Let me tell you about this crazy dream that I had! I dreamed that Mon Mothma was delivering something to a settlement on some planet somewhere, but she couldn't make it so I and a small ragtag crew took the job. The something was a deflector shield to protect the settlement from orbital bombardment, and we got it there and set it up just in time. Seconds after the dome went up, with us observing from some distance outside, laser blasts came raining down from somewhere up in space - the Empire, I guess - hitting it and sliding onto the ground where they sent up showers of enormous white flowers. A few more volleys came, each spraying more flowers, until the dome was nearly covered with them. The blasts stopped. My companion - I guess he was supposed to be a cross between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Han Solo, so basically the coolest person in the universe - then decided it was our turn. He looked up at the sky, took aim with his blaster, calculated where the unseen enemy ship would be by the time his blasts got up that high, and returned fire.
Of course I expected the ship to just explode like they usually did. Instead, it burst into flame and came spiraling down, where it was revealed to be merely a rocket sled with two cartoon guys (one thin and one fat) perched on it right out in the open. They were yelling, but seemed more concerned about stabilizing the ship than about themselves also being on fire. One of them grabbed the burning engine and wanted to throw it overboard but the other one yelled back that that wouldn't do any good. The rocket sled was just spinning out of control all over the place like a balloon with the air let out. It skimmed the surface of a pond that was suddenly in front of us, then hit an enormous tree and flew up the length of its trunk, bending it nearly to the ground and snapping off most of its branches, then flipped back and crashed into the pond which was now covered with a large oil spill. Obi-Han was visibly quite pleased with himself, but I couldn't help thinking of the destruction our victory had cost. The guys somehow doused the flames that had engulfed them, Obi-Han grabbed the fat one by the throat for interrogation, and I woke up feeling disturbed by how vivid it had been.
I still remember when I was three years old or younger watching episodes of "Bill Nye the Science Guy" as they aired for the first time. While I've forgotten virtually all of the actual details, I remember a distinct fondness for the show. And I appreciated its host's debate performance against Ken Ham a few years ago (even though holding the debate in the first place gave the latter undue credibility and funds). So it's a rather poignant feeling to have to lose respect for him now. Bill Nye, as many people seeking to discredit the scientific consensus on climate change are quick to point out, is not a scientist. He is an entertainer with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. Now of course, he is still very well-versed and trustworthy on many scientific matters. It's when he oversteps the bounds of science in disturbing ways, while still maintaining a veneer of scientific authority as far as most of the public is concerned, that we run into a problem. (Richard Dawkins, who actually is or was a scientist, has done this all the time too, but he's such a jerk these days that I don't think anyone actually likes him anymore and I'm not concerned about him.)
So Bill Nye's doing this new show called "Bill Nye Saves the World" and in one of the episodes he talked about chromosomes and gender and sexuality and what have you. I don't pretend to know anything about that so I'll assume for the sake of argument that all his science was correct according to our current understanding. But then he invited a sitcom actress (also not a scientist) to perform a song, and I haven't watched this segment but I skimmed over the frankly revolting lyrics, and it was all about (in way too much detail) how anything goes where sex is concerned because of evolution. Now look, I really couldn't care less what consenting adults do behind closed doors far away from me. But to claim that science morally justifies sexual anarchy, and to actually be serious about it and not a Poe making fun of liberals, is nothing short of lunacy. Other animals rape, cannibalize, kill their offspring, and defecate wherever they feel like; any consistent and honest person following Bill Nye's faulty reasoning would have to conclude that these are all okay for humans too.
Maybe he'd draw a line, as many do, between stuff that directly and noticeably harms other people and stuff that doesn't - but where's the "scientific" basis for doing so? There isn't one. No matter how much some atheists try to pretend otherwise, any and all arguments for morality are philosophical or theological in nature because they are not empirically verifiable. If I say morality dictates that I'm the only person who matters and everyone else should be my slaves, my claim is as scientifically valid as Bill Nye's or anyone else's. This disgusting song illustrates a big reason why otherwise intelligent Christians are afraid to accept evolution. They're wrong, but Bill Nye just validated them with his own wrongness. And despite the very loud and hateful minority that attempts to shame everyone else into silence, I think most people recognize garbage like this for what it is and are tired of it being shoved down our throats. "I know this doesn't have to be said," Amanda Prestigiacomo wrote, "but stuff like this is why Trump won." Because Trump stands for wholesome values like marriage and fidelity and hahahahaha I'm sorry, what was I talking about?
