Probably more so.
When we first married, though, he was my Peter and I was his Molly. I'm not afraid to admit it, though I am highly embarrassed. Through the years we've changed quite a bit. He says his mission changed him, changed his views about the church. For me it was witnessing a few people in my life fall from their pedestals.
I'm not sure what I'm trying to say here, but we have a connection that honestly and truly transcends time.
But it's so stereotypically Mormon to make us both cringe. I honestly believe we would've done this with or without the church - maybe we wouldn't have had three kids as quickly as we did, but we would've married. Without the issues of my non-member family and the Church, we probably would have married even sooner.
It's not something I believe can be compared with other Mormon weddings, those kids you hear about who meet, marry, and have kids all within nine months. Some of those are for real, but I hesitate and hardly believe all of them are. I wish they were.
I hesitate to speak too much because it would be ridiculous to try to convince people that my situation is different - but our culture of lightning fast marriages and procreation does worry me. The pressure put on those who don't marry as quickly, or on those who don't really want to marry as quickly, is unfair.
Because I don't have the time to look at the data right now, let's assume for argument's sake that LDS divorce rates are fairly low compared to the rest of the world. I would wonder at the happiness of those marriages. I know off-hand of far too many marriages that compose of two very unhappy people, a marriage mostly of co-habitation than of anything else. They know it's wrong to divorce, but the passionate love is gone. It doesn't seem like they even try anymore. If they kiss at all, they kiss each other like they would their mom or dad. Ew. Don't they know that's for before they get married? (hahaha)
That's probably for another entry entirely, though.
I just wish we weren't so driven to marry so quickly. It should be about the romance, and quick weddings are "romantic," but marriages themselves are far more serious than most of us realize. My family worried themselves to death over Eric and I, but little did they know that we'd already talked about all the stuff a couple ought to: will I work, how many kids will we have, what's your philosophy on discipline, you've got a good job/benefits, when will we start having kids, what do you think about sex (yes, you should have a sex talk beforehand that doesn't involve your parents), where are we going to live, school, debt, etc. He saw me at my absolute worst and my best, and I the same. It wasn't like with the other boys where it was more an interview than it was conversation. It was natural like everything else about us.
But this doesn't happen to every couple. We really ought to pull back the reigns on all this marriage talk, and I do believe it's more cultural than it is doctrinal. The official talk states that when you know, you know. When you've prayed and you know, then why wait? I agree.
But if it's just because you're "of age" and he's an RM and you guys are fighting to keep all contact "garment friendly" then...no. You shouldn't get married because suddenly you can and he's cute and you really like him - it feels like love. You shouldn't get married because Molly came along, you're turning 26 in two months, and you've gotta get moving because you're sick of all the questions people keep asking you. Though very few will admit it, I believe much of it is due to sexual freedom once you marry.
You also don't do it because your family is expecting something. Could I have married Mark? Yeah, sure, but to marry him would have been for the absolute wrong reasons. I wonder how many of our members have married for the wrong reasons and what it's meant five, ten, even twenty years later.
What is marriage without love? Commitment is vital, but a family needs love too.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
First of all, I don't necessarily consider myself a "feminist." I have feminist ideals, but I wouldn't go so far as to call myself one yet.
But this really pisses me off. I had no idea until just now. I just finished reading a post on Feminist Mormon Housewives called Am I a bad priesthood holder, or am I a bad husband?
Apparently it's modus operandi for a member of the bishopric or stake presidency to ask for the husband's permission before he can call his wife to any position?
I had no idea. Even when I was just called to the Relief Society teaching board (or whatever it is), I knew the bishopric member spoke with my husband about it, but I figured that was mostly because I was taking a much needed nap when he called.
I had no idea this happened so often. I just spoke with Eric about it, and he said "Yep, it's an authority thing. It's like informing the bishop of something first before informing the rest of the ward."
"But I'm not your child."
"We're supposed to be equals."
"How do you feel about this? Really?"
He shrugged. "I grew up with it. I really never thought about it before. But you're right."
I mean, what the hell, girls? Does this bother anyone else?
I had no idea. When Eric was called to be the Elder's Quorum Secretary to a rather active Elder's Quorum a few years ago, I about had a coronary and worked for weeks to get him to say no-no-no! Eric felt strongly that he should accept whatever calling comes his way, but I wouldn't relent. Again, he worked nights full time and went to school taking a full load of upper-level mathematics courses. He would sleep maybe 6 hours on Saturday, leave for work, come home at 6:30, be in bed by 6:45, and then wake up at 8:00 to get ready for church.
And they wanted him to be what? It wasn't so much the secretary thing as much as it was the meetings that would occur before church and at other random times.
It wasn't that I didn't have faith in Eric, I just knew he and the rest of us were wrecks to begin with and this calling was ridiculous. He wanted to try, though, so he did. I think he lasted a few months. I don't remember exactly what brought him to his senses, but one night the EQ president called and said "Hey, we're having a meeting right now." Eric told him he couldn't do it anymore.
It was a revelation to him. Sometimes you just can't.
But you know what? I was never asked how I felt. Nobody ever said, "So, Lisa, I want to call your husband to a rather demanding calling." It's not that I even want that. Eric doesn't need me giving permission anymore than I need him giving me permission. If it's a demanding calling, I would expect either of us to say "I want to talk with Eric/Lisa first."
I only knew Eric would be getting the EQ calling because the old secretary had just been released, and the president was picking at me for information, asking about Eric's schedule, etc.
This whole thing also reminds me, and forgive me if I've mentioned this before, a Sunday School lesson where the teacher recounted a story of a stake president calling a husband and wife in. After extending the calling of bishop to the husband, the SP turned to the wife and said, "So, can you support him in his calling? What do you think?"
"I think it sucks," she said.
She was told to basically get over it.
And people wonder why some women hate their standing in the Church. They point at the Relief Society, what a wonderful institution it is, that it is run by women...
...who have to answer to the men.
You know, that part doesn't even bother me so much. Fine. I get that we have a pyramid type organization where we all have someone to answer to. Fine. I get that the priesthood hold the big authority positions such as bishop, stake president, prophet, etc. I've never wanted the priesthood. While it is a wedge issue for some, it's never been one for me.
Just don't condescend to me.
I'm so effing tired of being condescended to. Ask my husband for permission? Screw off! I'm a big girl. If I feel I need to "counsel" with Eric about it, I'll do just that. My husband is not my father.
Again, I don't mind some of this role playing stuff. I like that he's stronger than me, taller than me, and I've always liked that he had the Priesthood, but when you start relegating me to a position akin to our children, that's when I've gotta get pissed off.
Did anyone else know about this? I'm under the impression that some members don't.
(And, by the way, I won't be posting tomorrow, so Happy Thanksgiving. Hope y'all have a really awesome, laid back, stuffed kind of day. I hope to be back by Friday)
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I thought these women were only making womanhood seem that much less because they coveted traditionally male positions to prove a point. It's a fair assessment.
It wasn't until just a few years ago, though, that I started to see why some women feel shortchanged.
I've already talked about it a little bit. We're expected to pop out a dozen or so kids, and if we don't, we're considered selfish.
The words may not say "selfish" but the looks and tones say it.
We are to be good at keeping our home clean, teaching our children, cooking good and nutritious food. If we're extra good Mormon girls, we can even sew homemade clothing.
