Sunday, August 16, 2015

Dangers of Bad Media

I finally got around to watching the viral YouTube video by Coby Persin titled "The Dangers of Social Media (Child Predator Social Experiment)."

Needless to say, I was appalled. However, probably not for the reason you'd think.

The premise is that Persin, after securing consent from the parents, attempts to chat up underage girls while telling them he is a 15 year old boy via his fake Facebook account. After a few days of communication, he convinces them to meet him in person. Persin brings along their parents for the "gotcha" moment.

To me, the real failures here undeniably lie with the parents.

First, the obvious lack of relationship these girls have with their parents.  The first two explicitly state that their dad's have to be out of the picture for this to occur. And judging by the reactions of the parents to the mistakes made by their daughters, I can see why they are afraid of talking to their parents about things like this.

Secondly, the biggest failure to me, is how they follow up on the "gotcha" moment.  It turns into the parents angrily berating the teenagers in rage-induced shame sessions for their failure in not being wary enough of STRANGER DANGER.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm all about open and frank discussions with children and teens about the dangers of social media, online/real-life predators and internet safety in general. But I echo the thoughts of Lenore Skenazy, author of Free Range Kids, who wrote about this video:

"(The Dangers of Social Media) reinforces the idea that every child is in constant danger from strangers, and that's not the case. I think it's worthwhile to have a conversation with your kids and tell them that they can talk to anyone, but they cannot go off with anyone. I'm not saying that this never happens, but what disturbs me about our culture is that we are encouraged to think in terms of the worst-case scenario in every situation."

The real danger of these videos is that we are falsely teaching our children that they are in constant danger of being abducted by unknown predators and that such occurrences are commonplace. The sad truth is, the overwhelming majority of crimes against children are committed by people they already know.

After watching this, I think the one lesson these teens learned most of all is not to trust their parents. I guess the viral video will probably help these girls explain to their future psychologists why they are seeking counseling.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

SSM: Lesson One - Animals

Dear dum-dums, animals are not categorized as American citizens. Therefore, they do not have Constitutional rights. So NO, the SCOTUS ruling yesterday does not open the door for people who love their pets to marry them. #lesson1 #morelessonscoming

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Mormons Love Apostasy

Apostasy. One of the worst things that a person can do in most religions. LDS Prophet, Brigham Young, once said: "I would say, let [apostates] alone severely. The man who will apostatize from the truth, forsake his God and his religion, is a traitor to everything there is in heaven, earth, and hell. There is no soundness, goodness, truth, or virtue in him; nothing but darkness and corruption, and down to hell he will go. This may grate on the delicate ears of some, and they may think it is a pretty hard sentence, still it is true (JOD 12:58)."

Set all of that harshness aside because, let's not deceive ourselves, Mormons love apostasy. The LDS church has added about 300,000 apostates to their membership rolls per year since the mid-1990's. They love apostates so much, the corporation instituted a policy change to add more spiritual soldiers into their conversion army so that they can add more apostates to their fold. Obviously, the only apostates they do not seem to appreciate are those who agitate, or leave, the herd.

In Islam, apostasy is generally recognized as the conscious abandonment of Islam (by a Muslim) in word or through deed. My apostasy of blogging occurred in 2011. Blogging for me was an outlet of therapy to vent my growing frustrations at the religion I was a part of at the time with an extremely limited audience. That online audience surprisingly grew from non-existence to a humbly small following and became problematic to my attempt at remaining a doubting but faithful Latter-day Saint.

My blog became the journalistic avenue that documented a small portion of my doubts which eventually led to my apostasy from Mormonism. I voluntarily resigned from the LDS church on July 4th, 2011.

In the midst of that journey, my brother-in-law shared a post with me from another blogger entitled: "Too Bad I Don't Like Beer."  A few days later, I re-posted the content in it's entirety and actually got commentary from the author. We corresponded. Turns out, he knew my mom from somewhere down the historical yellow brick road.

