25 November 2008


Personality tests are all over the map, of course, as are opinions about their usefulness and accuracy. But today I ran across one that I just couldn't resist. Run your own blog and/or those you follow through this thing for a new perspective on yourself and the other bloggers you hang out with online. Might be interesting to see who you line up with! Just for fun, I ran this tool for all the blogs of everyone at Scott's party last Saturday. There was a definite predominance of one type.

To begin, click here.

24 November 2008

Jumping the Gun on the Holiday

This Thanksgiving will be different from all the others. This year I'm thankful for something I've never had before: membership in a new family. Of course my own “bio” family of origin is strong and solid and loving as ever. But this year I'm part of another one too, for the first time. One many of whose members I met for the first time last Saturday. It was joyful. Delightful. Warm, welcoming, refreshing in ways I'd never known before. The time flew by far too quickly and I can't wait for the next one. To each of you that were there (and I mean that sincerely, each one of you individually), and especially to our gracious hosts, I apologize that “thank you” is so pitifully thin an expression for the depth of my gratitude and of my happiness in meeting each of you. In many ways it felt more like a family reunion.

I usually don't recycle material, but this time it's appropriate. Turns out I've already written the best expression of my feelings after being with “the family” Saturday night and I hope you'll forgive the recycle because I can do no better than this:

For the beauty of my bro's,
For the beauty in their eyes,
For the love that each one knows
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee I raise
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of my friends,
For their hearts and helping hands,
Their support that never ends
Reaching out to many lands,
Lord of all, to thee I raise
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of brothers' love,
Giv'n by God to each and all,
Friends on earth and friends above,
With them, standing proud and tall,
Savior, Lord, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

19 November 2008

Protest in Provo

I don't know how I missed this news story, but it's worth passing on:

Gay Humility Parade Keeps Low Profile

PROVO, UTAH—"We're here, we're same-gender challenged, and we're awfully sorry to impose," said Provo Gay Humility Parade organizer Thomas Smith. "If we had our choice, believe me, we wouldn't hold this parade at all. But who are we to deny what God hath wrought?"

Involving about fifty men and a handful of women, the parade started at the corner of Fifth East and Second South in a Provo residential neighborhood and disbanded a block later at Fifth East and Third South. "We stayed on the sidewalk, so we wouldn't get in anyone's way," said Smith. "We didn't want to trouble the city for a permit."

Most of the men wore white shirts, ties, and clean, ironed Levi's creased down the middle. "We handed out rainbow key-chain fobs to our marchers beforehand," Smith said, "but we asked everyone to keep them in their pockets during the parade."

Some of the participants carried signs. Held discreetly in front of her chest, Lily Spainhower's sign was laserprinted on white paper in Helvetica 16-point font: TELESTIAL KINGDOM OR BUST. "I'm actually hoping for terrestrial," Spainhower said, "but I wouldn't want to presume." A man who declined to give his name carried a sign that said, JESUS LOVES ME, BUT HE'S NOT IN LOVE WITH ME.

Smith arranged for a handful of protesters to picket the parade and berate the marchers in order to intensify their humility. "Walking through the fire of affliction burns away the dross," Smith said. Priests and teachers from the East Bay Twenty-Second Ward held signs reading GET THEE BEHIND ME—BUT NOT LITERALLY and NO PRIESTHOOD FOR PANSIES. As instructed they chanted, "Gay, gay, go away—get born again some other way!"

Jeff Paulsen marched next to his long-term partner Frank Hume. Both men kept their arms reverently folded and did not indulge in any physical contact with each other, as per parade rules. "Frank attends the local family ward, and I attend the over-thirty singles ward," Paulsen said after the parade. "When the sacrament comes around, we don't take it, and we pinch ourselves until it hurts."

"While we didn't want to draw undue attention, it felt good to be ourselves in public for a few minutes," Smith said. "I'd say about twenty onlookers saw us. We just hope the Provo City Library still honors our library cards after this."


18 November 2008

I'm Still Standing

One of the set pieces of a rugby match is called a "maul." It is appropriately named. The guy with the ball is head down and running. Opposing team guy slams into him. Ball runner pivots and hopes another team member is there to hand off to. Other team members come up, lock arms around shoulders, heads down, 90 degrees at the waist, and push opposing team members back. Everyone stays on their feet, theoretically. When you get 8 or 10 or more guys all like this pushing against each other, well, that's probably why it's called a maul.

