Thursday, April 30, 2009

A cowboy walks into a bar...

A cowboy, visiting Idaho from Texas, walks into a bar and orders three mugs of Bud. He sits in the back of the room, drinking a sip out of each one in turn. When he finishes them, he comes back to the bar and orders three more.

The bartender approaches and tells the cowboy, "You know, a mug goes flat after I draw it. It would taste better if you bought one at a time."

The cowboy replies, "Well, you see, I have two brothers. One is in Arizona the other is in Colorado. When we all left our home in Texas we promised that we'd drink this way to remember the days when we drank together. So I'm drinking one beer for each of my brothers and one for myself." The bartender admits that this is a nice custom, and leaves it there.

The cowboy becomes a regular in the bar, and always drinks the same way. He orders three mugs and drinks them in turn.

One day, he comes in and only orders two mugs. All the regulars take notice and fall silent. When he comes back to the bar for the second round, the bartender says, "I don't want to intrude on your grief, but I wanted to offer my condolences on your loss." The cowboy looks quite puzzled for a moment, then a light dawns in his eyes and he laughs.

"Oh, no, everybody's just fine," he explains. "It's just that my wife and I joined the Mormon Church and I had to quit drinking. Hasn't affected my brothers though."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Deseret Drops Twilight

Hat tip to Times and Seasons for being far more proactive than I.

Article found at the Salt Lake Tribune

I know. It's Twlight and many of us are tired of hearing about it. I suspect many who read still have a soft spot for those books, perhaps it is a guilty pleasure. That's what they are for me. But this isn't a critique of the book or even praise.

Deseret Book has decided to take the series off their shelves.

Those interested are able to special order the books, sure, but no longer can one (read: youth) walk into one of these stores and pick it up. I do wonder how many members actually purchased the books there. I bought mine at Barnes and Noble. Many of my friends visited Walmart or Target. Granted, the nearest DB is an hour away but even when I lived nearby one I didn't hear of many who visited to buy it.

I don't know.

The reasons for the drop are vague at best.

"Like any retailer, our purpose is to offer products that are embraced and expected by our customers. When we find products that are met with mixed review, we typically move them to special order status," Leigh Dethman, Deseret Book spokeswoman said.

Mixed review?

I know a friend of mine initially denounced the relationship between the two main characters as "inappropriate." Yet she continued to eat up the rest of the series. She's not the only one, but some have stood by their review and refused to read the rest of the series or have blacked out the more sensual passages to keep their virgin daughter's thoughts more virginal. If they ever were in the first place.

We black stuff out. We don't talk about it, acknowledge it, discuss it. We black it out. Take it off the shelves.

I'll agree: this probably isn't the book for your thirteen year old. While there is no explicit sex, sex is dripping from the prose.

I mean, let's face it. Twilight is soft-core erotica for LDS women. I'll admit I loved it. And why not? We need a little more sexuality in our lives.

Those faithful, strong, zealous members of the Church who love this book tickle me. These people who have standards so thick as to follow the one time counsel to dating youth to only engage in "sexless" kisses, these BYU students and alumni love this book.

Because the author is Mormon. Because it promotes abstinence. Because it is "clean." At least that's what they say.

I heartily disagree. I think it avoided premarital sex. Found a loophole. Much like in Stephenie Meyer's other book, The Host, the issue of fornication was completely circumvented. Not decried. The main character, Bella, wanted Edward. He wanted her, too. But he was afraid with his superhuman strength and extreme lust for her blood, he'd end up killing her.

Some examples of the text. Some of my favorites ;D

His hand curved around my elbow, moving slowly down my arm, across my ribs and over my waist, tracing along my hip and down my leg, around my knee. He paused there, his hand curling around my calf. He pulled my leg up suddenly, hitching it around his hip.

I stopped breathing. This wasn't the kind of thing he usually allowed. Despite his cold hands, I felt suddenly warm. His lips moved in the hollow at the base of my throat.

"No to bring on the ire prematurely," he whispered, "but do you mind telling me what it is about this bed that you object to?"

Before I could answer, before I could even concentrate enough to make sense of his words, he rolled to the side, pulling me on top of him. He held my face in his hands, angling it up so that his mouth could reach my throat. My breathing was too loud -- it was almost embarrassing, but I couldn't care quite enough to be ashamed...

Slowly this time, he rolled till he hovered over me. He held himself carefully so that I felt none of his weight, but I could feel the cool marble of his body press against mine...

Cold as ice, his tongue lightly traced the shape of my lips. (Eclipse, pgs 186-187)

And this:

His hands were in my hair, his lips moving softly -- but very seriously -- against mine, before I realized what he was saying. What he was doing.

There wasn't much time to act. If I waited too long, I wouldn't be able to remember why I needed to stop him. Already, I couldn't breathe right. My hands were gripping his arm, pulling myself tighter to him, my mouth glued to his and answering every unspoken question his asked.

I tried to clear my head, to find a way to speak.

He rolled gently, pressing me into the cool grass. (Eclipse, pg 618)

There is sex in this book. And while Edward objects because he claims he's old-fashioned (he is 100+ years old), this is not activity with which the Standards of Youth would approve.

Nevermind he is constantly in her room. Alone with her in other places.

We drink this up. I read this when I was still marginally faithful, afraid to turn the page - would they have sex? should I read this? oh but I wanted to. Finally, a member of the church found her courage to write like this. It was refreshing. I'd stopped writing long ago because I didn't think I could write anything worthy of the faith, and I refused to write something akin to The Work and the Glory.

This series was refreshing for me. Like a revelation.

