Tuesday, December 18

LOST Season 4 Preview

Apparently I only post videos now.

Season 4 starts on January 31. Eight episodes (half the season) were finished before the strike. Hopefully it ends soon and they can do a whole season.

Monday, December 17

New Dark Knight Trailer!

There's finally a real trailer for The Dark Knight online. I beseech and implore you to watch it. It gives me goosebumps.

Or, you can just watch it here (the quality isn't as good):

Saturday, December 15

Jason McElwain

This is over a year old, and you've probably already seen it, but I needed to post something on a happy note after that last rant. : )
Jason also has his own Wikipedia entry.

Wednesday, December 12

Liberals can be lame too...

Growing up as a democrat, it was easy to laugh at Limbaugh or Coulter or Hannity--they always seemed to be frothing at the mouth at worst or unfunny, stiff, and arrogant at best. I even remember reading Al Franken's Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot in elementary school, before I knew it had anything to do with politics. I just liked Franken because he was Stuart Smalley, the friendly self-helper from Saturday Night Live. Later on in life I grew a fondness for Michael Moore. I mean, come on--you may not agree with his ideas, or even his methods, but he is a lovable guy. And he's funny. Basically, I liked the liberals because they were funnier. Think of that what you will. I suppose humor is important to me. Maybe more than health care or global warming.

Lately, however, the liberals have been doing their best to act like bigoted ignorant neanderthals. Lawrence O'Donnell and Keith Olbermann* can now officially join the excusive group of Limbaugh, Coulter, and Rosie O'Donnell, (are they related?). Whether the entire media is slanted to the left is still up for debate in my opinion, but MSNBC seems to be doing their best to balance out FOX News.

- O'Donnell's tirade on Mormonism
- Olbermann's
- O'Donnell further making a fool of himself
(I would go into detail about each of these and why I thought they were lame, but that might take a while. If you want to talk about one of them specifically, I would love to hear it.)

Where have the compassionate, caring, and NONprejudice liberals gone? I'm sure there are some out there.

Hugh Nibley was my kind of democrat. One who ACTUALLY practiced his ideals, unlike O'Donnell, for example, who calls himself a socialist--yet he seems to be living a nice rich actor/commentator's life. I have little respect for anyone with extreme political beliefs on either side who lives on more than they need.

*NOTE (12/16) - Due to some feedback, I just watched the Olbermann clip again, and have to say I was not fair to him, nor accurate in my assessment. He may be smug, but he did not say anything bigoted against Mormonism. My mistake.

Saturday, December 8

Top 5 in 2007

My favorite movies of 2007 (including their Tomatometer ranking):

1 - Amazing Grace - 71% (Maybe the most inspiring movie, ever (to me). Period. Some lackluster reviews--don't pay attention to them.)
2 - Hairspray - 93% (Makes me want to dance! With a nice story thrown in as well, and Christopher Walken!)
3 - The Bourne Ultimatum - 93% (The best in the series)
4 - Transformers - 56% (Any movie that can get me squealing for joy like an 8 year old is a good movie)
5 - Ocean's Thirteen - 69% (Also my favorite in the series)

Not on the list because I still need to see them:
-No Country for Old Men - 96%
-Enchanted - 94%
-I am Legend - n/a
-Sicko - 93%

And the "Biggest Waste of a $1 rental" award goes to Ghost Rider - 27%, which wasn't even bad in a funny way. It was just bad.

Anything you would recommend? What was your favorite movie this year?

Friday, December 7

One more reason why I'll never live in Tooele

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

"Thad LeVar of Tooele discovered he was the victim of a vandal Wednesday after someone painted gang graffiti on his home's retaining wall. Before he had a chance to report the vandalism, a neighbor called the city to complain and a code enforcement officer from Tooele's Community Development Department came to his home and left a notice that he would receive a citation if the graffiti was not removed within seven days.

What the officer did not do was report the vandalism to the Tooele Police Department, even though graffiti is a crime. LeVar did contact the police, and they were quite interested in taking a report and investigating the graffiti. Here's a radical thought: What if those two government departments of the city of Tooele actually talked with each other?"

Monday, December 3

Heston-Smith, Nicholson-Ledger

The new movie I Am Legend is based off a 1954 novel of the same name. ALSO, The Omega Man, a creepy movie from my youth, was also based off said book, albiet more loosely. For some reason, my family thought it was pretty much the coolest movie ever. All I remember from it is creepy albinos who talked funny, Charlton Heston in his usual pose (making wise cracks and firing a machine gun), and my sisters trying to cover my eyes so I wouldn't see a woman's bare buttocks (they were marginally successful).

The new movie, starring Will Smith, comes out in two weeks. I am going to see it. In IMAX. And guess what is being shown right before it? The first 5 minutes of The Dark Knight! But only in IMAX... While some may have a small amount of defensiveness regarding their memories of The Omega Man, or even Jack Nicholson's Joker, this is a rare time when I'm excited for the remakes. Even Michael Caine, one of the coolest actors ever, said Ledger's Joker is going to impress: “I tell you the big surprise in the new ‘Batman’ — Heath Ledger as the Joker. He’s fantastic. He’s gone in a different direction than Jack (Nicholson) … Jack was like a really scary old, nasty old uncle with a funny face. Heath is like the most murderous psychopath you’ve ever seen on the screen,” Caine said.

Sunday, December 2

Utah Jazz crowd tries to show off its redneck-ness

How did Jazz fans manage to boo Derek Fisher, one of the classiest guys in the NBA? Maybe it's because we're all depressed. Who knows. How did they manage to boo Fisher and not Kobe? Does that make sense?

Fisher was even more impressive in his reaction:
"I'm choosing not to make a comment about the crowd reaction. . . . I'll think about what happened, but that's about all the attention I want to give it, really."

Wow, Jazz fans. We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Others agree (from the Trib comments, which I usually can't stand, but this time were therapeutic):
"That was tacky and classless, and now Jazz fans are the ones getting booed by public opinion around the league. Many people cheered Fisher, but others booed, and that's all Fisher will remember."

"I am a loyal Jazz fan and am personally ashamed of those so-called fans at the game, who from the willfully stupid empty center of their souls, booed Fisher. You are an embarrassment to yourselves and to your city."

"You booed a man who chose his daughter over our beloved Jazz. On national TV no less. Now the entire country can see what a*****es we really are. The man should have received a standing ovation when he was introduced. Instead we treat him worse than we did Kobe after he raped some chick…..don’t we pride our community on our family values?"

--"some chick?" Ok, maybe that guy is a redneck too.--

"Jazz fans, as a group, have very little class. It's evident in things like chanting "Lakers Suck" while they're being handed a serious beat down. I hate the Lakers as much as the next guy, but act like you've been there already. Occasionally our fans make Philly fan look like a class act. Last night was one of those occasions."

