Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Justification of Sin vs Justification of Faith

After my recent post about the LDS history of The Word of Wisdom which I copied and pasted from a blog I read entitled Pure Mormonism a few things have come to mind that I'd like to address.

1.  Aside from the introductory 1st paragraph, I did not create/write a single word.
2.  The amount of times (phone, email, comments) I was told that my drinking of beer would lead me to hell or lose my temple recommend, etc.  Let me just say that if I were to have a temple recommend interview right now, we wouldn't even make it to the Word of Wisdom question...
3.  Why do Mormons only care about history when it matches their current life view?  Why do you ignore the past by simply claiming the authoritative interpretation of a current mouthpiece? When the views, doctrines, interpretations and positions of Mormons have changed so often, why should we take today's position as an absolute?

A few comments were made that the interpretive view of the history of the Word of Wisdom was a justification of someone who wanted to sin and partake of beer.

Well, that door swings both ways.  To steal a phrase, it is intellectually dishonest to say that someone is justifying their sins with liberal views in an interpretation of history and doctrine while at the same time ignoring history to justify their faith.

As one who has essentially lost their testimony and is back to ground zero, I ask you this:

How do you look at the growing number of coincidences, errors, and outright lies in Mormon history and continue to justify your membership and faith?   

How do you look at the history of the Church and claim that we have a direct link to God through a mouthpiece, when we have had to change our stances and beliefs given as authoritative doctrine?

How do you deal with an absolute authority while yet claiming an evolving Church?

If the Prophets are only fallible men who can be wrong, but won't lead us astray in official capacity, how can I know when they speak in official capacity?

Are they always right...except when they're wrong?  That's a nice loophole.  When they were wrong, they were just speaking as men...

So the question I want comments on is this:

How do you justify your membership in the face of history?  

And I don't want testimonies about how I'm going to burn in hell if I don't repent.  I am currently (to steal a Ross and Rachel phrase) "on a break."  I am not saying that the LDS Church is not correct or true.  I am saying that I choose not to participate right now and at some future point will make a decision on my membership.

I don't see the value in having a "current LIVING PROPHET and MOUTH PIECE OF GOD" if I (A) cannot trust what they are saying, or (B) cannot determine when they speak in official capacity.

Help me understand.  


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Top 14 Forgotten Bands of the 1990's

14. Silverchair - "Tomorrow" (1995)

13. Vertical Horizon - "Everything You Want" (1999)

12. Funkdoobiest - "Bow Wow Wow" (1993)

11. Sponge - "Plowed" (1994)

10. Pavement - "Cut Your Hair" (1994)

9. Tonic - "If You Could Only See" (1997)

8. Collective Soul - "Shine" (1993)

7. Better Than Ezra - "Good" (1995)

6. Candlebox - "Far Behind" (1993)

5. Soul Asylum - "Runaway Train" (1992), "Black and Gold" (1992), "Misery" (1995), "Somebody to Shove" (1992),

4. Gin Blossoms - "Hey Jealousy" (1993), “Allison Road”, “Until I Fall Away”, “Found Out About You”, “Follow You Down” (1996), and “Till I Hear It From You” (1995)

#3 Oasis - "Wonderwall" (1995)

Don't Look Back In Anger
Champagne Supernova

#2 The Presidents of the United States of America - "Lump" (1995)

Feather Pluckin

#1 Toad the Wet Sprocket - "Something's Always Wrong" (1994)

Glen Phillips (acoustic) "All I Want" -

All I Want
Good Intentions
Fall Down
Walk on the Ocean

Friday, June 26, 2009

For my southern California theatre fans...

About three years ago, we went and saw a play in Hollywood called "Fellowship! A Musical Parody of the Fellowship of the Ring." We loved it so much we told a bunch of our friends and went back a second time. Amazingly enough, it got better.

So for those of you who actually read my blog and are within an hour's drive to Burbank, I highly recommend this play. It began it's current run on June 4th and will continue through July 12th.

You can also see information at www.falcontheatre.com or by calling 818-955-8101.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Last Man on Earth

For those of you who don't know, I love old movies. If they're in black and white, even better! Anyhow, with in-laws visiting from out of town, the wife and kids were gone last night and so I settled down on the couch and found this gem on Hulu.