No, Meyer's novels don't decry premarital sex because the abstinence is far too erotic. The want for it is far too strong. And perhaps that's the problem for Deseret Books.

But really, a little heavy breathing is good for us. We need to acknowledge sex and celebrate it. Stop shunning it so much. I'd like to know the prevalence of women who, like in one story I heard, couldn't bring herself to consummate her marriage with her husband because to her, sex was bad. Dirty. We need more stories like Twilight to help say it's not. More women in the Church need to know it's not. Married and single alike. Old and young.

But it seems DB, owned by the Church, can't afford to keep it on the shelves. It's too PG-13. After all, I'm positive President Kimball would've disapproved. Our standards for dating are entirely too strict and I believe lend to more sexual "sins" than not. Or lead to unhappy sex lives within marriage. Is it sad or telling to anyone else that married LDS women are eating this up?

In the end, I don't think Deseret's problem lies with the adult readership but perhaps in the Church's (and it's ultra-strict members) decrying the sexual content because so many of our young women read this over and over again.

And instead of asking ourselves why, we take it off the official LDS bookstore shelf.

EDIT: After some thought, I had a few other questions, and I think the answers to them will surprise many if there's any bit of honesty involved:

1) Would so many LDS women consume this series if it were written by a Pentecostal/Catholic/Muslim/Agnostic Stephenie Meyer?

2) If she wasn't LDS, wouldn't most of us decry these books as inappropriate? Yeah. Probably not many of you.

But many of our faithful-and-true friends would for the very reasons I posted above. We allow it because, well, she's Mormon. We make excuses for her. Because she's one of us. She's a successful one of us. An LDS mommy. A working LDS mommy.

A psychologist's playground, this is.

And I think that leads us again to my original question: what does this say about our views on sexuality? Our egocentrism? Our culture? Our religion? Our propensity to hypocrisy (gasp! i know)?

I mean, let's be honest.

For a listing of the comments, both rational and unbelievable (for both sides), see the Comment Page for the article listed at the top.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Don't let the homo storm get YOU!

From the National Organization for Marriage (These people are dead serious. "I am afraid" Oh man.)

Gay people are so scary.

And Stephen Colbert's fantastic response:

You gotta love Colbert.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I wanted to share a few quotes from Meet the Press and some Jon Stewart episodes from the past week.

You know, for a guy who isn't a real journalist, he sure as hell is doing a better job than most.

I do have some rather...inciteful posts in my queue right now I'm debating on posting. We'll see. But in the meantime, I want to go back to politics. From April 19th's Meet the Press:

"FMR. REP. DICK ARMEY (R-TX): Well, first of all, I, I want to correct the record. While FreedomWorks did participate and help with the organizing, we had over 800 TEA parties. Now, this is very important. Over 800 TEA parties around the country, with attendance in the hundreds. [yay?] And Atlanta was 15,000. These were almost exclusively organized by volunteer people. I say they were. [well then we will have to take your word for it, huh?] And where FreedomWorks helped with technical assistance, in every TEA party that I was aware of a real person in their real community put it together. Now, what they're concerned about is where it's going to go. Quite frankly, the--most of the people that I talked to at the TEA parties and, and who had that sentiment frankly just simply do not believe that the president is either going to hold the line on spending. Look, he's, he's taken the, the deficit up to $2 trillion and promising to halve it. That still makes it, what, a--twice as big as it was when he started. So the fact of the matter is there's real doubts about him, and taxes must inevitably go up if he's going to grow big government. [Where the hell were these people when Bush was making big government?]

"FMR. REP. HAROLD FORD JR. (D-TN): There was not--but, but, but, Leader, there was not one TEA party in the eight years that President Bush was in office. [I love how they're using the TEA acronym now. Lame!] And this is not meant to litigate the last eight years. But let's be honest, there was a $5 trillion increase in the amount of the, the nation's debt under President Bush. Normally when you use a credit card and you go out and charge things, you're able to show something you got in return. For the last eight years there are no more kids with health care, there are fewer kids who are able to afford college, we have not found new energy sources, and we can make a pretty credible argument that the Middle East is less stable and more dangerous than it was before. I give the president great credit for another attack not occurring on our soil. When we look at the long-term investments and the foundational platform that this president, President Obama is trying to create, one could make a legitimate and I think a compelling argument that in the long run this will produce the new--new investments in energy will produce not only alternatives but less reliance overseas, cheaper energy here at home, a smarter electricity grid, more kids going to college, more people with access to health care, which will lower business costs and allow the economy, for that matter..." (emphasis added)

Let's not forget, John McCain's plan was going to increase the deficit as well.

And besides that, anyone watch Jon Stewart? To quote an overused phrase, I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry. Correspondent John Oliver attended a tea bagging party where everyone shouted about tyranny and how "taxation is slavery." I just wanted to beat the utter crap out of these people.

Slavery? Tyranny?

These are the SAME PEOPLE who are running around screaming how we don't know how good we have it. How we don't appreciate our freedom.


I just want to know how many of these teabaggers went out and bought the then half-million dollar houses which are now in foreclosure.

Then Oliver speaks with a teabagger who doesn't understand what "Taxation without Representation" truly is. Basically the conversation went like this:

Reporter: "But you are represented."
Teabagger: "Yeah, well, um. I'm not represented in that my views aren't being represented."


Keep encouraging these people, Faux News. It's making 2012 look much more brighter than it already does.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Don't Panic: We've Been Here Before

The fundamentals of the economy are strong.

Remember that quote? It still makes me giggle, especially since most knew at the time that John McCain was very, very wrong.

The more aware among us realize the Recession has been around for a while now, and now everyone's losing their jobs and losing their homes.