"So Cal Jazz fan here. Love the Jazz, hate the stinkin' Lakers and I also hate the fact that our classless fans are getting more attention than one of my favorite Jazz teams ever. Oh well, nothing Utahn's love more than "National ATTENTION!!!"---To Fish, God Bless you and your family! Thanks for the memories and give your daughter a hug in the name of so many Jazz fans who appreciate what you did in your time in SL."

Sunday, November 25

The Most Dangerous Author In Britain

I may be behind on this but a red flag always goes up when the latest controversial book is burned.

On author Phillip Pullman, from an email that has been widely circulated:

"He's an atheist and his objective is to bash Christianity and promote atheism. I heard that he has made remarks that he wants to kill God in the minds of children, and that's what his books are all about. He despises C.S. Lewis and Narnia, etc. An article written about him said "this is the most dangerous author in Britain..."

The "most dangerous author in Britain." Those are some strong words. Kind of makes you want to read the books, doesn't it? The most appalling thing to me is that the movie based on the first book, The Golden Compass, was apparently watered down so as not to be as religiously offensive to Christian moviegoers. We don't want to lose profits now, do we. The director agrees:

"The whole point, to me, of ensuring that 'The Golden Compass' is a financial success is so that we have a solid foundation on which to deliver a faithful, more literal adaptation of the second and third books."

Oh, so we get sucked in by a nice adventure movie with friendly polar bears, and then they try to convert us to atheism with their sequels? Beware children everywhere! And while you're at it, don't read Salinger (promotes suicide), Poe (gloomy, isn't it?), Orwell (rebellion), Rowling (witchcraft, and now, gayness), Seuss ("green" eggs?), or any other of those brain washers...

Saturday, November 17

My Vote, According to the "Presidential Candidate Selector"

Any online quiz, whether it's Dante's Which Circle of Hell are you going to (I ended up in Limbo), or which Superhero are you (it told me I was Superman, but I like Batman more), are a little suspicious. With that in mind, I took the Presidential Candidate Selector, and here are my results of the main candidates, by percentage of my "supposed" agreement:

Barack Obama - 81%
John Edwards - 71%
Hillary Clinton - 61%
Bill Richardson - 61%
Ron Paul - 51%
John McCain - 33%
Rudy Giuliani - 28%
Mitt Romney - 24%
Fred Thompson - 22%

Wednesday, November 14

Continuing the Discussion on Pornography...

Recently, there was a great discussion on women, dating and pornography at the Soapbox. The comments soon dropped the women and dating issues and turned into just issues with porn. That discussion has now moved here. If you want to talk about women, dating, and pornography, you can go there. Otherwise, welcome! Feel free to leave your thoughts, whether they be pro, con, neutral, scholarly, annoyed, bemused, or otherwise.

Monday, November 12

Hazardous to one's health

To do within the next two to three weeks:

-890 pages to read
-33 pages to write
-4 finals
-lose and find my identity 2-3 times
-suffer from at least one existential crisis
-waste an exorbitant amount of time playing Scrabulous

Saturday, November 10

learn to live with what you are

am i a fake? do people see me differently than i see myself? than i actually am? am i considerate enough to be married to her? am i caring enough to be his father? what do people see in me—and is it accurate? can it ever be accurate? Aaagg. why cant i do better? what does better mean anyway? what is progression? what is with my spirituality? why do i have to question so much? what is emotion? i have to feel superior, or else i am nothing. i have to be competitive, have a good chance, or i am nothing. i don’t like just fitting in a meaningless role. does a bigger role even matter? Aaggg. why do i get defensive? why do i bother? why does it matter? can we both be right? what does right mean? is it more important to compromise than to stay? life is ironic. there is no meaning, yet we live. does it all come down to signals in our brains? why do i act smarter than i am? why do i need to appear a certain way? what am i doing? why do i wait to get things done? what is the meaning of doing things? why am i in this field? it seems to only be mucking up my life right now. cant i just be a locksmith or something like that? sometimes my brain tells me to feel good. i like that. its nice. my wife is pleasing on the brain. she makes delicious cookies. they are pleasing to my brain as well. maybe ill be a grocery bagger. or a wood carver. or a demolition man.

Friday, November 9

So Abortion Doesn't Matter to the Religious Right Anymore?

In 2004, it was common to hear that people who voted for Bush were doing so "because of the abortion issue" (especially in Utah). Never mind anything else, that was the issue. After all, how CAN you vote for someone who kills babies? Now the Christian Coalition is backing Giuliani? What's up with that? Where have your principles gone? I have to concede, however, that Pat Robertson does not necessarily represent all republican Christians. Apparently not all of them appreciate Robertson's endorsement:

From the Times:
"It was the latest manifestation of the deep divide in the Christian conservative movement over how to balance politics and principle in the coming era after President Bush, who once so deftly brought it all together. Many former Christian conservative allies dismissed the endorsement as an inexplicable stunt. They noted that Mr. Robertson, 77, had lost much of his influence since the heady days of his second-place finish in the Iowa caucuses 20 years ago when he ran for the Republican presidential nomination. “What support he has left,” said Connie Mackey, a vice president of the public policy arm of the evangelical Family Research Council, “is obviously going to be eroded by this very strange endorsement.”

Robertson once claimed that America was not protected from 9/11 because of the acceptance of gays and abortion rights. Now he is saying that national defense is more important than gay marriage and abortion. I'm totally confused here...

Right now it looks like Giuliani and Clinton. I want to vote for Clinton because she would be the first female president. That would be absolutely historic. But I probably won't because I'm sick of the royal families running the country. So that leaves me voting for the same candidate as Robertson? Is Nader running again?

Thursday, November 8

I confess, I am a feminist. But we really need a new word. Or a new clarification of the definition.

This evening in class we talked about feminist theory (or philosophy) and how it relates to counseling. The term "feminism" arouses a lot of antipathetic affect in people, but I have a whole new (and hopefully more mature) definition for myself now. Feminism for me is not just about middle class white women, but about equality for anyone that is oppressed or treated unequally. How does feminism relate to therapy? Here are some points from my professor...

Feminist Theory and Counseling:
1-gender sensitive practice
2-highlights power in relationships (not as good or bad, just points it out)
3-confronts ALL forms of discrimination
4-the clients become their own expert
5-egalitarian and empowering
6-emphasizes conscious-raising techniques
7-has the goals of individual change and social transformation
8-encourages questioning of stereotypes

A lot of these are principles that I would like to incorporate into my own work, and life. I mean, who is against being egalitarian or confronting discrimination?

I love not only learning about new perspectives, but also when what I learn is actually something I want to incorporate into my life.

Thursday, November 1

"No time for porn cause we're too busy with Facebook." Imagine that.

According to a TIME article, looking at porn currently ranks a measly 4th in time spent online for students between the ages of 18 and 24. What comes before it? Social-networking sites! In addition, visits to porn sights have dropped ~33% in the last two years for all ages. Take that Screwtape!

From the article:
"If you chart the rate of visits to social-networking sites against those to adult sites over the last two years, there appears to be a strong negative correlation (i.e., visits to social networks go up as visits to adult sites go down). It's a leap to say there's a real correlation there, but if there is one, then I'd bet it has everything to do with Gen Y's changing habits: they're too busy chatting with friends to look at online skin. Imagine."