The Last Man on Earth was based on the Richard Matheson novel, "I Am Legend." Having seen (and enjoyed) both the 1971 film The Omega Man with Charlton Heston and the 2007 I Am Legend movie starring Will Smith, I was curious how I would take to it.

Well, the 1964 version that I watched stars none other than cinema legend Vincent Price. Normally I get to watch the older versions and then watch and see how the remakes evolve through the generations. This time I went in reverse and I was unsure how it would turn out.

The answer: It was amazing. What a great film. Vincent Price was phenomenal. If you have a couple hours to spare and want to enjoy a classic, this movie is for you.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mormons and Beer: The Truth Will Set You Free

Thanks to Chris for pointing this in my direction. A recent posting from PureMormonism blog on the Mormon history and doctrine regarding beer.

I want to hear what you all think about this?

Imagine there are two guys in your ward, both active in the church and stalwart in the faith. One is a vegetarian who prefers to eat mostly organic food, fresh and in season. He drinks herbal teas, and almost never eats meat. By "almost never", I mean he's not stupid; he'd eat an animal if he ever found himself in a situation where he was starving. But he tries to eat healthy, and he has one guilty pleasure no one in his ward knows about: At the end of a long day, he likes to kick back with a cold beer.

The second guy loves food - all kinds of food. Especially meat. For him, a day without meat would be a day without sunshine. Junk food is a way of life with this guy. He could take or leave fruits and vegetables, and he mostly leaves them. He wouldn't think of drinking herbal teas, because "hot drinks are not for the body" (except hot chocolate). He doesn't smoke, drink, or dance the hoochi-coo. And he looks like Jabba the Hut.

So here's the question: Which one of these two guys would you say most perfectly lives the Word of Wisdom?

Answer: Bachelor number one.

But, you ask, what about that daily beer?

I said most perfectly. Because, along with his other positive habits, he drinks beer, he's the one most perfectly living the Word of Wisdom. God tells us in Section 89 that beer is one of the reasons He gave us barley.

If you didn't know that, it's probably because like many latter day saints, you learned all about the Word of Wisdom in Sunday school, but you've most likely never gotten around to really reading the thing.

So let's look at it again. Remember the part describing the purposes of the various grains, the one that begins "Nevertheless, wheat for man..."? Open your scriptures to Doctrine and Covenants Section 89 and turn to verse 17. Let's read, in God's own words, what he created barley for: "...and barley for all useful animals and for mild drinks, as also other grain."

The early saints would have been astounded that future members would ever conflate their mild barley drink -beer- with the "strong drink" advised against in verses 5 and 7. Early Mormons regularly consumed beer without compunction, as had most of mankind throughout recorded history.

In 1843 the church's newspaper, the Nauvoo Neighbor, advertised ale and beer available at the Nauvoo Brewery. Joseph Smith oversaw a fully stocked bar located at his home in the Mansion House. In an 1844 journal entry Joseph Smith mentions that he stopped in and "drank a glass of beer at Moesser's". He mentions this in passing as if it was no big deal, because to him it wasn't.

This was eleven years after Joseph received the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom, so you can't say he didn't know better. The fact is, beer was not proscribed by Section 89; it was prescribed.

Within three years of the saints' arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, breweries were operating at the mouths of every river canyon from Logan to Nephi. Most of the saints were immigrants from England, Denmark, and Germany, and these Teutonics brought with them their old-world brewing skills. A sizable brewery once sat close to where the Provo temple is now, and the Henry Wagener Brewery took up a massive 150 acres just across the street from where the "This Is The Place" monument now stands. So many breweries appeared so fast that by 1851 the smell emanating from all these operations provoked the city council to declare them a nuisance. Yet they continued to operate.

Beer was manufactured and consumed by faithful members of the church who never gave a second thought to the idea that there might be anything wrong with it. Most would have applied Benjamin Franklin's famous declaration regarding wine to their beer and ale, that it was "proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy".

By the time Johnston's Army arrived in 1857, ushering in a steady stream of thirsty gentiles through Utah, things really took off for the Mormon brewers. Beer was available everywhere, including the church owned ZCMI where both Mormons and gentiles could stop in to grab a brewski any day but Sunday.