Guess what we did tonight. And guess where your humble correspondent got hit. Again. Full force slam. Yep, same place. But this time, I was just winded for a few moments. Getting stronger? Oh yeah, left elbow pretty banged up too. Coach happened to be the runner on that play and shredded his knee. It was probably the most brutal play of the night. But we all got up, huffed and puffed, recovered, and went on. After it was all over I discovered I now have matching bruises on the right side too, plus some muscles in my left inner thigh that are complaining very loudly. One of the veterans told me that in a few months I'll be able to tell which bruise I got on which day by the different colors. LOL. Right now, it's time for Motrin and the jacuzzi.

Comment already received from one reader: "You're freakin nuts." Probably.

I love this game.

"It" in a Nutshell

A great riposte in the comments to a staunch and reveling-in-his-sense-of-persecution advocate of Prop 8 captures virtually every issue gay Mormons face (could it be from a "Michael" we know?):

"Reason trumps emotion and until it is fully explained how gays and lesbians fit into the plan of salvation then the emotion will win the day. Where do we fit? Are we meant to be eliminated due to something we did not choose? Are we denied love and companionship forever? Or will we be switched back to heterosexuality upon our entrance into the spirit world? Do we change our fundamental makeup when we get to the other side?

We can always remain faithful to the Gospel but when will we get the answers we need to remain faithful to the Church?"

I think that about sums it up!

17 November 2008

The New Brand and Make Some Room

Two more excellent discussions to pass on.

Make Some Room talks about how the predominance of just one political perspective within the Church is essentially suicidal for that perspective. Thought-provoking to honest cultural conservative Mormons who really are more interested in truth than in being right. And encouraging to those LDS who may find themselves just a little to the left of Ezra Taft Benson and Cleon Skousen. Side note: I was pleased to see that Clint has already posted a comment to this thread.

The New Mormon Brand may, alas, be intolerance. Another thought-provoking post, but this time depressing for those who care about how non-Mormons look at the Church. Warning: this discussion is strictly for realists; Iron Rodders who see themselves as valiantly defending the bastions of Zion against Prop 8 opponents and others of Satan's minions needn't bother reading this one, it will only make them angry and defensive.

16 November 2008

Shirts and Shibboleths – When the "Unwritten Order" Becomes Compulsory

In 1996 Boyd Packer spoke at BYU about "The Unwritten Order of Things." In that speech he briefly but forcefully advocated wearing "Sunday best" to church and decried "more informal, even slouchy clothing" at church meetings which, he said, would lead to "informal and slouchy conduct."

Since then, two other members of the Quorum of the Twelve have used General Conference addresses to urge LDS men to wear white shirts to church, particularly when performing priesthood ordinances. This "advice" has not been official, and has been expressed in terms of personal preference. However, most active Mormons tend to take every word from every General Authority as virtually canonical, and little details like this, easily adopted as badges of faithfulness, usually catch on fast in Mormon circles. The result is a strong cultural trend over the last 20 years or so which pressures every LDS man and boy to wear nothing but white shirts to church as the "uniform of the priesthood."

Today I counted among 12 year old and older males in Sacrament meeting the number of non-white shirts. This is not a small ward. Every week it fills a stake center chapel and many rows in the overflow section. Total non-white shirts: seven, out of close to a hundred, and even the renegades confined themselves to a conservative pale solid blue (but only one tie with any green at all, guess who). Clearly the white shirt part of the "unwritten order of things" has taken hold in my ward and stake.

Before I go further, I want to emphasize that this post is not about the merits of white or non-white shirts. As far as I'm concerned, God our Father cares a lot more about the color of the virtues in our hearts and probably not a whit about our shirts. My purpose here is to examine the phenomenon of how this personal preference of a couple of General Authorities has been adopted as a de facto requirement and badge of orthodoxy, the discomfort which it seems more than a few members of the Church feel when it's not followed, and most importantly, what that discomfort says about those members and about the culture of the Church.