Tuesday, October 30

Monday, October 29

Shenpa in Real Life

I feel shenpa when:

Other drivers cut in front of me without using their signal. When my head itches during a counseling session. When I read about republicans who care more about corporations than individuals. When individuals care more about issues than relationships. When democrats care more about rights than responsibilities. When I am labeled. When people tell me war is good for the economy. When church people care more about fuzziness than reality. When I have a headache. When I tell someone about a very personal experience, and they mock me behind my back. When I have a hangnail. When people care more about being funny than being polite. When someone tells me I need to do something differently. When I'm hungry and there's a tasty donut in front of me. When an 11 year-old boy in Sunday School answers all of my questions with "video games!" When I see a group of driving hooligans yell at an old man trying to cross a busy street. When I don't feel like studying. When someone else tells me what I believe.

Sunday, October 28

Duty to warn: A (fictional) counselor's dilemma

For my ethics class we have a presentation about an ethical dilemma. Here is the case we made up:

A counselor has been seeing a male, married client for two or three months. The client is suffering from extraordinary feelings of guilt and anxiety because he has been having an affair for eight years. He's been married for fourteen. The client and the counselor are both Christian, and even belong to the same denomination.

The counselor believes strongly in a Christian theory of completely confessing all of your sins, and in so doing, you will be redeemed. The counselor recommends this technique (and feels that he has a fellow Christian duty to promote this technique) to the client, who seems very hesitant. The counselor feels that the client will continue to suffer from guilt and anxiety until he confesses. The client finally agrees, and his wife comes in for a session, under the assumption that they will be discussing the state of the marriage.

At the counselor's gentle urging, the husband turns to the wife and tells her that he's been having an affair -- for eight years. At first the wife stares, shocked, as the husband tells her how he met the woman, how he has slowly fallen in love with her, how he still loves his wife their children, and how anxious, guilty, and worried he's been that she would find out.

The wife's eyes soon begin to narrow and she becomes very angry. In a low, trembling, angry voice, she asks him question after question: "How many times have you slept with her? Where do you do it? Do you talk about me to her? Does she know about me? Is she better in bed than me? Are you using condoms? Have you been tested? What does she do? Where does she work? WHERE DOES SHE LIVE? WHAT IS HER NAME?"

At this point, both the client and the therapist are beginning to get nervous, and are questioning whether this technique may have been a mistake. The client keeps darting his eyes nervously at the counselor, but the counselor nods as him, knowing he has to finish the technique, so the client gives his wife all the information, including the name and address.

At this point, the wife pulls out her cell phone and dials 411. In a clear voice, she asks for the address of the mistress. She writes it down on a notepad nearby. As she hangs up, the counselor and client stare at her at alarm. The client smiles sweetly: "I'm just going to pay her a little visit," she says. "She will not be sleeping with any more married men in the future."

The dilemmas are related to the duty to warn principle. Is the therapist responsible to warn the mistress? Did the wife really make a threat? In the past therapists have been responsible to warn the third party because of thier relationship with the client. But the wife is not the client, so is their no responsibility there?

Friday, October 26

Psychotherapy for Vampires, and Halloween

I like counseling at night--from about 7 pm on. For my program we have had to practice counseling each other using all of our sweet counseling skills. The sessions I did at night were way better. Maybe I was just more tired so I was not as discerning, but I enjoy it at night a lot more. Hopefully I can find another job that I can do during the day (adminstration, legal, teaching) and do counseling at night. Regardless, it's been a really neat experience just to practice counseling. One of my professors told me yesterday that I have already grown a lot in the last few months, which I didn't believe, but I still couldn't stop smiling about it for the next 30 minutes. : )

N and I finally came up with cheap halloween costumes (we have a church party, and one at school). She is going to be old school Avril Lavigne (is it possible for a twentysomething to be old school?). I am going to be Dr. House. We found a blazer and a cane, but I still need to work more on the attitude. And I need to stop shaving for a few days. And a bottle of Vicodin. LG is going to be a lion. He likes to growl. Lately he decided he likes to roll around too, but maybe he can be a rolling lion. He's already so cute I don't know how dressing him up as a lion will make him any cuter...

Tuesday, October 16

The Best Show Ever...along with all those other good shows

We're officially hooked on The Office. We would like to thank everyone who ever mentioned this show to us. It is kind of like getting a new pair of shoes that you're not so sure about at first--a little uncomfortable--but once you break them in you never want to stop wearing them (or watching it).

Saturday, October 13

Kirby on Birth Control

Probably my favorite columnist, Robert Kirby, just wrote an article about religion, thinking for oneself, and birth control. It's a great read for anyone who has felt unduly pressured to blindly follow anyone else. My favorite line: "I prefer to focus on the fact that I was once insecure enough to let someone pressure me into doing something that was, in point of fact, none of his business - and to never let it happen again."

Tuesday, October 9

My (and Senator Hatch's) socialist tendencies exposed

I can't say I was surprised at the S-CHIP veto, but it was disappointing. Does anyone know how many more votes they need for an override? I promise I'm not a socialist, but sometimes it feels like it. Hmmm. Take money from cigarette buyers and give it to insurance companies, and more kids get healthcare. Hmmm. Crazy idea. What do conservatives really have against it? Are all federal programs considered to be socialist? Public schools, interstate roads, NCLB...wait! NCLB is a federal program, started by Bush--so does that make Bush part-Socialist? Maybe the conservative states (sorry, Utah) should just drop out of the Union entirely and enjoy local government while the rest of our children (dang, that doesn't include my state) can enjoy these liberal health care programs.

Sunday, October 7

President Eyring gets knighted.

One of my personal heroes, Henry B. Eyring, is now in the Presidency of the Church. I’m happy God decided to listen to me on this. : ) There are not many people in the world who consistently make me feel more spiritual, closer to God, and give me more desire to be good than President Eyring.

If you're tired of the Mormon/Christian debate, don't read this

I'm writing on this never ending issue because I need some catharsis...

From an online debate this morning:
Christianity is based on an entirely different gospel than what Mormons teach. If you believe that you have the truth, then why are calling yourselves Christians. Do you believe that Mormonism is true? I believe Christianity is true, and I call myself a Christian because I believe in the truth about Christ from the Bible and the bible alone. You follow Mormonism that makes you a Mormon. Call it what it is, and stop trying to make yourselves look good to the rest of the world. If you believe in your "religion" than stop being ashamed of it. The Buddha followers call themselves Buddhists, Jehovah Witnesses call themselves Jehovah witnesses. The people that practice Catholicism call themselves Catholics. Call yourselves Mormons so that you can be distinguished from Christianity."