So how did the LDS church membership devolve from an appreciation of beer as a gift from God, to our present-day anathema toward it?

Well, we got the idea from the protestants.

Temperance Nation

By the time of the Manifesto in 1890, the LDS conversion rate was practically nil. All anybody knew about Mormons were that they were that crazy bunch of polygamous weirdos off in the desert. Any growth the church experienced was primarily internal, as pretty much the only baptisms Utahns were performing were on eight year old kids who already lived there. Certainly nobody new wanted to join.

The united states government and the eastern newspapers had painted us such pariahs that we couldn't get anybody to take our religion seriously on a bet. Missionaries couldn't get anyone to take a pamphlet, let alone read the Book of Mormon. Proselyting was at a standstill. We needed to find some way to get our numbers up.

Meanwhile back in the states, a huge temperance movement was sweeping the sectarian religious world, a backlash against decades of unbridled American alcoholism and public drunkenness. Public vows of abstinence were all the rage. It was no longer cool to profess Christ on Sunday if you spent Saturday night in a saloon; now a man's spiritual measure was taken by how vociferously he denounced the demon rum.

The motto of virtuous young women everywhere was "lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine", and young men, whose lips desperately wanted to touch the lips of young women, dutifully fell into line. It was futile to argue with these women that beer and ale, which were brewed, did not belong in the same class as hard liquors such as whiskey, which was distilled. These young ladies had zero tolerance for any of it; it was all the same to them. Talk to the hand, 'cause the lips ain't listenin'.

There was a pious war against booze raging in Christian America, and mild drinks were getting caught in the crossfire.

The debate spilled over into Utah where, though public drunkenness was strictly forbidden, wine and distilled spirits had always been available (some members paid their tithing in wine they made themselves; the St George tithing office reported collecting 7000 gallons by 1887). Still, hard liquor was hardly tolerated by Mormons the way beer had traditionally been.

By 1900, the parsing of the Word of Wisdom was well under way in debate among the leaders of the church. According to BYU Professor Emeritus Thomas G. Alexander:

"...All general authorities were not in agreement on all aspects of the word of wisdom...After he became president of the church, Lorenzo Snow again emphasized the centrality of not eating meat...and in 1901 John Henry Smith and Brigham Young, Jr., of the Twelve both thought that the church ought not interdict beer, at least not Danish beer." Apostle Anthon H. Lund, who happened to be Danish, agreed, especially the part about Danish beer. So did did Mathias F.Cowley and others.

Over the next couple of decades, the Mormon people as a whole jumped on the Temperance bandwagon, and in 1919 Utah enthusiastically ratified the 18th amendment prohibiting all alcoholic beverages, including beer. Utah breweries closed down and before long all traces disappeared. In time, the descendants of the pioneers forgot they had ever existed. Land once occupied by the sprawling Henry Wagoner Company eventually became home to the Hogle zoo.

The Mormon support of prohibition had a positive effect on missionary work. We could boast to teetotaling Christians that we were way ahead of the curve on the evils of alcohol, having been hip to that scene as far back as 1833. With the hub-bub over polygamy having pretty much quieted down, the church was experiencing a re-branding. Missionaries were no longer fearsome devils come to steal your daughters; they were now those nice young men who didn't smoke or drink.

Looks like we'd found our gimmick.

After America came to its senses in 1933 and repealed prohibition, many Christians no longer saw any harm in the occasional beer, but by this time Mormons were so proudly tethered to their image as the fermentedly free that they couldn't let go. It allowed us to remain a peculiar people, but now in a good way. Our image as strict non-drinkers was what was now defining us to the rest of the world. It was the thing that was getting us in the papers.

And within the church the Word of Wisdom gradually transmogrified from a gentle principle with promise to That Doctrine Which Must Be Obeyed.

The Commandment That Never Was

Anyone who actually reads the Word of Wisdom is struck by the dichotomy between what is declared in its opening verses and the way it's promulgated by the church today. The actual revelation is very clear in its wording that what is to follow is "not by way of commandment or constraint". It's a guide to healthy living, a principle with a promise attached for any who choose to follow the wise advice therein.

