Things That Make Me Sad

It starts with Big Love, continued with Penn & Teller last week, and Dooce seals it. I’m not sad about those three things, but what those three things each have made me think and feel. I would have written about all of these seperately, but I’ve been working eleven to twelve hour days for the past week and just haven’t had time to even think about this for more than a few minutes. Let’s see if I can get through this.\
I really like Big Love. I think it’s funny, engaging, and the little hints of life in Utah make me giggle. I like that the show has done a good job of showing that the compound (whatever they call themselves, I forget) are not part of the church, especially in the episode with the reporter where Roman talks about the end of polygamy and where they split from the LDS church. I love that the Mormon girl who works at the restaurant is sweet and caring, even if she is a little too prudish. That she went to pick up her friend made me happy. So, overall, I dig the show. I can’t wait to see where it goes. Why does it make me sad? It makes me sad because the Church, and a lot of members of the Church have thrown a hissy about it. It’s a TV show set in Utah. When was the last time that happened? These kinds of people actually exist in Utah, Idaho and Northern Arizona. Denying that these groups exist is dishonest. The show has made pretty clear that they’re not part of the LDS church anymore on more than one occasion. Hell, no one making a stink has probably even watched the show (because HBO is evil, ya know) to judge for themselves.\
Next, I love Penn & Teller: Bullshit. I don’t agree with them a lot of the times, but they’re funny, and I respect the funny. Their last episode was about the Boy Scouts and how they exclude atheists and homosexuals. I was a scout, both of my brothers were scouts. My dad was on the cover of Boy’s Life when he was a scout. All four of us are Eagles. Jen posted earlier about it, but I’ll repeat it. At the end of the show, they did this bit about how they were starting their own club, and no Mormons could join since Mormons already had their exclusive club. It was funny, but it hit me like a punch in the face. I’m disgusted by our unwillingness as a religion and as a culture to accept those who are different. Why can’t we embrace those who’ve already been marginalized by society? We are all children of God, and should all be treated with respect. If someone wants to be a Boy Scout, and is willing to be a part of the troop, why not let him in? Why close the door on what could be a great opportunity for both the scout and the troop to learn from each other?\
And Dooce… I love Dooce too. She writes the funniest blog on the planet and her stuff about living in Utah is priceless. Her latest post was about a book she saw at the checkout line called The Second Coming: How Awesome Will It Be?, written by some guy who’s obviously very Mormon. I don’t care about the book, or the stream of mocking comments (some of which were damn funny). What I care about is that Utah Mormons and their culture reflects poorly on me and my religion.\
OK, more and more, my religion reflects poorly on me. The older I get, and the more people I meet, the more befuddled I get about my place in my religion. The more experiences I have and the more places I go, I look back and see a great religion being swung to the right by a culture that’s embraced everything that’s wrong in American religious thinking. They’ve joined the Christian Right, which appalls me. The Christian Right comes from the same source as Governor Bogg’s extermination order (if you don’t know, it was an order written by Governor Boggs that made it legal to kill Mormons), and from the same source that hunted Mormons across the country from New York to Nauvoo, and now we’re embracing it?\
I am tired of holding my tongue whenever the topic of homosexuality, politics or life outside the church comes up. I’m tired of feeling so alone in Priesthood when the approving nods start about how morally corrupt everyone on the outside is. I’m tired of gettiing those looks when I do open my mouth and remind them that the New Testament exists and that Christ embraced the sinners and forgave them, that we don’t get to judge people, that we were once the ones who were persecuted, that the same political groups they’re now supporting are led by some of the most virulent anti-Mormons on the planet (Hellooooo, Dr. Dobson and Mr. Falwell).\
I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t know if I’m wrong and at some point this will all go away and I’ll feel comfortable at church again, or if I’ll go away for good and stop being Mormon. I don’t know what that would mean, for me or my family. I’ll let you know…

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BS

Penn&Teller broke Kevin’s heart a little bit last night when they said he couldn’t join their club. Awwww. 🙁 Their latest show was on The Boy Scouts of America and how they discriminate against homosexuals and atheists, yet still receive government money, ever since the Mormon church got involved. Shame on the BSA! Pick a side and stick with it! Either you are a public group that allows anyone to be a member (and receives government money) or you are a private group that can make membership selective (and does not receive government money).\
Speaking of homosexuals, I was lurking at TWoP and saw a funny post. A woman saw a commercial for Big Love, an HBO show about polygamy set in Utah, where one of the wives got into a screaming match about praying for souls with two guys on bikes. The poster thought the two guys were gay. Hee. Someone else from TWoP explained that they weren’t gay, just missionaries.

Eh, whatever.