I loved Elder Holland’s talk yesterday. But of course, now the online debates are raging once again. WE ARE WORKING WITH TWO DIFFERENT DEFINITIONS HERE. The Mormon side says, “of course we’re Christian, we follow the teachings of Jesus Christ.” The other side says, “no you're not, you don’t solely believe in the Bible, and you don’t accept the Trinity.” AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA AAAGGGGHHHHH! I’m normally one to be patient with ongoing debates like this one but it’s driving me crazy.

The writer above appears to be Protestant. Why doesn’t she call herself that? And Catholics aren’t Christian? I thought they were. “Christian” is a big label to me. Just like “Buddhist” or “Muslim”. In my mind the argument is flawed. It is saying we should call ourselves “Mormon” because “Buddha followers call themselves Buddhists,” but the term “Mormon” is not on the same systemic level as "Buddhist" or "Christian.”

Really the only frustrating thing about this is the debate will not end because we are arguing past each other. We are not talking about the same thing. When you are debating with someone, it’s generally a good idea to make sure you’re talking about the same thing, isn’t it? So in a stretch toward peace on this issue, I concede that by the definition above (i.e. only read the Bible), I am not Christian. By my definition (try to follow Christ), I am. It all depends on your definition.

Is my argument on this issue flawed? Let me know! I'm curious. What do you think on this issue?

I suppose Pema would tell me I need to "stay" with my annoyed feelings on this issue, and learn to connect with others in the world who also feel annoyed.

Tuesday, September 18

Park on the driveway, drive on the parkway

I have another one for that list of things that are named the opposite of what they should be. The newly tested drug "Reclast" is supposed to fight osteoporosis by building stronger bones. I once took a human biology class--didn't do very well--but I did remember that bones are formed by two cells. Osteoblasts build bone, and Osteoclasts break it down. So "Reclast" should actually be called "Reblast." Also, if I'm not mistaken, "clast" comes from Greek meening "broken". So does "Reclast" actually mean "Re-broken"? Maybe the "Re" is Greek for "not".

Friday, September 14


This whole substituting thing N was supposed to start has been quite a pain. There have been so many tediously long applications to fill out, résumés to send in, recommendation letters to request, fingerprints (all ten) to be taken, etc. etc. In Utah they must desperately need subs because I think all they require is a high school diploma and a contract saying you won’t seduce any of the kids.

A lawyer friend of mine once said when he was applying to a state bar, they wanted to know the addresses of every place he had lived for the past 20 years. What is the point of all this? Sometimes I think Bureaucrats make up extra hoops to jump through just so they feel like they’re doing something. I know “there is always a reason for a rule”—someone at some time did something that required a new law—but when was there ever a substitute teacher who only submitted TWO letters of recommendation instead of the standard three, and turned out to be a psychopath? When has there ever been a lawyer admitted to the bar who only turned in former addresses of the past 10 years, and it later became known that fifteen years ago they were chummy with the Unabomber?

Monday, September 10

iPod touch is crippled

I didn't want a full PDA. I didn't want an iPhone. All I wanted was a functional calendar on my iPod. As a long-time Apple fan, it is dissapointing that they would intentionally cripple a product. When the new iPod touch was first announced, it was said that you could enter new calendar events on the device itself. Apparently Apple just backtracked and now you can't. They don't want it to be a PDA, they said. Isn't this false advertising? A 'bait and switch' for those who have already ordered it? I'm not boycotting. I just don't want one anymore. Apple is trying really hard to put themselves in the same category as Microsoft or Wal-Mart, as in, companies that are NOT cool.

An iPod (ex?)user from the message boards:
"I can just picture the scenario--I'm at the orthodonist, scheduling the kids' next appointments. I pull out my beautiful, expensive iPod, check the really cool calendar and come up with a day we are available. Then I pull out my Post-It note pad, scribble the new appointment and stick it to my iPod Touch, so I can enter the appointment when I get home."

Saturday, September 8

I'm confused (read: ?)

I've been trying to figure out what exatly it means when someone writes "(read:_____)". Does anyone know? I can't find an explanation anywhere online. Also, WHY is it used? Is it "proper", or just slang? Here's an example: "...the purpose of this kind of wild character analysis was to establish a psychogenic or functional cause (read: explanation) for Parkinson's disease..." To me it seems like the writer is trying to better define 'functional cause'. Why didn't they just write 'explanation' in the first place (if that indeed was the purpse)?

Friday, August 24

What does "preside" mean, anyway?

preside-be in a position of authority in a meeting or gathering; be in charge of a place or situation. -Oxford American Dictionary

“...fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness...Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.” -The Family: A Proclamation to the World

So what does it mean to preside in a family? According to the dictionary, it means being in charge. According to LDS doctrine it means…being equal partners? This doesn’t really work with the dictionary definition. Maybe we need a new word (or a new dictionary). If anyone wears the pants in an LDS family, it’s not usually the husband (just an observation). There seems to be a lot of teachings and opinions on the matter but none of it really makes it clear to me exactly what “presiding” means. So, I am taught that I have a divine responsibility to preside in our home. What do I do that my wife doesn’t? If we both are equal partners, are we not both presiding? Is the word “preside” just a word without much practical application in the home? I see how it has application in an organization or church or business, but not really in the family. I’m open to ideas, but I’m sort of leaning to the opinion that the word is not significant in practical family life when a married couple acts as “equal partners.” What do you think?

Sunday, August 19

They always get you

Thinking I was real clever, I applied for a Discover card so I could get 1% back on my massive tuition bills. Hah. What a joke. The dubiously "independent" service that the school uses just so happens to charge 2.75% to use a card for tuition payments. Hah. So with a 6k tuition bill this semester, I would get back $60, and then have to pay $180 for the service charge. What a deal. At the U. they charged a whopping $1 or something to use a card.

Saturday, August 11

Prajna Through Reading

I light of my yen for reading (and my new discovery of libraries), I have made (yet another! Sheesh sw this is really getting out of hand!) a page with very very small book reviews and/or thoughts on what I've (and anyone else, if the want to participate!) most recently read. PLEASE DON'T feel obligated to look at it. It's mostly for me but if you're ever curious or want my obnoxiously blinkered opinion on something good to read you can check it out.

Sunday, August 5

Good Books

I just finished Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five (I loved it) and have suddenly been overwhelmed by the desire to read more great books. So, if you would be so kind, I would appreciate it if you would leave me the title of one of your favorite books (preferebly a classic but anything is ok). Thanks!

Saturday, August 4

Chinese Restaurant, August 3rd

The overweight man in overalls (and a slightly intrusive nude Betty Boop tattoo on his arm) says to the young parents that his son is 26, and that things will change once the baby starts crawling.

Some women at another table debate the pronunciation of "Tsao's". They can't decide if it's 'chows' or 'dows' or 'tsaous'.

Just before leaving a lady tells her husband that she has to see the baby, and the young parents show him off yet again. He draws a lot of attention, which the introverted couple is not used to. The lady wants to see him smile.

A mother ponders something illustrative of American prosperity: "I can't decide if I want crispy or soft noodles with my chow mein." She orders the crispy noodles, but says it was a hard decision.

