Thursday, August 26, 2010

How Many Ways Can We Think of To Put Down Utah/the LDS Church?

Just in case you missed one. Here.

What other things can you think of that are SO MUCH WORSE in Utah?

I just hate the way Mormons grow their trees. Why so many treeless parks? Seriously! If they really were the true church, they'd have been contributing more to the ozone layer decades ago. Just goes to show how much that "revelation" is worth.

And Utah's enterprising LDS/Republican heritage has obviously led them to capitalize on the high demand for weed. They're so depressed and fat, obviously they need to self-medicate somehow!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Value of a Woman

I am a mother who has worked outside of the home by necessity. Part of me has resented the fact that I've not had a choice. As I look at the current climate of women's issues, an intriguing thought occurred to me.

Historically, there has been an undeniable lacuna between the value of a man and the value of the woman. Men have been valued by how robust they are, by how much money and how many decisions they can make. Women have been valued by their domestic skills, taking care of others. By their very natures, both have ideally been about putting others needs above their own, but for men that means being assertive, even aggressive to protect the interests of his family, for women it means being passive, yielding and gentle. For ease of reference, I'll call the stereotypical male values as "hard" and the stereotypical female values as "soft".

Over the course of time, intelligent women have looked around and noticed that soft values allowed those more "assertive" to take advantage of them, leading to abuse. Whenever someone is of a giving nature, there is always someone else waiting to push the boundaries of that giving, to strip as much advantage out of it as possible. So, those intelligent women saw a need to become more assertive, to adopt the harder qualities and prove that they, too, could be hard.

As a result, they have elevated the worth of those values even further. By looking at the difference in perceived value, and deciding that in order to become more valued, they must adopt hard qualities, they have essentially bought into the myth that the hard qualities are of more value than the soft ones. In a way of speaking stereotypically, women have sought value by becoming more like men.

I think this is addresses the symptoms of the problem, and ignores the real problem, which is that historically speaking, women do not feel valued.

Interestingly, the gospel teaches us the exact opposite: that the softer qualities are more valuable.

We see in scripture, however, that there are times which softer qualities are in danger of being completely wiped out by those willing to take advantage of them. In such cases, it is appropriate to take a stand. In other words, when abuse threatens, those harder qualities of assertiveness and even aggression have value.

So my thoughts are summed up like this: I think that women (and men) will be more benefited by lifting the value of softer qualities, rather than continuing to support the value of the harder ones. Let submission be seen as praiseworthy, let avoidance of the limelight be valued. Let those who sacrifice their own interests to clean house, take care of kids, serve in the community behind the scenes, be honored equally with those who gain educational achievements or business success.

The trick is knowing how to do it without being condescending. They have to be honored with more than lip service.

And, of course, by honoring those values loudly and publicly, perhaps their worth would be compromised.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Covenant of Charity: Mourning With Those Who Mourn

Last week, part of our Sunday School lesson addressed being cheerful and happy. It quickly became clear that most people subscribed to the "fake it 'til you make it" theory of life.

This didn't sit quite right with me, perhaps because despite being a naturally cheerful person and inclined to look on the bright side, I've not been particularly cheerful over a big chunk of my life.

As I was sitting there, pondering over this concept, the baptismal covenant found in Mosiah came to my mind.
". . . as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing . . . to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death . . . what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him . . . ?
As I thought of these words, I experienced an enlightenment.

Charity is not dispensing something from a heightened position. It is getting down in the trenches. That is why it is the "pure love of Christ". And that is partly why the Atonement had to happen.

By atoning the way He did, Christ demonstrated that He would get down in the dirt and grime with us. He showed that even though it was not His actions that brought about mortality, He would suffer it with us. He is not a God of dictum from on high, He is a God of the trenches.

I always knew that, I just needed to be reminded. And the question came to me, who needed me to get down in the trenches with them, "that [Christ] may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon [me]?"

Sure, the gospel is not a gospel of sad faces and flashy weeping and wailing. It is certainly important to be of cheerful countenance in the right times and right places. But it is also a gospel of mourning with a person who needs you, of being genuine and empathetic.

That is charity.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Religious Bully?

Interestingly, the court in a recent court case in Utah ruled against privately-erected memorials for deceased highway troopers shaped like crosses, saying that they connoted an endorsement of Christianity.

I find it interesting because the predominant religion in Utah, although Christian, does not use the cross to symbolize its religion, and by telling private parties that they can't use certain symbols when erecting memorials, the state is interfering in church. From what I understand of history, the point of "separation of Church and State" was not to keep any person from mentioning religion, but to keep the government from subsidizing a particular religion preferentially. The only ways that would cause a problem is if someone desired to erect a memorial for a state trooper in another religion's symbol for death and was refused, or if the government was somehow paying to have a religion promoted.

