Tuesday, September 30, 2008

First Presidency Issues Letter on Political Participation

I must admit to an entertaining confusion when this was read over the pulpit last Sunday. For all those who read this outside of California, where every Sunday class and meeting is NOT dominated by Proposition 8, you may not see the humor, er...irony, um...just read it.

I have been actually considering participating in our ward efforts on Proposition 8. A comment was made in a recent Proposition 8 meeting I was suckered into attending under the guise of Stake Priesthood Leadership Meeting at 7am on a Sunday morning in which they encouraged members to participate and simply bring citizens the knowledge that a Proposition 8 exists and no influence one way or the other would be required. And I thought to myself: HEY, I CAN DO THAT!

Then I can follow the Prophet's encouragement to me to do all I can to help Prop 8 pass by simply helping to make others aware that it is even on the ballot. The Prop 8 zealots seem to think knowledge of it's existence on the ballot will encourage voters to come out and bring about it's passage. I happen to think that Constitutionally-minded citizens will recognize the absurdity of the bill and vote it down. And hey, they might even come to some of our meetings and become converted to the cause by all of the fear-based propaganda and hate speech!

Thank goodness I have finally reconciled the issue. I can follow the Prophet AND uphold the Constitution...except for all of those Prop 8 meetings in our non-profit, tax-exempt status church building. Oh wait, that was covered in the "legal loophole" section of training we got at Prop 8 boot camp...er...Priesthood Leadership.

Please vote on Proposition 8 on the upcoming November ballot. See, that wasn't so hard.

SALT LAKE CITY 22 September 2008 The following letter was issued by the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on September 11, 2008, to be read to Church congregations throughout the United States:

Political Participation, Voting, and the Political Neutrality of the Church

As citizens we have the privilege and duty of electing office holders and influencing public policy. Participation in the political process affects our communities and nation today and in the future.

Latter-day Saints as citizens are to seek out and then uphold leaders who will act with integrity and are wise, good, and honest. Principles compatible with the gospel may be found in various political parties.

Therefore, in this election year, we urge you to register to vote, to study the issues and candidates carefully and prayerfully, and then to vote for and actively support those you believe will most nearly carry out your ideas of good government.

The Church affirms its neutrality regarding political parties, platforms, and candidates. The Church also affirms its constitutional right of expression on political and social issues.

Sincerely yours,
Thomas S. Monson
Henry B. Eyring
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
The First Presidency

Monday, September 29, 2008

I Personally Believe...

Okay, I admit...I first saw this CNN clip on my friend Jared's blog but it is so funny I need all to see this. Follow the trail of videos until you need to wipe the tears off your face.

You need this as the base sample for stupidity:

Sarah Palin on Katie Couric with some "unbiased" commentary from CNN:

SNL-spoof of the interview

Monday, September 22, 2008

On this day in history...September 22, 1964...

The musical "Fiddler on the Roof" opened on Broadway, beginning a run of 3,242 performances. It was the first musical to surpass the 3,000 performance mark, and it held the record for longest-running Broadway musical for almost 10 years until Grease surpassed its run. The production earned $1,574 for every dollar invested in it.

In 1971, a movie was made based upon the Broadway musical. This is my favorite musical of all time and is one of my favorite movies as well. The film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) in 1972 but struck out in the Academy Awards in that category. The film won three Academy Awards, including one for arranger-conductor John Williams. It was nominated for five more, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Chaim Topol as Tevye, and Best Supporting Actor for Leonard Frey, who played Motel the Tailor (both had originally acted in the musical; Topol as Tevye in the London production and Frey in a minor part as the rabbi's son).

If you haven't seen this movie it is definitely worth it. Five out of five stars.