A father grows impatient, as the check has not come yet. He says to his wife that the tip is getting smaller by the minute. Some of this is due to his impatience, some of it due to his newfound frugality as a working father/student not living next door to his parents anymore.

The fortune cookies come (and the check). One of them reads, "You will receive helpful information."

A women who just came in says that the baby is cute, and guesses that he is 3 months old. Actually he is 3.9 months.

Sunday, July 29

"America the Beautiful (maybe some day)"

Today in church for the closing hymn we sang “America the Beautiful,” and I seriously had a hard time. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with patriotism, but it was difficult for me to feel patriotic singing words like “O beautiful, for heroes proved in liberating strife,” when we continue to invade countries that didn’t attack us first.

“Thine alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears!” This line bothered me quite a bit too. Are we talking about America or Heaven?

Maybe the song is how America should be. It’s just hard for me to feel patriotic when there are so many problems, and I’m so much better off than Mexicans, or Africans or whoever. I think the only way we can truly be grateful to live in this prosperous country and not be arrogant is by doing our best to help others, whether they live next door or in Darfur, whether they are legal or illegal, whether they watch Fox News or the “liberal” mainstream media. We're all immigrants.

Friday, June 22

The Assault on The Culture Warrior: I'll read it if it's the same as my other books

According to a psychological prinicple known as "confirmation bias," we tend to seek out or interpret information that confirms our preconceived opinions. We all do this. If you disagree, try this experiment. Think of the last time you sought out and read a book that you knew was contrary a strongly held opinion or belief. My guess is you probably haven't. After all, what's the point? Why would you want to have your opinion challenged? If you have, it was probably like me, who often seeks out books that are contrary only to understand the enemy, or see why they're wrong. : )

It is in that spirit that I have began reading, somewhat simultaneously, Bill O'Reilly's Culture Warrior, and Al Gore's The Assault On Reason. O'Reilly offends a lot of people. His is not a book that I would read normally, but I'm reading it. With an (arguably) open mind. To balance that (arguably), I'm reading Gore, who also offends some people. Some might even suggest that Gore's book itself is an assault on reason.

I believe that in order to truly be rational, thinking citizen, we must seek out information from all over the spectrum. We don't need to agree with everything, of course, but learning about other's perspectives will help us understand each other, unify people across partisan lines, and make us more thoughtful in what we do believe.

Any suggestions (from all sides) of books I might want to read? One caveat: I'm not ready to read Ann Coulter, so please don't suggest that. : )

Monday, June 18

Batman's Sweet Ride

Ok, I'm kind of a geek, but ever since Batman Begins, I am crazy about any Batman news, including anything about The Dark Knight, which comes out next summer.

Friday, June 15

LDS leader hits all your favorite topics, from Intelligent Design to women holding the priesthood

An interesting thing has been happening with Romney running for President. LDS leaders are being interviewed in the national media, and they’re not being asked your standard Sunday School questions. Reuters recently interviewed Elder Christofferson of the Seventy. Some excerpts…

On a member voting contrary to a church political stance:
"Even where the church has taken a firm or vigorous position on something…if a member as a government officer votes in a different way or contrary to the church’s position there’s no church censure…either way we say to be honest, be of high moral standards and govern yourself that way but vote according to your best judgment. If we were to try and dictate to members how to vote…we would contravene a very fundamental doctrine and the whole idea of pluralism and religious freedom that we value so much."

On whether or not Intelligent Design should be taught in schools:
"Not necessarily…We’re not pushing that schools teach Intelligent Design but rather that they teach honest science, and at church we teach what we know. Eventually they will come together."

On women someday holding the priesthood:
"I don’t know. I really don’t know. We do honestly believe in the reality of revelation…We think the Lord continues to reveal His will…God has always acted that way and there’s no way he wouldn’t continue. In that sense it would be conceivable…He wants to time things in a certain way that’s up to Him."

On polygamy:
"When someone’s spouse has died for example and they remarry, they could be married in a temple for a second time, sealed as we say. How that sorts out in the afterlife we’ll leave in the Savior’s hand… The default mode is monogamy. That was divinely established at the beginning of time with Adam and Eve and it continues unless God for his own purposes, for whatever reason, permits, or authorizes or directs in this case the practice of plural marriage, and there have been times when He has, if you look at Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…and this instance here in the early (LDS) church history… but unless God were to specifically reveal to the Prophet this must be done at this time, it’s not, it’s wrong without his direction."

And the quote of the week:
"I think it’s important to admit on the scientific side there are limits to what we know, and on the religious side there are limits to what we know."

That sums up how I feel about knowledge and faith. There is a lot we don’t know. Science will continue to have more discoveries that modify or change current theories, and religion will continue to have more revelations that modify or change current beliefs. May we all be open to further light and knowledge.

Tuesday, June 12

Sorry Mr. Bush, You'll Have To Obey The Constitution This Time

And that could apply to a lot of people (that includes you Bill, and Utah's own Orrin "rule of law" Hatch, of course), Bush just happens to be the one currently wielding the axe. Really, I think there are a lot of politicians (from any party) who claim to uphold the "law" yet try to change it when it is inconvenient. I was happy to read this article today. A federal appeals court ruled that a citizen cannot be detained as an enemy combatant indefinitely, and must be tried in court. WOW! Right to a trial in court. Now that's special. We all should be so lucky.

Tuesday, May 29

Trickle Down Health Care

It’s not working. Republicans don’t want government intervention in health care—only market solutions are biblical(?) enough for them. The problem is that these tax cuts on the mega rich are not working. Why? Because we’re all greedy, that’s why! Aaaarrrrgggghh! And I’m afraid that if most of the poor suddenly became mega rich they would be greedy too!

We need better health care. Barack Obama has some interesting ideas about health care, and how to provide it without the government running it entirely. He even said we shouldn’t be refused coverage based on existing conditions, and that people should receive assistance based on their income! Preposterous! All this will require the rich to give up one of their 13 yachts! Wow, it really stinks to be them.

Friday, May 18

Global Warming or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Slow Driving

There seems to be at least three groups of opinions on global warming. The first group says that it isn’t happening at all. The second group says it is happening, but most of it is due to the natural cycles of the earth. The third group says that a lot of it is due to human impact on the earth. So, who is right? Does it matter who is right? Does it matter who we believe?

We know the first group is wrong. All reputable scientists know that the earth has natural climate change. So the debate is between the next two, which comes down to the question, what is the cause of global warming? The second group believes the scientists who say at least 95% of global warming is due to natural cycles, and only a meager 5% or less is due to humans. The third group believes the scientists who say that humans are a much bigger cause, and that if we change our light bulbs, driving habits, air conditioning use, etc. then we can positively impact the earth. Both groups say the other side’s scientists are paid to confirm their theories. SCANDALOUS! LIBERAL CONSPIRACY! CONSERVATIVE HATE-MONGERING!