To me, this is clearly a case of drawing boundaries around the law which interfere with other core legal principles. By refusing the right to put up memorials with any sort of historically religious connotations, the government is controlling a party's right to religion. But I'm neither a lawyer, nor a historian.

I also find this interesting because I have lately come to realize that fears have become a part of my life which could potentially cause the very things I fear.

By being so afraid of any tint of religion in government, we are giving the government a religion: atheism. Shouldn't the point be to celebrate/tolerate all religions which do not interfere with life, liberty or property, not forbid them? Isn't the point to keep the state from becoming a religious bully?

Odd that the Founding Fathers' attempts to prevent religious bullying are now being used to create it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Five Selfish Virgins

"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.

Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."

Matthew 1

When I was a little girl, I had a bookmark like the picture above. I remember studying it for hours, along with the description on the back by the artist, Gayla Prince, during various Church meetings.

It wasn't until lately that I began to understand the parable of the ten virgins in a different way. Now I understand better the pain that both sides must have felt. Now I see that the parable is not one of five who are righteous and five who are wicked, but about ten righteous people, five of whom believed they understood and could control their circumstances. It wasn't just a matter of not being prepared, it was a matter of feeling that someone else would solve their problems for them.

I am naturally inclined to what I've come to call a "Savior complex" in that I attempt to save everyone. I want everyone to be happy and enjoy blessings. In the past, I have been willing to neglect my own salvation in favor of others, feeling that I was selfish or self-centered for not focusing on others' comfort. Yet, I have since been strongly taught by the Spirit that it is not my place to try to save others.

That place belongs to Christ and Him alone.

It is a nuanced form of pride to believe that I can stand in His place, replace His work in others' lives. I don't yet know entirely what my place is in His kingdom, but I know that "Savior" is not it. The wise virgins cannot save their companions, no matter how much they might wish to. The relationships between Christ and each of His disciples is His responsibility and the individual's.

And unfortunately, that means that those who believe in Him without being willing to do what is necessary to be with Him may not be recognized by Him when the time comes. The five who were wise were not only wise because they were prepared, they were wise because they knew they could not give others salvation.

"Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost . . . ."
Moses 4

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Gay Marriage?

I recognize that some are going to want to attack me for these thoughts because they don't agree with them. Before you do so, know that such aggressive behavior has already done more to hurt your cause than help it.

I'm not entirely at peace with either side of the gay marriage debate. What I do know for certain is that I don't want anyone unable to live without physical or undue emotional harm because of their moral decisions unless those moral decisions directly hurt another person's ability to live without physical or undue emotional harm. Hurting someone in any way just because they don't agree with you is inexcusable.

This is rambling, because rambling is exactly how I feel about this issue. I can see good and bad to both sides of the argument. Originally, I supported legalizing gay marriage. But, as I've listened to the debate, the pro-gay-marriage side has made me a lot more hesitant to support it. Their arguments for gay marriage have done more to frighten me about the possible ramifications than the arguments against have convinced me.

"Sexual orientation is not what I do, it's what I am. Either accept what I do, or you are rejecting me, and are my enemy."
For me, sexual orientation IS a choice. I choose as a woman, not only to be attracted to men, but to be attracted to a certain type of man. For me, having sex is even more of a choice. Sometimes it is a more difficult choice than other times, but it is always a choice.

I believe sin is anything that turns us away from God and His purposes. I believe homosexuality is a sin. So is extra-marital sex between a man and a woman. So is incest. So is sex with a minor. The last two are punishable by law, the first two are not. If I suspect the latter two, I'm going to get involved. The former two, I am not. I'm not going to avoid anyone just because they don't agree with me. I am going to avoid people who tell me I either have to agree with them, or I'm their enemy. That gets scary, and reeks of fanaticism.

As much as some people would like to make it so, this is not a simple decision between being homophobic or accepting homosexuality. Homosexuality is ALREADY tolerated by the majority of people, even if they don't like it or agree with it. There are shades of gray between toleration and condoning.

"Marriage is a right. You are denying us our basic rights."
Marriage is not a right. It has nothing to do with basic survival. I don't have the right to marry whomever I want. I have no right to marry a family member or a minor. I don't have the right to marry multiple people. Marriage by law is a privilege. Some think it is a privilege that should be extended to same-sex couples, some do not. Some think it is a privilege that should be revoked entirely.