Enjoy a few clips:

If I Were A Rich Man:


Tevye's Dream:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Call of the Wild by Jack London

The Call Of The Wild (Scholastic Classics) The Call Of The Wild by Jack London

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just reread this recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. While not necessarily enjoying the ongoing theme of Survival of the Fittest, the comparison of nature between animal and man is not entirely deniable. I enjoyed pondering the question of whether we as humans have certain natural instincts passed down through genetics that call out to each of us. One thought that continued to fester in my brain, which I believe still remains unanswered is if listening to those instincts makes us more human and closer to divinity or if it brings us to our neanderthal roots and we become as natural men focused solely on the pleasures and pains of life.

I also enjoyed watching Buck go throughout the book with an evolving sense of loyalty. In the beginning it seems a novel concept or principle but unchallenged Buck did not seem to truly grasp the concept. Later, in the team mentality, self preservation reigned supreme while loyalty to the team was a close second. When Spitz attacks Buck during an attack on the group from the Huskies, it was his betrayal of the team that ultimately allowed Buck, who had put team loyalty first, to rise to the respected position of leader.

The lessons of companionship also resonate throughout the book. Buck experiences varied types of companions and creates working relations with all but not until John Thornton does he experience friendship and love. Interesting enough though, even in this relationship Buck seemed to lack something and wanted more.

Lastly, what rings true and ultimately triumphs? Does humanity possess measures of virtue or does the concept of survival of the fittest dominate humanity as well as the animal kingdom. While I do not share London's gloomy outlook, I believe this is his rebuke of humanity. Those London portrays as the "civilized" of humanity act the most selfishly and cruelly. When Buck meets Thornton, he does begin to perform unselfish acts but not because he has attained a measure of humanity...he has found love.

London proposes that humans are no more likely to be genuinely kind or genuinely careful of others than animals are, they are simply more likely to try to disguise their own selfish desires and actions. I have a slightly more optimistic outlook on humanity and believe we have the dual instincts buried within us of divinity and humanity. The seedlings of Divinity lift us to overcome the natural man and place the things of the Spirit in priority while the flesh of humanity pulls us down to require the pleasures and pains of life experience.

View all my reviews.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

California Proposition 8 and Why I'm Voting NO...

Well…I guess I am writing this for the five of you who actually read this. Truth be told, I am writing it for myself. I don’t have a punching bag down in the basement in which to release my frustration so the verbal barrage is about to begin. After writing my “I Give Up” posting it now seems as though everyone and their mother wants to discuss Proposition 8. They must have missed the whole point of my blog. I no longer want to discuss it. Alas, I am throwing this together to hopefully (and finally) close the book on my feelings on California Proposition 8.

A little over two months ago, our local Bishop read a letter from the First Presidency (http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/california-and-same-sex-marriage) over the pulpit during Sacrament meeting and read as follows:

“In March 2000 California voters overwhelmingly approved a state law providing that ‘Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.’ The California Supreme Court recently reversed this vote of the people. On November 4, 2008, Californians will vote on a proposed amendment to the California state constitution that will now restore the March 2000 definition of marriage approved by the voters.

“The Church’s teachings and position on this moral issue are unequivocal. Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and the formation of families is central to the Creator’s plan for His children. Children are entitled to be born within this bond of marriage.

“A broad-based coalition of churches and other organizations placed the proposed amendment on the ballot. The Church will participate with this coalition in seeking its passage. Local Church leaders will provide information about how you may become involved in this important cause.

“We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to
assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage.“

This has inevitably sparked various talks from ward and stake leadership on the evils of homosexuality and the eventual impacts on church, family and society if it is allowed. The raging amounts of propaganda and slander assigned unilaterally on every gay person simultaneously denouncing gay bashing and promoting Christ-like love was enjoyably disgusting to say the least. Not a single Sunday has gone by since without the Proposition 8 being addressed in some fashion and usually it dominates the gospel discussions.

Recently, the state of Utah has been considering a flat rate income tax and the church was solicited for a response and gave one. It raised the following question: “To what level do members of the church give credence to statements issued by the church on social policies?”