Oh, and if that weren't enough, in the final episode he hosted a panel discussion about overpopulation and science change and asked them, "So should we have policies that penalize people for having extra kids in the developed world?" Wow. Just wow. If you aren't appalled by that suggestion, something's wrong with you. But maybe the Chinese government has an opening. Here's a news flash for Mr. Science Guy and his ilk: births in most of the developed world are already well below the replacement rate. This is not an obscure, complicated, or debatable fact. Policies that reward people for having children, while far from sufficient to solve the problem, make more sense and have been implemented in countries like Australia, Germany, Russia, and Japan. But Bill Nye doesn't seem to know much about reproduction anyway, as he once claimed that "Many, many, many, many more hundreds of eggs are fertilized than become humans." Really? What are they then, zebras?
RIP my childhood.
Happy Earth Day to all, and to all a good night. Let me say first off that I don't particularly care about all the controversy surrounding Earth Day's founder and the things he did that people always bring up. That is to say, that stuff is a shame but it doesn't invalidate what Earth Day stands for. I've cared about the environment for as long as I can remember, since I was young and naive and thought that I should try to scoop all the mud out of the brook in our backyard so the water would be clean. The apathy and contempt shown to the environment by many conservatives distressed me even when I was one. Ann Coulter was merely being more honest than most when she wrote, "The ethic of conservation is the explicit abnegation of man's dominion over the Earth. The lower species are here for our use. God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet - it's yours. That's our job: drilling, mining and stripping. Sweaters are the anti-Biblical view. Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars - that's the Biblical view." She calls herself a conservative Christian. I call her a few other things.
Climate change denial is just a way of dismissing guilt for this ideology. It's very disturbing and embarrassing that many Americans, including our own president, think there's still a real debate about whether climate change is a thing. Most of these same Americans also think that "climate" and "weather" are the same thing, that the Weather Channel founder's degree in Journalism somehow qualifies him to know more than actual climatologists, and that a majority of said climatologists are engaged in a liberal conspiracy to take away our freedom. Perhaps government regulations to protect the environment wouldn't be necessary if Americans would act like adults and do the right things out of the goodness of their hearts, but most of them won't - and that includes liberals, who acknowledge the need to protect the environment but rarely practice what they preach. But I'm not advocating for any particular legislation right now, just for science and common sense. There have been pro-science protest marches throughout the US today and I would have joined the one here in Logan if I had been paying attention and known about it beforehand.
Denying that climate change is a thing is every bit as untenable as denying that cigarettes cause cancer, and indeed oil companies have been taking a page from the tobacco companies' playbook and spreading similar lies for many years. If you're looking for a conspiracy, there's the real one. And many people side with the oil companies because they feel that environmental protections stifle economic growth. Even if this is true, I say so what? How can you be so shortsighted as to prioritize the economy, an entirely manmade illusion, over the environment, the interconnected web of nature on which the very existence of our species depends? Notice I say "our species", not "all life on Earth", for while the latter is certainly also true, it's just as true that life itself will continue long after we're gone no matter how many species we take with us. Let's not flatter ourselves that we have the power to wipe it out altogether. Life finds a way. Now in all honesty, I think Jesus will come and save us from ourselves before that point, but that doesn't mean He'll be thrilled about what we've done to the planet in the meantime.
I attended a screening of the documentary "Between Earth and Sky" at USU last night, which had the good fortune to be made just before Drumpf took office and made it impossible for projects like this to happen. Essentially it's about climate change in northern Alaska, where the "good" news is that winters are shorter and milder than they were twenty years ago but the bad news is that coasts are disappearing by fifteen feet a year and thirty-two Native American villages are on the verge of destruction due to the permafrost melting and the ground crumbling into the sea. As the executive producer who was there hosting the screening pointed out, if this were happening to Florida or Texas it would be all over the news, but since it's way off in Alaska nobody cares.