I am not a good Mormon girl. I admit it.
I wanted to be for so long. I loved the idea of taking care of my man, making him dinners and keeping the house just right and ensuring all was well in Zion, but after a while...a few things had gnawed at me just enough to start hurting:
"And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law...
"And again, verily, verily I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her..." (Doctrine and Covenants 132:54, 64)
Destroy her because she didn't necessarily like her husband taking on new girls. I don't know about you, but the tone in this just eats me up. For what is being asked of Emma, I'd expect something more compassionate. I'd hope for it, at least.
We say it's because the Lord wanted to raise up seed, but verse 51 says:
"Verily, I say unto you: A commandment I give unto mine handmaid, Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, that she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice."
I know I'm really pushing the lines here, and I know some of you have expressed a comfort level with such a situation. I even get the "well, if you can't give up absolutely everything for God..." argument. But I can't read these verses and feel comfort. I'm not feeling the love. I don't see God threatening to destroy Joseph. The language concerning Joseph's part in all of this is comparatively soft.
It just adds to me feeling like nothing more than a baby machine.
Oh I know. We're always told about the divinity of motherhood, how women are vastly more spiritual than most men, that without us, men couldn't achieve the Celestial Kingdom anyway...
I understand that the Scriptures were written by men for men. But it bothers me, even still, even after hearing many attempts at explaining this:
"Let the woman learn in silence, with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression."
(the Joseph Smith Translation does save itself a smidge in the final verse):
"Notwithstanding, they shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity, and holiness with sobriety."
- 1 Timothy 2:11-15
It just stings. Am I missing something? It's not as if teachers haven't tried to dull the pain - I have the notes in my scriptures right here, but I still don't understand it. And aren't we supposed to not pay for Adam's transgression, or is that a clever Article of Faith loophole because it didn't mention Eve?
Maybe my inability to understand is part my fault, maybe it's partly because...well, I won't say it.
I get that we're good for making sure our guys remember to do stuff. I get that we're good for making things look pretty (at least some of us). I even get that we're good at the service stuff. Hell, how often do we hear how the women VT stats are leaps and bounds better than the HT?
But mostly I've been feeling as if we're mere baby machines, husband/priesthood supporters who are expected to give up everything the minute we marry.
I didn't stop going to school just because I got married. There were other reasons for that. My problem lies in the fact that I'm getting the quizzical raised eyebrows when I say I'm planning on taking a few classes next semester.
I know the logic behind waiting until the kids are older. It's a lot like the logic that comes in waiting to graduate from school before marrying - but we're not exactly encouraged to do that.
I want my kids to know I'm more than just their mom. I want them to know I'm a person with hobbies and interests. I want them to know that I love me, too. I want them to grow up knowing they're more than just a husband or wife or mom. I want my daughter to know she's not just a mother-in-training, but a person, and that to be a good person she doesn't have to scrapbook, make cards, or know how to make damn good chocolate chip cookies (it's what I call them, haha). It's okay for her to want to be something when she grows up, and not just as a backup to "in case I don't get married," but because it's just good to know things, to be educated. It's important.
Yes, I think it's best to stay at home with the kids, but you won't see me judging a girl who doesn't. I honestly believe some women do better for their children when they can work a little (or a lot).
No, I don't think it's best to give up everything for them. Some sacrifice should be made; a girl ought to be able to have something to offer her children beyond the crafty Martha Stewart stuff.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The fact that I didn't remember it until Thursday and realized Saturday I'd lost the paper I'd written the assigned General Conference talks didn't help either.
I need more time to organize myself. I really don't have a problem giving talks in church - I revel in the opportunity to give a talk like I enjoy hearing. It's different. I've never ever tried to be weird or anything, but I base my talks off my own life. I never recycle old, tired stories and rarely use stories from the Scriptures unless it's to support or set up a real life story I have.
I've only given a handful of talks, and all but one have been well-received. I still wince when I think of the talk I gave on tithing that one time...My soapbox was rather high that Sunday. I try to never get on soapboxes for talks.
I might've gotten on a bit of a soapbox for my lesson on Sunday. Most of it was just my being unprepared for the day. I tried to think of it like a talk, but even then I was screwed. I wasn't prepared enough.
It worked, though. I had some sincere girls come tell me they enjoyed the lesson.
You should've heard the crickets when I told them they needed to consider themselves every now and again, though. That they need to think about themselves, because if they saturate their schedules with service, service, service, they risk wearing themselves thin. My basic point was that if we don't simplify and prioritize, we'll end up sacrificing the most important things with the added stress. We can't think we don't matter, because we do.
Why don't we think we matter? It's ridiculous. I understand that we're supposed to serve God, others, and then ourselves, but come on!
We scrapbook, make cards, cookies, etc. I'd be interested to know how many of us actually enjoy these activities. There's a woman who I used to consider my "church mom" who told me the Church goes through little cultural phases of what is considered a "must" activity. It used to be crocheting, and other things that're evading me now.
Today it's scrapbooking. We feel we must do this. WHY? I thought for years I should scrapbook. It made sense, after all. All those pictures sitting in a box; may as well do something pretty with them, right?
It took me about five years to realize three things:
1) I didn't want to scrapbook.
2) I wouldn't like scrapbooking.
3) I didn't have to scrapbook.
It was a true revelation. I'd been freed (and so had my wallet. that stuff ain't cheap!)
Same goes for the card making. I'll go buy one. I often look for the funniest cards, anyway. I don't really care about aesthetics.
Anyway, back to the point. We *kill* ourselves in competitions to see who's the most churchy, and a lot of the time this means we have an immaculate house, immaculate kids, trendy hobbies, and happy husbands.
Then we put on a fake smile, go to church, and pretend it's all good.
I like to play sports. I write. I do a lot of things on the computer. While I can bake damn good chocolate chip cookies, I don't necessarily enjoy cooking. I read books - books that aren't Church based or written by Church members. Scriptures don't often solve my problems. I love my husband more than life itself. I love my kids, but they drive me absolutely insane most days. They've also done so much for me.
You'd be surpr--well, maybe some of you would be surprised to see the looks on my fellow mom's faces when I tell them just how often I need time alone. I may be a special case - it wouldn't surprise me, but I do need a break. For the entire duration of our marriage, Eric has worked and gone to school full time, leaving me a sometimes-single mom. I'm not wired to do this with grace, and I hate that so many other women think they have to be June Cleaver. We're not all June Cleaver.
I will not have any more kids. Three is, most days, more than enough. I love my kids, but I'm glad I came to my senses enough to realize our original plan of five would have been the equivalent to suicide.
You should see the looks on people's faces when I tell them we're done with kids.
"Oh you never know. You're young. You could change your mind."
My health absolutely plummeted after my youngest. We will be having no more. My bishop couldn't understand that (it escapes me why I even told him), other mom's can't understand it.
People outside the church understand it.
The problem is that it took me about a year or two to finally get past the guilt I felt when I thought "I'm done." Three kids. How is that "replenishing the Earth"? I know a family with twelve kids. Eric comes from a family of six. Am I selfish?
Why do we feel we must do so much, even at the expense of our health and sanity?
I'd love to know how many women scrapbook, bake, have children, etc., due to mormon cultural pressures. Because they think it's what they're "supposed" to do.