A modern member might hear about the Word of Wisdom all his life and never know of the counsel it gives regarding food -what should be eaten and what should not. The emphasis today is always on the four negatives we are to avoid: alcohol, coffee, tea, and tobacco (and sometimes Pepsi, according to some). A person can think he's living the Word of Wisdom to the letter without ever having read it, and actually be in egregious violation of it, like Brother Jabba above.

So, who changed the Word of Wisdom? How and when did the Lord declare unquestioning obedience to be so paramount that almost all other doctrines and practices take a back seat?

In Seminary I was told that some years after the saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, Brigham Young announced that the saints had now had plenty of time to quit using tobacco, liquor, tea, and coffee, and that henceforth the Lord had declared they were to live it as a commandment.

But is this true? Did Brigham Young ever make such a declaration? More importantly, did Jesus Christ, author of the revelation, tell Brigham Young that it was no longer voluntary?

When Joseph Fielding Smith was an apostle, he authored a set of books entitled "Answers to Gospel Questions". Here's where we get our modern interpretation:

"September 9th, 1851, President Brigham Young stated that the members of the church Had had sufficient time to be taught the import of this revelation, and that henceforth it was to be considered a divine commandment. This was first put before the male members and then before the women, and by unanimous vote accepted."

With all due respect to the late President Smith, if an anti-Mormon had tried to pass off such a misleading statement about Mormon history as this, he would have been accused of distorting and twisting the facts. Nothing like what president Smith avers occurred at all. Brigham Young didn't convert the Word of Wisdom into a commandment, nor did he claim the Lord did. Nor did the body of the church ever vote to accept it as a commandment. Here is what actually happened as recorded in the Millenial Star:

"President Young rose to put the motion and called on all the sisters who will leave off the use of tea, coffee, etc., to manifest it by raising the right hand; seconded and carried.

"And then put the following motion; calling on all the boys who were under ninety years of age who would covenant to leave off the use of tobacco, Whiskey, and all things mentioned in the Word of Wisdom to manifest it in like manner, which was carried unanimously."

As Robert J. McCue makes clear in his essay "Did The Word of Wisdom Become a Commandment in 1851?", the vote was simply a personal commitment by those present to abstain from items condemned in the Word of Wisdom. It wasn't until nine years later that Brigham Young himself gave up tobacco, although he had long considered the habit uncouth, filthy, and offensive. In 1860, nearly a decade after he was supposed to have declared the Word of Wisdom a commandment, he advised the Brethren, "If you must use tobacco, put a small portion in your mouth when no person sees you, and be careful that no one sees you chew it. I do not charge you with sin."

The evidence is that Brigham Young regretted his earlier call for the young men and women to commit to stop using these substances, for it appears that many caught up in the fervor of the moment were unable to keep their resolutions for very long. Years later, President Young made this statement:

"I will not call upon you to make a covenant to do this, for some might break their covenants, and that would be a sin."

Brigham Young made many statements condemning the use of hard liquor and tobacco, but never claimed a commandment from the Lord on the subject. Indeed, Thomas G. Alexander affirms that there never has been a revelation from the Lord requiring obedience to the Word of Wisdom, or converting it from voluntary to mandatory.

This is not to say that these substances are not harmful; there's no question that they are. But God only commands us regarding how we are to interact with others. He does not interfere with our free agency to make our own mistakes regarding how we treat ourselves.

Beer For The Body

Raised as I was to believe that beer was the devil's brew, I was really caught up short awhile back when I read something in a newsletter by a very Godly natural health expert whose opinion I had always trusted. This author is read by religiously hard-core vegans and food purists who strive at putting only pure raw foods into their bodies and avoiding all harmful substances in their search for both physical and spiritual perfection. He told his readers that most of them were neglecting an essential nutrient that God had provided for thousands of years: Beer. More particularly, fermented hops, which is an essential ingredient in beer.

According to this expert, for at least the past four thousand years, mankind drank beer at the end of the day to relax, and there's a reason he did: God meant for it to be. God gives our bodies the means to accomplish what's necessary throughout the day. Our bodies create stress so that we can get things done. Stress is what enables us to get up, go, and keep going.