The LDS Church spokesman Dale Bills replied to that by saying: "Church statements on public policy issues reflect the united voice of church leaders. While such statements often reflect church teachings and practices, positions on matters of public policy do not rise to the level of doctrinal declarations." (http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,605154969,00.html?pg=2)

And what of those “doctrinal declarations”? We have to look no further than the Doctrine and Covenants to find our revealed and inspired position: “We do not believe it just to mingle religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.” (D+C 134:9).

My beef with this from the beginning has been the premise that marriage is under attack and we need to prevent the gays of America from laying claim to what the conservative Christian base of America clearly holds so dear. The fact that more than half the marriages end in divorce and the insanely large number of Americans cherish the marital commitment by shunning this sacred institution and “shack up” as Dr. Laura so eloquently labels it.

Clearly marriage is failing because of the homosexual influence of America.

I also find the LDS Church taking an ironic stand on the issue. It wasn’t much more than a century ago, Mormons wanted the definition of marriage out of the hands of the government. For any of you “Big Love” fans out there (it got a second season so someone is watching), you know Mormons practiced polygamy which contrary to network television officially ended in 1890.

However, in 1862 we find the first Government legislation attempting to define marriage specifically addressing the polygamy found within the Mormon community. Church leaders were furious and were appealing to the Bill of Rights for justification: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”

The Mormons wanted the government to butt out of the religious practice of marriage. They found loopholes in the legislation continued performing plural marriages. Further legislation was issued in 1882 and 1887 to seal the loopholes and the LDS Prophet received revelation in 1890 indicating that it was time to put the practice of polygamy on hold.

Now we, as members, find ourselves in an interesting situation. We are now being encouraged to petition the government to stick their noses in and define what marriage is and who can participate. We are being asked to deny an infinitesimal fraction of the population from entering into a covenant of committed love. Are Christians afraid that homosexuals may actually succeed where they have personally failed? Or maybe, out of Christian concern, religionists are trying to save them from the inevitable doom of divorce?

Why are we even looking to the government to define marriage? In the LDS church, a proclamation went out to the world from our governing leadership declaring: “We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God…”

Not ordained by the government but of God and most traditional Christian religions believe this. The answer seems simple enough: Let marriage be for the religionists and civil unions be for the government. If you would like the government to recognize your union, or domestic partnership, apply for the license. If you would like to have a religious marriage ceremony to profess your commitment before God, go to your churches. “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21).

Do I even dare address the catalogues of propaganda being spewed over pulpit, during class discussion, and over the Internet?

1. “Children in public schools will have to be taught that same-sex marriage is just as good as traditional marriage.” - Is that drastically cataclysmic? Do Christians seriously fear that they cannot combat current issue education with their home taught and church instructed moral values? They are already being taught about evolution, failure of prohibition, slavery, and sex education in the public schools. Is there an epidemic of Christian teens becoming alcoholic, sex fiend, slave-owning evolutionists?

2. “It will lead to more government intrusion into private lives.” – No. Asking them to intrude into our private lives will lead to them intruding into our private lives.

3. “It will lead to speech monitors.” – Yes, just as giving equal rights to other minority groups lead to speech monitors. Now, you can no longer use derogatory names when referring to homosexuals…boo hoo hoo. The bar for public awareness has been raised to include another minority section of the citizenry.

4. “Anti-discrimination regulations will become more important than religious beliefs.” – An example was cited in which a lesbian couple sued a doctor who refused to perform a requested artificial insemination because of the doctor's religious beliefs. Although another doctor offered to do the procedure, the California Supreme Court held unanimously that the ‘1st Amendment's right to the free exercise of religion does not exempt defendant physicians here from conforming their conduct to the … antidiscrimination requirements.’ Religionists see it that Anti-bias laws will outweigh religion rights. I say that is ridiculous. Let’s say this doctor retires because of this situation and decides to open up a Bakery Café. This same lesbian couple stop by the Café and the doctor/baker decides to tell them that he will not serve them but that Starbucks is across the street and they will serve lesbians but he cannot because of his religious bigotry towards hell bound sinners. Is this not discrimination?