A member of my extended family who lives in a very conservative area of Utah has an Aaronic Priesthood-age son. He has a strong Holden Caulfield streak, and is going through the predictable stage of testing the boundaries to figure out what he personally believes, trusts, doubts, has faith in, and so forth. Not surprisingly, he chafes at the strong "suggestion" that only white shirts be worn to church, and his local leadership's admonition that repeated breaches of this rule will exclude him from administering the sacrament. He thinks this is a stupid rule and regards those who emphasize it as the modern equivalents of those in the Savior's time who strained at gnats. And we all know what the Savior said about them. He knows too.

His parents, loving and devoted Church members of unquestioned faithfulness, don't make a big issue of this. But they are extremely worried about him. In their eyes, if he is unwilling to be obedient in little things, how will he ever be trusted or able to be obedient in larger things?

This is the crux of the issue. The white shirt rule is not Scripture. It is not policy (except for full-timers like missionaries and GA's). As far as I know, it is the preference of two members of the Quorum of the Twelve speaking in their individual capacities. Yet it has been adopted and elevated to a near-commandment by the rank and file of the Church, and when LDS youth fail to comply strictly with it, their parents have significant worry that the Youth of Zion are indeed faltering, are disobedient in little things and thus are on their way to failing in greater things.

This state of affairs worries me too, but not for the same reasons. Whenever I hear admonitions to "obey," my first question is "obey whom, what, and for what reason?" This is not disrespect, it is honest inquiry and in some cases self-preservation. A demand for obedience by itself is morally neutral. One must ask who is requiring the obedience, for what reason, and to what end. The Savior counseled obedience. Hitler insisted on it. Obedience in a vacuum is not necessarily a virtue. If we are to be safe and know whom to trust, we have no choice but to ask "Obey what?' And why?"

I have three concerns. First, some Church members seem to have elevated the personal sartorial preferences of a couple of General Authorities to nearly the same level as express commands in the Scriptures or temple covenants. Second, they seem to be worrying that failure to conform to those preferences is tantamount (though on a smaller scale) to disobeying express commandments in the Scriptures. Third, and most thought-provoking for me, is why this skew of priorities occurs in the first place.

What is it about Mormon culture that seems to lead so many to so quickly adopt comparatively minor details like this as virtual divine mandates, and to cause so much worry when they're not followed to the letter? Is it the obsession which LDS doctrine has with achieving perfection, an attitude which can turn even little details into life or death matters when it comes to achieving exaltation? Is it the last 20 or 30 years' trend in the Church to insist on obedience obedience obedience, follow the prophet follow the prophet follow the prophet, in an effort to preserve some core of consistent orthodoxy as the Church expands into more countries and cultures? Are we so frantic to avoid another apostasy as an institution that we obsess over details even as small as this? Is it the increasing pace of modern life (in the United States, at least) which has more of us feeling so overwhelmed so much of the time with the demands of family, school or work, and church activity that whenever we can do something quick and easy to demonstrate faithfulness, it's almost a relief? Is it the collective paranoia that The World Is Getting Worse and we must do everything we can to stand apart and demonstrate, even if only outwardly, that we are Zion and not Babylon, and we worry that anybody who doesn't wear a white shirt is still trying to keep one foot on the other side of the fence?

As Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. No more. Sometimes a blue shirt is just that, a blue shirt. No big deal. Its wearer could well be just as faithful to his covenants as ever, he just happened to have a blue shirt next on the rack in the closet. The only thing I understand about those who fret and worry about non-white shirts, and about those who pressure others to wear nothing but, is that they seem to be focused on non-essentials and potentially judging others' faithfulness based on outward symbols that probably have nothing to do with the hearts of those being judged. At the end of the day, that's what bothers me most: that I live in a religious culture that not only fosters such beliefs, but persuades those who hold them that they are being rigorously righteous in doing so.

I can't reverse this trend. All I can do is live so that I don't adopt it myself. Keep the commandments, keep my covenants, keep my eye on the Savior's example of charity for all, regardless of whether their shirt is white or blue or tie-dyed. I don't think He would care, and I'm not going to either.

15 November 2008

Debate Continues

Just a quick alert to readers who haven't yet had enough of the Prop 8 debate. Today I ran across some of the best content yet in the ongoing discussion not only of Prop 8, but of the broader questions it presents.

