Monday, November 16, 2015

Some Thoughts On Shame

It's been a tumultuous couple of weeks in the world (especially if you live in Paris, Beirut, Japan, Mexico, or Baghdad, or if you are LDS) and after a couple of weeks of watching my Facebook News Feed, I have a some advice:

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Pit of Despair

The Princess Bride is easily one of the best movies of all time. This is not an opinion; this is fact. For any plebs who haven't seen it yet, it is a love story that makes Romeo & Juliet look like common street trash (I never liked that play anyway. Why didn't we read Much Ado About Nothing in high school instead?).

Oversimplified plot: Wesley, the hero of the story, must fight to save the love of his life, Buttercup, from her engagement to a snobby prince. More detail is necessary to state my point, but we're far past the statute of limitations on spoilers here, so...

After a daring rescue, Wesley and Buttercup face terrors together only to have Buttercup end up back in the clutches of Prince Humperdink. Buttercup makes the prince promise that Wesley will be returned safely to his ship, to which request Humperdink swears his life. Little does she know that Humperdink is not nearly as forgiving as she had assumed, and the prince's right hand man, Count Rugen, instead knocks Wesley out and takes him into the forest to his deranged laboratory: The Pit of Despair.

Friday, November 6, 2015

10 Ways to Feel Better About the LDS Church Being Terrible to Gay Families

Well, by now you're probably heard: The LDS Church really, really dislikes gay families. So much that they won't allow children who live with gay parents to be blessed or baptized. Sorry, joint-custody families, your kids are now officially ostracized on your behalf. Some people--both the faithful and the faithless--are arguing that this move is actually good for children, because it protects them from being indoctrinated and confused by either their gay family or the church.

This, of course, is hogwash: regardless of your opinion about the church, the fact that other "sinful" family behavior (bar polygamy) isn't similarly punished indicates that the goal here is boundary maintenance on the church's part, plain and simple. And trust me, the message has been received loud and clear--people I care about are genuinely hurting over this. So, to my friends who are struggling with the church's decision, I've come up with a short list of things you can do to feel better this weekend:

This guy got away with top tens every night for decades, so I don't feel bad about doing two in a week.

Monday, November 2, 2015

10 Lessons About History I Learned From Comments on Posts About the CES Letter.

Recently, a few bloggers who are smarter than I am have undertaken to write about the Letter to a CES Director, a document that collects and sums up dozens of thorny historical and theological questions facing Mormonism today.

I don't really care to weigh in on the CES letter in much detail, except to say that the problems it outlines are perfectly valid for discussion, and are, well, exactly as important as your perspective on Mormonism demands them to be.

Who am I to argue with Tim and Bradley?

Instead, I'm more interested in the comments posts like those tend to attract, particularly from the disaffected/ex-mormon side. While I don't think those comments are necessarily representative of exmormonism as a whole, I think I've spent enough time writing about my issues with certain faithful Mormons to shift gears and talk about...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Does The LDS Church Have Anything To Say About War?

As I write this post, the United Nations estimates that up to 300,000 people have died in the ongoing Syrian civil war. Around 12 million people have been forced to flee Syria as refugees, making it one of the worst such crises of our generation, although not remotely the only one. Also right now there's a U.S.-backed war in Yemen going on, and ongoing turmoil in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, all conflicts in which the United States has played a direct role.

Syrian Refugees

Last week, Mormons around the world gathered to hear their leaders speak the putative word of the Lord at the church's semiannual General Conference. On Sunday morning, as I half-watched one of the speakers while skimming various faithful and snarky #ldsconf tweets on Twitter, I scrolled past a headline about a few dozen deaths in Syria. Maybe it was ISIS, maybe Assad, maybe America or Russia, but it was nothing particularly unusual. But it struck me, because I realized that nobody at conference seemed particularly interested in discussing Syria. Or Libya. Or Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Sudan, Nigeria, Ukraine, or any other part of the world facing widespread violence and repression right now. From an LDS perspective, those conflicts might as well not exist except as destinations for humanitarian relief.