There's too much of an "understanding" that we are to serve others and serve others only.
What about me? What about you?
Why the silence and deadpanned faces when I say we need to consider ourselves, too? I don't necessarily just speak of women, here, but let's face it: guys find it easier to take time for themselves. They don't worry nearly as much.
Why do I worry that I said the wrong thing or stepped out of bounds?
We're not martyrs, after all. God wants his daughters to be happy as well.
I happen to think members react differently than they know is appropriate.
But please, keep responding to yesterday's post. I'm insanely curious.
Anyway. I'm going to go on a bit of a tangent today. I just finished reading a blog entry where a woman, my age, describes her boyfriend. He seems to be schitzophrenic. When he is not on his medication (forgets to refill or something) he often begins "hears voices" and speaks often of killing himself and occasionally the need to kill others. What kills is that sometimes he can't get his medication. Want to know why?
His medication costs $400 a month.
$400 a month!
Now, I'm unsure as to their insurance situation but it suffices to say that not everyone has insurance. Not everyone has the chance to work at a job that offers benefits. Not everyone has the chance to go to school to get those jobs that do offer benefits (and even some of those jobs fail to offer them. Why? Because insurance is unbelievably expensive. See above example.)
For the sake of argument, lets say above guy is uninsured. Let's say, then, that he decides to get insurance. Problem solved, right?
Seriously, now. It's like she wrote: her boyfriend getting his medication is in society's best interest.
My rent used to be $400 a month. Granted it was seven years ago, but still. I've never even spent that much for a frickin' car payment.
And people still insist our healthcare system is the best in the world.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
What's the proper reaction when a close friend or family member shows or expresses doubt with Church doctrine and/or a loss or weakening of testimony?
What would you do if a friend told you they struggled with certain doctrine?
Assume they're sinning?
Tell them you can't be around them anymore?
Tell them to read their scriptures and pray?
Tell your bishop or stake president?
Send the missionaries over?
Avoid the topic altogether?
Insist the Gospel is true?
What's the best way to help someone and support them in what is undoubtedly the most frightening period of their life?
What would you do?
What should you do?
And why would you do it - what outcome would you expect from it? Does it matter?
For those who have left the Church or are in this particular situation:
What have or did you experience from others?
What helped? what hurt?
What do you wish people would have done differently?
And, if applicable, what was the straw that finally broke your back?
By the way, this isn't me asking for advice. I didn't realize it could come out that way until just now.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Crap. I have to teach this Sunday.
That's right. I've been called to teach the fourth Sunday Relief Society lessons and I completely forgot. My brain is so full it's brimming and apparently not with all the stuff I need to remember.
So I need to get on that.
I'm also working on a story for a contest. As I haven't entered any writing contests yet, this is a big step for me. I need to start establishing some credentials. It's not due until December 1st, and as proud as I am of it, there seems to be some work needed to make it better. I'd love nothing more than to win - but I'll be just as thrilled if I can even place.
On top of that, today my husband has me juggling time with a few things, and then at 4:30 I'm seeing Twilight (woohoo!)
And, honestly, I'm tired. I appreciate all of the posts, but I'm tired and I'm sure most of you are as well.
I know better than to say I absolutely won't post again this weekend - there's every chance I'll post something tomorrow - but I wanted to say this just in case I don't.
So if I don't see you, have a great weekend everyone!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I received an email the other day from my dad. He never fails to send me the funniest damn emails on the planet, but sometimes he'll send some thought-provoking or one of those that attempt to tug at your heart strings. I'll freely admit when it comes to such emails I cut my heart strings.
Yesterday's was a statement from Ben Stein. You know Ben. "Bueller....Bueller...Bueller...Bueller..."
He's an incredibly intelligent man with the incredibly monotonous voice. I think he even hosted a TV show on Comedy Central.
If you didn't know already, the man is Jewish - and it's getting to be that time of year for Hanukkah.
And Winter Solstice.
For years upon years, the day after Thanksgiving gave us license to walk along snow powdered streets and greet each passerby with a cheerful "Merry Christmas!" and nobody gave a crap. In fact, they probably said "Merry Christmas!" right back at ya.
Because it's that time of year.
Cities erect Christmas trees in their downtown squares, garlands, lights, etc. It really is a neat time of year.
Then, some years ago, a group of people started getting pissed off. "I don't celebrate Christmas, I'm Jewish! Say Happy Holidays!" (and no, I'm not blaming the Jewish people for this)
Before you know it, everyone is in a fuss. Walmart insists on saying "Happy Holidays" and so some of their customers boycott the business during this season - and if they don't, they puff up their chests and spit "Merry Christmas" right back as if to make some point.
Some businesses, for "tradition's" sake, insist on saying "Merry Christmas" and refuse the more generalized "Happy Holidays" because they won't be caught dead being politically correct.
And suddenly, the coolest, prettiest, friendliest time of the year has turned ugly.
GET OVER IT.
I know, I know. For so long people accepted that Christ was the "reason for the season." But as some - perhaps most - of you know, Christmas has its roots in paganism. Not Christ's birth, not at all. Most biblical scholars will tell you Christ was absolutely not born in the dead of winter. I might get more into this later.
Like most holidays (Easter included), Christmas has many paganistic symbols. I mean, you can explain away the star on top of the tree (the star that led the "three wise men" to Christ), you can explain away the gifts (the wise men offered gold, frankincense, and myrrh to the newborn Christ), but the tree? Stockings?
Come on now.
But I digress. Again.
'Tis the season also for our Jewish friends to celebrate the miracle of Hanukkah, for some of our African-American friends to celebrate their heritage/culture with Kwanzaa, for our heathen-pagan friends (sarcasm alert) to celebrate the shortest day of the year.
Should we really put up a fuss about how we choose to greet one another?
I don't think so.
If someone said "happy Hanukkah" to me, I'd smile and return the greeting. It's the intention behind the words, people.
I don't really care what someone says to me. To stomp my feet and throw a tantrum in the insistence that people say "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays" is rather childish. I'm just glad someone's in the spirit of the season. To say "and a happy holidays to you too" or "and a merry Christmas to you" is kinda like flipping someone the bird. Get over yourselves. Just return it. They were being nice.
Really. We should cut the crap. It's distracting. You people ruin this time of year for me with your whining. I know it's not "cool" to be politically correct, and I like to make fun of PCisms too, but this is just ridiculous.
Not everyone celebrates Christmas.
Not everyone who celebrates Christmas does so because of Christ.
Some people don't even believe in Christ as the Son of God, but they believe in God, so they celebrate Hanukkah.
Some people think all that religion crap is lame and they'd rather leave it alone entirely and celebrate the time of year.
Hell, some people don't even celebrate holidays period, like our Jehovah's Witness friends. They are hep to the pagan roots and want nothing to do with them.
(and yes, I actually do find it rather lame and silly to call city Christmas trees "holiday trees." They can have a city Menorah if they want. Really. Get over it.)
I don't believe in insisting we greet one another in one way or the other, but to do it one way or not do it one way as a matter of making a point is, again, lame. We can at least recognize that this is a special time of year for those who don't believe in Christ. Be kind. Just smile and nod if that's all you can do. Leave people be.
So Happy Holidays everyone. Whatever holiday it happens to be you're looking forward to, I hope it's an awesome one.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Like this one: The Church didn't donate 40% of the funds toward Proposition 8. Its members did.