In my county and the neighboring county, unemployment is at a staggering 20%. The foreclosure to resident ratio in my neighboring county is the highest in the state.Most of us know where all this began: investment in housing. For the longest time when housing prices were so inflated as to induce laughter at the mere sight of the price tag (half a million for a dilapidated house in my father’s neighborhood was snatched up in no time), and nobody thought this would have to, you know, stop.

The experts were saying it would have to, but people refused to listen because they wanted to believe the realtors who swore that wasn’t the case. Because the realtors had no interest in lying to the public about any sort of bubble, right? We had our bank and others approach us to offer us home loans. Out of nowhere. Our annual income at the time was around $25k a year. Our credit scores were fantastic, but credit scores can change when a family making around $25k a year are talked into buying a $300k home. Because everyone wants that. Everyone wants to be able to buy a home. And I’ll admit, we considered it (for like, half a second. It took one look at the prices for us to realize that wasn’t possible no matter what we wanted. We’ve good credit for a reason).

People were going into interest-only loans where their $800 mortgage payment would balloon after five years into $3000. Some of these people were true victims, but I still believe many of them were just damn stupid.

You want to talk about entitlement? There's your entitlement.

And before we knew it, people owed more on their homes than the homes were worth.
And they couldn’t afford the payments.
The bank comes in and forecloses or the family asks the bank for a short sale (in which the bank basically forgives the remaining debt and takes the house to sell – hardly a “short” process)

But we’re hardly the first to think we can have everything we want, own things we cannot afford, and dive into an ocean of credit that will eventually return to stab us in the back.

Then the banks don’t want to give out loans to anyone. People lose their jobs because businesses need some loans to thrive and thus can no longer afford those employees.
A huge company defaults.
Throw a war in the mix,
And the economy grinds to a screeching halt.

And no, the Great Depression of the 1930s wasn’t the first time this sort of thing happened - just the worst yet. During my readings for my US History course, I came upon two panics which occurred during the 19th Century and found there to be many parallels. Upon more research I’ve discovered far more financial disasters our country has endured. This is hardly a comprehensive list, but I hope it says enough.

The Panic of 1819

War: The War of 1812, Napoleonic Wars
Speculative Activity: Real estate
Other reasons: American shipping boom ending, demand for American “foodstuffs” declining
Lasted: Five years

“The western land boom that began in 1815 turned into a speculative frenzy. Land sales, which had totaled 1 million acres in 1815, mushroomed to 3.5 million in 1818. Many settlers bought on credit, aided by small “wildcat” state banks that made loans far beyond their resources. This was not the first—or the last—speculative boom in western lands. But it ended like all the rest—with a sharp contraction of credit, begun on this occasion by the Second Bank of the United States, which in 1819 forced state banks to foreclose on many bad loans.” (Out of Many [1], 232, emphasis added)

The Panic of 1837

The War: None
Speculative Activity: The Second Bank of the United States
Other Reasons: Specie Circular of Andrew Jackson
Lasted: Six years

“The Recession of 1833-34 was followed by a wild speculative boom, caused as much by foreign investors as by the expiration of the [Second] Bank [of the United States]. Many new state banks were chartered that were eager to give loans, the price of cotton rose rapidly, and speculation in western lands was feverish. A government surplus of $37 million distributed to the states in 1836 made the inflationary pressures worse. [President Andrew] Jackson became alarmed at the widespread use of paper money (which he blamed for the inflation), and in July 1836, he issued the Specie Circular, announcing that the government would accept payment for public lands only in hard currency. At the same time, foreign investors, especially British banks, affected by a world recession, called in their American loans. The sharp contraction of credit led to the Panic of 1837 and a six-year recession, the worst the American economy had yet known.” (Out of Many, 284)

The Depression of 1873

The War: Civil War
Speculative Investing: Railroads
Other Reasons: Commercial Overexpansion
Lasted: 65 months (the longest in history at the time)
Unemployment: 15 percent+

“Mass meetings of worker in New York and other cities issued calls to government officials to create jobs through public works. But these appeals were rejected. Indeed, many business leaders and political figures denounced even meager efforts at charity. They saw the depression as a natural, if painful, part of the business cycle, one that would allow only the strongest enterprises (and workers) to survive.

"The depression of the 1870s prompted workers and farmers to question the old free-labor ideology that celebrated a harmony of interests in northern society. More people voiced anger at and distrust of large corporations that exercised great economic power from outside their communities.” (Out of Many, 457)

The Great Depression of 1930s[2]

The War: WWII
Speculative Investing: Stock Market investing. Investment in factories and new machinery led to overproduction, which lead to more stock investing. Loans given to invest in the stock market and for buying cars.
Lasted: Nine years
Unemployment: Nearly 30% in 1932.

I could go on. The Energy Crisis of 1970s (Vietnam War). The multiple recessions of the 1980s (I remember the late 80s one well). The dot-com bust of the late 90’s. And now the housing crisis of the late 2000s. The list is huge and goes back to the late 1700s for America.

It happens

In the words of John Rockefeller: "These are days when many are discouraged. In the 93 years of my life, depressions have come and gone. Prosperity has always returned and will again.”[3]

I could go on. The Energy Crisis of 1970s (Vietnam War). The multiple recessions of the 1980s (I remember the late 80s one well). The dot-com bust of the late 90’s. And now the housing crisis of the late 2000s. The list is huge and goes back to the late 1700s for America.

People are “scared” about Obama’s stimulus plans. They were fuming over Bush’s bailout plans. People were pissed off about some of Roosevelt’s solutions. And they still argue over whether or not it did anything.

