Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Well, I’m off to Vegas to meet family and friends for Turkey Day, so enjoy yours, everyone, and cherish the time, if you’re so fortunate.
I’ll be sitting in a hot tub rubbing my full stomach and watching the kids drive Grandma crazy.

Cheers.

Power of Prayer

A female CNN journalist heard about a very old Jewish man who had been going to the Western Wall to pray, twice a day, every day, for a long, long time.

She went to check it out.

She went to the Western Wall and there he was, walking slowly up to the holy site.
She watched him pray and after about 45 minutes, when he turned to leave, using a cane and moving very slowly, she approached him for an interview.

“Pardon me, sir, I’m Rebecca Smith from CNN. What’s your name?”

“Morris Fishbein,” he replied.

“Sir, how long have you been coming to the Western Wall and praying?”

“For about 60 years.”

“60 years! That’s amazing! What do you pray for?”

“I pray for peace between the Christians, Jews and the Muslims.”
“I pray for all the wars and all the hatred to stop.”
“I pray for all our children to grow up safely as responsible adults, and to love their fellow man.”

“And how do you feel after doing this for 60 years?”

“Like I’m talking to a brick wall!”

Deadline

deadline

Foxhole Atheists

I’d go into a foxhole with these guys anytime, if not for the comfort that, when the proverbial shit hits the fan, none of them would be kneeling around mumbling desperate words to an imaginary friend (thanks Phil).

atheists_in_foxholes

Mormon Leader Calls Kettle Black

In a speech prepared for Brigham Young University – Idaho, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Q12 says he’s taking his ball and going home if atheists don’t stop picking on him.

He then goes on to compare the current backlash from the gay community and their homies against the Mormon church to the treatment of blacks during the civil rights era while calling same-sex marriage an “alleged civil right.”

In an interview Monday before the speech, Oaks said he did not consider it provocative to compare the treatment of Mormons in the election’s aftermath to that of blacks in the civil rights era, and said he stands by the analogy.

“It may be offensive to some — maybe because it hadn’t occurred to them that they were putting themselves in the same category as people we deplore from that bygone era,” he said.

Isn’t it great? It’s so blatant it’s sad. So he’s crying that the Mormons are like a minority who were denied their civil rights and had to fight for equality… WHILE THEY TRY TO DENY ANOTHER MINORITY’S CIVIL RIGHTS.

Uh… Mr. Oaks… weren’t you about 42-years-old when the church finally allowed blacks full membership?
I guess it’s appropriate to deliver your speech at BYU then, since Mr. Young himself started the idea.

Mormon Dating a la Elder Hafen

I was recently assigned a new home teacher (remember, I’m still in the records) and he called me this past week to see if he could stop by this weekend.
He was careful to point out the fact that he “understood” my “situation” and that the visit would be but a friendly one; no need to bring up church issues.

Either way, I welcome the visit. I was once his son’s Scout Leader and invited him as well.

Whenever I have official visits from the Church, I really do hope (mainly for my wife’s sake) that no uncomfortable discussions ensue and I don’t have to end showing someone how ignorant their beliefs are, but I’m afraid the latest rambling of the leaders of the church; Elder Bruce C. Hafen must have really enjoyed giving his latest speech (Evergreen International Conference) as an opus to a life lived focused on “the legal rights and needs of children and the legal status of marriage.”

Bruce quickly sets the tone to his damaging speech with the following quote:

When we asked how he was doing, he began to cry and said, with a look of real anguish, “I suffer from same-gender attraction.” My heart went out to him. The longer we talked, the more compassion I felt, as I learned that the operative word for him really was “suffer.”

That’s right. It’s clear to these idiots that homosexuality is a disease, despite what anybody else says about it (more on this point later).

He continues on this wave with demeaning and hurtful associations to child abuse, misrepresentations of scientific findings, all the while making clear how loving and just and forgiving his screwed up god is.

His disconnection to the real issues involved in homosexuality debate are highlighted by one of the solutions this highly educated and yet incredibly ignorant person presents to the church youth:

“Find a therapist who can help you identify the unmet emotional needs that you are tempted to satisfy in false sexual ways.”

Really? So sex is what it’s all about for these mormons, isn’t it? What about the deep emotional needs one is “tempted to satisfy” in loving relationships. Perhaps deeper needs to be loved and accepted and live a full life are more important to most people than just sex (but yes, sex too cannot be downplayed as they try to do).

He continues on and on about his loving savior (who, let’s not forget, allegedly made people the way they are so they can suffer) and how all will be well if you just endure until the end, but his blindness and bigotry is once again replaced by his sleazy willingness to distort the facts to support his cause:

In the early 1970’s, the public and most lawyers, doctors, and therapists saw homosexuality not as normal adult behavior but as a psychological disorder.

