Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Recent LDS Policy Change...

...has caused a lot of conversation. And arguments.

My purpose in writing this post tonight is to try and process my own thoughts and feelings about the policy change. I hope that I don't hurt any feelings or cause any feuds, but I can't promise that I won't.

I saw a link to the news article on KUTV Thursday night. I was stunned, to say the least. I searched to find any sort of verification from the Church. Nothing came until Saturday, if I remember right. Chelsea was in Sacramento all week for a training. She called Thursday evening and we talked a little about the news item. It was hard for me to talk and she didn't know any more than I did. 

My heart ached. My soul felt bruised. I thought about my cousin Carrie. I thought about my friend Blake. I thought about my friend Brian. I thought about some of Chelsea's friends who I don't know well, but care about, because she loves them. I hurt for them. I prayed and cried and prayed and cried Thursday night. I didn't get much sleep. 

I'll be honest, I asked myself, "Is this the straw that breaks my back? Is this what is going to make me re-think my membership in the Church?" The thought was frightening. I enjoy some of the aspects of going to church. There's a measure of comfort in doing the same thing I have done all my life. I have had periods of inactivity, but I always came back. Complicating matters is my marriage. This wasn't a decision I could make alone. I don't think now that I will walk away from the Church. I have some issues that are tied up in my religion, but I'm working on them. 

In the meantime I've done some research. I've read many different blog posts and Facebook posts. Rants and complaints on both sides. I've read posts of acceptance and explanation. I've learned that the policy about children of same-sex marriages is the same as for children of polygamous marriages. Those children can't receive a name and a blessing when they are born. They cannot be baptized at age eight. When they turn eighteen, if they choose, they can be baptized after receiving approval from the First Presidency/Quorum of the Twelve. To receive approval they will have to move out of their family's home and disavow the practice of same-sex relationships or polygamy, depending on their situation. This seems difficult and hard to me. 

So I thought and prayed and cried. I talked about it with Chelsea when she got home from Sacramento. She felt much the same confusion and pain that I did. And do. 

And here's where I'm at. I comprehend the decision the leaders of the Church have made. Logically I can connect the dots. I just don't understand. I don't get it. It seems divisive. It feels like it singles out the gay members of the Church.

I rejoiced when gay marriage became the law. I don't know where same-sex couples fit in God's eternal Plan. I have faith that He has space for them. I felt that the Church recognizing that being gay wasn't a choice was a huge step forward. And now I feel that perhaps an even larger step has been taken back.

I stand with my baptismal covenants to "mourn with those that mourn and comfort those in need of comfort." If I lived anywhere near Brian, Blake, or Carrie, I would seek them out and give them a big hug and just let them know that my heart and soul aches with theirs.

And I don't have the answers and I am still confused. I hope that I will understand in time and that all will be well.

I hope.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

*Obligatory Father's Day Post*

Today was a rather rough day.

Before I get going on this post, I want to write a disclaimer: I am writing this post in an attempt to explore my feelings and work my way through them. I think my father was an amazing person. He did many things really well. My experience with him throughout my life was distinct and different from your experience, whoever you are. I experienced some hurt that will never be fully resolved. If you can't leave a thoughtful, un-judgemental comment, then I'd rather you didn't comment at all.

Ok, back to today. 

It was rough.

Father's Day was omnipresent in my church meetings. I was on the verge of tears several times. The thought that kept coming back around was, "Happy Father's Day. My mother passed away a year ago and, as far as my father is concerned, I don't exist."

Let me explain. I don't exist to my father because he, quite honestly, does not remember my birth. When I visit him, I can tell that he knows he should know who I am, but he doesn't. This is due to a sequence of events. 1. Dad had a couple micro-strokes that affected him in many ways, one of which was triggering the onset of his Alzheimer's. 2. Shortly after Dad started having memory issues, Mom was in a car accident and didn't see Dad for several months. 3. Dad got it in his head that he had had three wives: His first, with whom he had six children (this is true), his second, who died in a car accident (Mom was his second wife, did not die), and his third (Mom). 

In Dad's memory I just kind of faded away, like Michael J Fox in Back to the Future

At least, that's what happened as near as I can figure. 

In my memory, which admittedly could be faulty, Dad would frequently give precedence to his church callings over some of the activities I participated in. During high school he would go to choir and band concerts and the plays I was in. I remember him going to a couple choir performances while I was in college. 

One that he missed sticks out. 

The choir I was in had a big Spring Variety Show. In this particular show I had a solo and a couple featured parts in small ensembles. It was a big performance for me, and I wanted my parents to be there.  They were serving as workers in the St. George Temple at the time. They said they weren't sure they could make it. I begged and pleaded. 

The performance was recorded. On the recording, just after my solo performance and the last of my small ensembles, you can see Mom walk in front of the camera. Just Mom. I was glad she was there, but so disappointed she missed my big solo. And I was crushed that Dad didn't come.

Several years later I received a letter from Dad. I had since stopped going to church because I wasn't sure that was where I wanted to be. Dad's letter was six pages long, detailing how I was a bad son because I wasn't going to church. I can't remember exactly what he wrote, but it was damaging. I can't even refer to the letter. I was so upset that I burned it.

It was shortly after that letter that dad had his strokes. And now those bad feelings won't be resolved because Dad doesn't remember me, and he certainly won't remember writing that letter.

Don't get me wrong. I'm working on letting the bad feelings go. I don't want to have negative feelings about my father. The truth is, however, that that's how I feel.

It makes Father's Day a tough day.

I hope next year will be better.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Inside Out...

...and upside down.

Well, not really upside down, but it went with "Inside Out."

I went and saw Inside Out last night. It is Pixar's latest movie, and it is a masterpiece. That's not a word I use lightly. I'm still trying to process what I feel after seeing the movie.

Honest opinion: Inside Out is the most important movie Pixar has made. It's a movie that is going to be studied in university classes. It's going to be mentioned in the list of animated movies that everyone should see, and I think it deserves a mention in with regular movies. I read a review that said the race for Best Animated Oscar is over. I can see that. I hope that Inside Out pulls a Beauty and the Beast and gets nominated for Best Picture. I think the Academy will avoid that, but Inside Out deserves it.

Inside Out is poetic. Now when I say that a book or movie is poetic, what I mean is that the work in question portrays story and emotion effectively, without wasting words. Inside Out uses all the tools of the medium in a spare manner to tell its story. Every element is doing work and working with the others to create a greater whole. This is a movie that I will need to see multiple times to fully appreciate each element.

On top of just being a great movie, Inside Out taught me an important lesson. Each emotion is important and has its place. Sure, everyone loves to be happy, but trying to be happy all the time is enormously stressful. Being sad maybe isn't necessarily enjoyable, but it is necessary sometimes. Allowing myself to be said will help me to process an emotionally tough time, work my way through it, and then achieve catharsis. Tears can be healing, if we let them.

I will need to see Inside Out  at least a couple more times before I really get a grip on how it makes me feel. I can't wait for it to be out on Blu-Ray so I can really absorb the movie. 

For now, go see Inside Out. You will love it. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

An Anniversary...

...that I don't want to forget, but that I'd just as soon not have.

See, just over a year ago my mother passed away. 

My life hasn't been a shambles, though it has become more difficult in some ways. I think part of me is in denial that she's really gone. As important dates have come and gone, I've had a tough time dealing with the fact that she won't be calling to wish me a happy birthday, or a happy anniversary, or sending me an email to comment on something I wrote on my blog. Not that I've been writing a whole lot for her to comment on.

When she died, it was a sudden thing. No one was expecting it. Honestly, my family all figured Dad would die before Mom. 

The siblings came together, helped each other out, and dealt with everything we needed to. It was nice. 

I went numb. 

I'm an emotional guy. I cry at movies, books, and tv shows. It doesn't bother me that I do. I can get a little self conscious about it, but that depends on who is around me. 

Yet when Mom died, I went numb. I got a little choked up at the funeral while I was speaking, but that was it. I was a little worried that something was wrong with me. I even tested myself by watching a scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer that has always made me cry. It's after Buffy's mom has died and her friends are getting ready to go support Buffy. Anya, a thousand-year old ex-demon, says the following: 

"I don't understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she's- There's just a body, and I don't understand why she just can't get back in it and not be dead anymore. It's stupid. It's mortal and stupid. And-and Xander's crying and not talking, and-and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she'll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why."

The actress who plays Anya does an incredible job with this scene. In my opinion, it's a real tear-jerker of a moment.

But I didn't cry. 

After some thought, some real soul-searching, I decided that being numb was probably better than being catatonic. If my brain had let me feel everything in those months following Mom's death, I don't know how well I would have survived. 

On the plus side, I'm feeling again.

It's been a difficult journey. There are still some things, fallout from Mom's death, that I need to take care of, but I think I'll be able to focus on it and do it. I'm letting myself feel the grief and pain that Mom's passing has caused me. I still haven't had a good cry over it, but I'm sure that's coming. I'm just trying to take care of myself and to live each day. 

That's all I can do, right?


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

This Might Get a Little Controversial... consider yourself warned.

I'm a registered Democrat. You may or may not have known that. It's quite possible you didn't care. I only mention it because I live in Utah, a staunchly Republican state. In Utah, I would be considered very liberal. In a more liberal state, I would likely be considered a moderate, if not conservative. 

I'm also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (AKA the Mormons). This is a very conservative church. 

For the last week or so I've been mulling over an article I read, linked here. In this opinion editorial, a Mormon bishop claims that Mormons who vote Democrat should not be considered worthy members of the church. I also read a couple response articles found here and here. I've been thinking of what my response would be and what my thoughts truly are in regards to being a Mormon Democrat.