Oh if this weren't as stupid as it initially doesn't sound.
I love this. We're quick most other times to refer to the general membership as "The Church" but the minute we start getting backlashes from our own actions, we break it down until it's no longer The Church, but just its members acting innocently of their own accord - as if The Church had nothing to do with it.
I ask you: How many members do you think would have donated without the call for donations? Not nearly as many.
It was a loophole. The Church, The Church could not have donated more than the $2,000 and change it did without explicitly threatening its tax-exemption. So they asked the members to. And it wasn't enough to pass out donation papers in Priesthood or Relief Society, no. They left papers out in the foyer too. Sometimes people were called into Bishop's or Stake President's offices to donate.
So shut up about that. I'm so sick of us trying to toss the blame off The Church. The Church asked us to donate not just our time, but our "means" (read: money). The Church called on our consciences about following the Prophet. Sometimes every Sunday.
And that, everyone, is what "they" are pissed off about. That is why they are outside our temples and our stake centers and ward buildings. We have an influence unmatched when called by our Prophet, and people know that.
I think it might be nice to offer protesters some donuts or something - and no, I'm not being facetious. If I lived in an area where protesters abounded (and hell, I'm tempted to take a trip to Oakland just to do this), I'd give 'em coffee too.
A show of respect. Let's show some effing respect. It might just go a long way. All this bickering is beyond childish, and it shames me.
Enough with the "well, we only make up 2% of the vote. It's the Hispanics and the African-Americans who did this to you."
Suddenly we're so quick to shift blame, to point fingers. Are you insinuating the protesters (uncivil with their civil) should go bug the crap out of other people? I assure you they are. We're just so intent on being persecuted for our beliefs - I do think part of us longs for the persecution of the earlier Saints - that we're going to cry if the wind shifts. I think we like the PR; really, the PR department must be beside themselves with all the attention. We like having other Churches see that we stand up for "family" (I still don't get this). We like being in the spotlight. As much as it sucks, we know that in the Christian world, persecution is like God patting us on the head. In the Christian world, those who are most persecuted are believed to be the most right (and righteous). And we've been whining an awful lot lately about our persecutions, making sure everyone knows. Poor us.
Get over it. Wave to these people. Give 'em a donut. The more angry of them might throw it away, but most of them, I promise you, just want us to respect them. Treat them the same way you'd like to be treated. They're not that scary.
If you truly believe in what you did, this should not be a problem.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
"As a General Authority, I have the responsibility to preach general principles. When I do, I don’t try to define all the exceptions. There are exceptions to some rules. … I only teach the general rules. Whether an exception applies to you is your responsibility. You must work that out individually between you and the Lord.”
- Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Dating Versus Hanging Out 2006
I have to take a moment to say I might offend a few people with this one, but it's something I've thought of for a while and I think merits some discussion.
We like to talk about how our church is perfect. I don't consider the Church perfect. I don't think it's right for everyone. Does that make it less true? No, but for them it's not right, it's not true, and their truth is elsewhere. The truth of our gospel does not negate the truth of other gospels, nor theirs ours.
It does bother me when we so graciously allow other churches/faiths to have a "bit" of the truth within them. That sounds rather prideful to me, and there seem to be much pride in the way we speak about ourselves and our beliefs - especially regarding to the outside world.
I do think that God allows for more wiggle room than most of us are willing to admit. And even if this is not true, you will not see me telling a sincere member of either our church or another that they are wrong when they tell me they've prayed and anguished and have come to a decision that does not fall within certain accepted criteria.
God allows for exceptions.
I understand that truth is truth is truth. You can't change ultimate truth. You can't change the fact that I exist (or, if I died, existed), that we'll all die, that there is a God, a moon, etc.
But is truth sometimes, even most times, relative? Yeah.
I believe the Spirit can reside with everyone. We like to talk about it as a touch and go deal, but I don't think that's it at all. We've plenty of wonderful, amazing people who haven't been baptized into our Church who absolutely have consistent interaction with the Spirit of God. God will not ignore them or allow bad things to happen to them because they haven't had the Spirit conferred upon them by Priesthood authority. We like to say we were spared because of the Spirit, and yet when we are not spared we say it was the will of God. Well, I happen to believe that everything is the will of God, and he has his reasons. Sometimes we are given the ability to discern (some have more ability than others), but sometimes we are not. We listen or don't listen. God is no respecter of persons. He loves all of us equally.
I've heard too many faith promoting stories from those of other faiths to think we've got some monopoly over the Spirit - and yes, I do mean something different from the Light of Christ.
I'll never forget - for some reason - a story my stepmom told me. She said she and my dad were struggling financially at some point in their lives, and out of nowhere after Church (they attend the Assemblies of God), a woman comes up and says "I just felt impressed to give this to you." It was money.
Or the conversion story I read the other day of a newbie Catholic. Just replace "Catholic" and its like words with "Mormon" or "LDS" and you've got a pretty standard LDS conversion story. I should know. It mirrored mine almost exactly.
God leads people all the time to do things we wouldn't think were right.
We like to talk about mercy, but I don't see too often our acting on that. We like justice. We like to "teach" people. But mercy...especially when someone is doing we think we know is wrong, we don't have much room for mercy. We like to preach free agency and how, while we can choose what we want to do, we cannot choose our consequences. We like consequences. They bring us back to Christ, right?
We don't offer mercy too often - not as a general membership.
If someone is struggling with the gospel, how often do we decide to take the "tough love" route? While I understand the rationale behind "tough love," sometimes we are, in our righteous zeal, too tough. Why not be a friend and talk with them, understand that you don't know everything despite what you might feel, and support them. I'll tell you, doing this will only help. Not "can" only help. Will.
Seriously. We think we "know" everything.
We know nothing.
*Yes, I know I changed the title of the entry and some of the more bold statements within it. You can take that as you will. I'm still struggling with a few things - with what's appropriate and what's not. I have some views that would be considered rather radical concerning the Church and its culture/doctrine, and I'm not entirely certain I'm comfortable airing some of those out just yet... or ever. Maybe with time.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Anyway, I'm spending the day writing. I've got a rogue little young adult novel I hope to get going before I die, I am getting my basic thoughts down for an article I'd like to write for a print magazine (which one yet, I'm not entirely certain, but I'm looking), and I'm blogging.
I've thought a lot about Mormon culture lately. It seems to be the bane of many more members than we may think. Though I appreciate some of the culture, I really do hate a lot of it. Part of that is the almost inherent conservatism that exists. I don't know where it comes from, but I can assume it's from the idea that good = conservative.
I don't get this.
I was on the phone with someone the other day, somebody I've respected for the entire decade I've known her, and our relationship has changed dramatically. We used to be best friends, then we married, had kids, etc., and we're different people. When my husband and I moved away from his hometown so he could go to school, he and I changed even more, and away from the eyes of family. Different experiences and acquired new knowledge brought us away from the more conservative viewpoints and we started thinking...liberally. While we are still friends, our more "lefty" views have come under light lately. I was explaining blogs to her and said I had this one because nobody else really shared my views.
Her entire tone changed to something foreign and hinting of disdain. "You can say that again."