But let's consider the alternative and if anyone has any other ideas?

“In neither 1837 nor 1819 did the federal government take any action to aid victims of economic recession. No banks were bailed out, no bank depositors were saved by federal insurance, no laid-off workers got unemployment payments. Nor did the government undertake any public works projects or pump money into the economy. All of these steps, today seen as essential to prevent economic collapse and to alleviate human suffering, were unheard of then. Soup kitchens and charities were mobilized in major cities, but only by private, volunteer groups, not by local or state governments. As a result, workers, farmers, and members of the new business middle class suddenly realized that participation in America’s booming economy was very dangerous.” (Out of Many, 284)

Before too long, few will remain who were alive during the Great Depression enough to really remember it. In time there will be none left who experienced it, and we will forget. In some ways we are ignoring it. We’re willing to allow people to lose their homes and with the potential live in squalor just so we can see which of us is the strongest (please go read John Steinbeck’s "The Harvest Gypsies". Unbelievable). We seem to think we should suck it up and let the market roll.

But couldn't we say that's kinda what got us in this mess in the first place?

While I’m hesitant of the bailouts (hated them) and of the stimulus plan, I have hope in Obama’s idea to invest in programs which will encourage economic growth. This doesn’t mean I agree with all of it, but I like the idea. And I realize it isn’t his idea, but modeled under FDR. Truly, what other choice does Obama have?

And truly, Bush followed the model, too.

Though the debt is and will be far beyond comprehension, I have hope that investing in infrastructure, education, and in green jobs will promote such growth that we’ll be able to pay this off.

We can learn from history, though. We have to take care when investing in speculative issues. We have to be informed. We have to think critically. We have to have an educated population. We have to be willing to dissent.

To this I add that we have to learn that if we’re too big to fail, than we’re probably too big. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

And it’s easy for me to say this. My husband still has his job. We’re able to afford a home now because of the bubble bursting. But that doesn’t mean what I’m saying is untrue. The market will recover. We need to take care of each other. We need to work with the government instead of against it. We need to be informed and educated and work with reason rather than emotion. It does seem to be the natural course of things for the universe to strike us back when we get too excited about money and material things – the problem is we’re not learning. And we won’t. But it is hardly the end of the world.


1. Out of Many: A History of the American People. 5th ed, Volume 1

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Teabag the President? Ewww.

How lame is this tea bag thing? Seriously?

Has anyone taken U.S. History 101? Anyone gone to high school? Do they just remember that this had something to do with taxes? Because that’s what the extent of their knowledge seems to be.

Has anyone done their research, or does this just sound like a clever way to get attention?

I have to admit straight out of the gate that I would’ve easily fell into this category of people who knew next to nothing about the Boston Tea Party but remnants of what my high school history course made it into my brain. Back in my conservative days, chances are we would’ve bought our own tea bag to send to the President.

And we would’ve been stupid, stupid, stupid.

What was the Boston Tea Party about? Taxes? Yes. But the similarities truly do stop there.

Back in the mid-Eighteenth century, American colonists were beginning to form a sense of American identity separate from the British. The British didn’t like the potential for a revolt – they wanted the colonists to remain dependent on them so they imposed various tariffs and laws. Following the Seven Years War between America (who the British fought with) and the Indian people, Britain, in an effort to keep any uprisings at bay, kept 10,000 troops in North America. This was an expensive move and Britain needed money.

So they imposed the Sugar Act – a tariff (or tax) on imported sugar to the colonies and moved to make it difficult if not impossible for the colonists to smuggle sugar. The colonists had no say. The courts of vice-admirality used to force these taxes didn’t assume innocence before proven guilty. There was no trial. There was no representation. Therefore “Taxation without representation is tyranny” – James Otis, Massachusetts lawyer.

Britain felt it was only fair for the American colonists to help pay for the costs incurred by the French-Indian/Seven Years War, and so felt no regret for their actions.

To make matters worse, since the colonial taxes remained lower than those in Britain, Britain decided to impose yet another tax in a measure called the Stamp Act. This placed a tax on anything on printed paper (newspapers, letters, licenses, ship papers, playing cards, etc). This stamped paper had to be bought with hard money during a time when the economy wasn’t doing so well.

Britain’s response? “Eh, you’re represented about as well as we are here in Britain. Kinda like how citizens here represent those who cannot vote, such as women, slaves, and children.”

(sounds like us, huh? ugh. we're soooo unrepresented here.)

The colonists hated this response and it only heightened their resolve to fight against “Taxation without representation.” (Yeah, sucks to not have a voice and have yours depend on someone you don’t know/can’t see/have no or little contact with, huh? I wonder if this made anyone think of women’s suffrage if not the black man’s vote. Doubt it.)

And the center of all protests came from…Boston.

The taxes created for a worsening economy adding to the skyrocketing unemployment and inflation rates. Samuel Adams, of the beer brand, became a leader for this movement in Boston, including a group who called themselves the Sons of Liberty, who called for protesting by way of pamphlets and petitions. In time, Britain was unable to enforce the Stamp Act since all stamp distributors had left the area. And the colonists were calling for a halt to importation of goods to pressure Britain who, by 1766, repealed the Stamp Act and reduced the Sugar Act.

But they also made a Declaratory Act which basically said they could do whatever they wanted anytime they wanted. They were just being nice by repealing and reducing those acts, basically. Not backing down.

Britain’s national debt wasn’t going away. Riots and tax protests ensued at the mainland, and Britain cared more for the protests occurring at home than in the colonies which showed in their Revenue Act which called for a tax on imports such as glass, paint, paper and tea.