So let’s say, for instance, that the second group is more correct. We little earthlings have very little to do with global warming. Let’s also say that most of us decide to buy into group three’s ideas, despite the fact that group two is right. WHAT IS THE OUTCOME OF THIS? Even though we may have very little to do with global warming, we think we do so we buy hybrid cars, use less energy, pollute our precious breathing air less, watch “An Inconvenient Truth” once a month for family home evening, and buy fancy light bulbs. All this means is we will get better mileage in our cars, decrease the demand for oil (which would lower the price of gas and indirectly decrease our support of terrorism), have cleaner air to breath, and inflate Al Gore’s ego.

I am not worried about global warming or cooling or freezing or whatever. Well, actually I don’t like global warming in the summer but I like it in the winter, unless of course, I’m snowboarding… I do feel like the parade Gore and his cronies are on is good, however. And I think they sincerely believe in their cause. Whether or not they are right is not an issue for me. It’s what they inspire people (including myself) to do. I am now trying to drive slower on the freeway, trying not to run the air conditioning when I don’t need it, and pondering the thought that someday, I may be able to afford those twisty light bulbs.

And for all those people getting irked behind me in the right lane because I’m driving ONLY 60 mph, just remember that I’m lowering the price of YOUR gas.

Tuesday, May 8

Happy Dogs Give Us All A Reason To Smile

In the paper today there was an article about a skateboarding bulldog. It made me happy to think about a dog enjoying himself on a skateboard in the driveway. Incidentally, this dog was not the first to trade in his paws for some wheels. I found another skateboarding bulldog, who is somewhat more famous. Check out the sweet videos.

Monday, May 7

Mormon Doctrine

A personal religious conundrum I have had the last few years is what constitutes official Mormon doctrine. Mormons do not have a book like the Catechism of the Catholic Church to clearly lay out all doctrines. At the same time, we are taught to follow our leaders, and most notably the counsel of the current prophet, Gordon Hinckley. Is everything he says doctrine? What do we do when two leaders or even prophets contradict each other? Some might say that current conditions call for current teachings. Others try some mental gymnastics to apologetically explain how all the teachings fit together. Some get disillusioned. Some (like me) get a little confused. Recently the church released a statement on their official website on what constitutes church doctrine. It has greatly simplified my religious life. Here is a little bit from the statement (for the whole text, click here).

“Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith.”

Many people have told me that Mormonism is restrictive in its doctrine, but I find it to be a source of freedom to my spirit and mind. This statement has cleared up a lot of questions for me regarding my faith, and it exemplifies to me the agency of thought the church gives to its members.

Thursday, April 19

Partial Abortions, Gun-people, and Cheney vs. Monson

Could someone (preferably someone who is pro-choice, but I’ll take anything) explain the opposition to the “partial birth” abortion ban? The abortion issue is so muddy I don’t know what to think, other than I don’t like mud. Personally, I think the whole abortion issue would be much less of a problem if we had sex education that covered more than “don’t do it,” and people had easier access to plan B medication. And educating teenagers does not encourage them. I think that is a huge myth propelled by fear. Teenagers have hormones. And they have brains. If they want to have sex, they will, whether or not they are educated about it. All this mess about abortion could be greatly reduced if we had better and more comprehensive sex education. And I also don’t think the plan B pill is the same as an abortion. It prevents pregnancy in something like 80% of the cases. Why is this not more available?

English is a sexist language. It has sexist history. ‘Husband’ comes from a word meaning owner, and ‘wife’ from a word meaning woman. On top of that we have mailman, chairman, and most notably, ‘mankind’. I can see why some people would like to change these words to mailperson, chairperson, etc. One word that doesn’t need to be changed is ‘gunman’. I haven’t heard of any feminists lobbying to change the use of this word to ‘gunperson’. Why? Well it’s obvious. There are no female gun-people. Women don’t shoot people. Think about all the shootings in the last decade and tell me how many of them were female. Is it evolutionary? Maybe we do need a female president (and by the way, I’m undecided about that race right now).

Lastly, for those of us Utah Mormons, The U. is having LDS leader Thomas S. Monson speak at the graduation. BYU is having Dick Cheney. Hmmmm. BYU may have won in basketball and football this year, but Utah really kicked BYU’s collective rear in the commencement speaker department. So there.

Monday, April 16

Shenpa Warrior’s April Movie Recommendation

Recently we watched “Scoop,” a sort of comedy/suspense hybrid film starring Woody Allen, Hugh Jackman, and Scarlett Johansson. I usually do not enjoy Allen’s movies, nor his neurotic characters, but we both enjoyed this movie. If you’re in the mood for something light with witty dialogue and a slightly suspensful murder mystery, check this one out. "Scoop" is rated 5.3.4 on Kids-In-Mind.com.

Thursday, April 5

Don't touch the campaign sign!

Back in the 80's my parents had a ‘Dukakis for President’ sign in their yard. I can recall it frequently being the target of unwanted 7-11 slurpees. When my father ran for a position on the city counsel, his signs were often stolen. And more recently, when my parents supported a democrat for the Utah senate race, their signs were defaced. I have to admit I tried to think of many elaborate ways to catch and punish these cruel perpetrators, including hiring someone full time to watch the signs, installing video cameras, and electrifying the signs with a few thousand volts. However, the unfortunate nature of campaigns is that signs get stolen, defaced, or dumped on by tasty beverages (what a waste!).

Recently, in podunk Grantsville, Utah (I'm only saying podunk because the citizens there better be outraged about this, or they are podunk), a former campaign manager was sentenced to six months in jail and nine months probation FOR STEALING A CAMPAIGN SIGN! Even I, one who thinks that campaign sign stealers probably deserve at least the 5th circle of hell, think that it is too extreme. Why not just fine these filthy thieves a few hundred bucks. Isn't that a good enough deterrent? Grantsville is officially now on my list of "podunk, creepy, good-place-to-film-a-horror-movie cities list."

Monday, April 2

Applauding the Episcopal Bishop of Utah

I really didn't want to give this DVD (an Evangelical group's magnum opus about what they think mormons believe and why we're going to hell) any more coverage than it already has received, but this refreshing letter to the Salt Lake Tribune deserves attention:

"I was appalled to read your front-page story... on the Christian evangelicals' crude attempt to “shake Mormons' faith.” This is a hurtful form of evangelism, as I am sure many other denominations and faith traditions would agree. It does not speak well of one's own faith community to attack the faith of others - apart from being an inaccurate piece of work. I hope all of us will promote our own faith traditions in a positive and inviting way and not at the expense of others."
The Rt. Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish
Episcopal Bishop of Utah

I don't know Rev. Irish personally, but I already have a huge amount of respect for her. None of us should ever promote our views by attacking others. "Postive and inviting" methods are always welcome.

Why do we believe in such malarkey? (or, A Short History of Childbirth)

N and I have been reading “And Baby Makes Three,” by the marriage researchers John and Julie Gottman. It is about keeping your marriage alive after Baby arrives, and is based on a 13-year study. I recommend it. Not just for new parents, but the knowledge applies to anyone with kids at home.