I'm just going to list them and discuss them.

Abortion: I believe that a woman has the right to choose abortion. I think there should definitely be a time frame involved. I personally do feel that choosing a medically unnecessary abortion is never the right choice, but that's my personal feeling. I do not believe that I have the right to make that decision for someone else. It is HER CHOICE. 

Why do I feel that she should be allowed to make that choice? That is why we are here on Earth. To make choices. Before the Earth was created, God held a council in heaven. He presented his Plan to allow all of us to come to Earth to make choices and learn and grow. To help us, because He knew we would make mistakes, He sent His Son to atone for us, so that we could repent and return to Him. In that council, an alternative plan was presented. Lucifer wanted to save every soul. He proposed that we all come to Earth to get bodies and live, but that we should be forced to make the correct choices, we would have no chance to make mistakes or learn and grow. Everyone would be returned to God's presence. There was a war in Heaven over these two Plans. God's plan, obviously, won out. We can make choices. Even the choice to have an abortion. 

Women can choose to have an abortion. Not making laws against this act means that, if a woman should choose to abort, she can do so in a facility that is clean and safe. Will she still have to live with the consequences of aborting? Absolutely, and I believe it is something that she will think of every day of her life after. But it is HER CHOICE. The government should not legislate a woman's body.

Gay Marriage. I firmly believe that two consenting adults who wish to spend the rest of their lives together should have that decision legally recognized by the government, especially when benefits and hospital visitation rights are involved. I believe in the separation of Church and State, and I believe that separation goes both ways. Congress can't govern churches, and churches should not dictate laws. Would church authorities, such as pastors and bishops, still be allowed to perform marriages? Yes. Would they have the right to refuse to perform those marriages if their religion forbids it? Also yes. I understand, but have not studied the topic, that the law does not require Catholic priests to perform marriages for those who have been divorced before. It's the same for not being required to perform a marriage for a gay couple. 

Quite frankly, it makes sense to require everyone to get married civilly, then have a second ceremony if they wish to have a religious ceremony. That's how they do it in Peru, and in many other countries as well. It works. The government gets their legal ceremony, the couple gets their religious ceremony.

As far as gay marriage and the Church goes, well, as it has been heretofore revealed, the eternal nature of marriage is between a man and a woman. I don't really see that changing any time soon. I, personally, am all for gay marriage. 

As for the arguments I've heard:
"It makes a mockery of the institution of marriage!" Really? I think hetero marriage had already been thoroughly mocked, by those that have participated in it. Remember Britney Spears' flash-in-the-pan marriage? It lasted, what, 72 hours? What about Elizabeth Taylor's 12 marriages? How is that not mocking marriage?
"Allow two people of the same gender to marry and next people will be marrying their dogs/a child." Well, child brides have been thing for a long time, but hopefully we've abolished that. And it was only when their parents had made the contract. As for marrying pets, well, can that pet sign the marriage license? Does it know what it is doing if it is able to sign by some miracle?
"Marriage is for procreation, gay couples can't have kids." What about infertile couples? Are they required to get divorced when they can't have kids? Gay couples can adopt one, or more, of the many, many children in foster care. That's just an option off the top of my head. Foster children deserve a home, with loving parents. If those parents share a gender, well, then they share a gender.

At work I generally hold my tongue whenever my coworkers talk politics. I avoid political discussions as a matter of principal, but I also don't enjoy being grossly outnumbered. It has been nice to just let this all out. 

If you have questions, please let me know. I'll be glad to explain anything I've said here. 



Friday, January 16, 2015

A Long Absence and All the Feels...

Up until April of last year, there was one thing I could expect whenever I posted anything on my blog.

Before I get to that, I want to touch on why I blog. I do it to process my thoughts. To figure out why I feel the way I feel, think the way I think. It's therapeutic. Whenever I got a response, it was always nice to read, to see that what I wrote helped someone else or gave them insight.

But the one thing I could always expect with every new post was an email from my mother. She would generally mention how much she enjoyed what I wrote, and that I had a wonderful way of expressing myself. Sometimes she would write a long paragraph about something I had said about the way I was raised. She would try and explain her actions. I always tried to explain that I was writing not to judge her parenting skills, but to figure myself out. I think she understood that, but always felt compelled to shed additional light on the matter I had mentioned in my blog. 

I've been finding it difficult to actually sit down and write a blog for quite a while. I had things I wanted to write about, emotions I wanted to figure out, but I just couldn't find the drive to sit down and write. I couldn't really figure out why. 

This week I got it.

It's because I know I will not get an email from Mom. 

When I lost my mother at the end of May, I didn't just lose my mother. I lost the principal audience for my blog.

When I was writing to figure myself out and gain insight into who I was, I was also providing the same insight for a mother who desperately wanted to know what was happening in my life. 

I really miss my mom.