In October 1767, a meeting in Boston reignited the call for nonimportation as they drew a list of British products to boycott. They called for people to live more frugally and stimulate the local economy, which the small towns are rural areas loved. In time, all colonies but one enacted legislation to ban importing British goods, bringing the value of these imports down by nearly half.

By 1773, Parliament imposed a tax on tea which infuriated the colonists (who loved tea – after all) and incited rebellion and later passed the Tea Act which placed a monopoly on tea to the East India Company, a company ready to collapse in bankruptcy. Parliament didn’t want it to fail and knew the colonists loved their tea as much as they did. In time, the consumption and purchase of tea was seen as an act of treachery.

The Boston Tea Party took place late that November when Bostonians disguised themselves as Indians, boarded the ships, and dumped all the tea into the harbor, pissing off the British and making them question what authority, if any, they still had in the colonies and leading them to other Acts to punish Massachusetts. In time, we'd have the American Revolution.

Sounds just like today, eh?

Anyway, on a fun note: this is why Americans drink coffee and not tea.

See also the New York Times Online: Tax Day Is Met With Tea Parties. (registration required)


Brian Schuster on YouTube (Thank you, Project Mayhem!). I am doing my best to keep all my coarse jokes to myself, but Schuster does a good enough job I guess. I much prefer Rachel Maddow or Olbermann.

*Source: Out of Many: A History of the American People, Vol. 1. 5th Ed. 136-142

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Masochist Mormon

I'm just repeating myself anymore.

At times I wish for nothing more than to...not necessarily deconvert anyone (this is hardly a fun thing. I wish it on nobody), but to help someone understand. A commenter here stated not too long ago that she just wanted to understand. But I've realized something: she won't be able to. The ability to understand where I am doesn't exist for faithful, unwavering members like her, because when I'm not preaching to the choir, I'm preaching to a people who are so indoctrinated with absolute authority in fallible men and faith in circular logic that there is no way out unless something clicks despite me.

And I am here for those who are in-between because, dammit, misery loves company :D

The original intent of this blog was to show "TBMs" their way of thinking wasn't the only way. I wanted to show many liberal views are grounded in scripture and are every bit of good as the conservative views. I wanted to help the many conservative Mormons know it's possible to be something other than a neo-conservative bot and still be a faithful member in good standing (which I wanted so much to be). So much for that.

I also wanted to help people see that the world isn't in black and white and that indeed the Church didn't teach that (even though I've only one GA quote to that extent). I wanted to reconcile my own issues, and I wanted to do it in a journalistic, non-biased sort of way.

That journalistic thing (as far as keeping my own views to myself) didn't last long. That's because it was all a lie: I was just scared to voice my opinion.

After completing a post, I'd have my husband read it. He'd suck in air through his teeth and say something like "That's a strong statement."

More often than not, I'd either return to sugar coat, over-explain, or retract the statement all together. At first I thought his reactions reflected personal problems with my words, though later I'd learn he agreed with me but wasn't sure I was ready or completely aware of the possible ramifications of my words. To an extent this was true.

With time comes courage, however, and we're both gaining it. Though he, I think, wants to remain as NOMish as possible, he knows our time in the closet is limited. Our daughter is turning six next month - two more years until that magical LDS age of accountability. My husband also has three brothers and one sister who are "of age" to marry in the temple sometime in the near future (though there are no immediate prospects to our knowledge). We're looking at a home which would place us in a ward which has produced more than a few stake presidents and other stake leaders. His grandmother is in that ward, too, and it wouldn't be a surprise if someone asked us to help her get to church every week (which we'd totally do, but still).

We want the impossible and we know it. It really is saddening. I am still trying to figure out how to make it work because I do want it to work. So much.

Anyway. Back to the blog. I'm tired of all the head spinning. I'm tired of writing entries before realizing "Damn. I know exactly how this will be answered."

For example, one cannot quote from the Journal of Discourses without having someone stop by to say "But that's unauthorized."

Me: "Not unauthorized enough for the General Authorities to refrain from referencing."

Them: "Well not all of it is wrong" (or something equally annoying)

If I quote from an official letter on official letterhead from the official First Presidency something we now know or at least believe to be wrong, we hear this:

"That was just his opinion."


"That was then, this is now. We listen to our current prophet" (who haven't, by the way, recanted all of which we now consider "opinion.")

I'm so *#&^%# tired of hearing that. It's far too convenient. All of the answers are. It doesn't matter what quotes I post because my backup is never enough. No matter what I say there's an answer. Even when I explain that "I've prayed about it" or "I know in my heart this is true" I get some BS about how my prayers are somehow flawed or my personal hopes get in the way or that my testimony in the Prophet isn't complete enough. Or my portrait of the Church is but a caricature (I still disagree here) when I live in the second most populated LDS state in the nation. I'm also fed some quote (more than once) about how the Prophet won't always tell us what we want to hear or what we will agree with and so I should suck it up and be faithful.

The latter really pisses me off because Eric and I felt as if we'd had just short of a face-to-face encounter with God himself when we felt beyond impressed to have our youngest about four years ago, at exactly the same time we first had our "oh man, this church may not be true" thoughts. At the exact...well, it's more personal than I wish it was. Suffice it to say: You want to talk to me about faith and sacrifice despite personal feelings? Let's start there.

But I digress.

I'm tired of it. There's really nothing more I can say on the subject of gay marriage because the Prophet hath spoken. Doctrine or not, the general membership understands through various talks that when the Prophet speaks through official channels it is as if God Himself were speaking and we are to follow the prophet because the Lord would never permit His prophet to lead his church astray.