In his historical analysis, his call for us to return to a time where intolerance was rampant and status quo is loud and accentuated by continued misrepresentation:

In 1973, in response to increasing disruptions and protests by gay activists, the American Psychiatric and Psychological Associations removed homosexuality from their official lists of disorders. Significantly, they took this action by simply putting the issue to an open vote in their professional meetings–not because of any change in actual medical findings.

First is the misconception that same-gender attraction is an inborn and unalterable orientation. This untrue assumption tries to persuade you to label yourselves and build your entire identity around a fixed sexual orientation or condition.

Wow, what a great world, wasn’t it? When we could just pretend everything was peachy in my heterosexual home and, when problems arose, we could just beat the shit out of anybody who disagreed with us. Ahh, the good ol’ days.

There have been many studies in the field and scientists continue to look at possible causes, but to me that’s beyond the point. Homosexuals are people who seek happiness in a world who hates them. Making this hate go away and allowing them to live happy lives should be the focus of our sermons and discourses.

While Mr. Hafen is quick to quote the APA on the ongoing research, he fails to take their counsel on the most important fact:

lesbian, gay, and bisexual orientations are not disorders. Research has found no inherent association between any of these sexual orientations and psychopathology. Both heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Both have been documented in many different cultures and historical eras. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual relationships are normal forms of human bonding.

The rest of his words are directed to insult the rest of us who do not fit his utopian 1960’s family, such as unwed parents, single parents, divorced parents, and I’m sure in his flat head, interracial parents rank high on his no-no list.

As I type this, I’m really starting to think my new hometeacher picked the wrong day to come visit me. I really hope he doesn’t ask me why I don’t go to church anymore. He may find himself accidentally at the end of my wrath. If you don’t feel angry at this stuff, something is seriously wrong with you.

Raising Children – my letter to my son.

I came across this letter from Margaret Young to her son on his 18th birthday.
She wants above all things that he remains a Mormon.

Seriously, this is her greatest wish, sadly enough.

Here’s the appropriate response.

Dear Son –

As I watch you sleep in my arms tonight, I think of many things I want to tell you.

I first think of my own history and how you have made me a better man whose goal is to, one day, be able to look you eye to eye and honestly tell you I did the best I could for you.

In our family we never shied away from any difficult issues and we always shared our different views with respect and tolerance. We also felt confident in openly criticizing mutual lines of thought and understood that, sometimes, we just have to agree to disagree.
We welcome new perspectives and explore new ideas rationally and skeptically, always looking for a better understanding of ourselves and those things around us.

We have taught you to love art and music, animals and science, history and discovery, friends and family, and the planet in which we live.
I hope you continue to love and admire beauty, for there are many wonderful things in this universe that fills us with feelings of awe and amazement.

We have watched you exercise your mind and body and hope you continue to take good care of both. A healthy lifestyle will only serve to offer you opportunities to do many enjoyable things without distorting your senses and impairing your full physical and intellectual potential.

You have questioned many things and we have encouraged you to expect reasonable and sensible answers to your questions; answers based on factual conclusions. This ability to rationally analyze our world is one of the few things that sets us apart from all other living creatures, so make use of it dutifully and honestly.

Son, respect is not assigned, but earned. Earn it. It is a continuous effort with every interaction you will have. Earn it every day.
And give it.
Respect those who have earned it. Base your judgment not on any perceived notion of respect; a white collar or a position of power does not freely grant anyone any such thing Base it on character, honor, integrity, honesty, compassion, and all those positive traits we are able to display.

I hope for many things for you, son. None of which will come to you through wishful thinking or complacency. They will require primarily your own hard work and the love and care of others.
Be proud of your own efforts and give thanks for the efforts of others. Recognize and distinguish those who make a positive contribution to your life and the life of others.

Finally, I will not include all my “wisdom” and advice in this letter. The fine line between counsel and demand will inevitably begin to fade by my fear of your suffering and my failures as a father.
But I will always be available and accepting of you for as long as I live and I hope we have built a relationship based on trust and friendship, acceptance, mutual respect and love.

I love you… unconditionally.

Date night at the movies – The Hangover

I will not exhaust you with yet another positive review of The Hangover.
Yes, it was hilarious and utterly insulting and it made my wife at least ask me – “Is that what YOU do when you go to Vegas for the weekend???”

Now, Mormons are highly discouraged from watching movies with an R rating. This “counsel” has been made clear by many leaders of the church and hammered into everyone’s mind effectively.

