Monday, November 24

''Sin as springing from deep and unmet needs on the part of the sinner''

I know I said there weren´t going to be any posts until next week, but I recently read this quote from Spencer W. Kimball, and thought it was fantastic. Plus, it fits well into my personal theory of counseling.

“Jesus saw sin as wrong but also was able to see sin as springing from deep and unmet needs on the part of the sinner. This permitted him to condemn the sin without condemning the individual. We can show forth our love for others even when we are called upon to correct them. We need to be able to look deeply enough into the lives of others to see the basic causes for their failures and shortcomings.”

I would like to write more about what I believe `sin´ is, but that will have to wait. For now, I will just say that I believe sin is anything that slows or halts our progression. We all sin, it is part of life. What matters is our ability or effort in continuing on, in repairing relationships, and not giving up on the ultimate task of life, that of personal growth in ourselves and others. I think it is important to reframe the stigma of the word 'sin' into a conceptualization that is something that is a part of our lives, something that we need not loathe ourselves over, but rather rejoice that we have the opportunity to live and love and repair and even grow sometimes even though it can be painful.

Monday, November 10

bless them that curse you

"I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye amay be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?"

Are we only to love those who love us? Accept those who accept us? We're all in the same boat, no matter what side of what proposition or debate. We're all part of humanity, and we all have plenty of excuses to "fight hate with hate." Does that mean we should?

Voting is part of the democratic process in our country. So are protests. Hate speech, incitement of violence, aggression, and vandalism are not.

It is not easy to hold onto a spirit of love, tolerance, and a desire to understand the fears and hopes behind any action that appears to be "hateful." But we should. We have to.

Thursday, November 6

B. Hussein Obama as a scary man, and other observations

Friend's Facebook Update: "****** is MOVING OUT OF THE COUNTRY because of B. Hussein Obama!"

Me: "I wanted to move 8 years ago, but the world didn't end like I thought it would. Regardless of how we feel about the new President, life will go on."

Friend: "You are right, life will go on but I don't want to live in a socialistic country! He is a very scary evil man who has fooled a lot of people!"

Me (trying really hard to be kind): "Wow, you have really strong feelings about it! It is interesting how we have all switched. I thought and still think that W. was scary and evil (well, mostly some people on his staff). So I guess the universe balances itself out. My condolences that you have that view of our new president. That is not a fun place to be. It was pretty rough on the other side of things for the past 8 years, so in a strange way I can understand how you are feeling."

The reactions to my gay marriage stance have been mixed (although many people were kind and understanding, even if they disagreed, so thank you). Here's one:

Friend #2: "Adam, you are KIDDING ON PROP 8 RIGHT?"

Me: "Did you read my blog?" (I had referred him here a few days ealier.)

Friend #2: "No, did you read the letter from the First Presidency?"

Me (once again trying to be kind): "Please read my blog."

After some discussion I was given these questions: "Do you think the prophet is just a guy with some good ideas?" and "Do you believe God is Your God or do you believe that God is God of the whole world?"

I played with those a little but it is not fun to be manipulated. Why do we ask those types of questions to each other? I know I have, especially online. Why do many of us listen to manipulate rather than understand?

After pointing out that prophets can sometimes be wrong, e.g. that "Brigham Young was racist,"  he said, "Everyone was racist." While I regretted bringing that up and continuing this type of discussion, I could not help but smile at the deep irony of his comment. "Everyone was racist." Now once again, I don't know what will happen 150 years in the future, but perhaps we as a people and a church will look back on today and excuse our current ideas with, "well, everyone was heterosexist."

Finally, for Utahns, how in the holy name of Buddha did Chris Buttars get reelected? Who were the 18,000 people in South Jordan that voted him in again? Do they not like black babies either?

Monday, November 3

My testimony, and why I'm against Prop. 8

As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is not a comfortable opinion to have. I often worry that other members will pigeon hole the rest of my beliefs into the fact that I'm not anti-gay marriage. So let me be absolutely clear.

I believe in Jesus Christ, that he is the Savior of the world, who will one day ease the suffering in the world and fix what is broken in most of us and our relationships. I believe we can turn to Him now for peace. I love the church for its community, trust in volunteer members, and its deep and inspiring theology. Almost everything good in my life has come as a direct result of my membership in the church. I love the temple. I believe I have felt the influence of God there on more than one occasion. Despite his flaws, I believe God worked through Joseph Smith. I love the Book of Mormon. I know it is good and true as much as I know that I love my wife and son.

I have tried to remain as neutral as possible on the gay marriage debate. Most of the time I just passed it off with "well, I don't live in California, so I don't need to make a decision." However, as the saying goes, "the personal is political." For me to be against gay marriage is to be against family, against good friends. How can I tell them, "You know, I love you but I really hate this particular fundamental part of who you are." I refuse to do that. People who are lesbian or gay who want to be married did not choose their sexuality any more than I chose to be straight. So it has become a personal issue for me. If I were in California on tomorrow, I would vote no on Prop 8, because I cannot discriminate against people I love. That is how I see it. I'm not saying you need to agree.

I don't know what will happen in the future, or what the "effects" of Prop 8 passing or failing will be. I could be misguided. I will continue to support the church and President Monson in every way that I can, and I am also grateful that the most fundamental aspect of the gospel is that of agency. While it is not easy having an opinion that is different from that of our leaders, I have disagreed with prophets in the past on polygamy and the priesthood ban, both unarguably huge issues. I am not using that as an excuse, but rather an example of how I can be a faithful member and not hate homosexuality.

I hope that my friends and family outside the church will respect my religious beliefs. I hope that my friends and family inside the church who disagree with me will be understanding and not decide that I have lost my testimony or some other temptingly easy but untrue explanation. The very least we can do with all this is allow it to makes us a little softer, a little more humble, a little more patient. A little more Christlike.

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Sunday, November 2

Reminded why I like John McCain

He hosted a few years ago and it was hilarious. Then again, SNL can make me a fan of almost anybody.

I think McCain is funnier than Obama. Why did he wait so long to bring out the humor in his campaign?

Here's McCain talking about his new strategy to be a "double maverick":

In a better world, McCain would not have had to court the conservative base, could have run on a platform with some major points being immigration reform and climate control, and could have picked Joe Lieberman as his running mate. I don't know if that would have been enough to sway my vote, but it would have made the decision a lot harder.