In advance I'm going to blame what I feel is the execrable quality of this post on my lack of time to prepare it due to studying for finals, writing papers, job searching, and now suddenly having a social life. In a couple weeks I will have written a post every week for a year, so I can't give up now even if I have to churn out something less than stellar.
Mackenzie the Movie Non-Watcher
Mackenzie: Today at work we decided that I'm a witch.
Me: Do you weigh the same as a duck?
Other Guy: Heh heh heh.
Other Guy: Have you seen Monty Python?
Mackenzie: No. Is that a thing?
Mackenzie hasn't seen a lot of movies, but found herself in the opposite position a few weeks ago on Easter when she attempted to quote from "Nacho Libre" (which I think is a way overrated movie, but maybe I'm just too cynical). She leaned over to one of her friends and started to whisper, "I've had diarrhea since Easters", but broke up laughing after the first three words, and this friend had never seen "Nacho Libre", so that caused a bit of a kerfuffle. At least it was a lighthearted and not creepy form of awkwardness, unlike the time a Hispanic friend introduced himself to a girl who had never seen "The Princess Bride" by saying, "Hello. My name is Juan Manuel Vera Molina. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
Debbie the Book Critic
Last semester, Debbie asked so many questions about my book that I volunteered to let her read it, and that was a huge blessing because less than forty-eight hours after I sent her the file my laptop zilched out, a state it remains in to this day. What I didn't know was that she would not only read it but offer praise and suggestions in the margin. And dang, they are some good suggestions. She didn't tell me she was a writer too. Most people will just say "I like this part, this part is confusing, etc.", but she focuses in on individual words and phrases as well as ideas. I am impressed and blown away. She's very busy and has only gotten through the prologue and first chapter so far, but already has empowered me to make substantial improvements. Some of her comments show such a depth of thought that all I can do is grin from ear to ear as I read them, and I am going to reproduce some of them here regardless of whether they hold any interest for anyone besides me:
"Because they were falling so fast downward, this sudden shift in direction would most likely be pretty dramatically felt, lurching them back (their stomachs would feel it for sure ;) ) as their motion changes from vertical to horizontal, probably even with a bounced motion as the ship counters gravity and pulls itself into self-sustained flight (especially with a damaged engine). It just seems a bit unnatural to be falling with them in a crises and suddenly be skimming lightly across the surface like a Sunday drive, just needs a transition for the motion :) if that makes any sense"
"Wonder about his culture and species. Is casual or interpersonal touching okay to them? Especially by essentially an alien. What is his inside reactions to her touch? Is he still in hype of the moment, is this normal/confusing. When they were in crisis, grabbing him and pulling him was a given, but now they are safe, what does he think of this I wonder. Simply writing my own thoughts nothing to change :)"
"Is this his first interaction (face to face) with humans? If so he will probably generalize their behavior to the entire species (if he’s like us and stereotypes everything ;) haha) also 'you guys' is a very not just human but western American phrase. I wonder if putting something like 'Humans are intrepid. Intrepid but amazing.' (or whatever word(s) you want – insane sounded like an American human phrase too but you don’t have to change it if you like it how it is."
Generic Social Stuff
Last night was the institute end of year event, which was all right. I went alone because I've found that these things are better to go to alone so I can do what I want when I want. I took a girl to one of them once and she only wanted to do one thing, and it wasn't one of the scheduled activities, if you know what I mean. So we went into the break room and played pool. I'm not a huge fan of pool but that's mostly because I'm no good at it. I scored approximately two points. Then I could tell she didn't really want to be there so I suggested we just leave and go for a walk, which we did as we discussed faith crises. It turned out to be a decent evening, all things considered, but since then I decided it was better to go by myself so I don't have to worry about someone else's comfort and enjoyment above mine. I'm going to be a wonderful husband someday, obviously.