Anyway, there was a brief section on the history of childbirth, which illuminates, as history always does, some of the nonsense that we have believed in. A few of the more interesting examples:

1-Women were dying from an infection called puerperal (post birth) fever. A doctor from Vienna, Ignaz Semmelweis, decided to run an experiment with one group delivering their babies via doctors at a hospital, and the other group via midwives. Turned out those at the hospital were four times as likely to die from the infection. Why? Because the doctors’ hands were dirty. In a remarkable display of cognition, Dr. Semmelweis proposed that antiseptics be used prior to the birth. Well, this didn’t go over well in the medical community. Doctors are ‘gentlemen,’ and they certainly do not have dirty hands. How could patients trust a doctor who needed to use antiseptics? Dr. Semmelweis was accused of trying to ruin the reputation of his fellow doctors, was kicked out of the profession, and died in poverty. I’m sure his reward in heaven will be/is great.

2-A young student at Humboldt State University in the sixties (when husbands weren’t allowed in the delivery room) decided to chain himself to his laboring wife. So the doctor called the cops. While the officer was trying to figure out what to do, the baby was born. No charges were pressed, but word spread about this “crime.” Of course this led to other fathers thinking, “gee, I want to be with my wife at the hospital too,” and since then change has thankfully ensued.

I am grateful that we don’t have such weird opinions about childbirth now, but I am not so naïve to think we have it all down perfect. Look back a few years and you’ll think, “wow, I can’t believe that was the popular opinion then.” In a few more years, what are we going to think about our opinions of 2007? Sure, hindsight is 20/20, but sometimes it seems like we were way off. What do you think we are currently wrong/misguided about? Or do you think we have it all pretty much close to perfect right now?

Thursday, March 29

I want my money?

I’ve been reading Approaching Zion, by Hugh Nibley, a Mormon scholar. It condemns wealth-seeking, unbridled capitalism, and destruction of the environment. And it has been invading my thoughts. I'm questioning my career goals in life. Do I want to be rich? In Mormon doctrine, the only good reason for seeking riches is to help others. From The Book of Mormon: “But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good—to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.”

It’s not just Mormon doctrine. Here are a few other teachings:
The King James Bible: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth…But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” “…a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”

Chögyam Trungpa, Tibetan Buddhist teacher:
“Our highly organized and technological society reflects our preoccupation with manipulating physical surroundings so as to shield ourselves from the irritations of the raw, rugged, unpredictable aspects of life. Push-button elevators, pre-packaged meat, air conditioning, flush toilets …weather satellites, bulldozers, fluorescent lighting, nine-to-five jobs, television - all are attempts to create a manageable, safe, predictable, pleasurable world… It is ego's ambition to secure and entertain itself, trying to avoid all irritation. So we cling to our pleasures and possessions…”

So, where do we draw the line? Should I buy a Corvette for $60,000 when I could buy a less expensive one for a third of that price or less, and give the rest of the money away? When we take more than we actually need, aren’t we really being selfish? How can any wealthy person drop 30 grand on a vacation to Bora Bora when there are still people starving in the world? And I’m not just condemning the rich here. I’m guilty too. I love DVDs, vacations, “air conditioning,” etc. The irony of it is we try to amass all of these “riches” that comfort or amuse us, yet the end result is we’ve wasted our time, increased the strength of our addictions to ‘things’, and used up resources that ostensibly could have been used for a better purpose. So when can one relax and enjoy a movie?

Tuesday, March 27

Our arrogance is our weakness

“The future of a movement is conditioned by the fanaticism, yes, the intolerance, with which its adherents uphold it as the sole correct movement…”

“The greatness of every mighty organization embodying an idea in this world lies in the religious fanaticism and intolerance with which, fanatically convinced of its own right, it intolerably imposes its will against all others.”

“I will give a propagandistic cause for starting the war, never mind whether it is plausible or not. The victor shall not be asked, later on, whether we told the truth or not. In starting and waging a war, not the right is what matters but victory.”

“German forces quickly overran the Polish army. In less than three weeks they changed the map of Europe and killed 70,000 Polish soldiers, wounded another 133,000, and took 694,000 prisoner. Underneath the military statistics, the Polish people’s lives were shattered with suffering that numbers can never quantify. The Nazis justified their actions in the worldwide court of public opinion as preemptive self-defense.”

Do any of our current ideas sound similar to these? Do we see the cause of America and democracy as the “sole correct movement?” Are we “fanatically convinced” of our own right? Are we honest in our motives for war and what is actually going on? Have more been killed post-Saddam than pre? Are we willing to think about that? Do we practice preemptive self-defense?

Before I start waxing too political, what about our personal lives? I believe they are often governed by the same ominous principles. Is our opinion right and everyone else’s wrong or at least misguided? Are we intolerant of different views, even in our personal relationships? Do the ends ever justify the means? Surely it is good to have opinions and values, etc. But when do they cross the line? I think the difference is in our level of arrogance. We can be sturdy yet humble (and I don’t mean the Limbaugh style humility, “I may be wrong, but I’m right”) in our views, and don’t need to bend over with every new strand of opinion, but we can also avoid becoming a source of aggression in our interactions. We must always be willing to humbly admit that we may be mistaken, or at least willing to learn more and consider alternate ideas. I think it is dangerous to become so arrogant that we think we know better than everyone else. When we are a source of aggression to those around us, we are contributing, in however a small way, to the conflicts of nations.

The first three quotes are from Adolf Hitler. The last one from is Alex Nibley, from the book Sergeant Nibley PhD. Thanks to wp for the book!

Monday, March 19

William Wilberforce. And movie ratings.

I just saw the movie, “Amazing Grace,” which is about the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire. I highly recommend it, and for those sensitive people out there (like me), remember to bring your hanky. The movie is based on real people and events, but the main character, William Wilberforce, is so caring and compassionate that he seems more like a Dickens character (like Nicholas Nickleby—haven’t read it but the movie is good), rather than a real person. But it’s still refreshing to see movies about positive historical role models. Despite his being British, I think Wilberforce should replace Jackson on the $20 bill (Trail of Tears, anyone?). His life is certainly a better model for ending racial discrimination that Jackson’s was.

Incidentally, the song “Amazing Grace” was written by John Newton, a slave ship owner turned monk who counseled Wilberforce on his journey to overturn the slave trade.

As for movie ratings (for those who are interested in such things), there is a site called kids-in-mind, which rates movies for content. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good alternative to the MPAA, which is unreliable and inconsistent at best. Kids-in-mind gives a number rating from 0 to 10 for three categories: Sex, Violence, and Profanity. They also explain in detail (if you really want to know) why the movie rates high or low in a category. The MPAA rating is included if you want to compare. Click here to go to the site.

A few samples of their ratings: The Return of the King: 1.7.1 (sex 1,violence 7, profanity 1), Casino Royale: 5.7.4, Titanic: 5.6.6, Schindler’s List: 6.10.5, and Amazing Grace: 2.4.2. Maybe this will help to curb the silly “R is bad PG-13 is good” dichotomy, and allow people to make better entertainment decisions for their kids and for themselves.