The first, entitled Inconclusive Musings On Gays In Eternity, is an elegantly thoughtful examination of the broader question of how gay persons fit into the eternal plan. One of the commenters aptly concludes that "the entire situation [of Church statements and doctrinal tidbits on the issue] is, in a word, a mess."

The second, The Prop 8 Debate and the Fiction of the Autonomous Self, examines a question I've often thought of, namely, the extent to which this whole issue arises from a culture that exalts individual freedoms above everything else, starting from the often-heard argument of "Why should it make any difference to Cinderella and Prince Charming if the gay couple down the street, Hansel and Jack of the Beanstock, are married as well?"

Both are thought-provoking reads for anyone more interested in substance than sound bites.

14 November 2008

13 November 2008


The ribs are feeling a bit better. I couldn't do the crunches or Supermans tonight but had a blast with the rest of it. Drills starting from prone on the ground, face in the turf, ball suddenly smacked down on the deck next to my shoulder, up and off like a rocket for teammates 50 yards away, smacked the ball down next to his shoulder and off he went. Back and forth. Dirt, grass, sweat. Passing a ball back and forth afterward with my little son who was gleefully getting into it just like me. Did I mention I like rugby? Like, love, passionate about, addicted to? Yeah, what you see up there is really what happens. All my troubles disappear when I'm flying across that field and handing off that ball or grabbing a pass and running with it. OMG I love this game.

Afterward as we walked through WalMart, still tossing a rugby ball back and forth, me still in my kit and covered in grass and dust, an African-American man sitting outside called out to us. Hey rugger! He grew up in Bermuda and played rugby when he was young. He grinned ear to ear as we talked about the game. Delightful. Instant friends. Rugby does that.

You are probably all tired of hearing about it so I will shut up now.

12 November 2008

Dear President Monson

Dear President Monson:

Our prayers are with you in your new calling. It is a responsibility like no other on earth. May the Lord bless you as you serve.

By now I'm sure you know that the Saints have reacted in different ways to your letter urging support for Proposition 8 in California. Elder Clayton has confirmed that they are free to do so. I'm sure you also know that even after the election, vigorous debate continues among the members of the church over the matter. Many take the position that since you urged support for the measure, no further debate is necessary or even desirable.

President Monson, we want to support and sustain you in your calling. We earnestly desire to do what's right. But I still have questions that so far, nobody in the Church has answered—not Elder Clayton, not Elder Oaks, not Elder Bednar or Elder Wickman. They and others have painted doomsday scenarios about abridgment of our freedoms of speech and religion if Proposition 8 failed. In all honesty, I and many other members of the Church just don't see how this is possible. And countless others outside the Church across the nation and in other countries agree with us, including dozens of distinguished legal scholars. These are not uninformed or agenda-driven zealots. They are intelligent, thoughtful people, many professionals, many people of faith themselves, and many with the highest credentials in their field who have, in the opinion of myself and others, completely refuted all of the imagined negative results if Proposition 8 failed.

By contrast, what I saw from Elders Clayton, Oaks, Bednar and Wickman was essentially just a push to re-write secular law based on LDS religious doctrine. We were the target of that very same kind of effort 120 years ago when the Edmunds-Tucker Act, propelled by others' own “moral” and religious objections to polygamy, nearly destroyed us as a church. How can we now do that to others, especially when the result has been to take away legal and social stability from thousands of families and make such stability impossible for more people who want it? Isn't that exactly what we faced ourselves before? How can we now inflict that same thing on those who are not even of our faith, have no desire to be, and for whom, according to our own doctrine, it thus shouldn't matter whether they enter the temple or not?

President Monson, we sustain you as a seer. What do you see that we don't? With all due respect, the letter urging support for Proposition 8 and the subsequent discussions by a handful of General Authorities haven't answered this question for me. Forgive me if you think this means I lack faith, but I need more than what the Church has given us so far, which is essentially that our doctrine justifies re-writing secular law and we will live in a genderless police state if we don't. I don't wish to sound picky, but just quoting the Proclamation on the Family's bit about “nations bringing on themselves the consequences foretold” is just too abstract and sounds like a corporate press release. I need to know more.