Her words and tone caught in my heart. I worried about this once we began to think differently because it happened while my husband attended a rather liberal university. You always hear conservatives grumble over these institutions. The young voters of this country are more often than not liberal - and unfortunately, this connection has brought some to think young - naive - liberal - naive. Never mind that my husband, at age twenty-eight, isn't considered part of the "youth" vote anymore.
But there's always a quote that rings through my brain: "If you're not a liberal when you're 25, you have no heart. If you're not a conservative by the time you're 35, you have no brain."
It's cute, really, but rather insulting as well. And a generalization. I know of many older liberals who are not only highly intelligent, but highly compassionate as well. Moreso than their conservative counterparts. This is not to say that conservatives lack a heart, but it is to say that not all liberals lack a brain.
It's a fun quote conservatives like to toss around, and I think it plagued me because I knew much of my LDS family would love. Being a worrier, I worried about the almost inevitable backlash when Eric and I started allowing quiet thoughts a stronger voice, thoughts like, "hey, maybe not everyone on food stamps is a lazy ass working the system" or "hey, maybe this whole Iraq thing really was a mistake and is stupid and we need to get out," or "Huh, the UN is messed up and kind of a joke" (you want to know why Darfur is still happening? look at the countries with veto power in the UN - China, specifically)
or "Hey, isn't the Law of Consecration more of a liberal ideal than it is conservative?"
We know about the "religious right" and how everyone likes to pander to them. Conservatives love their ideas about working for what you get, no on abortion (period) and gay people need to just stay in the closet and pretend to be straight. It sounds good. It brings back cozy nostalgic memories of cowboys and men opening up doors for women and people knowing their place.
We like to dream about the "good ol' days," but like my great-grandma, who will be 95 this January, said "the good ol' days weren't all that good."
We can idealize what it was like when men were men and women stayed home, barefoot and pregnant. We can idealize what it was like when if you were hungry, you cut your chicken's head off and ate. Self-sufficiency. Work.
It's all fabulous and I agree: work ethics, manners, chivalry, self-sufficiency is all great. The problem is when we decide we're better than other people, that we know what other people are up to. The problem is when we assume.
Once I realized that the world was not black and white, a whole rainbow opened up to me and I saw that everything, everything was relative to experience, history, associations, and the like. One truth is not another person's truth. Only God knows the intentions of our heart, only He knows who we are, and nobody else can say that. We all have our secrets. We all have our skeletons in the closets. They all come together to make up the fabric of our being, of who we are and what we think. It doesn't make any one viewpoint invalid because it doesn't agree with a majority of people.
We have to remember that we are all brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. While we need to work for our bread, we also need to have compassion on those less fortunate and share a bit of our bread. Not everyone has the same opportunities others do. Life sucks sometimes. I have a niece and a nephew, half brother and sister, who don't have a mom because she decided she wants to play. While their grandparents are my heroes, I know those kids have suffered and their actions often testify to it. But people don't know.
No matter how moral you think you are, you mess up too. We shouldn't kick people who mess up. We should offer them a hand up and some support. It's another thing completely if they're intent on living in the dump, but it is our responsibility to show some freaking compassion.
The Lord in His scriptures exhorted more often charity than he did self-sufficiency, hard work, and narrow mindedness. He didn't toss a stone at the sinner, even when he was the only one without sin.
How often do we toss stones? Even in the Church?
When a woman (or man) goes through a divorce, do we gossip?
When a person in Sacrament meeting passes up the Sacrament without partaking, do we gossip?
When we hear of someone turning down a calling, do we gossip?
Do we think we're better and they're not faithful or "worthy"?
When we're listening to a lesson that tells us to be better, do we look within, or do we look for other people who may be guilty of that crime?
There are basic conservative values that are good, that everyone should strive for. But I believe with everything in me that liberal values mirror more closely what Christ would have us do. No, I do not "love the sinner AND the sin," but I allow for people to sin because that's just what we do. It's what Christ has allowed us to do, what Heavenly Father has. There is good in sin, in that we learn and we are polished, and we grow. Of course this isn't the case unless we repent, but aren't we grateful that's there? If it wasn't, then I'd be more on the side of "keep everyone locked up in a cage. Chastity belts! Prohibit drinking, smoking, gambling, premarital sex, gay sex!" (not all of which I necessarily believe are immoral, per se)
If we continue to push and shove people who have different thoughts, viewpoints, and - gasp - even values, we will not be convincing them of the error of their ways, but be sending them on their way.
You do not have to be a strict, my way or the highway, kind of person to be a good person. You don't even have to be LDS to be a good person. Hell, I know of a lot of amazing non-LDS people who I admire more than most in the Church. It's because we can be a damn haughty people.
While the Gospel is perfect, people are not. Gray isn't bad. Black and white is. What matters more is that a person has come to their decision after prayer and by confirmation of the Spirit. If their decision does not mirror yours (or the bishops, or the stake presidents, or for heaven's sake, even the Prophet's), it does not mean it is wrong, it means it is different.
Our system of government often, if not always, allows for the accused to have the benefit of the doubt. We presume a person to be innocent until proven guilty.
We should all be willing to give one another the benefit of the doubt. You would want it, after all.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Here's the letter and my responses to each point:
In the aftermath of the recent election, we may find ourselves oddly on the defensive regarding our support for the Yes on Proposition 8 cause. Our young people have been especially subject to mean spirited comments by high school friends and teachers. We have nothing to be ashamed of. We did nothing wrong. In fact, we did everything that a civic minded American can and should do. I have put together a few facts that help me to appreciate our position better. For example:
1. Mormons make up less than 2% of the population of California. There are approximately 800,000 LDS out of a total population of approximately 34 million.
2. Mormon voters were less than 5% of the yes vote. If one estimates that 250,000 LDS are registered voters (the rest being children), then LDS voters made up 4.6% of the Yes vote and 2.4% of the total Proposition 8 vote.
And yet the members of our church donated nearly half the money to the cause.
People aren’t angry at us because we make up the majority of the people in California who voted yes – they’re angry because we bankrolled it. Money talks in politics, as we all know. You could say that without the LDS so greatly invested, this proposition would have lost.
3. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) donated no money to the Yes on 8 campaign. Individual members of the Church were encouraged to support the Yes on 8 efforts and, exercising their constitutional right to free speech, donated whatever they felt like donating.
Actually the Church did, well within their legal limits (something like a little over $2000), but they did donate.
Encouraged? When the Prophet says jump, we ask how high. That's how it is. We follow the prophet or risk being unworthy of many, many blessings like going to the temple. Yes, some people understand the principle of praying to know for yourself, but most consider this a matter of belief vs. non belief.
Flyers were placed in the foyers of ward buildings. Sign up sheets were passed around. Announcements and discussions took up the majority of some class times. Donations were “encouraged” over the pulpit. Some people were strongly encouraged – bishops and leaders alike. I’m glad I wasn’t a leader. Makes me wonder if I would’ve been released from my calling.
That makes some wonder about the tax-exemption thing. I don't think it'll happen. I think the Church flirted with the line, but nothing will happen.
4. The No on 8 campaign raised more money than the Yes on 8 campaign. Unofficial estimates put No on 8 at $38 million and Yes on 8 at $32 million, making it the most expensive non-presidential election in the country.
5. Advertising messages for the Yes on 8 campaign are based on case law and real-life situations. The No on 8 supporters have insisted that the Yes on 8 messaging is based on lies. Every Yes on 8 claim is supported.
And yet…not. I’ve got all sorts of evidence to the contrary. If they weren’t outright lies, they were half-truths meant to deceive and scare people. If you know law, you know loopholes, and that nothing is cut and dry. Context is everything. Look it up.
6. The majority of our friends and neighbors voted Yes on 8. Los Angeles County voted in favor of Yes on 8. Ventura County voted in favor of Yes on 8.
Not as many of our "friends and neighbors" voted as they did back in 2000. About nine percent less. That's a lot of people.
And uh, LA County was 50/50. 16,000 votes separated Yes from No. In a county of millions, that doesn’t hold much clout.
7. African Americans overwhelmingly supported Yes on 8. Exit polls show that 70% of Black voters chose Yes on 8. This was interesting because the majority of these voters voted for President-elect Obama. No on 8 supporters had assumed that Obama voters would vote No on 8.
What does this mean? “It’s not our fault it passed! Go after the blacks! Go after the Hispanics! The Catholics! Just not us, we don’t deserve it!”
You voted for it. You called people, knocked on doors, gave up your life savings in some instances for it. So stand up for it. Be not ashamed. You expressed your right to an opinion, to a vote, to get others to vote - these people are expressing their right to be pissed off. As long as they're peaceful, who cares. And they do want to be peaceful about it - you just always have your idiots on either side.
See response to 7
9. The Yes on 8 coalition was a broad spectrum of religious organizations. Catholics, Evangelicals, Protestants, Orthodox Jews, Muslims – all supported Yes on 8. It is estimated that there are 10 million Catholics and 10 million Protestants in California. Mormons were a tiny fraction of the population represented by Yes on 8 coalition members.
See response to 7.
10. Not all Mormons voted in favor of Proposition 8. Our faith accords that each person be allowed to choose for him or her self. Church leaders have asked members to treat other members with "civility, respect and love," despite their differing views.
And yet I’ve been chastised for going against the prophet, testimonies have been called into question, various idiots on some discussion boards have declared we should rip up our temple recommends, family and friends can’t really look me in the eye anymore, etc.
I don’t want to be told how to vote, what to think, what to do or I’ll be ex’d, lose my calling, etc. I don’t appreciate those regarding the proponents of 8 as the “moral majority.” I don’t like the Church calling those gay couples who want to marry “selfish.”
11. The Church did not violate the principal [sic] of separation of church and state. This principle is derived from the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The phrase "separation of church and state", which does not appear in the Constitution itself, is generally traced to an 1802 letter by Thomas Jefferson, although it has since been quoted in several opinions handed down by the United States Supreme Court in recent years. The LDS Church is under no obligation to refrain from participating in the political process, to the extent permitted by law. U.S. election law is very clear that Churches may not endorse candidates, but may support issues. The Church as always been very careful on this matter and occasionally (not often) chooses to support causes that it feels to be of a moral nature.
You know what else grates me? A story on The View yesterday recounted about a boy with some problems who nobody wanted to adopt. Finally, a couple who specialized in working with kids like him stepped forward and put in papers to adopt him. His reaction? "Somebody wants me!"
It was a gay couple. You're going to tell me this is immoral and wrong? Tell that little boy that.
And can we quit implying that separation of church and state doesn't exist? No, the phrase verbatim doesn't exist in the Constitution, but the idea is absolutely there. We don't live in a theocracy, and I'd prefer to not live in one right now thankyouverymuch.
12. Supporters of Proposition 8 did exactly what the Constitution provides for all citizens: they exercised their First Amendment rights to speak out on an issue that concerned them, make contributions to a cause that they support, and then vote in the regular electoral process. For the most part, this seems to have been done in an open, fair, and civil way. Opponents of 8 have accused supporters of being bigots, liars, and worse. The fact is, we simply did what Americans do – we spoke up, we campaigned, and we voted.
They spoke out on an issue that concerned them? I know of a handful of people who wouldn’t have voted yes, donated, made phone calls, etc. if the Church hadn’t made an official plea for its members to do all it could to allow it to pass. Pretty sure there are many more.
And we’ve been just as awful to the No on 8 people, calling them selfish and abhorrent to God and that giving them the ability to marry would bring down society and the world as we know it. Yeah. They really should just have thicker skin than that.
Neither side was right in calling names. Don’t for a second think it was just the No side. We got in the mud, we got dirty, deal with it.
Hold your heads up high – you did a great job on this most important cause. We will have more opportunities in the future to participate in our democratic process. Let's remember the lessons learned and do an even better job next time.
These are my personal opinions and thoughts; any errors are mine and in no way reflect official Church policy or doctrine.
Share on Facebook
Thursday, November 13, 2008
This is another one of those taboo subjects for various, perhaps more "strict" members of the church. Eric told me that one of his mission presidents confided that he and his wife, when on their honeymoon, tried having sex with their garments on. Since then, I've ran into one or two other comments regarding LDS couples attempting this and all I can do is, first, laugh like a hyena and second, wonder what the hell is wrong with our culture that we feel we can't even take garments off for sex.
I mean, y'all go swimming right?
Then there's the idea of lingerie. At one point even I caught myself saying this (I've changed quite a bit in the past five years), and I've had other friends say it as well:
"I don't see the point of lingerie, clothes are just going to come off anyway."
Sexuality in LDS culture is an interesting thing. One of my best friends back in the day told me a guy - not a friend, not related, not even a friend of a friend - in their ward, upon learning she and her fiance were moving their wedding date up, quipped Can't wait to get into each other's pants, huh?
Creepy, right? Totally uncalled for, right?
But there's a sliver of truth in there, isn't there? Our culture, our God, demands celibacy of its unmarried - in our particular religion, we feel that demand more acutely than perhaps in other Christian denominations. French kissing is discouraged because of its inherent sensuality. Being alone with your girl or guy is discouraged because temptations abound. Spencer W. Kimball even said,
“What is miscalled the 'soul kiss' is an abomination and stirs passions to the eventual loss of virtue. Even if timely courtship justifies the kiss it should be a clean, decent, sexless one like the kiss between mother and son, or father and daughter." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.281)
For context, he's talking about casual kisses "given out like pretzels," but I imagine he'd extend this counsel to any young couple - like he said "even if timely courtship justifies the kiss." No disrespect to President Kimball, but are you kidding me?
You get two people together who have a tension between them so thick you can cut through it, and this isn't going to be easy. Yes, you can fight the temptations by going on group dates, never being alone, kissing each other on the cheek, but holy hell! This is not only not easy, it's almost unrealistic. I don't care what era of time we're talking about - this was probably just as difficult in the 1850's, 1950's or today, and we've more couples marrying today for love and not because Dad wants to marry his daughters off and get rid of a couple cows in the process.
And so you have couples getting married ASAP.
Some of these couples know (as in, not faith: know) they are meant for each other. Beyond that, like for Eric and I, there's a commitment unmatched and unquestioned. We knew it from the beginning - and we weren't supposed to ever be alone or...anything?
I'm going to refrain from some of my more radical rationalizations, but yes we did marry in the temple and no we didn't have to lie to our stake president or bishop to do it. We knew our boundaries, we knew where we wanted to go, so we went about things according to what would keep us on that path.
