Heretics

I listen to a lot of podcasts on my commute. The Heretics episode of This American Life hit close to home this week. I’ve been grappling with my faith now for a while, and there’s so much other stuff going on in my life right now that I keep pushing it into the background. But, this episode, about a Pentecostal minister who no longer believes in Hell and how his personal religious transformation affected those around him and his congregation, has been keeping me thinking.\
I am a heretic now. I’ve been one in a lot of little ways for a while, but certainly not publicly, and not in any serious way. But now? I’m sure I’ve crossed the line, and I’m not sure what that means exactly. Unfortunately, right now, I don’t have time to figure it all out. But you should go listen to the show. It’s a good one.

Join the Impact: We Marched in Jacksonville!

jen holding her 'this mormon is for gay rights' poster

The rest of the pics are here. Unlike most other events I attend, I spent more time “present” than taking pictures. The stories from committed couples, many of whom have been together for decades, were both inspiring and heart-breaking.\
To me, this isn’t about whether or not homosexuality is right or wrong, it’s about allowing people to pursue their happiness, a right this country was founded on. Their love is no threat to my marriage or anyone else’s. These people are our neighbors, relatives, friends and fellow citizens. They deserve to share their lives and enjoy the same rights that married heterosexual couples enjoy. They deserve the public recognition of their love that I enjoy with Jen.\
The rest of the arguments are cover for something else, whether it’s ignorance, hate or some other motive, it doesn’t matter. Treating people as something less than full members of society for who they love is wrong.\
I’m really glad we went, and I’m so proud of Jen for getting up in front of a bunch of strangers and telling them how sorry she was for how our church has treated them by supporting Prop 8 in California, Prop 2 in Florida and the measures in Arkansas and Arizona. This won’t be the last time we protest, I’m sure. I’m just hoping we can march in Savannah next time.

Good Gnews from Gary Gnu.

1. The broken pipe isn’t actually going into the house in Va, so yay! They won’t have to tear up the house to fix the problem. This means the estimate was a lot higher than the actual bill will be. Phew. “Tonight we eat like the lower middle class to which we aspire.”\
2. Speaking of food, our grocery store finally got in some decent-looking strawberries. I don’t think I have seen any since we’ve moved here. They’re usually bruised and old looking, ewww. Even though these ones were more expensive than usual I bought them, because- yum- strawberries! Double, yay. Max then ate them ALL at breakfast the following day. I guess he was missing out on the strawberries too.\
3. The house we’re renting is for sale (as you long-time readers will know), making our situation here unstable. But! There have already been a couple of offers from people wanting to keep us as tenants, so triple yay. I am guessing at this point that the bank would rather take one of these bids than foreclose, but I don’t actually know the dollar amounts involved, so homelessness is still a possibility.\
4. Every once in a long while, Kevin will be sort of grumpy for a few days, only I won’t really notice it until he is suddenly in a good mood. Well, the same thing happened to me! After being a complete cranky-queen on wheels for the last month, I surprised myself by singing along to a commercial on the tv. (Me being in a bad mood isn’t all that unusual, just that I was surprised to find myself not in one.)\
5. In a PMS-fueled rage, I cleaned the house last night and it was awesome. I couldn’t sit still long enough to fold laundry, but I did scrub and mop and sweep and wipe, etc, etc. I guess PMS is good for something. Then I sacked out on the couch with the brownies I had made earlier in the day and watched some bad tv. What’s up with this lame season? (Oh wait, this is an all good gnews post, so never mind about that.)\
6. I have been a member of the LDS Church my entire adult life and almost half of my total life. It has been great, fulfilling, enlightening, fun, and has helped me grow spiritually, emotionally, and socially. I have had some of the most amazing experiences that are directly linked to the church and the gospel. I am forever grateful for the opportunity I had to meet Kevin, marry him in the LDS Temple, and become part of the Lawver family.\
While I disagree with the church’s support of Prop 8, I don’t have bad feelings for the church, the leaders, or its members. I have not written ill of the church, except to express my disagreement on this one issue, and don’t plan on it.\
So, there is this guy who started a website and wrote a really rational petition to the leaders of the church from members asking for the withdrawal of the church’s support of Prop 8. As for how he went about getting his message out there? I in no way sanction that or anything else about him. All I know is that I agree with the petition, believe that gays should have equal rights to marriage, adoption, government benefits, et al.