I need to know what you, specifically, as the prophet of the Lord, see will happen if same-sex marriage becomes legal in our country. I don't mean to be disrespectful or ungrateful or faithless. I have a testimony of the gospel and have been active in the Church all my life. But we are supposed to study things out in our mind, as the Doctrine & Covenants says, and we are supposed to worship the Lord with all of our mind as well as our hearts. That's what I'm trying to do. So on this issue, one of the ways for me to sustain you in your calling is to hope and pray that you see more than I do, because I and countless others just don't see as realistic all the drastic consequences that Proposition 8 supporters threatened us with if it had failed.

Please, tell us what you see. Don't dispatch Church PR people. Don't deputize a couple of other General Authorities for a roundtable discussion that creates as many questions as it tries to answer. Don't just issue a letter asking that we do what we can to support a ballot measure. You are the prophet of the Lord. Please, tell us what YOU see.

Very truly yours,


It's True, Believe Me

11 November 2008

What's Pain? It's French Bread. Suck It Up.

I don't know if I'm being stubborn or stupid. Last Thursday during a big tackle pile-up somebody banged their knee into my left side at full force. I was winded but got up and kept playing. By next day I was in serious pain. Yesterday doctor confirmed I probably had some cracked ribs and said I should stay away from rugby for several weeks at least until it healed.

Yeah right. That's like telling a Provo Mormon Mom to keep her hands off the scrapbooking kit. It wasn't feeling too bad today, and when told of the situation, coach said Come and just do what you can. So I did. I had to stay out of the tackling drills tonight, but managed the rest of it, even though my whole left side hurt like You Know What, and the payoff was being able to play in a sevens match at the end (normal rugby matches have 15 players per side). I wish I had the words to describe the sheer delight of running up and down that field in crisp cold evening air, shifting with the line, constantly alert for passes and tackles, keeping the line evenly spaced, rushing, defending, passing again, and finally seeing your team score. The action never stops for more than a couple of seconds. I'm a forward, not a back, so I usually won't be the one to run the ball in for a try, but I don't care. It's exhilarating enough just to be able to play. Like I said before, this is the game they play in heaven. I know what the doctor said, but I can't stay away. I must be nuts. But it sure feels good.

09 November 2008


It's becoming clear, as I mentioned before, that Proposition 8 will end up being only a bump in a road, not the end of the line. So the various arguments pro and con have continued to rattle around in my brain, because they're likely to come up again. This evening one point which had really been bothering me has finally crystallized sufficiently to write it down here.

I've read several times the August 2006 interview with Elders Oaks and Wickman about “same gender attraction,” specifically with an eye toward legal analysis and argument they may have offered in support of the Church's stance against same-sex marriage. Elder Oaks is a former law professor and justice of the Utah Supreme Court, and Elder Wickman was a prominent attorney in California before becoming a General Authority.

I found the interview surprisingly devoid of any such analysis other than from a religious doctrinal perspective. Perhaps that was a function of their audience. Regardless, the consistent focus was on “God's law,” revealed “Word”, the Proclamation on the Family's statement that marriage between a man and a woman is “central to God's plan”, etc. as reasons for the Church to oppose what both men called "genderless marriage."

As an active member of the Church I have no quarrel with Church doctrines as stated in the Scriptures. I also hope, with many others, that there is more for us to learn about marriages and partnerships in the eternities. I see no other way to resolve the impossible situation the Church now finds itself in with respect to its GLB members, because as it now stands, LDS doctrine essentially condemns unmarried gay and lesbian members to celibacy in this life and an unknown future in the next, if they wish to remain members of the Church in good standing and to qualify for the highest celestial rewards later. The Church asks this superhuman sacrifice of no other group solely because of the accident of birth with such a “core characteristic.”

But I am surprised to find myself so disturbed that two senior Church leaders, both accomplished lawyers, are citing LDS religious doctrine as the justification for what in California's case has been Church support for efforts to take away an existing constitutional right from a specifically targeted subset of Californians. There is no other way to describe what happened. This is not a pejorative description, it is simply a legal fact.