I could show quotes to the contrary, even in the official Sunday School manual which makes it clear, but dammit: nobody teaches this. Nobody wants to believe it. We want to believe that what the Prophet says in official settings is what God says without exception. It's so much easier to just do what we're told. To believe it's all any of our business. That, if nothing else, gay marriage is immoral to the tune of murder, pedophilia, and drug addictions. And when I throw our polygamous history back in their faces, that the government came in and legislated morality on us - on "God's Eternal Law" - and why that's different if not completely okay now, I hear "That's different. Polygamy was between men and women."


I started this blog because I tired of hearing my very smart friends and family believe and preach stupid things. At least it makes for a fun tag.

But seriously, this otherwise quiet girl wanted to speak up. In time I learned that those of us who choose to look at official words of past and present are viewed with skeptical, dismissive, and even disapproving eyes. That there's a chance for excommunication. There's no room for context. There's no room for critiquing the words of men - however well-intentioned they or we are. Everyone has an answer and very few stop to analyze their own answers because it's safer that way. I get that. I do that still.


The majority of TBMs of the Church, those with their noses brown of Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck tout their patriotism without even seeing that we exist in a microcosm which stifles (if not completely forbids) free speech and discourages dissension even to the smallest degree.

Does anyone else see the disconnect? Or has my rant completely gone off base?

Before someone tells me I'm wrong about my dissension statement, let me refer them (again) to Lesson 27 of our current Relief Society/Priesthood manual. The gateway drug to apostasy is in purportedly in the most minute of actions and thoughts.

I can't figure myself out. Why I wanted to go to church Sunday (couldn't, saw family), why I'm not totally against donating some money and time to good causes supported by the Church but only to however much we can. If I miss the temple it is only (and I cannot emphasize this enough) only because it's a beautiful peaceful place devoid of screaming children.

The problem is it's either all or nothing. If we were to attend, I'd have to deal with my children having culture preached as doctrine (or doctrine I find harmful) pounded into their heads and having otherwise well-intentioned leaders screw with their heads and hearts. But there are good things to be had for them as well. The frustration level is reaching its peak.

Though I understand it probably can't work, I can't help but try to fit this square peg in that round hole. It's what I do.

As for attempting to convince anyone of anything, I feel done today. Knowing me, I'll probably rant about it again in persuasive essay form the next time something pisses me off enough - but I need to get off the feeling of needing to convince good members they're wrong. In the end I'm just trying to convince myself I'm right which means I'm not ready to make any decision yet. Unless it's made for me, which would admittedly suck.

And one question I continually come to is this: am I too angry? To I have anything to be sorry for by way of tone? Should I just keep quiet until I figure this out to play it safe?

All I know is this will never leave me. The culture, the people, the teachings. It's been in me for nearly a decade now and we've too much family that I love and respect. This isn't going away no matter what I do, so I have to try to make it work somehow. I have to find my peace within the variables both known and unknown.

I'm just tired of hearing everyone pay far too much lip service to the idea that leaders are fallible when we are taught to act as if they are infallible.

At least when speaking officially.

Which really doesn't mean anything when one can't determine what is official anymore.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Update/Quiz...Happy Easter!

I've been thinking a lot lately (I think a lot all the time, but especially so this week). My bishop called me in, tried to make it a last minute meeting but I postponed it a week (for a few reasons). I don't think it has anything to do with my blog but rather the reasons I asked to be released from my calling as a Relief Society teacher. For some reason I told him I was having a crisis of faith, which isn't really the case anymore. I think I was afraid of telling him the truth.

At the time I didn't know how to put it all into words and he said we could talk later. It's been weeks, so I thought perhaps he forgot, but since my serial absence at church and reiteration to the RS President that not only did I not want to teach, I wasn't about to agree to be part of the Enrichment Committee I think he's decided to give me a buzz.

So we'll see how that goes. I'm more ready for it now. I don't know what to expect exactly. I'm not always the most aggressive person in a face-to-face situation or even the most assertive. I've been working on changing this. Though I like my bishop as a man, I need to be honest with him and not spare his feelings because he's a big boy and I'm not attacking him personally. Just answering questions and talking about things.

The again I wonder how necessary this meeting really is. There's really nothing to say to me right now. While I'm not preaching on the rooftops my disappointment, disagreements and anger toward all or part of the Church, I still talk about it here at least. It's not that I hate everything; in fact lately I've thought much about the good the Church has brought me. But I'm still angry and disappointed and other things I've no words for yet. Though I've need to work through this, I'm okay except for our close friends and family still being in the dark. At least as far as I know. Perhaps some do read and remain quiet.

So it'll be...interesting.

Anyway, I found this quiz over at Mild-Mannered Musings and thought I'd waste a couple minutes. The results are hardly surprising, but it was fun enough:

Your result for The what kind of Mormon are you? Test...

Sunstone Mormon

-4 Orthodoxy, 4 LDS knowledge, -5 Cultural homogeneity

Orthodoxy ranges from (-) anti-, non- and liberal Mormon, to mainstream, conservative, and fundamentalist Mormon (+).

You're on the cutting edge of LDS progressivism. You believe scholarship and change would benefit the LDS Church, but you realize that your place in Mormonism is marginal.

Take The what kind of Mormon are you? Test
at HelloQuizzy

Anyway, Happy Easter everyone! I hope you have a fabulous weekend. As for me and mine, we'll be at my grandma's house. With a ranch and all, it's good for the kids. They get lost, have fun, and leave me alone, haha.

I'm actually rather relieved it's almost over. Those Cadbury Creme Eggs will be the end of me /droooool.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Marriage is a Civil Right.