The For the Strength of Youth pamphlet is meant for single adults as much as it is meant for the youth. But, when you find "the one" you should be alone with him/her. You should kiss - and no, not like you kiss your mom or dad. That's a little creepy.
Can it get sketchy and tricky? Yeah. Should you flirt with the line? Well, fun as it is, probably not, at least not if you want to marry in the temple.
But what of after marriage? What of those couples who pretty much keep it monotonous and boring and - shudder - scheduled. The couples who keep their garments on. The couple who just doesn't ever try anything new.
That's dangerous. From what I've noticed, LDS tend to react to the staunch (sorry, righteous or not, those're pretty staunch) standards in one of two ways:
They remain staunch.
They go insane from all that pent up frustration.
Get two of these people together and you've got some serious issues. Get two of these people together, and you've probably one reason why pornography is a problem for not just everyone, but for those in our church.
You can only stifle people so much. Sex is not bad. Yes, it is sacred and a divine power (at least in the procreation department) and should be treated as such but that doesn't mean it's...mechanical, you know?
It's passion, it's love, it's security, it's safety, it's connection.
And yes, there are couples, mostly brides, I've learned about who are so indoctrinated into the idea that sex is bad they can't bring themselves to finally let go on the night of their wedding.
Does this sound wrong to anyone else? I hope so.
And yeah, I said bad. No, that's not necessarily the vocabulary our leaders use, but the translation is nevertheless easy enough to make.
Get out the damn lingerie, get some massage oil, etc. Realize these things aren't bad. Realize it's okay to do some things - really. If something weirds you out, then by all means don't do it, but at least give it consideration. Sometimes we think things are weird because we think they're wrong.
Well, not everything is wrong. "Normal" does not always mean wrong. Normal, in the context of a good marriage, can mean some pretty cool things that we might think is icky. It's not. I promise.
Victoria's Secret is your friend.
I mean, there's being uncomfortable with doing something and then there's just not doing it because we think it'll be weird. Get over that. Talk with your friends to realize people are doing stuff, talk with your husband/wife (even your boyfriend/girlfriend), and understand that while we may be LDS and have higher standards, we are still human and God gave us some pretty cool things. Get to know each other. Know yourself and what you like. Experiment a bit. TALK to each other.
As far as the single crowd goes, much as people might need reminders of how to avoid digging themselves into a hole of temptation they can't navigate themselves out of, they need to also know it's amazing and, most of all, okay. There needs to be a respect, but not an abhorrence. We don't need to be prudes to be righteous.
If we think otherwise, our marriages are doomed to become robotic and emotionless. Sure, you may never get a divorce and you may actually love your partner, but if there's no passion...then you may as well be married to your mom or dad.
Monday, November 10, 2008
I'm not entirely sure I have brought up "controversial" subjects yet. Yes, the gay marriage thing. Whatever. I'm over it. It's something people are angry over, targeting the church over (after all, we were vocal. what? we can exercise our freedom of speech in the democratic process but dissenters can't? as long as the protests at the temple are peaceful, i say they deserve at least our respect to their feelings to allow them to have their say)
Anyway. This one does make me nervous, but I think it deserves some discussion. We'll see what other people think, yeah?
A comment string a few entries back brought up the P word. I don't really know how, but I know I'm the one who brought it up.
C'mon. You know what I'm talking about. It's like Peanut Butter and Jelly. Mormons and...
This is kinda a "hush hush" topic. Some consider it "sacred." Some, I think most, don't know how to talk about it.
I mean, how do you talk about this?
"God commanded it."
Yeah, you know...truth or not, that just doesn't cut it for outsiders. It doesn't really cut it for some insiders to be honest. It might work for the zealous, passionate new member, but if something were to happen - say, hubby cheated or something - she might feel differently about sharing her husband, even if God commanded it.
I've been around some women who joke it off. "I'd love to have more wives. I could delegate some of the stuff I have to do."
Some rationalize it. "I'd have to give permission, right?"
"Abraham was asked to do something unthinkable as a test of his faith. This is no different."
Uhm, if we're going by history...I don't know about permission. It's nice to think so, but Emma didn't give permission; she wasn't even aware of many of Joseph's wives.
And yeah it kinda is different from Abraham.
First, I would never ever question Abraham's faith. That said, I can't believe he was like "Kill my kid for you? Can I do it now?"
Unless God caught him on one of "those" days. Any parent knows what I mean. It's like after the morning I had. My four year old son gets up before we do anymore. Generally he just watches cartoons and might make breakfast for the other two (he's surprisingly clean about it), but this morning he decided to clean out the fireplace, still hot with embers.
Or the time I found him dipping a paper cup into a toilet bowl full of crap.
If God caught Abraham on one of these days, perhaps Abraham would've jumped at the idea. "I was hoping you'd say I could! Do I have to get him on an altar, or would the tent do?"
But seriously now. If Abraham was human and loved his child, his only son - and I think that's a safe assumption - and if this is supposed to allude to the difficulty and the emotional turmoil and yes, utter importance, with regarding Heavenly Father and Christ, than...yeah. I imagine he fought and cried and anguished over this.
But he went to the altar. We can assume the resignation was sincere. Despite everything he'd been told, he was going to kill his kid for God. That's not faith. That's knowledge.
But here's where the parallel ends, I think: God stopped him.
God never stopped Joseph Smith from taking on other wives. And as far as Emma goes, when she was able to reconcile herself to the idea, it was only temporary. She couldn't handle it and kicked those women out. Joseph had to practice this in hiding for the most part. Emma never taught her and Joseph's sons about it. To this day, the RLDS Church (which her sons founded) denies Joseph ever practiced polygamy.
Any woman...scratch that. There are people who willingly practice this. I don't imagine there are many, if any, LDS women who could and feel good about it. I couldn't. That would very well be the straw that breaks this girl's back. It's weak as it is.
I know, I know, I know. I've read D&C 132. Often. I know this is a Celestial doctrine. I know if I can't accept it I'm unworthy to be in His presence. At least that's what I've heard, and it really rubs my fur the wrong way. Really? Everything could hinge on that? Eh.
I know God knows my heart. He can't possibly...I just couldn't. I empathize so much with some of our more feminist sisters. For God to come and command my husband to take on another wife, sleep with her, have babies with her...
No wonder some women feel like nothing in this Church, like second-class. I totally get it. You might say "well, we don't practice it now," but we do. Spiritually. When my mom came with our family to the Sacramento, California temple open house, the tour guide brought up the subject. I'll never forget my mom turning to me and saying, "So, if you died, Eric could get married here and still be married to you?"
My heart plummeted. I didn't want to lie, so I didn't, but I did at least give voice to my disapproval. I wouldn't want it.
(just as a quick side note: yes, I know. I've found the most chivalrous men in this church. My husband treats me like a queen and I'm unbelievably blessed for it.)
I have great difficulty understanding and accepting doctrine that I can only see serving to beat down women, and don't you dare try to tell me this wouldn't beat down women. You'd better have some serious backup if you're going to do that. Even if I had faith enough to follow, I would be among the most unhappy people ever. It's breaking my heart now to even think of ever having to live such a doctrine, let alone accept it. I'd want to know why. I think I'd deserve and have some right to know why. If that's prideful, so be it. I'd want to know. I'd even be as bold as to demand it. I think a lot of you would, too, and if our God is as loving as we teach, He'd understand.