Thursday, March 15

Defining principles (Coffee bad, Coke not so bad, Red Bull...?)

Caffeine debates always get a little sticky for Mormons. I don’t like trying to answer questions about my standards in this area, and I usually end up with something like “We don’t drink tea, but some tea is ok, we don’t drink coffee, but decaf is ok. Coke and Pepsi are ok, even though they have some caffeine, and, uh, …” I’m usually just grateful they didn’t ask about Red Bull or Rock Star or those other tastes-like-a-diaper drinks (according to a friend: ). I suppose they're not “hot drinks,” but some have as much caffeine as coffee.

This problem in clarity is probably why the three most prominent Mormons in the media (President Hinckley, Mitt Romney, and Napoleon Dynamite) have all said simply that we don’t drink caffeine.

Robert Kirby, a Salt Lake Tribune columnist and a Mormon who admits that he sometimes “sneaks home for a ham sandwich during priesthood meeting,” recently commented on the controversy:
“It's been a while since the last big (and pointless) caffeine-and-Mormons debate. During one such debate several years ago, I received a letter from a group of Baptist seminary students demanding biblical proof for the LDS stand on caffeine. I sent them Deuteronomy 25:13 and said, "I don't know how the Lord could possibly make it any clearer.” They wrote back that I was “an unserious man” and to “enjoy myself in Hell.” …Still, the "official" Mormon obedience factor regarding caffeinated soft drinks depends on the Mormon. Liberal Mormons tend to think it's their own business. Conservative Mormons might drink a Coke in a pinch and repent later. Orthodox Mormons put Pepsi in a subcategory of beer and won't allow it in their home. Nazi Mormons believe the Lord will give you a boil for simply watching a Dr Pepper commercial.”
My question is, do people need exact definitions of their principles in order to live them? Is that less hypocritical? Or is finding exactness in all areas of life an impossible task? I think that life is too gray sometimes to have completely precise stances on everything. What do you think?

Monday, March 12

Respect your Wendy’s drive-through worker

Ok, I'm posting a little more frequently than I thought I would, but I guess I have had a lot to write about since last week.

A missionary companion of mine won $20,000 in a national non-fiction contest last year for writers in their 20’s, for his essay “Working at Wendy’s.” Not only is he a talented writer, but he has had a profound impact on my life through his example of hard work and humility.

I had plenty of spiritually trying times as a missionary, but the hardest time physically was the time I spent with Elder Joey Franklin in Akashi, Japan. It didn’t help that it was “hotter than Georgia in the summer” (according to my Dad who came to visit), but Franklin taught me a lot through his seemingly endless amounts of energy despite the heat. Working with him, I never slept better in my life. I also got a great farmer’s tan.

In most places I lived in Japan, we would pick out an area or neighborhood to go door-to-door, and then talk to everyone on the way there. (In smaller towns, often the only people to talk to on the way were nice old ladies pushing grocery carts. They were usually not interested in hearing the Word but sometimes gave us bananas and told us we had handsome faces). Well, with Elder Franklin, we would plan to go to a certain neighborhood, but usually didn’t make it past the corner 7-11 about 50 yards from our apartment. I don’t think any unsuspecting (or sometimes, suspecting) Japanese person got past him without at least a five minute conversation about the purpose of life.

What influenced me the most, however, was that Franklin wasn’t a robot with a name tag, (as I tended to become after getting rejected 50 times in a row or knocking on doors for four hours). He was enthusiastic about the work, and you could tell that he loved the people he talked to. In comparison, I often spent time staring at my watch, wondering when the next break was, and worrying that it would be spaghetti again for dinner. Elder Franklin, through his example, taught me to ignore the clock and immerse myself in the work. Preparing for my mission I heard the quote, “Don’t serve time, serve the Savior. Prisoners serve time, and they are miserable.” After a few days in Akashi, I ditched my watch, and tried to keep up with my fireball of a companion. Although I was only in Akashi for three weeks, Franklin’s example affected the way I worked and gave me a sense of enthusiasm that I had the rest of my time in Japan.

That’s the memory I have of him. The URL for his essay is at the end of this post. The judges of the contest said of Franklin that his essay "took us by the arm, looked us squarely in the eye, and kissed us hard on the mouth. That's right, we've fallen in love with 'Working at Wendy's' by Joey Franklin, and we don't care who knows.“ At one point in the essay he writes about how he was criticized at Wendy’s for not mopping well enough; I have to wonder if his superior was on something because Franklin is the kind of person that makes you tired just watching him. When asked about what he’ll do with the money, he said it would be for the baby, for school, "and $3,000 will be spent for an engine replacement for our 1999 Ford Escort wagon, a true lemon on wheels. Then if it dies, I'll push it into Utah Lake."

Click here to read it...

Saturday, March 10

Warlocks are enemies of God!

I’m currently watching Jesus Camp and wondering why I feel disturbed. I suppose everyone has a different way of expressing spirituality or religiosity, but watching the kids in this movie writhe around and yell out nonsense syllables makes me uncomfortable. Although, I’m certainly not ignorant of the fact that Mormons probably seem weird or even heretical to them. According to a boy in the movie, non-“Christians” (like me, I suppose) make his spirit feel “yucky.”

Some thoughts: what do they have against acknowledging global warming? If anything global warming should be a religious “sign” to the Evangelicals that the second coming is near. Also, Evangelicals and Mormons seem to frequently debate about whether or not Mormons are Christian (brought to the table again due to Romney's presidential run), but our culture and hermeneutics are so different that the debate seems pointless to me. We are different. We worship an ostensibly different God. We may both read the Bible and share some values, but pretty much everything else seems to be different. And I think that is ok. I don’t think we need to say we’re the same.

My point is not to rag on these people or anyone else. I’m just trying to acknowledge how different cultures can make us uncomfortable. If some people believe that Harry Potter is evil/a hero, that democrats are going to destroy/save the country, that a fetus is/is not a life, or the silverware should always face down/up in the dishwasher, it may make me uncomfortable, but I’m learning to be ok feeling uncomfortable. I don’t envy leaders who have to try to (or at least we expect them to) balance all of the needs or opinions of the country…and I think it’s amazing that we get along as well as we do considering we’re all walking around making each other feel yucky.

Wednesday, March 7

plural identities

An editorial in the U. newspaper yesterday was written about a speech by Amartya Sen. He talked about the importance of embracing all of our identities. Exclusion and hostility result when we see ourselves (and others) only as red or blue, gay or straight, member or non-member, etc. Obviously we all have differences, even among close relationships. We don't need to eliminate our identities, but we do need to recognize that we and others are more than a single label, and if we thought about it for a few minutes, we'd probably find significant things in common with almost everybody. I guess I'll try this out next time someone cuts me off on the freeway by thinking, "hey, maybe we both like pizza." That sounds sarcastic I guess but my point is that we can all do better to relate in positive ways to each other. With so many identity/aggression fueled problems in the world, we have a responsibility to practice peace on an individual level.