I rather enjoyed it. The executive producer was the one who had the idea for it in the first place, and he's a soil scientist, so it focused a bit much on soil and got a little too dry for my liking but then it moved on and got better. It featured interviews both with scientists and with some of the endangered Native Americans, and both the scientific data and the human anecdotes correlated to paint the same picture of obvious climate change. I was grateful that when he took questions afterward nobody said anything stupid about it being a hoax or conspiracy. Logan, Utah was merely one of several stops he made showing this film (like today he's in Austria and then he'll be in England), and he praised the community for being beautiful and USU's campus for having solar panels and charging sockets for electric cars. "This is a very forward-thinking community," he said. I think at least a quarter of the people in the room laughed at that remark. Anyway, you should watch the film if you get a chance.
Shining Time Station - If Everyone Did a Little
From the episode "Stacey Cleans Up". While this song is almost unbearably sappy, I hope to get it stuck in someone else's head.
Not this past week but the week before USU did their "Mental Health is No Joke" week, which I always think has something to do with comedy because it reminds me of the time they invited a pair of comedians, one with a severe stutter and the other with Tourettes, whose routines largely consisted of poking fun at themselves. So you know, when I see this title I expect there to be some kind of mental health awareness comedy night that finishes up with "Seriously though, mental health is no joke." But the title really is to be taken at face value in this case. Although I'm not enrolled, I made time to attend one of the evening events after it was brought to my attention.
Called "Light the Night", its focal point was lighting sparklers, but this was preceded by a guest speaker who shared her experiences with mental illness and therapy. As soon as she started listing off her disorders, I knew depression would be on the list. I'm not sure if it's even possible to have any mental illness without depression attached as a free bonus. It seems that the slightest deviation in any way from neurotypicality automatically disrupts serotonin levels or something. She described depression as like being at the bottom of a pool with cinderblocks on your chest, which was apt. Anyway, she had a whole string of issues that I don't remember in entirety, and she shared her story about coming to recognize that she had them and going through hell and eventually getting the help she needed. Then there was a musical number by The Octaves and then we held a moment of silence in honor of everyone who has struggled with mental illness. Let me tell you, that really made me feel good. It felt almost as if everyone was kneeling in reverence at my feet, but without actually doing it, which would have been very uncomfortable.
The main purposes of USU's mental health events are to raise awareness of its counseling resources and to decrease the stigma against mental illness, which exists in the first place because a defining trait of being human is to seek out reasons to be prejudiced against other humans to feel better about yourself. In this enlightened age, most criteria for prejudice are no longer acceptable to use except for politics and religion, but this stigma persists despite lip service to the contrary. It is perpetuated by movies like "Madagascar 3" with one-dimensional villains whose sole motivation is being "crazy". It is perpetuated by anti-vaxxers who would rather have dead children than autistic ones. It is perpetuated by gun rights supporters who, approximately 2.7 seconds after every mass shooting, rush to blame anything except guns and often point fingers at mental illness even though mentally ill people are far more often the victims of violence than the perpetrators. It is perpetuated by people who pride themselves on tolerance and love for all but instinctively give a cold shoulder to anyone who manifests a socially unacceptable form of weirdness.
I don't look to be victimized and offended by every little thing. I'm not a spokesperson for all mentally ill people, of course, but I for one don't feel offended in the slightest when people call each other "crazy", "nuts", "mad", "insane", "crackpot", "loony", "loopy", "daft", "barmy", "troppo", "screwy", "cray-cray", "delusional", "demented", "deranged", "psychotic", "lunatic", etc. by way of insults, good-natured or otherwise. (I'm sure I've done it myself without a second thought.) As a writer I think mental illness is actually a great motivation for fictional villains, if they're portrayed as tragic characters and their rationales actually make sense from a certain point of view. And I don't at all mind characters like Crazy Dave in the fantastic game "Plants vs. Zombies". He's harmlessly eccentric and a great help to the player.
Now the rest of this post will be almost entirely about me because I'm somewhat more familiar with that topic than most. I have been very open online about some of my mental health issues (most notably here, here, and here), and apparently some well-meaning people have managed to be 180 degrees wrong about my intentions in doing so. My parents recently gave me an unsolicited spiel about how I'm putting limits on myself and victimizing myself and labeling myself and defining myself by my autism/Aspergers and broadcasting it to the world. Because you're not supposed to talk about mental illness, don'cha know. You're supposed to keep it to yourself and pretend that everything is fine and normal and peachy. Talk to a therapist, by all means, but no one else wants to hear about it ever. And mental issues, unlike physical ones, are just kind of vague and intangible and not really real unless you put labels on them. So don't put labels on them! Simple!
Look, with or without me saying anything, people will and do notice that I'm "different" and act accordingly. My default state (which they seem to be advocating for) was not knowing or caring that I was different, and as a result I was bullied from kindergarten to fifth grade until I learned to stay quiet. Thereafter I was the disproportionately frequent target of the friendly mockery that males bond with, and reactions ranging from amusement to incredulity at my social faux pas. I've had enough of being rejected and ignored and shunned and talked about behind my back to last five lifetimes. Don't get me wrong, the majority of people are nice or at least civil to me, but many of them speak to me like I'm a child. A few months ago some people called the cops on me because they thought I was acting weird and might need help as I was minding my own business and swinging in a public park on a Saturday afternoon. I go weeks at a time without being contacted by anyone for anything and if I had a nickel for every ignored text, email, and Facebook message sent by me, I could feed Africa for a year. And dating... don't get me started on dating. Let's skip that part.
I don't wish to complain or dwell on this stuff, or blow it out of proportion, but I bring it up all at once now merely as my response to the nonsense that people will just assume I'm normal until I announce otherwise. So my actual purpose for being so open about my mental illness is and always has been to reduce the stigma and ignorance around it and to offer comfort and hope to anyone with a similar condition. I only want to make life better for myself and other people. I'm sorry if that hasn't been as obvious as I thought it was. I don't know what impact, if any, my site has had in that regard thus far, but at my previous job I talked in person with two coworkers who had teenage Aspie sons and they both told me that I gave them relief and hope for those sons having decent futures. That was one of the few experiences that made that horrible job worth it. Also, I see no reason not to define myself by something that filters and/or molds my entire worldview and personality and every thought that ever enters into my mind.
My parents first tried to tell me that I'm not autistic because I didn't act the way they think autistic people should act. First of all, "[i]f you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism," said Dr. Stephen Shore. Second, I'm not the one who decided to reclassify Aspergers as "autism spectrum disorder". In fact, I rather resented it for a while because it brought an increase in stigma. If you have an objection bring it up with the people who did that. They then switched tacks and told me my case and other problems are mild, as if I've ever claimed or tried to insinuate that they're the worst. This was actually an issue both times in group therapy, where I felt guilty about even mentioning my problems after it became obvious that everyone else's were more severe. And after a while of me being silent they prodded me to open up, and I told them that, and they unanimously felt that it's not a contest and you don't need to have worse problems than everyone else before you're allowed to speak about them.
My parents' spiel concluded with an exhortation to stop holding myself back, because "There are people with no legs who run marathons!" Good for them. I have no desire to run a marathon and don't understand people who do. As far as the principle involved, though, I agree and it's too bad I'm not striving for any great ambitions of my own like becoming a bestselling author... oh wait. Besides which, though I'm not familiar with their methodology, I'm almost positive that people with no legs don't run marathons by ignoring the fact that they have no legs, or by hoping no one will notice. "Confidence" divorced from reality does not get them over the finish line. It's never gotten me any good results either. It just caused me to be blindsided when the bad results hit me.
I have a positive attitude though, I promise, and here it is: I wouldn't give up my mental illness because it's just the price I have to pay for having my eyes open. This may sound really narcissistic but I don't care because it's true. Lacking an instinctive understanding of social norms and cues, and having to examine them through logic and psychology and evolution instead of taking them for granted, makes it clear how very, very stupid society truly is, and how very, very stupid many of the things normal people do every day without thinking truly are. I don't mean the stupid mistakes during lapses of judgment that we all make, but the stupid things like saying "How are you?" when what you really mean is "Hi" and you're not interested in a real answer. Also, literally everything about modern dating; again, don't get me started. So in order to truly fit in and be comfortable, I would have to be blind, and I wouldn't know I was blind so I wouldn't mind it, but from this vantage point I have no desire to make that trade. Jiddu Krishnamurti taught, "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."
