Things That Make Me Smile #6

Please Like Me

Please Like Me

I found this little binge-worthy gem on Hulu. It was a Friday night alone after a long, hard traveling work week. I was exhausted and didn’t have the energy to go out but still felt like spending some quality time with my own kind. GeoffreyAfter surfing Amazon Prime Video and Netflix I was lamenting to myself the lack of quality LGBTQ entertainment when I stumbled upon this Australian diamond.
There are 2 seasons on Hulu that follow Joshua an obviously gay, but only freshly out twenty-year-old through his underachieving life with his straight friends and dysfunctional parents. Some have called it the LGBTQ “GIRLS.” These are definitely imperfect people just like in Girls, but if you’re like me you’ll still appreciate the occasional eye candy, like Joshua’s first boyfriend Geoffrey

 

The fact that I was nominated for a Brodie award!

The purpose of the Brodie Awards is to recognize Mormon themed material on the Internet. There are several categories, and I’m nominated in TWO! (Confession: I nominated one of my blog posts – which is totally legit, but someone else nominated another of my blog posts!)

Go vote for me if you agree that these blog posts should win the category:

Also, consider voting for my friends in these categories:

If nothing else, go read all these posts nominated in the category of Best Mormonism-and-Orientation Post:

Some recent smart ass memes

Mormon memeImage-1Image-1Image-1 (1)

GeoGuesser

geoguesserAs a complete Geography nerd I love this game/time-waster. Using Google street view, the game drops you at a random location in the world and your task is to figure out where it is. After quite a bit of moving around, I can sometimes get within yards of guessing the actual starting point… Great fun. It’s available on smartphone too!

 

Taking my girls on their first Ski trip!

Image-1 (2)Almost every winter I’ve taken the kids to play in the snow in local mountains (Remember, they’ve grown up in Southern California and Phoenix). But this year I cashed in some travel points and took them full on skiing in nearby New Mexico.

After a morning of lessons, they hit the slopes and by day’s end they’d all converted to ski bunnies.

The next day we explored Santa Fe.

This was the first time they had ever seen snow fall! That led to one of the comments every dad wants to hear on a family vacation,

This is one of the best moments of my life!! Thanks Dad!

 

Relatives of LDS Church Authorities With the Balls to Speak up in Support of LGBT folks

The irony that the “other” Mormons are more Christian/Christ-like and their “Prophet” more of a leader than LDS counterpartsVeazey-Steve

Nope, still not joining another religion, but this would definitely be one I’d consider if I did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Family, Fatherhood, Gratitude, Happiness, Homosexuality, Humor, Movies, parenting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Unanimity Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

As usual I’m late to the party discussing the most recent  Mormon revelation that legally married gay folks are automatically apostates and their children are ineligible for any sort of sacrament or ordinance. It was just a policy before this week and that gave level-headed progressive Mormons all the permission they needed to ignore it. I have several active Mormon friends who admitted as much to me.

Now with this latest announcement the policy has been elevated to “revelation.” In Mormons-speak that means all those progressive Mormons can’t rationalize away their complete dismissal of the policy. It was a very strong-handed chess move by Mormon leadership banking on the history that active members won’t remember any of the actual details of just a few months prior when it was just a policy hidden in a handbook update that was leaked and then was then clarified by an apostle and later the document was edited for clarification all without mentioning this supposed “revelation.”

Just to be clear, on a personal level I’m pissed that this didn’t happen 10 years ago when I was in a relationship and could have prevented my kids’ firm indoctrination into all things Mormon. That would have been awesome. I would have married the guy in a heartbeat, if that had been legal then, for that benefit alone. Now my oldest is on a mission and the other kids are left trying to process their own boredom with church, their father’s complete apostasy from it and their mother’s complete obsession with it.

But I didn’t even sit down today to talk about all that. I came to talk about a quirk of Mormon leadership decision-making.

Unanimity.

Unanimity was revealed by god (D&C 107:27, 29). That’s how this policy/revelation was supposedly approved by the full quorum. Ignoring all the holes in that story and the plain fact that I don’t believe Nelson’s telling of it, let’s assume that it was indeed unanimous.

Unanimous decision don’t necessarily mean there was full consensus. My study and experience tells me that unanimity is a symptom of a lack of courage, creativity and a process ripe with coercion. I’ve seen it in action in Mormon bishoprics, quorums and in Japanese corporate meetings.

I lived and worked in Japan. It’s an understatement to say that they have a different way of doing things over there. One hallmark of Japanese committee meetings is this idea that they won’t make a decision until it’s a unanimous one. It sounds all pretty cool and cumbaya-like but the reality that I experienced is far different. I saw a lot of intimidation and dismissal of alternate voices in such settings.

The leader, or someone with power over the group, walks into the meeting with a pre-determined conclusion. They present the topic and invite discussion. This is where it seems very fair and democratic. Before winding down, everyone is asked for their conclusion. The catch is that this summary process proceeds from the top down. The person with higher seniority or more power, or whatever, states their conclusion and the effect of that is to tell everyone else present how things are going to go. And it’s amazing to watch, but the rest of the committee just falls in line and agrees even though their initial opinion may have been contradictory.

It’s called the Abilene Paradox and it happens in American life too, on juries, in boardrooms and church quorums.