5. “Churches will be sued over their tax-exempt status if they refuse to allow same-sex marriage ceremonies in their religious buildings open to the public.” – The thought is that religions will be required to allow such marriages in their chapels and sanctuaries. Who knows? Maybe it will but more than likely the worst case scenario is that no one has access to church buildings for weddings or wedding receptions. So much for the cheap cost of Mormon weddings versus those of mainstream America…

6. “Religious adoption agencies will be challenged by government to give up their long-held right to place children only in homes with both a mother and a father.” – The example often cited in this one is that Catholic Charities in Boston has already closed its doors because of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts which is so untrue. Catholic Charities has not closed their doors they simply have chosen not to continue the adoption agency section of Catholic Charities because they relied heavily on state taxpayer funding to stay in business. I do not believe that LDS Adoption Services will run into that issue.

7. The implication that 100% of homosexuals are so by choice. If we just look at general authority statements on the issue over the last 20 years it clearly shows how our Church position is evolving. Ten to fifteen years ago you never heard prominent church leaders admitting that there may be those born “with tendencies.” I wonder what their statements will look like with another 10-15 years of scientific advance.

8. The constant barrage of salacious comparisons of homosexuals and pedophiles. That is almost as ridiculous as saying all adulterers or fornicators are pedophiles. The Church went through the same cycle when the huge lawsuit against the Boy Scouts was underway. “We can’t let gays into Boy Scouts because they’ll molest our kids.” Foolishness. Just state that your interpretation of “morally straight” part of Boy Scout oath means not gay and move on. That is a respected position and answer, not the fear mongering.

9. Again from the proclamation: “All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” I have no issue with the statement, it is that just that some people have interpreted “gender” to somehow equate with sexual orientation. I don’t find the two compatible.

10. “This is a doctrinal issue not a civil rights issue.” How is it not? We are essentially saying that Mormon morality (again which I do believe, in case you forgot that by now…) should be the civil law of the land forcing those who do NOT share our same moral code to live by and honor it. And yes, I understand that the voice of the people voted for the amendment however many years ago and now the California Supreme Court overturned it. I understand. But the question that I still have not answered for myself is: Can the voice of the people calling for a morally restrictive civil code be enforceable while still upholding the constitutional rights of all a state or nation’s citizens?

In defense of the current Church leadership, I will say that they actually issued a very well prepared document explaining to the church members why they were getting behind this. You can read it at: http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/the-divine-institution-of-marriage.

The Declaration of Independence proclaims “…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Many would counter with “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10). The Declaration simply states they are entitled to “the pursuit”. Just because we Mormons are so confident/arrogant in our position as “the one true church”, it doesn’t mean we can force our moral code upon the citizenry of America. “What if, “ you then ask me, “the majority of the populous decide to not allow homosexual citizens the right to marry? Doesn’t the will of the people decide social policy?”

If you accept that mentality then you are essentially saying that the will of the American people, the wickedness of a nation of Gentile non-Mormon believers, had the capacity to change God’s position to His chosen people on polygamy and declare it unnecessary for church practice.

The most insane part of this whole thing is that it isn’t going to matter what the outcome of the California vote is. The fact that California is addressing it for a second time and that the state citizens are in opposition to the California Supreme Court upholding Constitutional rights of a minority group will inevitably force the United States Supreme Court to finally address the issue instead of continually pushing it back to the states. The time has come and we need a federal policy even if it only meets the issue somewhere in the middle of both sides of the argument similar to the Roe v Wade decision did.