A few weeks ago I was with some acquaintances playing Spikeball, which I actually like despite being no good at it. It's very kind of them to let me participate even though whichever team I'm on is guaranteed to lose by a large margin. After it was done, they sat around and talked about their dating lives, which sounded ten times better than mine and still awful. That was comforting and discouraging. "Dating is like jury duty," said one. "It sucks, but you have some good stories afterward." I remained silent the whole time and didn't volunteer the reasons I thought of why dating is worse than jury duty. I'm trying to be less negative. Technically I haven't even asked a girl out since... um... mid-October, I think. And I've become so much happier since then.
The Mormon Section
Well, I started this section specifically devoted to Mormonism so that non-Mormons could skip the parts that would make no sense and hold no interest for them, but this time it will possibly make no sense and hold no interest for many Mormons, unless they follow Mormon-related news stories and/or know someone who was personally affected by it.
Yet again, the Church has excommunicated someone for "asking questions", at least if you buy into the fantasy narrative pushed by critics and dissidents. It would probably be just a tad more accurate to say that Jeremy Runnells was excommunicated for quitting his job and soliciting donations so he could devote most of his time to spreading and promoting a laundry list of accusations against the Church and arguing with its defenders. Now, even though I think he's kind of a jerk and he has demonstrably been less than honest on multiple occasions (e.g. later claiming to have still been a sincere questioner during the time period when, on an ex-Mormon message board, he posted an open letter to Elder Quentin L. Cooke sarcastically mocking and belittling his General Conference talk but, oddly enough, not asking a single question), I bear him no ill will for losing his testimony and concluding that the Church is false. He is within his rights to do that. What I don't respect, however, is his insistence on staying a member while simultaneously tearing it down and trying to start a media circus when he wasn't allowed to do so.
"Letter to a CES Director" has nothing new to say, Runnells never claimed that it has anything new to say, and he has pointed out that he never claimed that it has anything new to say, yet its combination of quantity and brevity have earned it a disturbing level of borderline worship from critics. People don't like to think. They want a list of bullet points that doesn't take too long to read, and this delivers that. Even its name is too long for them to bother with, and it usually goes by the more colloquial "CES Letter". There are, to be honest, a handful of serious and problematic issues that require a lot of study and soul-searching and can legitimately be interpreted from multiple angles. These do not constitute the bulk of the letter or any other anti-Mormon treatise. That, instead, is taken up by contrived non-issues that practically carry their own refutation. I'm sorry, but as much as I try to empathize with other viewpoints I simply cannot respect the intelligence of people who think the Book of Mormon was plagiarized from "View of the Hebrews". Still, let them think that if they want. I'm not the thought police.
The crux of the matter is that quite thorough and sufficient answers have been given on most of these points. Runnells says those answers aren't satisfactory and he wants better, or at least more official, ones. If this is how he sees things, there isn't much more that can be done. It's not as if better answers are going to materialize just now that he's demanding them. He accepts the criticisms above all else, so he doesn't believe in the Church, so he should exercise his right to move on and believe in something else, even if it's just scientism. Anyway, his wife is still a believer and that probably causes some discord and heartache, and someone in this ward I've been hanging out with puts them both on the prayer list every week, and I really admire that.
After the 2011 earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster I attended a Priest-Laurel Conference where one of the leaders boasted that "not a single active member" had been killed. I thought the same thing then as I do now - There are so few active members in Japan that I would be more impressed if any had been killed. With this latest earthquake in Ecuador, at least eleven members including a branch president have been killed, so this time no one is silly enough to think that Latter-day Saints have a magical immunity to these things. I have friends in Ecuador (including Nadia, who was the closest thing I ever had to a novia and to whom I finally sent her Christmas present last year, four years after purchasing it with that intent), and I am grateful that they are all safe.
Adriano Celentano feat. Paul Anka - Oh Diana
In 1957, at only 15 years old, Canadian singer Paul Anka scored a huge hit with "Diana". In 2006, he recorded an Italian language version as a duet with Italian singer Adriano Celentano, and with the much richer sound possibilities of nearly fifty years later, I consider this version to be superior and almost impossibly beautiful, and now it becomes this post's only redeeming quality.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, 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.