Social experiments show that this process is especially true when there is a clear hierarchical structure to the group. In other words, those higher up have a greater voice. They  intimidate those below them to agree with their predetermined conclusion. Thus unanimity is reached, but not necessarily consensus.

I’ve seen this happen during church disciplinary councils and bishopric meetings. Once the leader states his opinion you see everyone else lie down and agree with it. In Mormonism where members are taught to sustain leaders, and that leaders are inspired, then this is almost instinctual.

The unanimity myth is part of church lesson manuals.

Watch this video of  Henry Eyring a current member of the LDS First Presidency describe this process. What he is calling a miracle is merely a sociological phenomenon of groups that require unanimity. Keep in mind that in a church setting no one is concerned about losing his job so the sharing of opinions portion is naturally freer than in a business setting. But the end result is the same…

Eyring

Apparently, people conform for two main reasons: because they want to fit in with the group and because they believe the group is better informed than they are. So, just imagine that you are the newest apostle  and the lowest man on the Q12 totem pole. You may voice your disagreement to a matter just to be heard and interject but when that last pass of voting happens you’ll more likely to agree to make it unanimous. That’s why the one guy in Eyring’s example gratefully whispered to President Lee. He knew the pressure would have been there for him to make the vote unanimous.

The more difficult the topic, the greater the likelihood of conformity.

Unanimity is really just a another way of describing Groupthink.

When I see Russell Nelson describe Monson’s “revelation” and the Q12’s unanimous confirmation, I process a whole bunch of thoughts…

  • What other choice did a lessor member of the 12 have?
  • Apostles seem like corrupt police or the mafia. They’ll back up their own regardless of the facts.
  • I wonder what it’s like to be a newer apostle as they witness Nelson talk like this and know that he’s lying?
  • The Policy thing was a legalistic corporate decision, not a theological one as he’s trying to pretend.

A lot has been said recently about the Quorum of the 12’s age and homogeneity and  how that results in late, out-of-date decisions and slow moving changes. But I’d submit that the lack of progress in the LDS Church is also firmly rooted in the culture of conformity and the dysfunctional decision-making process.

Lastly, for gay LDS men and women this should only solidify the clear writing on the wall that it’s time to get out. Stop whining about “struggles!” Go live your happy and full life. Don’t be like the kid in this video.

THERE IS A WAY THAT THE STRUGGLE CAN END!

The caption reads:

Sometimes the problem is YOU

crying

(After opening, you might have to scroll down a bit to see the video)

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Who Does That?

I used to think it was just me, all my fault. As I came out and divorced years ago a certain sister of mine has treated me pretty apathetically. If I call or visit or take some sort of initiative there will be interaction.

Beyond that, she’s only made the initiative to socialize and interact with my ex-wife. More than once I’ve shown up at my ex’s house to pick up my kids and have seen my sister’s car in the driveway. I’ve been at family functions where my sister has all but ignored me. My kids have offhandedly mentioned times that my sister has invited my ex-wife and her new husband out to dinner. We live in the same city and I’ve seen her  maybe 3-4 times over the past 4 years – all my doing.

To clarify, I used to be close to my sister up until about the time she got married just before my mission. Something after that clicked. It clicked off. And I don’t dislike her husband. I do feel disliked though. Of all my siblings we were previously the closest and that just flicked off at some point. No real conflict took place. Just distance and tangential lives. Normal, I guess.

My ex-wife and sister had no significant relationship before the divorce. This isn’t a continuation of a tight ongoing relationship. Not once in my married life did my sister and ex-wife do something alone together. We always lived in different cities back then. In fact my ex-wife didn’t really like my sister and was somewhat intimidated by her. More than once I defended my sister to her.

Over the past 10 years I’ve always chalked all that up to my sister and her husband being True Blue Mormons and thus how she must feel obligated to treat me for me being an apostate… or, for me being gay.

I’m not sure which, maybe both.

But last weekend, I had an experience and an epiphany that might reveal another explanation…

My Uncle died on Christmas Day in Salt Lake City.

My oldest sibling created a Instant Message on Facebook to let us all know about the funeral arrangements. No one else said they were going, so I coordinated a gift of flowers for my aunt and cousins from all of us. Then, when I messaged my cousin to ask where I should send the flowers, my cousin said that I had just come up in conversation with my aunt about how much the time I spent visiting them during my college days at BYU had meant to them.

I choked up reading that message. I hadn’t experienced much positive affirmation from family so that meant a lot.

My aunt and uncle were really good to me during that period of my life and their home was always open to me at the drop of a hat if I needed to get away for the weekend while at BYU.

Maybe I should go to the funeral after all? It’s a good 12 hour drive for me… but then a brother who lives 1/2 ways said he’d go if someone would come pick him up… And that made my decision. I was going.

The decision felt right. We announced our decision on our group message and I called my Dad who lives in Salt Lake City to tell him we were coming.

Sorry if I’m boring you to death, but that background was necessary to set up what I witnessed.

After all that coordination on our group chat with sending the flowers, carpooling with my brother and such, we (me, my brother and my Dad whom we’d picked up to join us) showed up at the funeral and guess who we saw… My sister and her husband.

She lives in the same F-ing city as me. And didn’t even think to share with my brother and I that she was going to the funeral. And that’s not the weird part. She hadn’t told my Dad she was coming and for the couple of days that she was there didn’t interact with him beyond the funeral.

Who does that?

Who goes to a family  funeral out of town where their parent lives and doesn’t visit or call or even tell him that she’s coming?

Wow! My sister is a far greater bitch than I’d preciously given her credit for… Or, she and her husband are just incredibly socially retarded.  And she’s not only that way with me. She treats her own father like that?!

In my attempt not to be judgmental, I tried to think of some other alternative explanation… I guess I was OK with her being a bitch to just me, but witnessing her treat my father like that it dawned on me that maybe she or her husband, or both of them, have some sort of high functioning Asperger’s Syndrome or something.

Is that possible?

I mean, how else do you explain the blatant cluelessness of social norms and human intimacy?

My sister is very wealthy and her interaction with family has always been money driven. If someone begs sufficiently, she lends a hand. I am not aware of any bad blood between her and our Dad. Maybe she lent him some money he hasn’t paid back? I don’t know.

But still, who does that?

My Dad is a good man. He wasn’t a bad father, He never inflicted abuse on anyone. He was often absent working to support a wife and 8 children. He financed the college education for this particular sister and I…something I appreciate deeply now as a father of four. The worst thing my Dad ever did was defer almost entirely to our Mom on everything and maintained his church activity at tepid at best. He was never going to be bishop, but he also never bad-mouthed or discouraged church activity.

Today was his birthday (78) and after talking to him on the phone it appears that out of 8 children only 3 of us called him to wish him a happy birthday…all 3 of us are apostates. Nothing from the devoted, active Mormons.

So much for being a family oriented church, huh!

Posted in Family, Fatherhood, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Conquering by Yielding

 

In Judo you conquer your opponent by yielding to them rather than exerting force upon them. You use their energy against you to your advantage.

I took Judo lessons in Japan for about 6 weeks.  The “6 weeks” only part is another story.  Despite the lessons being taught in Japanese, I did learn that one lesson.

depositphotos_18954409-Judo-Rear-throw

I believe that this Judo philosophy is a practical approach in social interactions as well.

Your prophet DadsPrimalScream predicts that this LDS handbook policy will work to the advantage of gays and their families because there really is no fighting against it. There’s only yielding and using that energy for our own good.

I have already experienced it in just the last several weeks.

I’ve seen some of the good that can come from the way some church members have reacted to this policy. Here are four special moments that have happened with me,  and one that happened to a friend.

As soon as I heard about the policy I wrote an email to my son on a mission. On his next P-Day he wrote back telling me that he knew about the policy because his mission president had called him as soon as he had heard. I wasn’t sure if that was a good or a bad thing, so I wrote his mission president.
I was concerned for my son because, while he’s not directly affected apparently, it does seem to send a message to my kids that the church doesn’t want any more of them in its midst. I expected a polite but short reply from his mission president, but he wrote me back this long detailed explanation of the gay men he has known in his life and in his leadership positions. He wrote how he admired and loved each one of them and how he had developed close friendships with some of them. He talked about how it caused him to study homosexuality on his own and reach his own conclusions about homosexuality. He said he didn’t understand or agree with the policy and assured me that there’d be no application of it felt by my son. He said that if he applied every single policy in the handbook to the letter he’d have sent several of his missionaries home. He was the most understanding person towards me and my homosexuality of any church leader I’ve ever encountered in my 40 years in the church. Love was expressed as a result of using the opposing energy of this policy to show empathy.
The second experience is with how I handled talking about it to my 3 younger daughters. Making my unconditional love for my children the focus of that conversation gave us our own little spiritual experience. A child deserves unconditional love and they if aren’t going to get it from their heavenly father, they’ll get it from their earthly father. I’m oddly grateful for the chance to share that experience with my daughters. Love was experienced as a result of using the opposing energy of this policy to show empathy
Third, after a few e-mails back and forth with my son expressing love as well as confusion over the policy, last week he sent me this:
I’ve been thinking. I know at times that can be a dangerous thing (haha), but Dad. The new church policy thing (old news I know, but hear me out) is a very good thing for the both of us. Know why? Because now we are a SHOE IN for the Amazing Race when I get back!! Think about it: A Mormon son and his gay father… Who the heck wouldn’t wanna watch that?! That’s quality TV right there, don’t even try to deny it.”  
 
ISN’T THAT AWESOME?! I felt love as a result of my son using the opposing energy of this policy to show acceptance.
 
Fourth, I’ve lived in the area for 3 years. I have a very LDS sister who lives in the area that I’ve probably seen twice in that time. There’s not been anger or even criticism, but just apathy and avoidance towards me. I’ve seen her car in the driveway at my ex’s house when I’ve been there to pick up my kids a few times, but she’s never once visited me. Soon after the policy I got an invitation to Thanksgiving and so I swallowed my anger and pride and went…

Nothing was said about the policy but I can’t help but think it was somehow involved in the sudden turn-around. I can only speculate. But even for my part, it gave me a little confidence that I was taking the high road by not allowing such a thing to make me unwelcoming to love. Love was enjoyed as a result of using the opposing energy of this policy to show empathy.

smash-all-the-closetsAnd a friend of mine who works for an arm of the church was very troubled by the policy. He was emotional and outspoken in spite of the danger to his position that such an opinion could pose. Observing all of this take place was just the welcoming environment and catalyst that his college-aged daughter needed to come out to him. To me that is huge! I can’t imagine coming out to  welcoming arms while still in my teens like that. This coming out was as a result of using the opposing energy of this policy to show acceptance.

LDS loving reactions to this policy is allowing youth who would otherwise have timidly waited years longer to come out.

None of these examples represent exerting opposing force against this policy, but they demonstrate using the energy from the policy against homosexuals and their children to show empathy and love.

clear.gifI know not how to defeat others; I only know how to win over myself.

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Lickety-Split Lesbian

Due to heavy  demand (2 requests), my Insta-Gay service has been expanded to include the ladies. As you can imagine, the logistics of such a service requires some creativity. Please read the details below: common-lesbian-terms

Are you a straight ex-Mormon woman with a spouse or ex-spouse who still wants to baptize your kids?

Do you want to prevent it without looking like an bitch?

Well, now you can with my Lickety-Split Lesbian service. Reply now to arrange your lesbian partner for a day

You can choose from either of two plans:

Flannel Forever or  U-Haul Deb

With Flannel Forever you’ll get the real thing and it’s your most authentic option.

c027961154c717b80be4a37da62dd9f3My lesbian friend Deb has agreed to be the Dieseldyke in your imaginary L Word fantasy. She will meet you at Home Depot where you will walk the isles picking out flooring and appliances for your imaginary home together. We’ll pre-arrange to have Melissa Etheridge playing on the sound system as you meander through the store arguing and breaking up on each of the even aisles, then making up and calling each other pet names on the odd aisles.

After an hour in the garden department, you’ll transport your tools over to my house in Deb’s Subaru Outback where you’ll re-landscape my back yard as you flirt, kiss and pet each other among the fresh smell of perennials and succulents. I’ll be snapping the photos when 50 other local lesbians show up for your romantic, impulsive, on-the-spot wedding in my backyard. Deb’s girlfriend Sharron will officiate the wedding.

As your guests leave, Deb will carry you piggyback into the tent we’ll set up especially for you on your wedding night. Inside the tent, Deb will make you her pillow queen and introduce you to life’s ultimate paradox: that the life-giving male appendage is wholly unnecessary for jaw-dropping, OMG pleasure.

In the morning, you’ll cook breakfast over a campfire wearing just your Dockers and flannel tops. Deb will say something insensitive and you’ll have your final argument as I hand you your memory package including: chapstick, Fun Home Soundtrack, long key chain and your marriage certificate.

U-Haul Deb is for you out of towners who can’t spend a full weekend with Deb… or for those of you who just really are straight.

894a10882030e5cd306d869d54be9cecDeb will drive a U-Haul pulling her tiny house to your city. She’ll stop at the curb in front of your house. You’ll move in…. for an hour.

In this option Deb will be a lipstick lesbian so as to not terrify you too much.

You’ll kiss once, taking a selfie in front of her softball trophies.

Afterwards, you’ll move out and return to your former straight life.

All we want to do is serve our fellow man.

There’s a lawyer in the Ex-Mormon community that offers to process resignations from the Church for free.

What awesome selfless service!

I find it inspiring.

So, to do my part…I give you Insta-Gay and Lickety-Split Lesbian . We’ll make it so convincing that the church won’t LET THEM be baptized!

Please send applications to me c/o Deb and include a face pic. Unlike the Mormon church, no request will be rejected here. Just don’t shave for a few days, and please brush up on your professional golf knowledge.

Feel free to share with your friends!

Posted in Homosexuality, Mormonism, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Insta-Gay

Are you a straight ex-Mormon with a spouse or ex-spouse who still wants to baptize your kids?Gays on beach

Do you want to prevent it without looking like an asshole?

Well, now you can with my Insta-Gay service. I’ll be your gay boyfriend for a day!

You can choose from either of two plans:

Bed n Brunch or  Airport Speed Date

With Bed n Brunch you’ll get the real thing and it’s your most authentic option. Men_splashing_web

We’ll start off with a long walk on the beach where we can get to know one another better. We’ll take off our shoes, giggle and splash each other in the shallow water only to come together in a passionate embrace and a long, deep kiss while the waves crash about us.

My real boyfriend, Ricky, will follow at a distance with a camera to capture the evidence. From there we’ll walk hand in hand to our beach side hotel room where I’ll do my best to make you question whether this is real for you or not. holding hands

I’m versatile so anything can happen. It’s up to you. We’ll wake up in the morning spooning (I’m the inside spoon). You’ll laugh because your downward arm will have fallen asleep. At which point we’ll finally get up and shower together. It will be bittersweet because this will be our first and last shower together.

Then, it’s on to brunch! We’ll sip mimosas and gaze knowingly into each other’s eyes.

gay-ibiza-holidaysRicky will download all the evidence of our “relationship” and have it ready on a nice flash drive for you by the time our check arrives. We’ll part ways but keep each other as contacts in our phones. You know, *wink, wink* so you can text me pictures of your non-Mormon kids as they grow up without Primary and Mutual all thanks to me.

Airport Speed Date is for you out of towners who can’t spend a full weekend with me… or for those of you who just really are straight.

You’ll fly into town with just an hour layover at my local airport. So as to not creep you out too much, Ricky will stay at home. I’ll greet you at the gate with a firm handshake and we’ll go get a root beer together at the airport pub. Our waitress will take a picture with your phone of us kissing, toasting our “love.” Just once. Quick. No tongue. I promise.

I’ll bring baby wipes and mouthwash for you.

Afterwards, you’ll hop on the plane back home to your family and your straight, butch life. You can share that picture just with your bishop to get the mandatory exemption for your family.

All I want to do is serve my fellow man.

There’s a lawyer in the Ex-Mormon community that offers to process resignations from the Church for free.

What awesome selfless service!

I find it inspiring.

So, to do my part…I give you Insta-Gay. We’ll make it so convincing that the church won’t LET THEM be baptized!

Please send applications directly to me and include a face pic. Unlike the Mormon church, no request will be rejected here. Just be freshly showered and hygienic.

Feel free to share with your friends! I’m sure my calendar will be filling up fast. My time is limited, so act now!

For the ladies, see Lickety-split Lesbian

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Speaking To The Kids About This Mormon Gay Thing

It is my good fortune to have the kids with me this weekend in the aftermath of the recent LDS attack on them, rather than have them hear about it in church or with their uber Mormon mother.

I have four kids, a boy and three girls. My son is 18 and away on a mission. My girls are with me this weekend.

They’re kids. Facebook is for old people. Their social media time is spent on Snapchat and Twitter directly back and forth between immediate friends. I’ve seen no indication that they had any clue about the church’s new policy or how they’d be affected. But I planned to talk to them today to take advantage of the fact that, for once, I get to be the one to spin the message. I was hoping for a sit down dinner at the table with all of us together, but with all their varying schedules that seemed unlikely. So I talked to them one on one.

There are a thousand different ways it could have gone. I wanted to detail the unfairness of it and all the injustices this creates for them. I wanted to share some of the examples of bigotry I’ve dealt with in the church and prepare them for what lies ahead for them. I wanted to point out all the internal inconsistencies this policy creates with the church’s own scripture and doctrine. I wanted to reiterate the difference between morality and obedience. I wanted to explain the discrepancies between what Christ taught and what the modern church is doing. I wanted to paint a picture, where if I were ever disavowed, then financial support would be cut off. I wanted to compare and contrast the phrase “Honor thy father and mother” with “Disavow your father or mother.” I wanted to prepare them for the church’s arguments by discussing the book 1984 and “newspeak.” There is so much more that I wanted to say…

But when I walked into the bedroom of my 13 year old daughter who idolizes her missionary brother and loves both her mom and me, this is the only thing that came out.

Can I talk to you a second? I wanted to tell you something that just happened 2 days ago and I wanted to be the one to say it to you. The church just created a policy that says kids with gay parents can’t get baptized or go on missions until they are 18. And then, the kids will be required to disavow their gay parent’s life and not be able to live with them.

This doesn’t look like it will affect you now, but someday you may be required to say you disavow me and move out. I think that’s a horrible position to put a child in and I want you to know that I love you unconditionally regardless of what you ever decide to do. There’s nothing you can do or say that would change this love I have for you.

I love your brother serving a mission now and each one of you girls. I’ll love and accept you no matter what you are pressured to say or do in the future, and I will never let this sort of thing stand in the way of my love for you.

I’m just sad that you are put in this situation.

A hug and a kiss and a 13 year old girl fighting back tears and I left the room.

I’m going to keep it at that for now. Love. Full stop.

A child deserves unconditional love and they if aren’t going to get it from their heavenly father, they’ll get it from their earthly father

Before: How I thought it would go down.

After  How it did go down

After:
How it did go down

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Children of Gays and Mormon Credibility

I recall vividly the very first time it dawned on me that a Mormon Apostle could be and indeed WAS full of BS.

Let me take you back in time…12115688_1673454692924395_513680204175220967_n

I believe it was April General Conference 1993. I was 28, unmarried, closeted, BYU grad, returned missionary, former MTC instructor and zone leader, working full time teaching English as a Second Language and taking graduate courses in Linguistics. I was active LDS and the Ward Executive Secretary in my single’s ward.

I wasn’t doubting.

In fact I’d never really doubted. Oh, I had a few things I’d tossed up on that testimony shelf where you put things that just don’t sit right, but I was all in. Certain things about LDS “culture” rubbed me the wrong way, but I was hardly skeptical by default. I was even one of those priesthood dorks who actually paid attention to the talks.

One particular talk by Dallin H Oaks called The Language of Prayer at first glance seemed pretty innocuous.  He was just saying that the church teaches us to use honorary, respectful language in prayers. Pretty harmless, right? The message was OK. But if you know anything about linguistics the reasoning he articulated was absurd. He’s just plain and simply wrong about the language. His logic was completely circular and made no sense. If you’re curious, here is an analysis.

My point is that he was trying to sound like an expert about an area he clearly knew nothing about. He was as bizarre as Ben Carson talking about the Pyramids. If he was a mouthpiece for God, then God was a moron.

This mattered a great deal to me at the time. I tried to talk to my roommate about the problems in the talk, but that hit a brick wall. I waited for the next Sunday to see if anyone else would want to talk about the silly talk… all I got were crickets.

I walked away realizing that:

  • An LDS Apostle can be wrong in a fundamental way.
  • He’ll present himself as an expert anyway.
  • The majority of my fellow Mormons will obey and lap it up without a critical thought.
  • Mormons don’t care about the means as long they get to their predetermined conclusion.
  • Nobody cares.