With Iowa's recent ruling the unconstitutionality of banning same-sex marriage and the upcoming elections in California and I assume elsewhere, I want to begin my arguments in support of gay marriage...again.

In this post, I will attempt to allow various definitions and whatnot to make the case for me (with some commentary of course). This is part one of a few posts I expect to write in order to make the case that same-sex marriage is indeed constitutional and the banning thereof a violation of one's civil rights, as well as another instance of the Church's misguided efforts. Readers will notice I offer backup links so they can look at the context and verify my sources themselves and that I also offer many different sources' definitions as to erase all question.

All arguments for and against my own are more than welcome. I understand some have made up their minds without intention of changing it as have I. The purpose of debates between two strongly opposing parties is to help those who haven't made up their mind or who are open to changing theirs to consider each side. While hardly a lawyer, I hope to make my case.

* * *

civil right (right or rights belonging to a person by reason of citizenship including especially the fundamental freedoms and privileges guaranteed by the 13th and 14th amendments and subsequent acts of Congress including the right to legal and social and economic equality) (WordNet Search, Princeton University)

“A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury. Examples of civil rights are freedom of speech, press, and assembly; the right to vote; freedom from involuntary servitude; and the right to equality in public places. Discrimination occurs when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because of their membership in a particular group or class. Statutes have been raised enacted to prevent discrimination based on a person’s race, sex, religion, age, previous condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin, and in some instances sexual preference.” – Cornell University, Legal Information Institute, Civil Rights.

Wikipedia offers a few definitions of Civil Rights:
1) "Civil and political rights are a class of rights ensuring things such as the protection of peoples' physical integrity; procedural fairness in law; protection from discrimination based on gender, religion, race, etc; individual freedom of belief, speech, association, and the press; and political participation."

(Remember: gender and race weren’t always part of this list. They had to be fought for, which means some believed both women and black people had no claim on certain rights, such as to own property, to be free, to vote, etc. Do we disagree with this today?)

2) "Legal rights are rights that are bestowed by nations on those within their jurisdiction; they are sometimes also called civil rights in common law jurisdictions. Contrast with natural rights or human rights, which many scholars claim that individuals have by nature of being born.

3) "Civil rights, in civil law jurisdictions, are rights or powers which can be exercised under civil law, which includes things such as the ability to contract. In civil law jurisdictions, lawsuits between private parties for things such as breach of contract or a tort are usually expressed in terms of infringement of a civil right." (emphasis added).

(Remember, marriage is a contract)

Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment of The U.S. Constitution:
"All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

The Fourteenth Amendment has been used to argue for many rights, including marriage rights such as in interracial marriage. We must remember, for a time the definition of "marriage" either directly or indirectly included "between two members of the same race." Interracial marriage went against the generally accepted notion of what was not only moral but natural and God ordained. If this wasn't so, there would be no need for various court cases including California's 1948 case Perez v. Sharp and the U.S. Supreme Court's 1967 case Loving v. Virginia. Both of which concluded that marriage is a right.

And finally:

Declaration of Independence:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

(Isn’t marriage part of pursuit of happiness for those who pursue it?)

Not all rights we recognize and enjoy today have always existed. We've had to fight against racism and sexism to assert the equality our Constitution rightly demands. It is not in our interest to judge others who wish to pursue their own happiness, a happiness most recognize as selfless and beneficial to both those involved and those not involved. It's God's job to judge. According to many, there are heterosexual marriages of which God will not recognize, but we allow it because we believe straight sex to be "moral" - but only in the bonds of marriage.

And this, everyone, is what kills me.

First we tell everyone sex outside marriage is unacceptable to God and provokes his wrath. We essentially give everyone this choice: be celibate outside of marriage or go to hell. We tell everyone if they’re gay they can’t marry one of their same sex - but they can marry someone of the opposite sex (so very respectful to the poor straight partner, whether or not he/she is aware).

If anyone has ever been compelled to pretend to be something they're not for fear of invoking the wrath of those with authority over them (parents, teachers, a church), they will understand the horrendousness of such a suggestion to be straight when one is gay.

So now that we've ensured gay people cannot marry one another, if they have sex, they’ve not just the sin of homosexual sex on their hands but fornication as well. We’ve dug that grave deeper for them, taking their freedom of agency from them, first by telling them they cannot marry and then by saying because they're not married they can't have sex.

(By the way, nobody has ever said any Church would be forced by law to sanction such unions. If need be, I can dig up the specific wording of both the May 15, 2008 California ruling and the most recent Iowa ruling.)

Before we demand lifelong celibacy out of anyone, I suggest we consider what it would be like for us - and this doesn't just include marriage but dating, too and anything which we believe God would consider sinful or lustful outside marriage. And we've quite a list of "no-no's" which even the most faithful have difficulty following. Because we don't want to be alone, and even God has said it is not good for man to be alone.

So why marriage?

Marriage provides stability (for children). Marriage provides security (for children). Marriage forces us to act like adults and commit. It does not point a gun to anyone's head to force anyone to accept it, God especially. Not everyone who marries is religious anyway.

The fact is we all have our own beliefs and we all teach our children those beliefs despite the world who may or may not fight against them. But this is no theocracy. I cannot say that enough, and that is why so many like me reject with zeal and with even patriotism that no religion's beliefs should even try to impede on non-member's lives. And that is what this is all about.

Many straight couples/individuals today engage in behavior which I would consider detrimental to the family unit, yet we don't fight against them because it is their right to do so and my right to avoid them and their behavior. That makes the "it's moral" argument incomplete. If we're so concerned, we ought to legislate against all couples who, in our eyes, morally threaten the sanctity of marriage/the family regardless of sexual orientation.