I dare any one of you women to honestly and sincerely imagine the situation and then tell me you would have the faith. Maybe some of you would. I doubt it, though. I love my husband. We have some crazy outofthisworld connection. Some might find the story of how we met and how we "knew" unbelievable. The fact is I love him, and I'm okay with being selfish about him. Even after I die, I wouldn't want him taking anyone else on.
He's mine, and I'm his. It's the most exclusive of relationships. If my relationship, if my marriage is as sacred as we've been screaming and waving signs around for, then, I'm sorry: no more girls allowed. You can say that nullifies my testimony. I say it's ridiculous to assume Joseph had to be right on absolutely everything in order for the entire gospel to be true. That's a lot to put on one man. There have been, from what I understand, a few things we've changed through the years. As a reader of mine cited in his entry today,
1 Corinthians 13:8-10
8 ...but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
Yes, I know this is "different," but one cannot shoot me down because I struggle with such a touchy doctrine. It's trickier than people want to make it. We want to not think about it. It's easier to not think about it. It's easier to say it happened because the ratio of men to women was less than desirable. It's easier to say it happened because older women needed care for, or that God wanted to "raise seed unto him."
The fact is we don't really know. Correct me if I'm wrong, but we don't know. We can guess to make ourselves feel better about it (because, really, is there anyone in the Church who would welcome this with open, unflinching arms? I hope not), but we don't know.
And I hatehatehate that it is so central to our doctrine. Central enough that the heighth of my salvation depends upon my "acceptance" of it. Well, accepting the doctrine means that you would do it if asked. Even if you really believe you could do it, how would you feel? About your husband, about your wife, about God...about yourself?
There's really no other way to put it. I know exactly how I'd feel.
I'd feel like shit.
Secondly, I'm bringing out the horse again. I know he looks rather bruised, bloodied, and just beat up (and frankly I'm surprised PETA isn't knocking down my door), but...
There's something that's bothered me, and I'm curious for other thoughts.
An online friend of mine mentioned there's no date for this particular interview between PR and Elders Oaks and Wickham, but the fact that it remains still on the official Church site implies that its held as doctrine. Because the interview is familiar, I wonder if it came out around 2000 when Proposition 22 came on the ballots. That feels slightly narcissistic of me to say, of course California isn't the end-all-be-all of the subject, but even 2004's Proposition 3 in Utah didn't garner this much coverage (Prop 3 called for civil unions in Utah - apparently the Church strongly fought against its passing. Needless to say, it didn't pass).
There have been signs of a "softening" if you will to the subject of same-sex partnerships being legally recognized and solemnized by the government.
First, there's this tidbit here. You can find the entire interview here:
"ELDER OAKS: Another point to be made about this is made in a question. If a couple who are cohabiting, happy, and committed to one another want to have their relationship called a marriage, why do they want that? Considering what they say they have, why do they want to add to it the legal status of marriage that has been honored and experienced for thousands of years? What is it that is desired by those who advocate same-gender marriage? If that could be articulated on some basis other than discrimination, which is not a very good argument, it would be easier to answer the question that you have asked, and I think it would reveal the soundness of what we’ve already heard."
Why do they want that - because marriage is a much more powerful word with a much more powerful meaning than is "domestic partnership" or "civil union" - and, if things get escalated to a federal level, than they want marriage because then they can have all the benefits allocated to anyone else who is married.
"There are certain indicia of marriage — certain legal and social consequences and certain legitimacy — which if given to some relationship other than marriage between a man and a woman tend to degrade if not destroy the institution that’s been honored over so many thousands of years.
As opposed to the likes of Britney Spears or "open" marriages (which, if I'm correct, is legal in some states), etc?
"In addition, if people want to legalize a particular relationship, we need to be careful if that kind of relationship has been disapproved for millennia. Suddenly there’s a call to legalize it so they can feel better about themselves. That argument proves a little too much. Suppose a person is making a living in some illegal behavior, but feels uneasy about it. (He may be a professional thief or he may be selling a service that is illegal, or whatever it may be.) Do we go out and legalize his behavior because he’s being discriminated against in his occupational choices or because he doesn’t feel well about what he’s doing and he wants a ‘feel good’ example, or he wants his behavior legitimized in the eyes of society or his family? I think the answer is that we do not legalize behavior for those reasons unless they are very persuasive reasons brought forward to make a change in the current situation."
I don't know that the relationship has been disapproved so much as...well, lets be honest. Straight people find gay sex icky. A gay couple tends to look odd to our eyes, and this is probably due more to our not seeing it so often. It's also disapproved because various churches find it abominable (some more than others) and we tend to hate that which is different.
I really don't like how so many tend to compare homosexuality with criminal acts or diseases. I do believe there are some people out there partaking in homosexual acts when they are not, necessarily, homosexual; there are some experimenting, some who can choose (like one commenter said: these are the bisexual members of our society). And forget that, there's no universal consensus that homosexuality is a sin or "immoral." Stealing, murder, rape, etc. It's pretty well recognized those aren't okay - mostly because they infringe upon the rights of others. I know we like to think this will infringe upon our rights, but they thought the same thing about legalizing interracial marriage, too.
But, lets not forget that there are the people who the thought of a heterosexual relationship causes them to wince, the idea to them is icky, it's just not even a smidgen of who they are or what they can imagine. Being heterosexual to them is like most of us imaginging being homosexual. This is 100% who they are sexually. If we are going to demand so much sacrifice of them, we need to give them the respect they deserve in their sacrifice. We aren't.
They can't even hold hands with someone, kiss, that sort of thing. None of that. This isn't a matter of marriage to our church as it is a demand of complete celibacy.
"PUBLIC AFFAIRS: Would you extend the same argument against same-gender marriage to civil unions or some kind of benefits short of marriage?
"ELDER WICKMAN: One way to think of marriage is as a bundle of rights associated with what it means for two people to be married. What the First Presidency has done is express its support of marriage and for that bundle of rights belonging to a man and a woman. The First Presidency hasn’t expressed itself concerning any specific right. It really doesn’t matter what you call it. If you have some legally sanctioned relationship with the bundle of legal rights traditionally belonging to marriage and governing authority has slapped a label on it, whether it is civil union or domestic partnership or whatever label it’s given, it is nonetheless tantamount to marriage. That is something to which our doctrine simply requires us to speak out and say, “That is not right. That’s not appropriate.”
And here, folks, is the kicker for me. We could do as so many have offered to make all unions "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships" and leave it to the churches to bless or deny as they will as "marriages" but this statement implies the Church would fight that just as hard. This states that Proposition 8 wasn't merely a matter of definition of marriage, but the rights and all involved in marriage.
I like to think my marriage would be a marriage without those rights. I would have married Eric if we would have lost rights. It's just not a huge deal to me. But our government gives rights to married couples because marriage brings stability and security to our most fundamental unit: the family.
And, as we know, families come in various packages. A lot of children live with their grandparents. A lot live with just their mom or dad. Some live with aunts, some live with their friends' parents.
Oh noes! Are we going to have to introduce legislation to ensure the definition of "family" now, too?
This bothers me. I wish it didn't, and I'd love nothing more than to be proven wrong on this, that this is just some outdated thing and we've gone beyond this, but it's still on the official site. It's packaged with all the other stuff Proposition 8 related.