But at the end of the day the body needs to let go of all that stress, otherwise the nervous system remains highstrung to a degree; it never truly unwinds. The pollinated hops flower contains anodynes and soporifics that relax the nerves in a way nothing else can, and a beer made of fermented barley is the best way to deliver those hops to the nerves that need them. The small amount of alcohol in a pint of beer assists in that delivery.

And this is key: one beer is all it takes; more than two pints is too much. An excess amount of beer can be detrimental to your liver and other parts of your body. That's why Section 89 advises moderation.

It may not even be necessary to have a beer every day. For some people a pint at the end of the week does the trick. The point is to reverse the stress buildup and relax your nervous system. It helps you sleep, has antibiotic properties, and the barley contains important B vitamins and other nutrients. Those who stress all day and do not provide their bodies with the means to undo all that stress before bedtime are asking for trouble.

Are there other ways besides beer to cope with the stresses of life? I suppose. Antidepressant drugs are prescribed in Utah more often than in any other state, and at twice the national average. I would guess one reason is because, unlike the rest of the world, we refuse to recognize and use a natural substance God gave us to cope with stress, even when our own scriptures provide for it.

If we are to believe the statistics, Mormon women are among America's unhappiest creatures. Wouldn't it make more sense if, instead of ingesting a dangerous drug four times a day, you simply took the counsel of Christ and sipped from a bottle of beer each night while reading to the kids? You could help them learn what the Word of Wisdom really says, while at the same time affirming to them Ben Franklin's adage regarding the proof of God's love.

Or are you more comfortable rejecting the counsel of God in favor of obeying the doctrines of men?

What All This Has To Do With Me

Even though I now know it's good for me, I confess to not drinking any beer myself yet. The thing is, I tried beer some forty years ago and couldn't stand the taste. I just don't understand what anybody sees in it. It's horrible. I'd sooner drink my own urine.

But I've decided I ought to give it another try, though this time with a quality brew. The problem is, I haven't the slightest idea how to go about selecting a good beer. As the squarest square in Squares-ville, I know nothing about the subject. Actually, it's not so much quality I'm looking for as something that would just taste acceptable to me as a first time beer drinker. I sure don't want to buy a twelve-pack of something with a fancy label just to find out it tastes like crap. I simply don't know how to tell one beer from another.

I went to Smart & Final to read the ingredients on labels, but guess what? Beer labels don't tell you what's in the beer. I suppose it's assumed that all beer has the same ingredients, but since I wasn't sure, I didn't buy any. I did see that some labels say they're made with wheat, but I don't know if that means wheat only, or wheat in addition to barley and hops. Would wheat and barley and hops taste better than simply barley and hops? And how would I know which is which?

What I think I'm looking for is a traditional brew made with hops and barley, so I can have the kind of beer Joseph Smith himself would have drank. But I want it to taste decent, so I'm open to suggestions.

I know that some of the readers of this blog are Jack-Mormons (excuse me, "less actives") who may have discovered the joy of beer already, so I'm counting on you to help me out with this so that I can finally, truly start living the Word of Wisdom.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Flashback Friday - Mother-in-Law edition


Today's Flashback Friday is dedicated to Connie Hendrickson.

Birthday wishes also go out to Kelly Shelby and Patty Maloy.

Chicago vs James Taylor vs Billy Joel

Chicago - You're The Inspiration

James Taylor - You've Got a Friend

Billy Joel - The Longest Time

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Were you a fan of Pulp Fiction?

Matt, how can you not like this movie??? (Warning for those who care - This clip is R-rated, proceed with caution).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Hilarious. Spanish Love Songs...

This is from the guy who does my other favorite series, "Man in the Box."

One Semester of Spanish, Spanish Love Song:

2nd Semester of Spanish, Spanish Love Song:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Problems of the Mormon Intellectual

From an address, "On Being Secular," to the Humanists of Utah, March 2002. Dr. Bill Mulder is a former professor at the University of Utah, and a chapter member.

A continuing problem of the Mormon intellectual is to remain both Mormon and intellectual. His is the problem of religious intellectuals generally: to dare to follow where the mind leads, to prevent the indecision that comes when intellectually they are persuaded in one direction but drawn emotionally in another. If one is robust he may, like William James, will to believe and find pragmatic reasons for the utility of faith, even when the premises are uncomfortable.

The Mormon intellectual, like intellectuals everywhere, wants to know the truth and shares their faith that the mind can lead the way to it. But the mind is only a tiny light in the great surrounding dark of the universe. Sometimes the seeker has to grope his way by other sensibilities, and senses other than sight, to move to an elevation where the little light he does have throws a farther illumination. Because he believes that faith is a s much a dimension of total experience as is reason, the Mormon intellectual may tolerate premises, doctrines, attitudes, and practices in his church which, rationally examined, seem archaic, untenable, even at times repugnant, on the chance these contain values he cannot now appreciate but some day will, or on the chance that he himself may be instrumental in changing them. When faith itself becomes unreasonable, however, putting too great a strain on his credulity, he has to make the hard choice of silence or separation.

The Mormon intellectual as scientist has a higher threshold than as humanist because, more familiar with natural fact than with social value, as scientist he is more willing to assign matters of value to the area of faith, where religious authorities can resolve doubts and make decisions. His religion is not in conflict with science because they don't really meet. The Mormon intellectual as humanist, on the other hand, finds himself deeply entangled in kinds of truth not as readily verifiable as in chemistry or mathematics, but relative. In the humanities and social sciences, truth is not so much discovered as created. Social and moral and religious "truths" leave more room for argument and require, in any effort to institutionalize them, greater latitude of interpretation and application.

Abstract Mormonism, to the loyal intellectual, provides such latitude. Unfortunately, the concrete Church, or its officialdom, does not. Officially, spiritual truths are revealed truths, absolutes, and there can be no conflict between revealed truth and the discoveries about the natural universe, including human nature. In any apparent conflict, man-made truth must yield. Such an a priori commitment makes an apologist of the Mormon intellectual, not a seeker. The early church was full of vigorous thinkers whose main task in proving a doctrine true was to prove it scriptural. They were "intellectuals," scholars and theologians, working, like the Puritans before them, with the Bible as the primary text and skilled in accommodating advancing knowledge to Biblical explanations. Mormonism, in the words of a twentieth-century apologist, a university man, prided itself on having a "rational theology."

From the point of view of the Church, the intellectual is himself a problem. The Church is fearful that his findings will loosen his loyalties and may influence others to find a basis for their faith which is not simple and old-fashioned enough to be called religious. Work for the dead, the Negro question, the narrow proscriptions of the Word of Wisdom are matters where the Church would prefer not to have sophisticated answers because these might mean radical change. History is hard on Mormonism because Mormonism stakes so much on history, and if the evidence fails-if there really were no gold plates, if Joseph Smith really was more scoundrel than prophet-Mormonism faces a serious dilemma. Mormonism without a Book of Mormon as miracle is like Christianity without the Virgin Birth. But the intellectual may, in fact, provide the mystery religion requires and, with proper encouragement, give Mormonism its Sufis and Vedantists. When Mormonism can embrace both superstition and sophistication in the same fold, the intellectual will have found a productive place and revitalize the professed doctrine of the glory of God as intelligence.

Meanwhile, the Mormon intellectual faces a great test of humility to remain in an organization led by anti-intellectuals. If he is not to lose the name of action, he must, like Hamlet, resolve his dilemma. If to remain within the Church means paralysis of will and denial of the deepest urgings of his thought, he must make a break for the open sea. He leaves one haven, as every institution is a haven. There waits, perhaps, the larger harbor of a more inclusive humanity.

--Bill Mulder

This link can be found HERE.

Moral Courage

“Little boldness is needed to assail the opinions and practices of notoriously wicked men; but to rebuke great and good men for their conduct, and to impeach their discernment, is the highest effort of moral courage.”

William Lloyd Garrison

Monday, June 8, 2009

Ethics - Good and Evil

"Ethics, too, are nothing but reverence for life. This is what gives me the fundamental principle of morality, namely, that good consists in maintaining, promoting, and enhancing life, and that destroying, injuring, and limiting life are evil."

ALBERT SCHWEITZER, Civilization and Ethics, 1949.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Prop 8? Here's a memo...

My first post back after that wacky month of happiness; it could really only be about one thing right? Well, the month of May surely did give us enough to talk about on the subject.

I warn you now. I'm going to swear and I'm going to swear often...I'm serious, alright, maybe only a little. Stop reading now or please don't call me later or email me about how I'm the devil incarnate. I'll retaliate in kind. I have a month's worth of pent up frustration and my brother-in-law called me today and got me all pissed off and renewed my fire. I guess that means I'm flaming? Somehow appropriate...

Many have asked me what I think of the California high court's decision to uphold Proposition 8. So, what do I think of the ruling?

If my month of happiness helped me realize anything, it was that I am emotionally drained fighting the online blog battle of intellectual debate on Prop 8. Those I am debating have readily shelved their intellect in favor of inferred and implied (albeit unconfirmed) revelation from God instructing them that: Of all the woes and evils that face California at this time, the greatest threat is having two loving individuals who wish to have the word "marriage" tattooed on their soon-to-be divorced asses is the ONE THING that may bring about Armageddon.

Since no one in my own faith can come to a general consensus on when a Prophet is speaking as a Prophet, I refuse to acknowledge a memo signed by the Office of First Presidency as God's voice commanding the masses through His mouthpiece on earth. If there is confusion about the memo, let us look to other quotes from Thomas S. Monson, Prophet, Seer, and Revelator addressing Proposition 8.

Let's go to the October General Conference of 2008, just one short month before the critical election in California, and see what was revealed. Well, President Monson spoke four times and not once even intimated towards the issue. Funny. Sunday's in California were dominated with Prop 8 propaganda from August to November. Well, maybe in the April 2009 Conference we would hear the Prophet commending those who upheld the revealed word of the Lord. He spoke four times again and finally our faith has been rewarded.

"...the moral footings of society continue to slip, while those who attempt to safeguard those footings are often ridiculed and, at times, picketed and persecuted."

See. And you doubted, oh how you doubted. O ye of little faith. Do you see how that sentence PROVES beyond a shadow of a doubt that voting Yes on Prop 8 was revealed by God to President Monson? With every fiber of my being, that memo was, and is, living scripture.

What? I told you to stop reading...do you remember my warning?

Unfortunately, to my knowledge, memos don't have a history of making it into our canon...not officially at least. If they did, maybe any one of the fundamentalist off-shoots then would have a basis in truth?

Here's a memo: Make a damn statement in an official capacity.

And memo to California Mormons: You now praise these judges for their correct interpretations of upholding the Constitution and siding with the will of the people. These very same infidels that you previously labeled as activist judges legislating from the bench? I wonder if you will you be singing such songs of joy in 2010 and/or 2012 when your victory is inevitably overturned "by the will of the people", what will your tune be like then? Songs of Armageddon, no doubt. And no, not the Aerosmith songs from the movie soundtrack...

I guess I can see where the younger Mormons may falter because they don't know their own religious history of continuously being on the wrong side of civil rights issues but it's the older generation who already went through our own previous debacles that I REALLY just don't understand.

Hey, here's another memo. Why not ask God how to balance the effing state budget? Why is revelation never about practical items? Well, maybe we can send Governor a memo and just infer revelation. We could fix it. We, as Mormons, have social programs galore yet still manage to be fiscally responsible. Well, at least, that's what we're told. Maybe a little transparency is needed in our Church financials too.

Oh yeah, it probably wouldn't look too good for the Church. Oh wait, I have a copy of it right here. Let's see what some of these line items are:

* Allowances for all First Presidency members and the Quorum of the Twelve? But I thought that we had an unpaid clergy and that sure looks like a salary to me. What? It's not a salary, it's an allowance? Yeah, I'm not that dumb.

* Ehh...what is this? A $3-billion dollar "beautification project" in downtown Salt Lake, what the hell is this? What? You got a memo that said, "If you build it they will come?" I can't believe you fell for that. Who told you that? Who's Mark Hofmann? Anyway, that was from a movie called, "Field of Dreams." Yeah, yeah, I know that the field is white and ready to harvest. Although, I don't think they were talking about downtown condos that sell for 7-figures in this economy. What? They have already sold out? Well, okay. Yes, I suppose it could be a sign that God is pleased...

* Great profits coming in from Deseret Book and Seagull Book. Wait a minute. The Church OWNS Deseret Book??? Why do we have the Church Distribution Center then? Well because where else would we sell that which God tells us to impart unto all...for a price? Wait, the Church actually inflates margins on the Holy Scriptures that it sells at Deseret Book over 30% from what it sells them for at the Distribution Center? They wouldn't do that. Not my Church, that would just be unethical. Wait. What? They actually do that? Okay, strike that previous comment. Apparently we got a "memo", so it is okay to do. We're in the clear. But hey, at least you got the memo to stop carrying those immoral Twilight books...AFTER you sold out of every copy. I'm sure the youth learned the lesson on how and when to make a moral stand.

* $72 million for undeveloped property in Arizona that wouldn't be worth even if it was developed?

Ah, hell. I can't read anymore. This is getting out of control. Give me the Blue Pill, Give me the Blue Pill. Damnit, why didn't I take the Blue Pill...

Memo to President Obama - Can you negotiate a settlement for open transparency in LDS church financials in exchange for you promising not be pissed off about us baptizing your mother posthumously? I'd appreciate it, thanks! (Fist bump).

Okay back to Prop 8. Where the CA Supreme Court got it right is that (technically) Prop 8 was a legal amendment. Read my friend Lisa's post about what the ruling DID and DID NOT mean, lest you become confused.

However, I am not yet wise enough in my years to know what to do when a majority is full of shit. To whom do the minority groups turn to then? How do you tell someone to have faith in the system when the system fails them? My advice to them is this. Mount a charge for 2010. Add a proposition to the ballot reversing Proposition 8. When it passes, and it will pass, begin working on a second proposition for 2012 requiring all Constitutional amendments to pass with a 2/3 majority vote and not simply a 50% +1 structure.

If that doesn't work, start a gay religion and claim protection of marriage under CA Constitution, Art. I, Sec 4.

I also thought that the official LDS response to the proposition passing was obvious. I think it a bit shameful that they would hyper-link to a fear-based opinion piece in the NY Times that was only slightly less dishonest and morally-bankrupt as the entirety of the Yes on 8 advertising campaigns.

And can we settle this once and for all? Catholic Charities CHOSE to close their doors. The state of Massachusetts did not shut them down. They told them that since they were taking state funds to operate, they would have to run by state guidelines. The Catholic Church was fully within their rights to discriminate who they would or would not give children to...but only if they did it on their own dime and not with state funds.

Memo to Catholics, makes you think about reconsidering that whole condom thing, doesn't it? Maybe then, they'd have less teenage Catholic girls getting pregnant and needing to find adoptive parents for their unwanted children. Just a thought...

Another memo to Catholics, maybe if you weren't making so many payouts in civil suits, you could probably afford to run it without state aid. Just another thought...

Listen, let me end on a point of LDS doctrine here.

Our most fundamental doctrine is that Christ invites us to follow Him. It is up to us to decide if we want to return to Him by proving ourselves worthy by living obediently and ultimately relying on His grace to save us after all that we can do.

Another core belief is that Satan wanted to take away our ability to choose and decide, our free agency. His addendum to the plan was such that it would incapacitate us from the option of sinning and essentially force us back to Heaven.

Proposition 8 embraces Satan's plan. It says that (and now conjure up your best rowdy Dave Chappelle voice for this):

"For your own good gay people, we aren't going to allow you to sin. Mostly because we, as beautiful God-fearing Christians, we don't want to look upon you disgusting gay Christ-haters, but also because if you aren't going to follow God's plan of your own free choice, we will take away your ability to decide for yourselves and compel you to follow God's commandments. We'll do our best drag you to heaven, even though God will probably make you burn in hell for just having those dirty gay thoughts."

How do I feel about the California Supreme Court decision? Constitutionally sound and lacking in balls. The judges had the opportunity to send the decision back to the people on the grounds of inequality and chose to allow a majority of religious citizens to legislate their morality. The danger comes in trying to draw the line in how far you allow citizens to legislate their religious beliefs. It's all fine and dandy, as long as you're in the majority.

How do I feel about the Prop 8? I think it is fueled by fear and hate, kindled by religion, and embraced in the flames of everything that is wrong with America.