"If you don't let us marry, it is because you hate us."
Sometimes I don't give my children what they want because I love them, and I think that what they want will hurt them.

I have made many decisions that were unpleasant for both me and the other person because I loved them. I choose to see homosexuals as more than just their homosexuality. I see the person, not just the orientation.

"People should be allowed to do what they want to do. It's not hurting anyone else."
There are some moral decisions that are not compatible with society. That is a given. That is what law is for. Whether or not gay relationships should be sanctioned by society, whether or not each individual believes them to be compatible with living in a society, is the issue. It is not just a matter of allowing gay relationships, it is a matter of believing whether or not it is something that government funds and support should be given to the same way as heterosexual relationships wherein future citizens, children of both parties, could potentially be given life. It's also a matter of convincing the general populace that it really won't hurt anyone else.

Marriage is not an island. It affects law and society in a myriad of ways that can't all be foreseen. Any great societal change should be done with caution. In order to change how marriage is done in society, we should be careful. The burden of proof always rests on those who agitate for change of any kind.

I believe that children benefit by having a good role model of each gender. I don't think that having two parents of the same gender immediately harms a child. But if I had a choice between two sets of equally great parents, one gay and one heterosexual, I think there is an advantage in a child having access to both gender role models. I reject the notion that the male and female genders are the same. I think that biology gives each uniquely different ways of coping with the world that are often strengthened by cultural bias (at times strengthened too much). But I still believe there are differences in general, though they vary from individual to individual. I believe they are differences that can complement each other as a parental unit seeks to teach a child ways to cope with the world.

"This is no different from segregation."
The civil rights movement came after a majority had already voted in favor of emancipation, after a war was fought over it. Some people were disobeying law that had already been decided by the majority and the outcome of the war. So far, the majority has decided against (not for) gay marriage, so far, the war is not yet won by either side. At this time, the analogy is not a good one.

Once the legislative body creates a law requiring the extension of marriage to gay couples, until gays are forcefully kept from drinking at certain water fountains, patronizing certain public establishments and sitting in certain seats, the analogy does not hold up. If that does happen, there should certainly be steps taken to punish those who instigate it. That is unequivocal in my mind.

"You can't use your religion to vote."
You have no right to tell me what can and cannot factor into my voting decisions. I have every right to let my religion affect my votes, just as you have a right to let your sexuality affect yours. More than anything, this argument irritates me the most and makes me want to vote against merely to prove I can. It is my vote for a reason, not yours.

All of these rantings make me nervous that those who want to marry are not truly trying to help gays or society in general so much as they are wanting to win. It feels like they think that all who disagree with them are closed-minded bigots, and they just want to crack their heads open both figuratively and literally. Their goal seems to primarily be to force others to agree with them, not to win something tangible for themselves. It is almost like the marriage itself has become a side note.

And an actual quote:
"We hope you’ll change. You might not, but we hope you and the church will. This is why we insist on calling your stance homophobic and bigoted, so that you don’t feel comfortable about your positions."
Which sums up perfectly what I mean by this post. This openly admits an attempt to manipulate through shame, to control another person's behavior. While I understand the same can be said in the other direction, that still makes me suspect the motives. I don't call you names, please try to extend the same courtesy to those who are genuinely trying to understand.

I know a lot of people have been hurt because of things that other people have done to them, and want to lash out. Understandable, but not reassuring. Not calculated to persuade me to change my mind back to what it was.

I hurt most of all for those who are caught up in the crossfire: those who are truly wanting to follow God's will, but struggle with feeling inadequate or intrinsically deficient. I know how that feels, and I'd not wish it on anyone, no matter why you feel that way. I wish we could all have a good cry on each others' shoulders.

So I've saved for last what I think is the most important part of this whole debate. Know that even though I'm confused and conflicted about the various points, and I definitely don't understand all the ins and outs and possible ramifications of one decision or the other, even though I most definitely do not agree with certain tactics and attitudes on both sides of the fence, there is One who knows and understands it all. It doesn't matter who you are, He understands you and loves you. He wants your eternal joy, not just your immediate happiness. It doesn't matter if I ever fully understand how you are feeling, because He does.

And that is all that really matters, in the end.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Leave Utah Alone

This is not a spiritually uplifting post. This is a rant.

I wish all you non-Utahns, especially, would quit knocking Utah like you know something about it. I grew up in the military. I've lived tons of places, mostly outside of Utah.

And I can testify right here and now that, while Utah culture has its quirks, they are no worse or better than any other place. So leave it alone, already!


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