I just spent $80 filling up my gas tank

More from me-\
I get that the LDS church wants to silence dissents, but this guy isn’t speaking out about church doctrine. The petition states: We affirm the LDS Church’s right to define doctrine and policy for its own members. So, let the church proclaim all it wants about whatever. Let the church dictate the actions of its members, bestowing religious privileges only upon whom they see fit. But when it comes to denying civil rights to others? I just can’t support that all. Doctrine and Covenants 134:9 states, “We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government…” So, yea. There ya go.\
See the petition here: Signing for Something.

Not Again… Love Thy Neighbor

Here we go again. My Church has come out again and said two different things, and it’s driving me crazy. On the one hand, the church released a statement saying that the church is neutral in political elections but encourages members to participate in the process. On the other, they come out in favor of bigoted legislation that narrowly defines marriage in order to exclude other people from the legal rights we enjoy.\
Why? What’s the point? Just like in 2006 when the constitutional amendment was in front of the US Senate, this is an election year ploy meant to drive evangelicals to the polls to hate on some gay people. That’s all. There’s nothing moral or ethical about it. It’s hateful election year tricks meant to build up people by tearing others down.\
I can’t stand it. We didn’t go to church for almost two years after the last time a letter like that was read from the pulpit, and now people are being threatened with excommunication for being against Prop 8. Why does this have to come back up now just when we’re going back to Church and although I adamantly don’t agree with the Church’s position, we’re attending again.\
So, if this gets me excommunicated for thinking for myself, fine. I’m all for gay marriage. It has not effect on my marriage. I don’t think homosexuality is a choice. I don’t think we, as Christians, should be persecuting anyone for things they can not change about themselves or judge them. I know enough gay and lesbian couples to know that they love each other in the truest sense of the word and denying that love, pretending it doesn’t exist because it doesn’t fit into our small definition of it is wrong and un-Christlike.\
It was only a hundred years ago that Mormons were persecuted for our unpopular ideas about marriage. For us, even after all these years, to persecute others (and make no mistake, that’s exactly what’s going on) is hypocrisy plain and simple. It’s hate, bigotry and the worst part of ourselves, and I’ll have no part of it.\
bq. Thus did Alma teach his people, that every man should love his neighbor as himself, that there should be no contention among them. — Mosiah 23:15\
Marginalizing people is not love. It’s contention for political ends, a cheap trick to rile people up and get them to the polls – nothing more.\
Update: I’ve been thinking about this pretty much all last night and this morning, and a single phrase keeps coming back to me from The Declaration of Independence (emphasis mine):\
bq. 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.\
Throughout our history, we’ve not done a very good job of living up to the ideals laid down in our founding document (the one that kicked off our struggle for independence). Whether it was slavery, segregation, women’s rights, internment or meddling in other countries’ affairs, we’ve obviously still got some work to do to fulfill those ideals. I can’t stomach the idea that we’d take a step backwards by denying our fellow citizens’ “pursuit of happiness” and liberty just because we don’t agree with it. The divorce rate is over 50% and has been for years. It seems we have some work to do on our own marriages (one might say we have a “beam in our eye”) before we go meddling with others’. I don’t know why people think this will “save” marriage. If we spent as much time worrying about our own marriages as we did about denying the rights of others to marry, we’d probably all be a lot happier.\
And that’s what this is about for me – happiness. I can’t judge someone else and deny them their pursuit of happiness. Gay couples being allowed to marry doesn’t infringe on my rights or anyone else’s. It doesn’t somehow degrade my marriage – only I can do that. It doesn’t make me any less married or any less in love with my wife. It brings happiness to the world and to the people who are finally able to enter into that covenant with the person they love, and I’m all for it. Mazel tov.

Raising Cain

I’ve been telling everyone I know about The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard. It’s a modern-day Walden and full of dense, lyrical, beautiful prose about living in Southern Virginia and contemplating nature. It’s as much about how we observe life and participate in it, and there’s one paragraph that makes my heart sing every time I read it (emphasis mine):

Thomas Merton wrote, “There is always a temptation to diddle around in the comtemplative life, making itsy-bitsy statues.” There is always an enormous temptation in all of life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end. It is so self-conscious, so apparently moral, simply to step aside from the gaps where the creeks and winds pour down, saying I never merited this grace, quite rightly, and then sulk along the rest of your days on the edge of rage. I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; we are raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.

With one paragraph, she eviscerates complacency and sloth. Whenever I read it, I want to go looking for windmills to tilt at and giants to slay.