I will close this by maintaining that while I am voting NO on California Proposition 8, for the reasoning listed above, I do not believe that either side is completely right or completely wrong on this issue. I simply believe the Devil is doing his job and we are arguing about the wrong issue. He has achieved his goal of taking the teaching of Christian principles out of our church meetings and replaced them with the political rhetoric of hate. I once again leave you with the words oft attributed to the Reverend Martin Niemoller circa 1945 in reflection of the Nazi rise to power and subsequent atrocities:

“First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.”

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I have debated until I was blue in the face with family, friends, and church leaders regarding the upcoming Proposition 8 initiative that will be on the November ballot. I pondered introspectively on the prospect of blogging in open opposition to the public policy advice from the Prophet of the true and living Church and decided that I didn't need any unwanted religious aggravation just in case some trigger-happy, up-and-comer stake high council member somehow stumbles upon my blog and tries to make an example out of the heathen wolf in sheep's clothing while making his case to be the new councilor in the Stake Presidency. I do still have my family to think about...so I will NOT be giving an entire blog in which I would state my case so eloquently that even Barack Obama would stand and clap.

After all my reasoning, debating, and flat-out arguing, I have come to the conclusion that either you get it or you don't. And I am not saying that either side is completely right or wrong. This is just to formally announce that I give up trying on this subject matter. I don't want to argue any longer. Every time someone tries to address the issue with me on a logical basis it always ends up that I am the recipient of someone's testimony of the Prophet of God. Thank you, I know who Thomas Monson is.

I am also convinced that if I attempt to share an opposing view it may force people to think...and I understand that not everyone wants to do that for themselves. Many individuals are simply content in allowing other people to make decisions for them. The global economy and every religion alive requires the need for vast amounts of these types of people. They are a terrestrial necessity. Frankly, I am surprised at how many there are...And this by no means is an attack on those who actually have used logic, reasoning, and yes faith if you must, to reach a view in opposition of mine. It was simply a jab at the mindless sheep who wouldn't realize the insult anyway. However, faith without an logical comprehension of your position throws one back into the herd. Nevertheless...


I get the point. We have had it beaten through our skulls every Sunday for the last 6 to 7 straight weeks with no end in sight. If I just convert and join the in-crowd and give my vote to strip Constitutional rights from our citizens (Bush has taken away so many anyway...why not add a few more), if I do this...Can we PLEASE go back to learning about Christ-like love for our fellow brothers and sisters and less about the societal and scientific absolutes learned through prayer? Can we just go back to studying the gospel and learning things that will help me return exalted in the Celestial Kingdom where marriage is how it is supposed to be? You know...between a man and a woman...and one more woman...and maybe one more woman...

I know, I know. Shrug it off with the obligatory Mormon cop-out, "He must be hiding some deep dark sins. He's doing something evil in his life. There's no other explanation for it." So go ahead and convince yourselves of that and dig around in my garbage cans looking for evidence if need be. Whatever helps you sleep at night. Why else could someone go against the flowing current of propaganda? I must be a sinner...


As my farewell to the topic, I give the words oft attributed to Reverend Martin Niemoller circa 1945 as a reflection of the Nazi rise to power:

First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up,
because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time there was no one
left to speak up for me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

blog jacked...

this is nicola. tj thought all of our mosaics were lame. so, i jacked his blog and made him one. just to be contrary. just to be ornery. we'll see. he might just delete it before anyone sees it anyway. still, i had fun feeling a little rebellious. smooches, t!

1. what is your first name? TJ
2. what is your favorite food? CHIPS AND SALSA (CURRENT ADDICTION)
3. what school do you go to? UNIVERSITY OF PHEONIX
5. who is your celebrity crush? KATE BECKINSALE
6. what is your favorite drink? COCA COLA (CURRENT ADDICTION...THIS OR A PEACH SMOOTHIE)
7. what is your dream vacation? COSTA RICA
9. what do you want to be when you grow up? WRITER
11. one word to describe you? GENIUS
12. your nickname? LOVE (T, TJ, TIJUANA, DADDY...)

And yet even MORE from THE OFFICE: