Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jumping to conclusions or valid concerns

Regarding the recent statement by the LDS church supporting the nondiscrimination ordinance in SLC, I keep reading, studying, and pondering; and, I vacillate back and forth between a fair amount of skepticism and thinking that, perhaps, I was too quick to pass judgment against the LDS church regarding their motivations. I don't know, maybe it's just me seeing conspiracy where none exists. I'm man enough to admit that I might be wrong; but, I'm not yet convinced that I am wrong. That said, my feelings today are that, even if it was just a PR stunt - it's still a good thing.

I previously mentioned that even our local Texas newspaper had a little blurb about it last Wednesday. Well, last Thursday they included a whole article - unprecedented! Seriously - this is Baptist country, most of whom normally couldn't care less what goes on in SLC. So, seeing it in our newspaper, not once - but twice, means this must be big news.

I really don't know why I"m letting this bother me so much - it doesn't affect me in the least. I can probably count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I've even been in Utah - and I can't envision myself ever living there, much less Salt Lake City.

It's just that with all that's happened over the last couple of years - it feels like we've taken one step forward ("God Loveth His Children" pamphlet) then two leaps backwards (prop 8). I can't dismiss this fear that this is another step forward with a leap backward on the horizon. I guess I'm afraid to get my hopes up again.

I think Drew Stelter succinctly articulated how I feel: I just don't want my church to be involved in politics [PERIOD]. It doesn't matter if I agree or disagree with their position - I don't think it's becoming of a church that is supposed to be bringing people closer to God to get tangled up in the institutions of man. Politics is dirty business, and you can't expect to come out untainted if you choose to become involved - regardless of how pure your intentions might be.

I read somewhere (don't recall where) an opinion which I tend to agree with: The LDS church needs to get out of the business of fighting gays and back to the business of helping hurricane victims.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Olive branch or PR stunt?

I have to confess to some skepticism when news of the impending "historical announcement" first started floating around the queerosphere yesterday. So, I was mildly surprised when it actually occurred. It must be big news as a blurb was even included in our local Texas newspaper (we don't get much Mormon news in these parts).

I also have to confess to a great amount of skepticism as I read the news reports and the official announcement - a stupor of thought if you will. Something just doesn't smell right about all of this. Here are some of the thoughts that have been floating around my head the last 12 hours (in no particular order)
  • Why is supporting non-discrimination so historical in the first place? As followers of Jesus Christ - shouldn't that be part of our very nature?
  • "The church supports these ordinances ... because they are fair and reasonable and do not do violence to the institution of marriage" - does this bother anyone else? PR departments do not speak indiscriminately - every word they utter has been carefully thought out beforehand. To settle on the word "violence" suggests that this whole affair is distasteful and deemed a necessary evil.
  • "Participants in the secret meetings ..." - huh?!? Does this mean that Utah law does not require open meetings in matters of public policy and interest? Secret meetings and the unanimous vote suggests a carefully crafted collusion - which is illegal between commercial businesses.
  • Why now? And the timing - soon after the trailer for "8: A Mormon Proposition"- seems more than coincidental.
If you want my personal opinion - which I'm sure you do if you've read this far on my blog - I don't think this is an olive branch to the LGBT community. I think this is a PR stunt aimed at the straight members of the LDS church. Another way of saying "see, we don't hate gays - we just hate what they do."

I previously blogged about my thoughts that all is not well in Zion - and this just strengthens my feelings. I think the aftermath of proposition 8 has affected the LDS church more they they will ever admit to. I think there is a growing consensus that the church may have stepped over the line when it became actively involved in pushing the passage of proposition 8 in California. I think they've seen this in increased letters requesting membership removal and falling activity rates, baptism rates, etc. And, I think they see the forthcoming documentary "8: A Mormon Proposition" as just stirring up the pot even more. I see this move as a preemptive strike to help the straight membership feel better about other church policies and activities aimed at opposing the GLBT community; and, it gives them ammunition to use when criticism against the church increases - which it will undoubtedly will when "8: A Mormon Proposition" is released.

Maybe I"m wrong - and I sincerely hope I am - but I just don't think this portends to a new kinder and gentler approach.

Monday, November 9, 2009

bikini girls

Someone recently found my blog after googling "bikini girls" - they didn't stay long, I'm guessing my blog wasn't quite what they were looking for.

Other recent google searches that led people to my blog
  • kris allen lds?
  • kimball, edward l., "the history of lds temple admission standards,"
  • mormon ashley madison
  • lds ward executive secretary calling sucks
  • starting spinich seeds
  • mormon men sexually bored
  • mormon blogger theme
  • how to take lds minutes of meeting
  • lds seminary, jacob
  • lds sacrament meeting testimony bearing
  • Mormon Wanking
  • the morman outlook on the afterlife
  • mormonism is retarded

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Weird yet wonderful - a foodie plea

I first met my daughter's future in-laws when they flew out to Texas to join us for Thanksgiving. Normally our Thanksgiving feast is fairly traditional; however, that year my wife found a Turducken at CostCo - A turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken. My daughters in-laws are not very adventurous in their culinary pursuits; so, this made quite an impression upon them - and remains a hot topic of conversation with them several years later.

This year my wife and I will be driving out to Southern California to enjoy Thanksgiving with my daughter and her family, as well as her in-laws. I would like to prepare some sort of side-dish to give her in-laws something new to talk about - I want to prepare something that is weird yet wonderful and vaguely Thanksgiving-ish

I also want something that they will likely sample; so, there are some limitations
  • Anything with seafood is probably out
  • Same with organ meats
  • These are TBM's; so, alcohol, even in minute amounts, is probably out
  • Nothing spicy (these people equate catsup with hot sauce)
So, how about it all of you top chef wannabies - any ideas for me?

Something else to keep in mind is that I won't be in my own kitchen; so, I will be somewhat limited as to kitchen gadgets and implements; but, I will be in the greater-LA area; so, presumably will have access to stores to obtain hard-to-find ingredients. Something ethnic might be nice - especially Armenian. (my daughter lives in an area with a large Armenian population).

After Thanksgiving I'll likely write about this on my food and gardening blog. Send me an email if you want a link as I use my real name on that blog and am hesitant to put a link to it on this blog.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I've held off making any comments about the upcoming film "8: The Mormon Proposition" because, frankly, I have some reservations about it.

Do I agree with the decision of the LDS church to actively support proposition 8? No - but that doesn't mean I consider LDS church leaders to be evil. I expect this documentary is going to cast the LDS church is a very negative light - and I just can't support that. Like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof - I have limits, I can only bend so far without breaking.

For example, a conversation between the producer, Reed Cowan, with his sister is making the rounds. I'm not going to post a link, but in it he tells his sister
My position clearly is this with all of my family: If you support prop 8, or any measure like it, even in spirit - I don't know how you can be in my life and look me in the eye and truthfully say you love me completely and totally
I appreciate his passion - but this is family we're talking about. Isn't that what the whole gay marriage debate is about - to recognize families headed by same sex parents? To say that we cannot have any family member in our lives who supported same sex marriage - to suggest it's impossible to truly love a gay family member if you are opposed to gay marriage - those sort of fanatical views makes us no better than those who are seeking to prevent gay marriages from being recognized.

I just don't see how acting like a bunch of drama queens is helping the cause. All this documentary will likely accomplish is to cause people on both side to become more firmly entrenched in their views - it's doubtful it will convert anyone.

In this blog I've been supportive of gay marriage - even though I do not see myself ever being in a gay relationship. I've opposed proposition 8 in California, and other similar measures around the country. I especially opposed the involvement of the LDS church in the passage of proposition 8.

But, to say that lives were destroyed by proposition 8 - That is a rather extremest point of view that I'm not so sure I can support. Were lives and families hurt by proposition? Hell yes! But the word 'destroy' carries with it finality. Proposition 8 was a setback - perhaps even a major setback - but one that history will record as a bump in the road for gay rights.

So, I'm sorry, but I just can't jump on the bandwagon to support "8: The Mormon Proposition". Will I watch it? I don't know, maybe - it's not a given that it will even play in a venue in my neck of the woods.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Faith and Desire

This week in seminary we learned about Enos. While hunting wild beasts in the forest, Enos relates that his "soul hungered" and he knelt and prayed for forgiveness. His prayer continued throughout the day and into the night, until he heard a voice, saying: "Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed" (Enos 1:1-5).

What we can learn from Enos is that faith, by itself, is not enough. We must couple our faith with desire - as Enos relates when he said his "soul hungered". Faith + Desire leads to action - and our actions lead to results.

I've previously blogged about a spiritual crisis I'm going through. After reading Enos, I am starting to realize that my crisis is not one of faith - but of desire. I still have faith in God, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon - the whole enchilada. But, I've lost my desire to move forward with my faith.

A few months after I finally came to terms with my own homosexuality, the LDS church published a pamphlet titled God Loveth His Children. While I did not see that pamphlet as where we need to be as a church - it did seem like a definite step in the right direction. It was a sign that our church leaders were starting to "get it".