I fully support the Church's right to speak out publicly on what it sees as moral issues. But Elders Oaks' and Wickman's statements seem to go beyond that. They appear to be arguing that religious doctrine is sufficient basis to change secular law so as to deprive certain people of a constitutional right that those people would otherwise retain. I don't think we want this camel's nose under anybody's tent. What if Evangelical Christians were able to muster the lungpower and political clout to ram through a federal law saying that since nothing in the Bible authorizes “secret” religious ceremonies, in order to reduce the risk of child abuse all such ceremonies had to be public? The Church lost its defense of polygamy on free exercise of religion grounds in the 19th century , and there's no guarantee that the free exercise clause would protect temple admission practices today if the Evangelicals really geared up and went after us like this. My point is that they'd be able to justify their efforts with exactly the same approach Elders Oaks and Wickman gave for pushing Proposition 8. That worries me.

Regardless of one's position on Proposition 8, I think that the Mormons of all people should look with suspicion on the idea that doctrinal differences are sufficient basis to change secular law and restrict the constitutional rights of a very specifically targeted group of citizens. This could come back to haunt the Church. It looks like the same approach used a little over a century ago to justify the Edmunds-Tucker Act, a federal law which tried to destroy a small, quirky church with its own alternative form of marriage which all good traditional Christians back then knew was contrary to God's law and the revealed Word too.

08 November 2008

Hey Doug, There's A Letter For You

Dear Doug:

Sorry I got chapped at you earlier today. But when you up and left so early without telling anyone, and didn't even take a cell phone or anything so we could find you, well, you know. I was really disappointed. You're so good on that cello, I was looking forward to some duets. I know you are a smart and level-headed guy and no doubt had your reasons for suddenly going AWOL like that. Someday you'll have to explain it to me, when we finally manage to get together for some Beethoven.

Hey, here's a small world story for you. Today I discovered that you are right across the street from my mom! No lie. Like not even a stone's throw away. I took her some flowers today, you know moms like that stuff. Visited with her for a while, then was just walking around a bit afterward and suddenly found your place. I had NO idea you were even there, let alone that you were so close. I felt like turning round and calling out Hey Mom, this is my bro Doug! I hope you didn't mind the basket, it was a little kitschy, but you don't have one of those permanent reversible steel things to put flowers in. So I just left them out front in the basket they came in. You'll see them. I wanted to let you know that I'm thinking of you and miss you a lot. So cool to know that whenever I come round to see Mom, I can stop by and see you too.

Things have been kind of rough here lately. It looks like not enough people have gotten Stuart's message yet. If you see him, Doug, tell him there's still a lot to do here, but also there are lots of people working hard to improve things. Nobody wants any more of what happened to you two. There's been too much of that. In time, with more of us doing what we can, we hope we can make sure no more stories end like yours. Both of you were so talented and smart and gave so much and so many people loved you, I hope you both realize what huge gaps you left behind. We could have had such great times if you'd stuck around. I know it was really tough for both of you. But I don't think I'm being completely selfish when I say that I really miss you both, a lot. And I'm not the only one. So with luck, the other as-yet unknown Stuarts and Dougs out there can be persuaded to stick around and help make things better.

Anyway, Doug, back to the neighborhood thing. I know Mom is always good about my visits, so she probably saw me walk over to see you. Heck, she may have already come to find you herself. If she hasn't, you should go look her up. I know your mom isn't with you right now, so if you ever need someone to give you some mothering, my Mom always treated my friends as if they were her own kids. So go find her. Tell her about yourself. She knows all about me, you'll have a great time talking to her. Believe me, she'll make you promise that someday we will play some music together for her. She was never bashful about command performances like that.

Hey I have to get ready for Sunday so will stop for now. I really miss you bro and really wish you hadn't done what you did. But I know it's only temporary, and I love you anyway. So keep that cello tuned up and one of these days we will knock a few million socks off with some amazing duets. I'll stop by to see you again as soon as I can.

Your Bro

06 November 2008

The Play About Henry

A very interesting and perceptive observation from a non-Mormon's review of "Missa Solemnis, or The Play About Henry", which tells the story of Stuart Matis:

"It's important to remember that Mormon hatred of gays is not just homophobia: it’s an increasingly crucial part of an all-encompassing theology, a theology that is, to its adherents, perfect and infallible. Yet that theology stands in direct conflict with human biology, an all-encompassing system of beliefs in its own right."

I think this observation raises two points.