It’s interesting to read the various reactions about Big Love, especially from LDS members. Some believe that polygamy will be re-instituted on earth at some point and others don’t, some think there will be polygamy in the next life and others don’t. Honestly, there is much I don’t know about how things will shake out. Someone posted this philosophy, “The Mormon perspective, at least, tends to be, ‘Eh, we’ll work out the details in the next life.’ ;)” at TWoP. I laughed when I read that but that is kinda how I feel. Except that I am absolutely positive that whatever happens will be my choice; I won’t be forced into anything. So, either way, the thought doesn’t bother me at all.

Not so scandalous really

Big Love was really sad I thought. More than I was expecting, even though I knew it was about a dysfunctional family (cuz it is on HBO afterall). Like how Barb couldn’t even go comfort her husband of 17 years, for fear of stirring up jealousy. Eh, that’s rough.\
My biggest question is how/why do they refer to themselves as “sealed for eternity” when they aren’t going to any church? (They aren’t just inactive, they actively left their old church.) That is a religious ceremony that requires actually participating in church throughout this life to recieve its benefits in the next life. Oh, and Marj was wearing a sleeveless shirt? I don’t think so! Ha. I am so going to end up being one of those annoying military or doctor guys who can’t watch a show about the military or medicine because they keep nitpicking about the errors.\
I feel much empathy for Marj’s character. Taking care of babies is hard. But Barb and Nicky have much older children and it is really unfair to Marj that she compares herself to them at this time (but totally natural at the same time). They were probably both overwhelmed and tired when their kids were that little too. But since Marj is in the middle of the muck, she can’t think straight. In a few years, she’ll realize it and feel better about herself. Maybe just in time to help the 4th wife, heh.\
I am looking forward to having more of the backstory filled in, like why did Bill and Nicky get married if Barb and Nicky didn’t get along? I wonder how they bought all three houses- did they just overpay for the neighboring houses to entice the owners to sell?\
It irritates me that Bill is driving a new and expensive SUV all while complaining about money issues. Get a cheap, old Ford, dumbhead!\
I can’t comment on the impotence issue, because I have no personal experience with that. Nor have I personally dealt with the extreme off-shoots of the church. But I still maintain that any type of marriage between consenting adults should be legal (except for relatives, because of the likelihood of genetic problems with their offspring,). It is the welfare fraud, sexual, and physical abuse that should be eradicated, not the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms.\
So, what did you guys think?

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Things Guys Don’t Do

Guys don’t do grief. We don’t handle empathy real well either. Guys are supposed to be “tough”, like ducks, and let all of our troubles (and everyone else’s) roll of our back with a shrug of our mighty shoulders.\
All this stupid manliness gets in the way of us connecting to those around us, those who might need us. A friend lost a child yesterday, and I don’t know how I would react to that. I don’t know what to say, or how to act. Whenever I try to imagine what he’s feeling, I can’t. It all breaks down. I can’t imagine losing anyone, Max, Brian or Jen. I’ve never really lost a family member that I was really close to before, and I’ve been spared that kind of grief so far, and for that, right now, I feel kind of guilty.\
I don’t have much faith left, but what I do applies here:

  • I believe in a place where we can live with God again.
  • I believe all children are born innocent.
  • I believe all children who are taken before their time are instantly given the highest levels of glory, because they didn’t get a chance to prove they deserved otherwise.
  • I believe that I have no idea what it’s like to be a grieving parent, because every time I try to imagine it, I can’t.
  • I believe that we will all be reunited with the ones we love after we die, and that any pain we feel in this life is temporary if we have a long enough view.
  • I believe finding that long view is the second most difficult thing we have to do while on this planet.
  • I believe the hardest thing to do is develop charity – charity being true empathy, being able to understand the pain and circumstances of others without judgement but with compassion and love.\
    Everything else is secondary. If you’ve got some time, please pray for them. If it doesn’t end up helping them, it might help us for doing it.
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Sex is heavenly

Barbara Walters is pimping her “Where is Heaven?” special and just said that Christians don’t believe there is sex in heaven. Well then, I need a new religion stat!\
ETA- I started watching the special and am disappointed she didn’t talk to anyone from the LDS Church. We have very different beliefs about Heaven and Hell, and who goes where. Including us would have added A LOT to the conversation, imo.\
A follow up about the sex question: she asked a Catholic guy (some big wig from DC and the president of some Catholic college) and he said there wouldn’t be sex or any of the other physical pleasures in heaven. Later, she spoke to an Evangelical minister and he said there would be physical pleasures in heaven, like all you can eat bbq and cookies. But he didn’t specifically mention sex and she didn’t ask. What kind of journalist is she?