Fear of marriage is unfounded. Fear of having any religion led by men dictate our laws and what constitutes a right is totally founded (I don't care if he's the Prophet, he's still a man).

The Church was wrong about blacks and interracial marriage and expressed racist statements in official settings which lend to the impression of divine authority and blessing. Later they argued their beliefs were merely due to the times and culture of which they grew up and belonged in, and further that they were working with limited knowledge. Fair enough - but they can be and I believe are wrong regarding gay marriage today in much the same fashion.

Friday, April 3, 2009

How Racism was Created in America*

The following is something I recently learned in my US History class (that's right - all new) and I found it worth sharing. At first I posted this as a pretext to upcoming posts on racism in the Church, but after spending all day on such posts I found myself exhausted and decidedly unfulfilled. There's no point to it.

But this - how racism was created in America - this is interesting.

I had no idea slavery had zero to do with skin color in the beginning. No idea. In fact, it seems slavery in America created racism.

Servants and slaves alike haven't always been black. In fact, the word "slave" is derived from "Slavic." Wikipedia states, "So many Slavs were enslaved for so many centuries that the very name 'slave' derived from their name, not only in English, but in other European languages and in Arabic." To avoid confusion and perhaps to state the obvious, Slavs are not black.

It is also important to note that with Europeans, the terms "white" and "black" didn't exist. "White" people were generally referred to as "Englishmen" or "Christian" and blacks simply as "Negroes."

From the beginning the folks in Jamestown, Virginia used white indentured servants from England. Not slaves - servants. Though twenty Africans came in 1619 to serve as slaves, they were cost prohibitive and as King James needed land for the flourishing wool industry, he kicked many peasants from their homes. With nowhere else to go, these men contracted with landowners in Virginia. The landowners would pay their way to America, and in exchange the men would work as indentured servants for a specific amount of time. These men were generally 18-22 year old males (some females), uneducated and unskilled. You could say they didn't have much of a choice.

Here's the problem: Most who came to work in Virginia died within two years. The high turnover rate really put a dent in things after some time - not to mention the contracts. There was no permanence. These servants, if survived, were free men after 5-7 years. Many question why American Indians weren't "utilized," but the decimation of their population due to warfare and the Spanish and European introduction of smallpox and other diseases rendered that option impractical. There simply weren't enough Native Americans to fill the Europeans needs, and after a while the number European indentured servants coming to the New World also failed to fulfill the need.

So what would the English do? They had tobacco crops and later sugar crops which required much labor. Answer: African slaves.

But why Africans? Here are a few reasons why:

1) Location - the proximity of Africa to both England and the Americas;
2) A pre-existing slavery system in Africa.

African nations were constantly at war with one another. They settled debts by agreeing to become slaves for a pre-determined time. Here's the kicker: Arab slave traders crossed the Sahara, attacked villagers, enslaved them, and took them back to Arabia. The Arab presence near the ports where the English would come and "purchase" slaves did the African people no favors here. Remember: Christians v. Arabs (The Crusades) - which leads us to the main reason:

3) Religion. Christians would not enslave fellow Christians. By now the Pope had declared it immoral to do so - and Africans weren't Christian. And again, the Arab presence didn't help.

Initially the African people worked alongside the white servants, and this is what they were considered: Servants. Many English and African servants slept, worked, ate, even had sex together.

Outnumbered, the plantation owners soon worried about rebellion and enacted a device we know as "Divide and Conquer” – by skin color.

Owners separated their servants thusly for a few reasons: First, it was the only difference between the two. Second, white servants outnumbered the blacks at this time - so if the whites combined together with the owners, they could overwhelm the black servants, thereby decreasing any chance for victorious rebellion.

Between the 1660s and 1680s things really began to change regarding the treatment of the African people. The government permitted owners to beat their slaves, to threaten them with their lives. In the 1640s a law passed stating Africans could be sold as servants (not slaves) for life, taking care of the permanence and cost-effectiveness problem. By the 1660s, it was legal to purchase slaves outright. By 1667, the law declared it irrelevant if the slave/servant had converted to Christianity despite the Pope. A 1669 law absolved any slave owner from a felony should they kill their slave. In 1680 it became illegal for any African, bond or free, to strike a “Christian.”

Skin color becomes associated with slavery.

But the issue of interracial unions and their children still existed. Out of Many states "A 1691 act for 'prevention of that abominable mixture and spurious issue which hereafter may encrease in this domination' established severe penalties for interracial sexual relationships. Such penalties were rarely applied to masters who had sexual relations with their slave women. Because by law the children of slave mothers were born into bondage."

Basically the status of the child hinged on the status of the mother - down to 1/32 black - a drop.**

But there's a problem: there were black men having children with white women. How did the law answer this? By miscegenation laws which made it illegal for a white woman to be with a black man. This is the reason such unions are still frowned upon today. It follows us even three hundred years later.

And by the 1700s, racism is the norm.

*Source: Out of Many: A History of the American People, Vol. 1. 5th ed. Faragher, Buhle, Czitrom, Armitage.

** This is, by the way, also why biracial people like President Barack Obama are considered black.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Riddle Me This

* Hat tip to Myriad Mormon Musings for bringing this question to mind some time ago. I don't think she meant to, but the comments section led to it.

If polygamy is abominable to God except for when he deems it absolutely necessary ("For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people" Jacob 2:30) or when he wants to prove us ("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" D&C 132:51)

Why does the church practice/believe in celestial polygamy?

What would be the purpose?

Surely the standard answers we give here would not apply in heaven - or am I missing something? I've gone over this and I can't see it.