First, it does a pretty good job of capturing the essence of why the Church has such a tremendously difficult time with the whole issue of homosexuality. Spun in slightly more orthodox LDS language, the point is that many (and I believe this includes many in the top leadership) see homosexuality as by definition a threat to the plan of salvation. It simply cannot be squared with LDS theology. Yet its biological existence and persistence can't be denied either. This is the fundamental contradiction facing the Church, one I believe will never be overcome by anything less than new revelation.

Two, if, as Robert Burns said, one of God's gifts most desirable is the ability to see ourselves as others see us, then this observation above should make all Mormons--especially those in California and Church HQ--stand up and take notice. To this reviewer, "Mormon hatred of gays" and "Mormon homophobia" are self-evident. It's hard to believe the talk when they don't walk the walk.

I think for years many of us believed our own PR that we were becoming completely American mainstream. Now, in light of Mitt Romney's campaign and the aftermath of Prop 8, it appears that the Mormons haven't moved quite as far in public perception as they would like to have thought. And it seems clear that many people aren't buying the line about acceptance of gays in the Church either.

To read the complete review of the play, click here.

No Strikes Back

It ain't over folks. One lawsuit has already been filed to challenge the Prop 8 results, and high-profile attorney Gloria Allred is about to file another one.

Meantime, just as I predicted, the Church had better get ready for increased hostility in California. I'm sure this will be no surprise to Salt Lake, and many California Mormons will say "bring it on, we welcome The Enmity of The World." But it's no longer theoretical, people. We're going to have to actually live with this now, not just talk about it. At a protest rally yesterday in Los Angeles "the crowd appeared angry and frustrated, with much of that anger directed at the Mormon church, which funded the bulk of the Yes on 8 campaign." Click here for the full story. Prop 8 may prove to be just a speedbump rather than the end of the road.

05 November 2008

The Next Round

Here we go again!

Product Announcement

With election season over and, one hopes, temperatures of all kinds dropping a bit, it's time to slow down, take a breath, and indulge some lighter topics for a little while. So I decided to do a little test marketing of a new product line targeting those Mormon guys with a “special affinity for their brethren.”

Warning to the humor-impaired: the following includes mockery of cultural stereotypes which some by-the-book types may find offensive. If you're the kind who refuses to expose your Primary children to harmful images like, say, those violent hyenas in Disney's Lion King, click here now for content more to your family standards.

OK, for those more broad-minded folks still here, it occurred to me that you all are wasting serious money at Yankee Candle stores to make your homes smell good but too generic. So for the LDS Slightly Right of Kinsey Zero crowd who want to have wafting through their mortal abode a special something that subtly says “this is what I'm all about”, check out the names in this new line of home fragrance candles (thanks to Mike for some excellent improvements and a couple of great titles):

Smith Field House Workout Shirt – clean but slightly musky, with a hint of basketball rubber and chalk

Provo City Bakery – The warm scent of fresh donuts, bread and cookies, homey and inviting

Fresh Linen Temple Robe – clean and slightly starchy

Richards Building Locker Room – Like Workout Shirt but muskier, with notes of Lysol, teak, mold, Old Spice, locker hinge grease and fraying towels

Temple Square Rose Garden – perfectly correlated scents of roses and Easter lilies

Shirtless Timp Forest Hike – pine woods, sweat and sunscreen, with a hint of Coca-cola

MTC Tea Tree of Life – fresh, camphor, woody, with a balancing finish of BYU fruit punch, bulletin board cork, and newly engraved plastic name tags

Uniform of the Priesthood – blends the clean softness of white cotton, the richness of navy blue wool, and the sharp artificial tang of a Mr. Mac polyester tie

Rugby Pitch - turf, dirt, sweat, rain, leather, and ripped up jerseys

EQP's Hair Gel – slightly astringent but sweet and spicy too. Says “You can look but don't touch!”

Priesthood Basketball – heavy on the musk, with a hint of blood and sweaty palms

HT Companion's New Ride – fresh leather. 'Nuff said.

RM Obsession – beyond description. Apologies to Calvin Klein.

So start saving your pocket change, folks, and watch this space for marketing launch details! Additional title suggestions welcomed. All submissions become the property of Liahomo Candles, Inc., without further compensation.