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Scientology

There has been a lot of talk lately about Scientology. Most of that is probably to do with Tom Cruise talking nonstop about it. Then of course the media had to make it an even bigger story by talking nonstop about Tom Cruise talking nonstop about it. What I don’t get is what is the big deal? The teachings of Scientology are a little odd, but frankly aren’t all religions? I don’t want anyone to start bashing Scientology, but I seriously don’t get why people are freaked out by it. Tom Cruise most definitely shouldn’t have called out Brooke Shields by name, in my opinion, but if he is against something like mood altering drugs, I have no problem with him speaking out. (And I am on some.) Other religions don’t belive in blood transfusions and some don’t believe in partaking in modern medicine at all. I know they are secretive about things, but again, so are many other religions. Is this “freak out” just because this is a 20th C religion? A lot of people call it a cult. Why is that? Again, wouldn’t most religions be considered cults then? So, if any of you know why the media is making such a big deal about this, I would love to hear it.\
P.S.- Watch Veronica Mars on Wednesdays at 9pm on UPN.

Lenny Bruce and The Culture of Life

Before my last trip to Ireland, I stopped by our local used bookstore, and picked up some reading material. One of the books was an ancient paperback: The Essential Lenny Bruce. I’ve been picking at it a little bit at a time since then. It’s really hard to read standup, but I read something a couple nights ago that has been sticking in my head. I can’t shake it. So, I’m going to share it with you, so hopefully you won’t be able to shake it either.\
bq. Cause the weird part we get hung up with, “I am pure and I am good, and those people are dirty and those murderers are bad and I am so pure, I’m so good that I have to murder those murderers.” And then you end up getting screwed up.\
How frightening is that? Have you ever heard a more succinct and spot-on description of pious anger? This is the motivation that leads people to kill abortion providers, to threaten the lives of judges, to celebrate life by ruining or ending the lives of others. That’s not a “culture of life”. It’s a culture of acceptable losses, and blatant hypocrisy wrapped in some twisted Christian vocabulary but without any meaning at all.

I don’t see what all

I don’t see what all the fuss is about. If it’s a news program and it’s impartial and objective then what’s the problem? If our kids understand that not everyone believes the same thing, and that not everyone in the world has the same family life, how is that bad? If Nick gives the information, and parents provide context and their own spin, I think it’s a great opportunity to warp your kid’s life however you want. If you let them watch it and then say all those people are going to hell for being weird and unholy, go right ahead. Or, how about you let them watch it, and let them decide for themselves? Or, if you’re so weak you can’t handle exposing yourself to anything outside your small sphere of belief, then don’t watch it at all. Go watch Reverend Jerry or Pat tell you all the bad things that happen in the world were caused by those dirty non-believers. Don’t let your children learn. Keep them bottled up and frustrated. Make them xenophobic.

It’s like the whole creationist argument. If you run around you whole life with your fingers in your ears screaming that Genesis 1 is the way it is, end of story, then I don’t think you’re giving God enough credit. You’re reading a chapter that’s been rewritten, translated, edited, and futzed with for thousands of years. If you’re reading the New International House of Pancakes Student Edition with Genderless Pronouns and With Liberal Use of the Word ‘Dude’ edition of the Bible anyway, how can you trust what you’re reading anyway? How can you be absolutely positive it didn’t start, “And the first day, God sat down at a drafting table with a box of freshly sharpened pencils, a big pad of paper, a cup of cocoa and started doodling. And God saw that his doodles were good. And that the was the beginning and end of the first day except when God went to get the paper. On the second day, God did rewrites. On the third day, God showed them to Jesus and Jesus nodded, smiled and then giggled when he got to the platypus. God was pleased at the giggle and nod and said, ‘Go forth and build me this place so man might be.'”

The world is small; God is big and wise; the universe is apparently infinite in all directions; our belief systems should be able to compensate for knowledge. I accept that evolution might very well be true. It makes sense to me. I also believe that even if evolution happened exactly like Charlie laid it out, that I also believe that God designed it that way. I am not so proud to think that my ancestors ran around naked swinging from trees and were hunted by large beasties with gigantic teeth. I’m ok with that, and it makes the story much more interesting than the mother of humanity being made from a rib. I believe that people are different for a reason. Everyone has the right to think what they want, do what they please, make the choices they make. It’s called free will, and it’s our greatest gift. Now, if you think you should kill people and then go do it, society has the right to throw you in a little room or fry you in a chair with a pat of butter. But, you’re welcome to think it. And I’m welcome to think you’re a freak. You also have every right to think that homosexuality or any number of other things is wrong, but don’t you think your kids should at least be aware of it? If you don’t teach your kids about the world, they won’t learn how to make decisions. If they have all the facts, and understand the consequences of their choices, then you’ve done what you can. It’s up to them to use their free will and decide for themselves. Just arm them with all the information you can get your hands on and let ’em go.

So, there you go… I’ve rambled enough. I should get back to work.