In response I tweeted this:

Monday, July 27, 2015

Mormons React to the BSA Allowing Gay Leaders (or, Idolatry in the 21st Century)

An unedited sample of comments on the Mormon Newsroom's Facebook link to the church's statement on the Boy Scouts' decision to allow openly gay leaders:
"I will as well support the decisions of my Church Leadres." 
"I support the Church" 
"I will agree with whatever decision the church decides.I am a latter day Saint and I love my church and it's leaders" 
"Follow the prophet, that's what I'm going to do!!"
"Stay with the church teachings" 
"Thank full for prophets and other inspired men who lead with honor and authority!" 
"As a member of the Church, I will support their decision" 
"Thankful that the Church is reevaluating what has become a thorn in our side. Have confidence that whatever they decide will be done correctly." 
"I support what the church decides to do" 
"Out leaders will do what's right, for this reason I am so thankful for inspired leaders who do not decided from Truth and right with love and dignity shown to all"

Monday, July 6, 2015

My New Best Friend: Gordon Cynthia Churchill (Written by Me at Age 14)

Update: I originally wrote that this was written around age 8 after I misread folder labeled "third period" as "third grade." In fact, this came from Junior High. I was a precocious kid, but not that precocious.

Tonight I was going through a box of old documents from school when I came across this paper, written by me at age 15 or 16, apparently for an assignment to write about an imaginary friend. It seems worth sharing, if only because the profound weirdness entertains my 30 year old self. I now present it fully transcribed and without significant edits, for your...whatever it is you get out of reading this blog.

Gordon Churchill is my new best friend. He is a 55 year old deadbeat living in a trailer home with his mother Cynthia, his cat Muffykins, and his mom's current boyfriend Antonio. His dad joined congress when he was young, and has not been seen since. He has no job, although he once briefly held the position of assistant regurgitation engineer in a Turkish vomitorium (he never told me what he was doing in Turkey). Currently, he makes his living turning in Pepsi cans to grocery stores, suing corporations for trivial injuries and annoyances, collecting welfare, unemployment, and mooching money off of Cynthia (he calls her by her first name, by the way).

He is aware of his financial turmoil, and currently plans to start his business venture, the "Disco Copying Center," as soon as he can get money to rent space, hire employees, buy copiers, buy a disco ball, and order every Bee Gees album ever released. Says Gordon, "I am confident that the Disco Copying Center will take the fire away from Xerox and Staples, and make me rich!" Says Cynthia, "Take out the **** garbage NOW before I skin your *********** and **** it to the **** before they ***** with your loser father!" Once Gordon starts Disco Copying, he plans to live there also.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

On Freedom

This Independence Day, I've been thinking a lot about freedom. Freedom is an abstract concept and easy to twist to whatever your personal definition may be, but bear with me as I play with the definition to serve the purposes of this post.

Freedom is being free, right? If you are a free person, you can go do basically whatever you'd like today as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else. You probably have a few options of what to do today including barbecuing, watching Netflix, going on a walk, and watching fireworks later tonight. In the United States, certain freedoms are enumerated in Bill of Rights. We have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to petition government, freedom to assemble, and a number of other such freedoms that make America THE GREATEST COUNTRY ON EARTH.


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Some Thoughts on (Shudder) Matt Walsh

A spectre is haunting social media. The spectre...of an acerbic right-wing Christian blogger named Matt Walsh. If your Facebook feeds are anything like mine, it's entirely likely that you've come across Walsh at some point. His chest-puffing, bible-thumping, liberal-bashing rhetoric propelled him from being just another blogger to landing a gig on The Blaze in a very short time period, making him a darling of right-wing social conservatives and a sworn enemy of liberals, feminists, and social justice advocates.

However, I'm not really interested in Walsh per se. I find his writing, such as I've read, narrow, superficial, and lacking in empathy, mostly just a waste of time. I don't think he's a troll, insofar as he's apparently quite sincere about his beliefs; he's just sort of an ass. But that applies to plenty of writers on the internet. What's more interesting is that over and over again I see people, many of them left-leaning, sharing his posts. I have no data for this, but compared to other conservative bloggers Walsh seems to dominate social media, both from people singing his praises and others ruthlessly mocking him.

Matt Walsh the blogger, thankfully, has nothing to do with Matt Walsh the actor, who is a national treasure.