But that's not even the full extent of my positive attitude! I also believe that this makes me a much better writer than I otherwise would be. Because of the worldview I just mentioned, and because of the unique voice it gives me, and because I seek it out as an escape from this planet and an outlet for emotions that can't be expressed in other ways. (Of course, it took plenty of practice and experience to turn this into a strength instead of a weakness. As recently as my senior year of high school, the dialogue in my stories was so far from the way real people talk that Cleverbot probably wouldn't recognize it as English.) How many of history's great writers, or great artists of any genre for that matter, have had perfect lives and been perfectly comfortable in society and with their fellow humans? Probably zero. Whether this exchange turns out to be worth it, though, largely depends on whether I get anything out of it before I die.
Also, this meme - and this one definitely doesn't apply to me much of the time because I'm frequently inconsiderate, disrespectful and/or selfish, but I think it holds true in general given that society is mostly constructed and run by fake and shallow people, so this meme always makes me smile. Years ago I included it (uncensored) in my Powerpoint on Aspergers for Honors English 2010, and all my classmates got a kick out of it too.
Napoleon XIV - They're Coming to Take Me Away
Maybe sharing this song makes me a hypocrite, but I like dark humor. Not despite, but because of my own struggles with depression and suicide, for example, I find Marvin the Paranoid Android absolutely hilarious. While this song would be completely unacceptable if it were made in 2017, I can laugh it off as a relic of the Dark Ages - specifically, 1966. This portrayal of asylums and "treatment" of mentally ill people not so long ago is more accurate than we'd care to think, and the perpetuation of that image long after improvements started to be made has scared many people away from seeking help. So, to recap, this is satire, and it's in poor taste, but I think that's okay because it's old. Anyway, if you disagree don't watch it.
Don't forget that tomorrow is Easter! Celebrate with all the special people in your life! (That's a Lego Movie paraphrase)
To recap: General Conference is the bi-annual meeting where leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints address the membership, and those who aren't already familiar with it will probably get nothing out of this post. Sorry. Come back next week. I have tinkered a bit with the format of these bi-annual posts trying to find the approach that would resonate with people. I would have written them anyway, of course, but I also saw them as the best opportunities to insert myself into the LDS blogosphere. However, it's become obvious by now that I don't fit in with and am not welcome among those writers and influencers. That point was hammered home a final time when someone in charge of "1 Million Mormons on Fb" banned me for no apparent reason and made up a barefaced lie about me breaking one of the rules. I suspect that I really just annoyed them by respecting science and debunking one too many faith-promoting myths.
I know I'm more cynical and snarky and less happy-go-lucky than most of the "faithful" blogosphere. I don't like showing emotion and being vulnerable. But while I certainly have room for improvement, I have no desire to become something I'm not to fit into the standard mold. Some people fit into that mold naturally, and that's great for them. They can be them and I'll be me, and I guess they'll always be more popular but I'm over that. So without further ado I'm going to continue writing what I feel like, how I feel like it, and my own little niche will be of benefit to at least one person, myself, and hopefully a few others along the way. If you question whether I even have a testimony, feel free to read the one that's been posted on my site for years.
As a side note, it's been about a year now since Elder Holland's talk with the dinosaur meme about fearing tomorrow, and at that time I was in exactly such a situation as I didn't want to go back to the real world and the soul-crushingly dull job search again after blowing my most promising option. I felt so hopeless, but I let Elder Holland's words calm my fears and now here I am with those feared tomorrows far behind me. Yes, the job I got was predictably horrible and if faced with that situation again I'd choose to starve to death first, but it's over now and I have a much better one. Speaking of which, Jenson Online in Logan, Utah should be hiring soon as people leave for the summer.
Sustainings / Opposition
We will probably never again have a conference without opposing votes, though this time it sounded like just one very loud woman. As annoying as it is that those people to seek conference tickets for this sole purpose, and feel the need to shout instead of raising their hands as is the established protocol, I still respect them more than the members who indicate that they will sustain the leadership and then don't. I have this screenshot on my computer from when they first got started a couple years ago and I don't think I've ever shared it so here it is now.
Analysis of Statistics
The Church once again posted its lowest percentage membership increase since 1937, and its lowest numerical increase since 1987, when it had about half as many missionaries. This can probably be attributed in large part to the secularization of the Western nations where it has the largest membership base and gets most of its converts. Some nations are growing far more impressively, but because they have lower membership and therefore constitute a smaller percentage of the total to begin with their gains don't impact it as much. This will probably shift in future years. In the meantime, that's no excuse for shrugging off or ignoring the problem. I'm sure if we really tried we could do much better than this.
Analysis of Temple Announcements
The feeling of intense euphoria I get from each temple announcement is unfortunately very brief as the reality of waiting at least two years and usually more for construction to actually start sets in, but it's still my favorite part of General Conference.
Brasíla Brazil - This one comes as no surprise considering the concentration of stakes in the area versus the distance from the nearest temple in Campinas.
The greater Manila Philippines area - Apparently putting two temples in the same city is a normal thing now. Sweet.
Nairobi Kenya - While most Mormons assume the Church is growing spectacularly throughout Africa, this really isn't an accurate generalization. The Church's growth is spectacular in West Africa, good in Central Africa, meh in Southern Africa, abysmal in East Africa, and, for obvious reasons, virtually nonexistent in North Africa. Kenya just got its second stake a little over a year ago for a total of two stakes and four districts, while neighboring Uganda has three stakes and Ethiopia (possibly the only African nation where the number of congregations has significantly declined), Tanzania, and Rwanda (which is located between Central and East Africa and fortunately follows the growth patterns of the former) have one small district each. Burundi and Somalia don't even have that. However, the members in this region are ridiculously far from the nearest temple and will still be after the ones in Kinshasa and Harare are completed.
Pocatello Idaho - Another one that has been anticipated for years since Pocatello has the same number of stakes as Idaho Falls. It will take most of its stakes from that temple but also a few from the one in Star Valley (that only has six to begin with) and the one here in Logan which, I might add, has gotten insanely busy lately at least in the baptistry, where appointments are currently scheduled a month out.
Saratoga Springs Utah - I'd be lying if I said I feel any excitement for another temple on the Wasatch Front, but good for them. This city is just old enough to submit mission papers if it were a prospective sister missionary, and has gone from zero to six stakes since 2001. My initial thought for just a second when President Monson began speaking these words was the much older and slightly larger Saratoga Springs in New York, which I've passed through many times, but it isn't likely to get a temple in, well, ever.
The announcements for Pocatello and Saratoga Springs prompted the usual complaints about why do they need to build temples here when other temples are already so close by. In case any of the complainers are reading this, allow me to explain. This is a difficult concept but I'll try to break it down in simple terms. You see, temples are a kind of building. Most buildings have a finite, or limited, amount of space within their walls. Because of this they can only hold a finite, or limited, number of people. Are you still with me here? Once a certain number of people inside a building has been reached, the finite, or limited, space will be filled up. This means that there will be no more space left to hold other people who may want to go inside. These additional people may have to wait for a long time for the people who are already inside to leave, which will free some space up for them again. Do you understand now? Oh, I lost you at "buildings"? Sorry about that. You know what, never mind, forget I said anything. It's just a matter of faith.
Snippets that I Liked
Jeffrey R. Holland: "When I see the staggering economic inequality in the world, I feel guilty singing with Mrs. Hewitt of 'blessings which [God] gives me now [and] joys ‘laid up’ above.' That chorus cannot be fully, faithfully sung until we have honorably cared for the poor. Economic deprivation is a curse that keeps on cursing, year after year and generation after generation. It damages bodies, maims spirits, harms families, and destroys dreams. If we could do more to alleviate poverty, as Jesus repeatedly commands us to do, maybe some of the less fortunate in the world could hum a few notes of 'There Is Sunshine in My Soul Today,' perhaps for the first time in their lives." Since I have no wish to be judgmental, I won't mention that this part of the talk reminded me of how, four days earlier, the (mostly LDS) citizens of Draper, Utah threw a temper tantrum and threatened impeachment and a lawsuit after their mayor proposed two sites within the city for a new homeless shelter.