That man was Alan Rock Waterman. He was excommunicated for apostasy on June 3rd, 2015.

“What sins am I guilty of?”
“No, apostasy is your judgment. What sins have I committed to make up this judgment?”
“Apostasy is the sin.”

I have watched and witnessed as a growing number of Mormon dissenters have been excommunicated for a variety of apostasy-related issues. And while those situations have brought a variety of angst-ridden emotions, this latest with Rock has been like hitting a gong that reverberated into my core.

As Rock was being told his verdict, that he was being excommunicated for apostasy, he asked the Stake President for the definition of apostasy. The stake president responded with the following, as defined by the LDS Church Handbook of Instructions: “Persist in teaching as Church doctrine information that is not Church doctrine after they have been corrected by their bishop or higher authority.”

To which Rock replied that in the one meeting he had with his bishop and the one with the stake president (which is a pretty loose definition of “frequent”), that he begged them for correction. “If there is something in there that you would correct, that you found undoctrinal, then I’d change it, I’d make the corrections.”

However, as is the case with most modern accusations of labeling and excommunications for apostasy, doctrinal truth is irrelevant. Obedient compliance is always at the heart of the issue.  

I recognized in Rock a similarity in his dissent that I had felt and experienced in mine. He just wanted someone to explain to him why he was wrong in terms that were not blatantly false, utterly hypocritical, ridiculously contradictory or able to be dispelled by the logic of an elementary school student.  As I did years ago.

My position was, as is Rock’s, that we echoed the words of the Book of Mormon character, Nephi: “I glory in plainness; I glory in truth; I glory in my Jesus, for he hath redeemed my soul from hell…For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding.

I do not believe Rock had any fantastic notion that he was leaving that meeting with his LDS membership in place. I think he knew that the outcome was predetermined and that nothing about this court of love was intended to save his soul, protect the innocent or safeguard the purity of the LDS Church. This was about protecting the brand and retaining a customer base from honest dialogue. 

Nothing he could share would convince those present that he was a believer.  This is where Rock's story differs from my own. I do not believe the foundational claims of Mormonism. Rock still does. Even after his excommunication, he believes that God exists, Jesus is the Christ and Savior of the world, Joseph Smith was/is a prophet and that the Book of Mormon was divinely inspired and the word of God.

Why then was he excommunicated?  Here’s something I’ve seen repeated in enough jurisdictions that I can call it a distinguishable dogmatic trait of modern Mormonism. When local LDS leaders lose their debates on doctrinal issues, the default fall-back accusatory question is always, "Do you sustain the leaders as Prophets, Seers and Revelators? Do you believe that ______ is the current Prophet of the Lord?"  

However, my reply to that has always been, "How do we as members discern between when a prophet speaks as a Prophet and when he speaks as a man?"

History has proven that the only reliable way has been to wait and see. If they were right, he spoke prophetically. If he was wrong (which has been more often the case), the response from leadership is that the Prophets, Seers and Revelators are still just fallible humans who are prone to make mistakes.

It was Rock’s response to that question, however, that got him into trouble. “
Certainly we should be willing to pay heed to the prophet of God when he is relaying a message directly from God.  That is, after all, what a prophet is for.  But when was the last time you remember that ever taking place?  Where are the revelations?”

Later on the same topic he added:  "The minute that Thomas Monson gets upon the stand and says, 'I have a message from the Lord that he wishes me to convey to you', I'll perk right up. I'll be listening. That's what I'm waiting for. But I haven't seen that happen. Stories and counsel and interesting stories about losing five dollars in your pair of pants and sending it to the laundry and when the pants come back that five dollars is still there because he prayed so hard for it; those are nice stories but they're not what we expect from a Prophet, Seer and Revelator. So if I'm to sustain men as prophets, seers and revelators, I'd expect to see a little bit of evidence that they have those gifts. Joseph Smith had that gift. Nobody today seems to follow in his footsteps although they claim the exact same authority." 

While I do not fault anyone for leaving Mormonism (or any religion) on the terms they choose, I believe many of those who have been excommunicated recently from the LDS Church had already walked away from some of the core foundational beliefs of Mormonism. They chose to force the organization to expel them.  I chose to voluntarily exit. Rock still believes in Mormonism and was unceremoniously removed from the corporation.

He was told that his membership had been revoked, his inquisitive inquiries into doctrinal matters remained unanswered and his eternal reward (as per LDS definition) was now forfeited...all in less time than I took to watch the latest Avengers movie.

For that, I empathize with his emotional journey.

Excommunicating someone for apostasy, or labeling someone an apostate, is rarely about the truth. It is about protecting the corporation, the brand and the customer base. I stand with Rock and echo the prophetic words of Orwell: “In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” 

Peace be with you, Rock.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Obama and the Birthers

Obama released his birth certificate today. Whew. Now hopefully these Bigfoot conspiracy theorists turned political hounds can FINALLY shut up about this and the perpetual nonsense can FINALLY stop. Uh...maybe not. As I've been trolling message boards, blogs and Facebook eagerly looking for the opportunity to drop the smug "I told you so" whenever and wherever possible, imagine my surprise to see that this issue is FAR from over.

In fact, what should have ultimately stamped out the crazy only seems to have transformed it into Crazy 2.0. I really don't know how to respond when evidence is rejected simply because it doesn't confirm your position. That's like religion. Oh wait. We are dealing with the Religious Right here. Okay now it makes a little more sense. Well maybe "makes a little more sense" is the wrong way to phrase that...

Dostoyevsky once penned: “Man has such a predilection for systems and abstract deductions that he is ready to distort the truth intentionally, he is ready to deny the evidence of his senses only to justify his logic.”

See, that's what I meant by "makes a little more sense."

I frequently get accused of doing that which I call others out for, namely, pulling party line regardless of the situation. You know, like Republicans requiring a different standard of Obama (produce your Birth certificate, school records, "made in the usa" baby-binkie from his infancy, etc) than has been required of any President yet.

Although, I'll grant you that the GOP did thoroughly reject Romney for his Mormonism almost as bad as they did for Obama being a Muslim. Of course, the big difference there is that Romney actually is a Mormon...

Anyhow, to prove I'm not a party-liner, let me propose a scenario and how I would react.

Let's assume Sarah Palin wins the next election and becomes President (come on, take a hit from a bong if that's what it takes for you to take this imaginary journey with me) of the United States of America.

Let's also assume that the Democrats learn from the Republican's masterful political strategies and they embrace MSNBC as their official media propagandizing mechanism. The Dems, in conjunction with every MSNBC talk show host, begin a brutal smear campaign of President Palin, attacking her level of mental intelligence. They focus on questioning her intelligence for believing that the earth is 6,000 years old. Word leaks that a "Palin IQ Test" exists. Grass-roots organizations generate pressure for her to make public her IQ test score to prove her mental competency is above levels of those we generally consider "unaccountable for their actions."

The Palin administration ignores this based upon the idiocy of the issue at hand but these neanderthal grass-root patriotic Democrats just want answers. There is an easy solution. Just reveal the IQ test results. If there is nothing to hide why hasn't President Palin released the results? She becomes so bogged down with the insanity of the people she has been elected to govern that she finally just decides to release them. Issue over?

No, of course, not. The evil puppet-masters that are pulling her strings have obviously just had time to fake the test results to show that she shouldn't be wearing a helmet in her day-to-day activities.

I want you Birthers to know that this is EXACTLY how I think you come off to the normal people of the world. However, in the (hopefully) improbable case that this scenario actually comes to pass - Just know that I will be equally outspoken in her defense as I am with this ludicrous birther issue.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

For Those Interested in Mormon History

This is the 1832 account of the First Vision written in Joseph Smith's own handwriting.

Handwriting: Frederick G. Williams & Joseph Smith Jr. (the story itself is in the handwriting of Joseph Smith Jr.) recorded between summer 1832 and November 1832. Spelling is from the original.

A History of the life of Joseph Smith Jr an account of his marvilous experience and of all the mighty acts which he doeth in the name of Jesus Chist the son of the living God of whom he beareth record and also an account of the rise of the church of Christ in the eve of time according as the Lord brought forth and established by his hand [firstly] he receiving the testamony from on high secondly the ministering of Angels thirdly the reception of the holy Priesthood by the ministring of Aangels to adminster the letter of the Gospel - the Law and commandments as they were given unto him - and the ordinencs, forthly a confirmation and reception of the high Priesthood after the holy order of the son of the living God power and ordinence from on high to preach the Gospel in the administration and demonstration of the spirit the Kees of the Kingdom of God confered upon him and the continuation of the blessings of God to him &c--------

I was born in the town of Charon in the [state] Of Vermont North America on the twenty third day of December A D 1805 of goodly Parents who spared no pains to instructing me in [the] christian religion at the age of about ten years my Father Joseph Smith Siegnior moved to Palmyra Ontario County in the State of New York and being in indigent circumstances were obliged to labour hard for the Support of a large Family having nine children and as it required the exertions of all that were able to render any assistance for the Support of the Family therefore we were deprived of the bennifit of an education Suffice it to Say I was mearly instructed in reading {and} writing and the ground [rules] of Arithmatic which constuted my whole literary acquirements. At about the age of twelve years my mind became seriously imprest with regard to the all importent concerns for the wellfare of my immortal Soul which led me to Searching the Scriptures believeing as I was taught, that they contained the word of God thus applying myself to them and my intimate acquaintance with those of differant denominations led me to marvel excedingly far I discovered that [they did not {adorn}] {instead} Of adorning their profession by a holy walk and Godly conversation agreeable to what I found contained in that Sacred depository this was a grief to my Soul thus from the age of twelve years to fifteen I pondered many things in my heart concerning the sittuation of the world of mankind the contentions and divions the wickeness and abominations and the darkness which pervaded the {of the} minds of mankind my mind become excedingly distressed for I became convicted of my Sins and by Searching the Scriptures I found that {mand} [mankind] did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised from the true and liveing faith and there was no society or denomination that built upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ as recorded in the new testament and I felt to mourn for my own Sins and for the Sins of the world for I learned in the Scriptures that God was the same yesterday to day and forever that he was no respecter to persons for he was God for I looked upon the sun the glorious luminary of the earth and also the moon rolling in their magesty through the heavens and also the Stars Shining in their courses and the earth also upon which I stood and the beast of the field and the fowls of heaven and the fish of the waters and also man walking forth upon the face of the earth in magesty and in the Strength of beauty whose power and intiligence in governing the things which are so exceding great and marvilous even in the likeness of him who created {him} [them] and when I considered upon these things my heart exclaimed well hath the wise man Said {the} [it is a] fool [that] Saith in his heart there is no God my heart exclained all all these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotent and omnipreasant power a being who makith Laws and decreeeth and bindeth all things in theirbounds who filleth Eternity who was and is and will be fron all Eternity to Eternity and when I considered all these things andthat [that] being Seeketh such to worship him as worship him inspirit and in truth therefore I cried unto the Lord for mercy forthere was none else to whom I could go and {to} obtain mercy andthe Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in [the] attitude of calling upon the Lord [in the 16th* year of my age] a pillar of {fire} lightabove the brightness of the Sun at noon day come down fromabove and rested upon me and I was filld with the Spirit of God and the [Lord] opened the heavens upon me and I Saw the Lord and he Spake unto me Saying Joseph [my son] thy Sins are forgiven thee. go thy [way] walk in my Statutes and keep my commandments behold I am the Lord of glory I was crucifyed for the world that all those who believe on my name may have Eternal life [behold] the world lieth in sin {and} at this time and none doeth good no not one they have turned asside from the Gospel and keep not [my] commandments they draw near to me with their lips while their hearts are far from me and mine anger is kindling against the inhabitants of the earth to visit them acording to this ungodliness and to bring to pass that which [hath] been spoken by the mouth of the prophets and Apostles behold and lo I come quickly as it written of me in the cloud [clothed] in the glory of my Father and my Soul was filled with love and for many days I could rejoice with great joy and the Lord was with me but could find none that would believe the hevenly vision. . . . Nevertheless I fell into transgression and sinned in many things which brought wound upon my Soul and there were many things which transpired that cannot be writen and my Fathers family have suffered many persecutions and afflictions.

*could be 15th year

Words enclosed by {} indicate deletion by cross out-- words enclosed by [] indicate insertion with ^ mark.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

GOP Conservative FAIL

If you haven't heard the Right consistently bemoan how the Obama administration is spending astronomical figures (which I agree, they are) then you either don't pay attention to current events or...well, I don't have an "or" for you.

My issue with these elected "conservatives" is that they are knowingly hypocritical and don't seem to care about it. I have four theories:

1. They know their constituents aren't smart enough to recognize the hypocrisy
2. Their constituents share their hypocrisy
3. They know their constituents care about being on the winning team more than holding them accountable for their hypocrisy.
4. Being 1.6% better than Democrats is the lesser of two evils (You'll understand the 1.6% by the end of this).

We have seen signs like this for the last few years decrying Obama's budget proposals:

I'm not going to turn this into a "Who-Breaks-More-Promises" because it is plain as day that both sides do. I won't even argue about the "Spend to get out of debt" methodology. I have heard how Americans are sick and tired of the Obama administration's out of control spending. I have been told "American has spoken" regarding the Republican's regaining of the House. Now this shit will end and we will get America back on track.

While there is so much to rant about what they've done so far, I promise to stay on target. Our focus will be to evaluate and discuss how they have dealt with the proposed budget. I really just don't understand why red-blooded Americans cannot see that the elected Republicans just are NOT that different when it comes to fiscal conservatism. The evidence just doesn't support their assertions.

John Boehner, Speaker of the House, and defacto Republican tanned poster boy, issued the promise to his constituents and America that (insert dramatic music here) "The American people have directed us to cut spending. We will. And there’s no limit to the amount we’re willing to cut to help get our economy moving again. Let me be very clear about this: we are going to exceed our Pledge to America. We are going to cut $100 billion in discretionary spending next week. Write it down. $100 billion in discretionary spending. And we aren’t going to stop there."

Wow. Now, while $100 billion does sound like a lot, I want you to consider something. The Obama administration's proposed budget was roughly $3.8 trillion. I'm going to write it out because it's more dramatic to see the zeroes.


What is the deficit you ask? Excellent question. It was forecast at $1.5 trillion but is expected to end around $1.6 trillion.

So, with the $2,200,000,000,000 that we have as revenue/cash flow, we then spend $1,600,000,000,000 more than we have. I wish my home budget could work with that math.

Now, the Republicans ran on the premise of (rightly) pointing out the illogical nature of this methodology and promising change. Sound familiar? So they won the elections, took office and have now promised that to solve this problem, they will reduce spending by $100 billion. They promised to reduce the proposed budget by 2.6%.

Then they failed.

These fiscal conservatives decrying Obama's socialism couldn't even cut out 2.6%. They initially came in a little over $30 billion but the outrage amongst many of their own party not wanting to fail the "Tea Party Movement" base of supporters caused them to get that number up to around $60 billion. Still 40% below Boehner's "Read my Lips" promise. This Republican plan still leaves a $1.54 trillion dollar deficit.

So here is my question:

How is 1.6% less than what the Kenyan Muslim Socialist destroyer of America proposed somehow good conservative Republicanism? Or is it just good old American political hypocrisy?