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Mormon leaders are wrong about gays. They’re wrong in the way they are dealing with children of gays.

They are wrong in a very fundamental way. I won’t be able to reach the analytical prowess on this topic that a gazillion other blogs will over the next few days, but I know that Mormon leaders are wrong and misguided and selfish…

  • They are presenting themselves as experts anyway
  • The majority of  active Mormons will obey and lap it up without a critical thought.
  • Mormons don’t care about the means as long they get to their predetermined conclusion.
  • SOME people care

That last part really means something to me right now. I have been having a really difficult time lately finding places I fit in and finding a community. I don’t have a group of gay friends here like I did in Palm Springs. When I’ve attended Ex-Mormon events in town I’ve felt accepted, but never quite found friends.

It’s really just me and my kids right now and so this new “Children of gays” thing feels evil and personal to me.

But today I’m touched by the indignation and emotion expressed by straight folks, fellow ex-Mormons and the usual allies at the various social media sites I participate in. Thanks you to any of you reading this…

Just understand that that horror and disbelief you are expressing today encapsulates my general reaction to how the church taught me to think about myself for 40 years. Pretty sick, huh!

I have tons of questions:

  • My kids are already baptized. Will they have to disavow me at some point?
  • Would they?
  • Which child would?
  • I’m not married. Does that make the whole thing mute anyway?
  • Do I have to be married for my kids to qualify for the bigotry? I’m not a big enough threat as a single gay man alone? Way to kick me when I’m down!
  • Will my children be grandfathered in? I mean, will they be called in to disavow me?
  • My kids live with me 50% of the time. Can they get ex-communicated for that?
  • If so, how can I encourage that along?
  • Why couldn’t this have happened 10 years ago before my kids got baptized and when I WAS living with a guy?
  • Can I  use this as evidence in court that my child’s participation in church is an act of alienating them from me?
  • Am I wrong in thinking that if I ever find out a child of mine “disavows” me after turning 18 that I will disavow any financial support?

There’s a whole lot more I could say. And as I’m typing this, there’s some mock interview being posted of one of the apostles defending the church’s divisive policy. They got the guy with a gay brother to be the point person on bigotry towards children of gays. NICE.  I’ll watch it…

Here’s what I can tell you… the word “clarify” does not mean what they think it means. And…

  • That LDS Apostle is wrong in a Christoffersonfundamental way.
  • He presents himself as an expert anyway.
  • The majority of active Mormons will obey and lap it up without a critical thought.
  • Mormons don’t care about the means as long they get to their predetermined conclusion.
  • People care.

That last part is the only part that matters to me today. It’s the part that is going to make Mormons look like the short bus of religions in the not too distant future.

One last note on your way home tonight, Mormons! Don’t forget to turn your clocks back 50 years.

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Posted in Family, Fatherhood, Homosexuality | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Cult is as Cult Does (10 Friendly Suggestions)

ReminiI’ve been fascinated by the recent openness of Leah Remini on her break from the Church of Scientology. Her story sounds eerily familiar, especially when she talks about how her former church talks about and treats apostates, the weirdness and secrecy at the higher level of membership, and the absolute intolerance of criticism.

So, to help Mormons out, here’s my unsolicited advice I wrote several years ago to all those Mormon leaders out there who will never read this or deign to listen as to how they could actually change to appear less culty in the public’s eyes….from the outside looking back in:

  1. Incorporate community service as a regular part of your worship rather than as publicity stunt. Make this service significant to those who are not of your faith rather than almost exclusively those within it.

Growing up we did a lot of “service projects” in the youth group. I’ve helped a bajillion families move as an Elder’s Quorum member. As ward Relief Society president my Mom was constantly arranging for meals for a sick ward member’s family.  But all this was almost exclusively to the benefit of other Mormons. Mormons are really good at taking care of each other, but are timid about real meaningful outward facing service. Other mainstream religions are much better at it.

Of course in a natural disaster, Mormons will show up and wear T-shirts advertising their efforts, but as a percentage of their expenditures of time and money, this sort of thing as a tiny drop in the bucket.

On my mission, service took zero percent of our time. I understand they encourage service for missionaries now, but it would actually make a mission more meaningful and less cult-like for THAT to be the purpose of a mission rather than proselytizing. A mission even as it now operates only serves the Mormon institution, not humanity. Cults put enormous efforts into recruiting. Getting converts makes you no more or less right.

Mormons serving in a cannery. These ladies were most likely ASSIGNED to do this.

2.  Actually put families first, any family.

You can’t get any more cult appearing than telling a non-Mormon parent that she/he can’t attend a son or daughter’s wedding. Period.  No further explanation needed other than to recite one of the 10 Commandments – “Thou Shalt Honor Thy Father and Mother” – and note that the LDS Church encourages its members to dismiss it when they treat mothers and fathers in this way.

Putting rites and ordinances above family relationships encourages the same sort of disrespect towards non-member family.  There’s no reason any father or mother couldn’t bless  his or her own newborn together with an Elder…or participate in a baptism. That would bind the family together. Instead, in Mormonism it’s now much more important to bind the individual to the church and create an atmosphere of disappointment towards non-believing family members.

Also, It’s one thing to encourage your own values and morals among the families of your followers. It’s another thing to prefer a child in the larger community have unmarried parents or no parents rather than 2 married parents who aren’t following your special colloquial brand of morality. There are plenty of churches who believe in gay marriage, for example.  How does your opposition in the public realm “let them worship how where and what they may”?