Jeffrey R. Holland again: "Fortunately, the seats for this particular number are limitless. There is room for those who speak different languages, celebrate diverse cultures, and live in a host of locations. There is room for the single, for the married, for large families, and for the childless. There is room for those who once had questions regarding their faith and room for those who still do. There is room for those with differing sexual attractions. In short, there is a place for everyone who loves God and honors His commandments as the inviolable measuring rod for personal behavior, for if love of God is the melody of our shared song, surely our common quest to obey Him is the indispensable harmony in it. With divine imperatives of love and faith, repentance and compassion, honesty and forgiveness, there is room in this choir for all who wish to be there." These words spoke peace to my soul because, like I said, it often seems that I don't really belong, but when he said this I could feel that he meant it with all his heart.
Henry B. Eyring: "On another occasion a phone call came when I was a bishop - this time from the police. I was told that a drunk driver had crashed his car through the glass into the lobby of a bank. When the bewildered driver saw the security guard with his weapon brandished, he cried, 'Don’t shoot! I’m a Mormon!'" lol.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf: "One of the ways Satan wants us to manipulate others is by dwelling upon and even exaggerating the evil in the world. Certainly our world has always been, and will continue to be, imperfect. Far too many innocent people suffer because of circumstances of nature as well as from man’s inhumanity. The corruption and wickedness in our day are unique and alarming. But in spite of all this, I wouldn’t trade living in this time with any other time in the history of the world. We are blessed beyond measure to live in a day of unparalleled prosperity, enlightenment, and advantage. Most of all, we are blessed to have the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which gives us a unique perspective on the world’s dangers and shows us how to either avoid these dangers or deal with them. When I think of these blessings, I want to fall to my knees and offer praises to our Heavenly Father for His never-ending love for all of His children. I don’t believe God wants His children to be fearful or dwell on the evils of the world." Personally, I'm not afraid of the world so much as I am 110% fed up with it. And by "it" I mean the humans in it.
D. Todd Christofferson (approvingly quoting David Brooks): "In a guilt culture you know you are good or bad by what your conscience feels. In a shame culture you know you are good or bad by what your community says about you, by whether it honors or excludes you… [In the shame culture,] moral life is not built on the continuum of right and wrong; it’s built on the continuum of inclusion and exclusion… Everybody is perpetually insecure in a moral system based on inclusion and exclusion. There are no permanent standards, just the shifting judgment of the crowd. It is a culture of oversensitivity, overreaction and frequent moral panics, during which everybody feels compelled to go along… The guilt culture could be harsh, but at least you could hate the sin and still love the sinner. The modern shame culture allegedly values inclusion and tolerance, but it can be strangely unmerciful to those who disagree and to those who don’t fit in." Hearing society get called out on its stupidity is always music to my ears. When I'm famous and say something "offensive" and people feign righteous outrage I'll tell them, in the most Christian way possible, to bite me.
I also liked Joaquin E. Costa's entire talk, mainly because he's just a really attractive and charismatic guy. I read it after watching it and it just wasn't the same. You've probably also seen the great little story about him from "Nerdy Gay Mormon" and if you haven't then you really ought to.
Someone else also said something about being kind in all that we do - probably multiple someone elses, actually, but I don't take very good notes. It's no secret that I often forget to do that because I'm a jerk sometimes and feel justified in that when people are stupid and I think they deserve it. So apologies in advance for the next thousand times that it happens.
This is General Conference weekend! Which means that, as per usual, I will write about it next week instead of this week because that's much easier!