04 November 2008

Forecast : Wet and Difficult, Too D--- Bad

Light rain this morning. I haul myself to the gym hoping the trainer will cancel the outdoor workout. Yeah right. Might as well try to ban bags of goldfish and Cheerios in the back benches of Utah Valley sacrament meetings.

So we jog half a mile through the wet, me carrying that stupid 10 pound workout ball which, curiously, doesn't seem quite as heavy as it used to. Strange. Trainer sets up the orange cones on either end of the field. Rain slightly heavier now. The weather is going to make no difference in the routine. On with the cleats and I am sprinting through soaking wet grass trying to beat my best time without slipping and spraining something. On the last try, I cut nearly a second off best time to date. Reward is an extra minute of stretching and breathing it out before next round.

Toss relays up and back on the field. Crouch and cradle the catches, just like a rugby ball (which feels like a feather compared to this deadweight I'm tossing, but that's the point). The ball is smooth and wet. At least a rugby ball has a grain and some grip. Laterals, grounders. I scoop each one up and toss it back as we run through the rain, trainer moving further and further away with each pass. Why is something so simple so fun?

Back to sprint relays. Ball halfway between orange cones. Sprint to the ball, touch, back, sprint to the cone on the far side, halfway back, touch, sprint all the way home. Six times. If I don't beat him the last time I have to do another one. Glad I have cleats on. He doesn't, and slips on the last turnaround. I beat him. Maybe he let me win. Who cares, I'll take it.

By now the rain is discernible drops, not the light mist it was when we arrived. Too bad. More lateral tosses up and down the field, when we stop he is at least 15 yards away. Ever try to toss a slippery 10 pound bowling ball into the air at a target 15 yards away, when you're already running out of steam?

Last drill. I'm sitting on the soaking wet grass, rain in my face, knees up, feet flat. Trainer stands five feet away and tosses me that slippery, heavy ball. Onto my back with it over my head, touch it to the grass behind me, crunch and sit up, push/throw straight back at him. He moves further away each time. I do thirty of these. Not willingly. I am thinking of increasingly colorful strings of profanity to let loose when this is done. On the last throw, he is at least 10 feet away. I aim straight for his chest, and mean it. He catches it and laughs. He knows what I just did.

I change back to running shoes for the half-mile back to the gym. By now it is seriously raining. A guy from Melbourne Australia walks by in wetsuit, board under his arm. “Beautiful day!” he says. And I realize he's right. I just got pushed close to my limits, and had to stretch to get where I needed to be. I hated it at the time but now I'm glad. Working up a sweat in the rain feels good. Muscles growing stronger feels good. Breathing feels good. Being alive feels great. Who cares about the rain.

On the jog back to the gym, trainer says he knows I was hoping for a little slack this morning and he had no intention of giving it to me. I tell him thanks, I'm glad he did the right thing, since chances are that sometime I will play at least one match in weather just like this. But at least it won't be with a 10 bound bowling ball.

Life lesson reminder to self: there will be times when you get pushed to the limit and are barely hanging on, but you'll be glad afterward that you toughed it out. You'll be glad someone demanded that you rise to the occasion, and glad they were there to help you out. Try to be that person for somebody else once in a while. What goes around comes around.

01 November 2008

Sunday Hymn

Unable to resist a challenge, I recently posted here a couple of laughably pathetic re-writes of favorite Mormon hymn lyrics to be sung by a certain specialized segment of priesthood brethren. Very tongue in cheek. Bravone and Mike have implicitly dared me to try to keep going, I think. So why not see if I can reach new heights of low humor. Watch this space for further absurdity.

In the meantime, though, with Sunday approaching, I wanted to post a "family-specific" version of hymn lyrics that don't try to be funny but are sincerely heartfelt. This is to all of my brethren in the blogosphere with whom I've corresponded or swapped posts or comments, or who have lurked silently but (I hope) been helped by something I've written somewhere.

For the beauty of my bro's,
For the beauty in their eyes,
For the love that each one knows
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee I raise
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of my friends,
For their hearts and helping hands,
Their support that never ends
Reaching out to many lands,
Lord of all, to thee I raise
This my hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of brothers' love,
Giv'n by God to each and all,
Friends on earth and friends above,
With them, standing proud and tall,
Savior, Lord, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.