Then, a year or so later, the LDS church announced its intentions to fight proposition 8 in California legalizing gay marriage. They asked the members in California to donate of their time and means to help pass proposition 8 - which resulted in, at least, 50% - and possibly as much as 75% - of the total donations to the "Yes on 8" campaign - not including the countless hours of donated time going door to door, passing out yard signs, etc. That coupled with statements by respected church leaders that amounted to little more than fear mongering without any substance and a (hopefully) unintended consequence of the actions of the LDS church where it has become politically correct to publicly bash homosexuals in church meetings - a problem that is more prevalent in some wards than in others. I say "hopefully unintended" because I've seen no evidence of any church leaders seeking to counter this attitude. In fact, I find myself wondering if the timing of the release of "God Loveth His Children" was all part of a carefully orchestrated plan - first we tell them how much God loves them so that we don't come across as just being mean when we fight their efforts to have their relationships legitimized.

Even though I am not in a same sex relationship and don't see myself as ever being in one - it still has been difficult for me. I feel like I"ve been lulled away with "God loves you" = followed by a sucker punch to the gut! God really only loves me as long as I keep pretending to be straight. It feels like, as a church, we've gone backwards. As a queer Mormon, I feel less welcomed than before - or, more accurately, I feel like I am welcomed only so far as I keep hiding the queer part of me. And, this has lead to decreased desire to move forward in my faith. I feel stagnant. I still go to church regularly - but my heart isn't in it like it once was. I still try to fulfill my callings - at least somewhat, my home teaching effort has been virtually non-existent the last few months. I no longer actively participate in lessons as I once did - I just sit in the back row. I feel like I'm gradually becoming invisible at church - wondering if I'll become one of those whom are occasionally remembered with "whatever happened to ... oh, he got 'offended'" - the proverbial response thereby absolving the church, and everyone in it, of any wrong doing.

And, I don't think I'm alone in this feeling. As I was working last week on putting together the MoHo Directory, I reflected on all of the people I've met here in the Mormon queerosphere. I've interacted with some of you more than others and have gotten quite close to a few. In fact, I can truthfully say that my closest friends are here in the Mormon queerosphere. I used to be able to point to a number of blogs by people who were earnestly seeking to remain active in the church - or, at least, maintain some connection to the church. That's what attracted me to the queerosphere in the first place. However, the number of such blogs has dwindled in the last year or so. And, I can't help believing that to be a direct result political actions of the LDS church and the negative impact it has had on the Mormon queerosphere.

In the church, we talk a lot about increasing our faith - but how do you increase desire? Telling me to pray about it implies a certain amount of desire - but what if that desire is nonexistent?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

November theme: A trip down memory lane

I've been going through stuff trying to simplify my life and get rid of junk. I can't believe how much crap I've accumulated over the years. Anyway, I cam across a box of stuff from my high school days. In this box was a hydrometer.

A hydrometer kinda looks like a big old fashioned thermometer and is used to measure specific gravity. It is/was used by vintners (wine makers) for measuring the alcohol content of their brew.

You see, I was not a Mormon in high school. That didn't happen until I went away to college. My senior year in high school I decided I wanted to make wine - and so I setup a brewery in my closet. To this day I don't think my parents ever knew. Being the typical teenage boy, my room was usually a big mess and probably smelled of dirty clothes - effectively masking any fermentation odors that might have emanated from my closet.

We lived on a country road at the time. We had a mailbox up on the road (which we had to hike to); but, my parents preferred to use a P.O. Box. My father owned an antique store; and, the post office was just a few doors down from his store. Anything that had to be shipped to a street address came to the store; so, my parents never bothered to check the mailbox at home. My mother worked as a nurse; so, I was always home alone after school. This afforded me the opportunity to mail order my wine making supplies and have them shipped to the house - which I was able to collect from the mail box after school before my parents got home.

Graduation came and I went away to college the following fall. By then the wine had completed brewing but had to age. I left my wine aging in my closet cleverly hidden behind some boxes. I usually came home from college once or twice a month when I would check in my wine.

I never actually got to taste any of the wine I made. In time, I investigated the LDS church and was baptized. On a subsequent trip back home, I dumped out all of the wine I had made (which was several gallons) and threw away all of the equipment - except for the hydrometer. I really don't know why I kept that particular piece of equipment. Perhaps I paid a lot of money for it and couldn't just throw it away; perhaps I thought it might have other uses; I don't know.

But, I'll bet I'm one of the only Mormons you know who has his own hydrometer for measuring the alcohol content of homemade wine.

So, how about this as a blogging theme for November. Any fond memories you care to share? Any dark secrets from your past you just have to get off your chest?