It really sucks when I watch an R-rated movie and have no one with whom to discuss it, therefore I will take this opportunity to rant…

3_wise_monkeys
One of the issues I have with this rule is this:
The church is using a highly inconsistent and controversial rating system by the MPAA as part of their moral guide book.
It’s confusing to many members just like the “hot drink” issue in the Word of “Wisdom.”

Another problem can be exemplified in this quote from Elder James E. Faust:

Parental hypocrisy can make children cynical and unbelieving of what they are taught at home. For instance, when parents attend movies they forbid their children to see, parental credibility is diminished. If children are expected to be honest, parents must be honest.

I completely agree with Faust that we must be honest with our children and I admit I will not be showing a screening of Pulp Fiction to my 6-year-old anytime soon. But I also understand that we live in reality and he will be exposed to it soon enough. By pretending these things don’t exist, I will be missing many opportunities to address important issues with him in an honest and sensible way.

My son has heard some bad language from the neighbor’s blaring radio and he knows that there are certain adult words he’s not allowed to say. He knows why he’s not allowed to say them and he has never been heard repeating them (and you know kids repeat everything they hear).
He also likes to burp at the dinner table. I join him sometimes in a chorus along with our 2-year-old. To my wife’s disgust, they’ve been exposed to really bad manners by moi. But they both understand the rules inside and outside our home. They understand their actions reside within a framework of acceptance and we strive to state the rules as clearly as we can.

But why can’t adults make their own minds about watching movies? The church doesn’t tell you shouldn’t watch Fox News (which we all know is intellectual junk)! The church doesn’t tell you not to attend sporting events… I hear more F-BOMBS during a football game then in most rated-R movies. You don’t hear the prophet counseling against hockey or the UFC (cage fighting)!!!
But a grown ass man can’t go watch Scent of a Woman because his or her ears can’t hear naughty words??? Give me a break!

Word of Inconsistent Wisdom

The Word of Wisdom, as it was laid out by Ol’ Joe back in 1833, has been viewed both as a sensible guide to healthful living and a poster-child for scriptural misinterpretation and inconsistency since then.
The arguments reign rampant and the church continues to avoid shedding any more light on the subject.
Many have spoken officially and unofficially and had their speeches contradicted or repudiated (sometimes by the same person).

The issue hasn’t really affected me personally until a recent event, but before I get into it, I will disclose some important information: I love wine and always have.

So during a recent visit to the Olive Garden with my wife and two boys, I ordered a nice glass of Chianti Classico and immediately began noticing a young mormon woman (yeah, of course I could tell she was mormon), who was sitting to my left with her husband and 3 children (all under the age of 6, I assumed), giving me clearly disapproving looks. She would stare at me for a while and when I would make eye contact with her, she would move her eyes down to my glass of wine and scold me with her eyebrows and prominently wrinkled forehead.

The behavior became obvious to my wife as well and we both got a good chuckle out of it. But the incident highlighted for me the idiocy and hypocrisy of those who claim to follow the Word of “Wisdom.”
C’mon, we were at THE OLIVE GARDEN!!!! Not your number one choice for healthy eating.
This woman was consuming an enormous amount of oily pasta and potatoes, chugging it all down with a tall glass of cola. Her children each had a cup of what I assumed to be juice and her husband was eating steak (uh… no flesh allowed people!!)
But my one glass of wine…OH NO!!!! I’m headed to hell in a handbasket!

…even though studies have consistently shown benefits to drinking wine and many experts within the wine world agree that drinking wine moderately lowers the risk of heart attacks and helps controls levels of cholesterol in the body. It also has its negative points, but I think my two glasses a month are just fine, don’t you?

Tweet your prayers

If your life is as busy as mine, you know that sometimes somethings have to be sacrificed to make room for other, more important things like skipping your laundry to watch the Tour de France, for example.

But for a religious person sacrificing prayer time might mean sacrificing eternal happiness.

Well, sacrifice no more!
Unlike the many sites that offer online prayers (so 1980’s), Judaism’s holiest prayer site, The Western Wall, is adopting a cutting-edge approach to your requests: the ever-so-popular Twitter!

The service’s Web site says petitioners can tweet their prayers and they will be printed out and taken to the wall, where they will join the thousands of handwritten notes placed by visitors who believe their requests will find a shortcut to God by being deposited there.

It’s supposedly run by some young kid from Tel Aviv, which is to be expected, but the best part of the article (which came as a mild surprise to me) is this:

Tweet Your Prayers opened earlier this month but for several years, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation has operated a fax hot line and a Web site where people overseas can send their prayers and have them printed out and placed in the wall’s crevices.

Really? A prayer fax?
Is God really that stringent on his prayer requirements that you have to fax it so he can read it on a wall?

It is, however, always nice to see religion embracing science and technology.