I finished Season Three of "Star Wars: Rebels" last night and I stand by my earlier assessment of the show as being really great. I don't even know what to say about it because the coolest parts involve severe spoilers. I guess I will just say for now that recycling Grand Admiral Thrawn from the jettisoned Expanded Universe was a brilliant move, as was his translation to the screen. His creepy soft-spoken monotone (cough I have one of those too cough) and creepy pipe organ motif, to say nothing of him having blue skin and red eyes and being a token alien in the virulently racist Empire, make him a unique bad guy in good ways. But one episode made me more scared of Hera than of him or any other villain. Avoiding spoilers, let's just say that if I were in the Rebellion and she ever so much as looked at me I'd be like "I'M SORRY I SWEAR I DIDN'T TOUCH YOUR DROID PLEASE DON'T BLOW ME UP I'M SORRY I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING I'M SORRY"
Most pro-choicers have to bend over backwards and upside down to avoid thinking about what abortion actually is, while abortion providers themselves bend over backwards and upside down to avoid letting them think about it. Hence all the rhetoric and euphemisms about "choice", "bodily autonomy", "reproductive health", making sure to always use the word "fetus" instead of "baby", etc. And hence a strong resistance to looking at or allowing people to look at unborn fetuses and find out that they actually look like people. (Many post-abortive women have been horrified to find this out after the fact. Funny how "pro-choice" is so seldom pro-informed-choice.) Perhaps nowhere is this more obvious than in Planned Parenthood's recent cartoons explaining abortion procedures, which depict fetuses as - you can't make this stuff up - white dots. Dots. As stupid as the verbal rhetoric is, it's difficult to see this visual equivalent as anything less than a deliberate flat-out lie. I would call it an insult to people's intelligence, but thousands will probably accept it without question. They've already accepted the "clump of cells" BS, after all.
Fitting then, that in the latest "deceptively edited" undercover Planned Parenthood video (the scare quotes indicate sarcasm) a former regional director comments, "It’s not a matter of how I feel about it coming out intact, but I gotta worry about my staff and people’s feelings about it coming out looking like a baby. We have the people who do our paperwork for the fetal death certificates, they email us calling them ‘babies’. Baby this, baby that, baby so-and-so, and I’m like, that’s creepy!" You don't say?
If you support the right to tear fetal limbs off and suck fetal brains out, own up to it. Don't be a spineless wimp-noodle who hides behind word games and delusions about white dots. And I'm not being as completely snarky as I sound because I do believe that abortion is acceptable, albeit highly regrettable, in a small handful of circumstances that make up a single digit percentage of actual abortions in the U.S. But I don't pretend that those circumstances magically turn living breathing fetuses into white dots. (This is why most pro-lifers do not believe in exceptions. I sympathize.)
I should probably be upset if it turns out, as it looks like it's going to, that Russia messed up the U.S. election. But I would mostly just be impressed that they pulled it off, and hope that with this as practice, they'll be able to start meddling at an earlier stage next time around so we don't end up with a pair of turds to choose between in the first place. What good would being mad do, anyway? It's just one of those things that happens. Russians will be Russians, am I right? That's not racist because they're white. (To quote regional LDS Seminaries and Institutes Director Sergei Seminov on his visit here a couple years ago, "Russians are the scariest white people.") And of course, it's not like the U.S. has ever interfered with another democratic country's elections to support its own interests - oh wait. Never mind. So I say, Mr. Putin, if you were behind this, congratulations on your little prank and thank you for ending Hillary's career. I know I shouldn't like you, but I kind of you, because you're kind of a jerk and so am I.
What did they actually allegedly do? I should be paying more attention to the news. I just know that as of several months ago they were accused of leaking the Democrat Party's shady emails and duping Drumpf supporters with fake news stories. I have zero moral objections to the former because politicians who send shady emails deserve to be exposed, and though I have theoretical objections to the latter I can't really blame anyone for succumbing to the temptation to exploit humanity's mind-numbing gullibility for fun or profit. It's like Andrew Wakefield - sure, he's a slimeball of epic proportions, but is it really his fault that thousands of people still believe in him despite him being thoroughly disgraced and discredited and the lies in his one and only "study" being common knowledge?
Kal Ho Naa Ho
I have yet to see this movie but I know the general story from the music videos. This one is a story in and of itself, and somehow is more beautiful and moving than it would be if I understood any of the words.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.