3.  Take the whole “Follow the Prophet” rhetoric down a notch.

You can CLAIM to worship only Jesus, and it has been good to see your efforts to actually walk the walk by removing non-biblical art from your chapels, revamping the official logo and such, but there’s a LONG way to go. Even a non-Christian visiting your services doesn’t see a whole lot of Christianity.  Your members’ homes have YOUR pictures right up there with Jesus for crying out loud. In practice, they obey your word above Jesus Christ’s. They talk about you like you ARE Jesus and you do nothing to discourage that.

Morality

4.  Initiate checks and balances into your organization to account for the humanity of  the human beings running it. In mainstream religions this looks like: Public financial reports, allowing public dissent without fear of excommunication, voting on policy by the membership.

As the saying goes, “Catholic doctrine states that the Pope is infallible but Catholics don’t really believe it. Mormon doctrine states that their Prophet is fallible, but Mormons don’t really believe it.”

In the Bible and Book of Mormon, prophets made mistakes and were often corrected by the laity.  In today’s church however the prevailing opinion is that prophets can miraculously do no wrong. That is until they are dead. Then, Mormons become even better than apostates at disregarding a prophet’s teachings.

Fiscal transparency is probably the biggest hurdle Mormonism needs to overcome in the quest to shed all things cultish.

5. Seriously, you need to cut the “sacred, not secret” bit.

Nobody buys it. And don’t you find it ironic that former prophets couldn’t keep their mouth shut about a LOT of weird shit they supposedly experienced?  Joseph Smith, Paul, Moses and Brigham Young all had diarrhea of the mouth. But I’m supposed to buy that Thomas Monson and company have experienced something so far out there that they can’t talk about it? Come on….

Their specific callings are to be “Special Witnesses”. That alone pretty much demolishes any claim that you can’t talk about something because it’s “too sacred.”

Even with the average member, it’s ironic that they only need to keep quiet about the weird stuff.

If you were Christians, you’d see the atonement as the most sacred event to ever take place… so why are you SUPPOSED to share that with people?

Admit it… Sacred stuff is SUPPOSED to be shared.

Weird stuff is supposed to be kept secret.

6.  If your actions regarding respect for womanhood and equality matched your lip-service, I’d feel better about my daughters being raised Mormon.

An all male priesthood is neither scriptural or respectful towards women. Likewise, motherhood is a natural impulse and most of your young female members will want it regardless. By your confining that role to a one-size-fits all image of womanhood you are actually disrespecting my daughters’ individuality. Put your energy into helping her be a good woman with integrity and the motherhood thing will fall into place quite naturally.  When you focus her sights solely on that, however, you diminish her potential as a contributing member of humanity. A dog can be a mom. A woman could likewise be an awesome Mom and a CEO of her company, or bishop of her local ward.

7. Scrap the dress code regulations…

Think about it….cult members dress alike, people in a mainstream religion don’t.

These sorts of things take care of themselves.  People naturally want to dress alike.  If today you said, “Forget everything we’ve ever said about grooming and dress” nothing would really change. Gradually some individuality would creep in to the grooming of your members, but you know what? If it does, then reality will actually begin to match what you yourselves are trying to portray in those “I am a Mormon” commercials.

The second problem with these silly dress and style regulations is that they always inevitably become outdated. You shoot yourselves in the foot when you encourage the white shirt, one earring, dresses not pants, etc… Even the required missionary attire looks silly in today’s world. It also belies the confidence your own founder had in the the membership to be able to govern themselves after being taught “correct principles.”

8. Be more cross-cultural and adaptable internationally.

The structure and content of a Mormon worship service looks and feels late 19th/early 20th century North American no matter where you go in the world. This is great for traveling Americans and Canadians (especially for you Mormon leaders) because we feel right at home in Brazil, Japan, Nigeria or the Philippines. But what ends up happening is that it really only attracts the citizens of those countries who are interested in all things American.  To everyone else, the Mormons just seem like a North American cult transplanted to their homeland.

There’s nothing universal about the organ or piano music, white shirts and ties, or LDS artwork. If the dress, the music, the behavior of the congregation and even the architecture of LDS building reflected local customs you would look and feel less like “American Moonies” and more like a relevant world religion.

This congregation is in Africa but it could just as well be in Detroit or Atlanta.

9. Allow and encourage individual freedom among the rank and file.

Now, I know you’re not going to get this one without a lot on pondering. A regular Mormon won’t get this. Real mainstream Christian religions allow significantly more individual adaptation than Mormonism does.

A Catholic can attend mass anywhere he/she feels comfortable. Mormons have to attend their assigned geographic ward like a elementary school child is told where to go to school.

A Methodist can actually volunteer in church where and when they are personally interested and motivated .  Mormons are assigned jobs and callings without the opportunity to volunteer and with no consideration of their own desires. What you end up with are scout leaders who would rather be ward clerks and ward clerks who would rather be scout leaders. All of them with a silent frustration and resentment that their free time and talents are being strong-armed by church leaders.

It looks very master-planned, socialist,  and cult-like from the outside.

It would be cool if Mormons teachers had actually volunteered for the job. She was probably assigned and it’s hit or miss whether she really wants to do it or not.

10. Institute paid, professional clergy

Mormons already pay their clergy.  You, the General Authorities are paid and yet the rank and file still imagine you are not. It’s therefore not doctrinal to keep this established image of a lay clergy. A paid clergy is solidly within the bounds of Mormon history and doctrine… and Christianity. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, apostles, Patriarchs, Bishops and Stake Presidents all have received significant compensation for their callings in the past.

Somehow over the life of the LDS faith, the church has managed to establish this myth of a lay clergy to the point that it is really only true for those at the lowest points of the hierarchy. You end up with the folks doing the real ground-work being overworked but uncompensated… a very big, flashing red flag for a cult… underpaid and overworked followers.

A significant side effect of this institutional behavior is an unqualified clergy. If you pay people a living salary to perform your most significant work, education and training follow naturally. Imagine a Mormon teenager approaching her bishop for counseling and actually getting a trained professional rather than an amateur, unprepared, but well-meaning neighbor!

A professional clergy could only improve or enhance what have become drab and corporate-like Mormon meetings.  Everyone wins…and together with suggestion #9 you would be creating a free market for the best clergy and more engaged membership.

No reason she couldn’t be a paid Mormon bishop… try calling it a cult THEN!

Posted in Mormonism, Thought Control | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Parent or Putz?

Putz, Lawrence J. Jr.Am I a good parent or a putz?

I’ve got to admit the question flashes through my mind constantly. Not having ever discovered the definitive parenting manual, I end up winging it most of the time.

The lucky part is that my kids, by nature, need very little discipline. I don’t say that with blinders on. I know where my son and daughters’ weaknesses lie. My kids just don’t end up blatantly violating the boundaries I’ve set up. The hard part is that my kids are very different from one another and need varied styles of guidance and encouragement.

Last night I winged it.

Last night my 13 year old daughter presented me with an almost exact duplicate of a situation that I encountered with her older sister just two years prior. And about halfway through last night’s event it dawned on me that I handled the two girls’ dilemmas completely differently. Exactly opposite in fact.

To be honest, it was so bad that I found myself wanting to say to my daughter last night, “Um, don’t tell your sister that I’m doing this for you. She”ll get upset”

Aand there’s your sign.

There’s your sign that someone feels guilty. Secrecy.

Here’s the situation. Tell me what you think:

It’s late in the afternoon on a Fall weekend that the kids are with their mother. In a perfect world I’d have some awesome plans for myself to go out, maybe even on a date. But I don’t. Daughter calls me up and asks if I’d drive her to to a haunted house because Mom can’t or won’t. I don’t have anything else to do so I say, “Sure.”

Up to this point the two situations are almost identical, just a couple of years apart.

Almost.

I’m free. The kids want to go be with friends. They’re reaching out to me because Mom is unavailable. It’s a little annoying that it’s last minute, but they’re teenagers… I ended up refusing to take daughter A, but gladly taking daughter B. Is that fair?

The situations were almost the same. Here’s where they differed…

Daughter A: 2 years ago I was unemployed with very little money and driving an unreliable car. I arrived to pick up daughter A and asked where the haunted house was. She gave me the address and it so happened to be on the opposite site of the metropolitan area we live in. An hour away at least and a good $20 in gas! I asked how she was getting home and she replied, “I’m not sure. I think one of my friends’ sister is driving us back.” At that point I said NO. She threw a fit, I held my ground at NO and she proceeded to lose it some more. I took her out for some Taco Bell. We sat in the car in the parking lot to talk and she began to regurgitate all her 14 year old problems to me… and sitting there listening to my little girl talk to me was one of my favorite parenting nights ever. She asked to spend the night and I blogged about it here.

Daughter B: I now have a decent job and a reliable, economical car. Daughter B calls up last night to say she had arranged to go to the haunted house with a couple of friends. Two of them bought the $25 tickets online just before the third, whose parent had previously agreed to drive, called to cancel. She had arranged it all ahead of time and it fell through. I said that I’d take them if the other girl’s parent would pick them up. Agreed, and all was OK. I was available. I had the means. They had a certain ride back.

Unlike this title implies I am confident I made the right parenting choice in both situations. What causes me hesitation, though, is directly related to my son’s mission farewell a couple of months ago.

In a few years I can picture myself sitting in an LDS chapel for daughter B’s mission farewell listening to her utter the same words her brother did… saying essentially that the only valid family is a Christ-centered family. It  disregarded any parenting that I had done over his 18 years and made it appear as if his mother and her husband were his only valid parents, his only valid family. Never mind the hours I’d driven in his behalf, the tears I’ve wiped, the underwear I’ve laundered, the vomit I’ve cleaned, the ceremonies I’ve attended, the meals I’ve cooked and the values I’ve taught.

It left me wondering if I’d done it right. Did I do this to myself by parenting essentially with my head down, ignoring the LDS upbringing with his Mom, not nurturing resentment and conflict? Did I passively turn myself into a putz?Dumb putz

Experience tells me that any small move I’d taken to talk to him about his mothers religion would have alienated him and driven a wedge between us. I can and actually do say slightly more with my daughters. But with him I had to make a different choice.

Still, it was an anguishing experience to sit and listen to the utter lack of respect or honor that my 18 years of fathering him had earned me in his eyes. It made me feel like a putz rather than the parent that I know I am.

Posted in Fatherhood, parenting | Tagged , | 3 Comments