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Showing posts from April, 2012

Desensitization

I have written a few times about how I have, of necessity, become desensitized to losing friends.  I've lost friends because of prejudice because I'm gay and because of differing religious views.  It still hurts.  In fact, just yesterday I drove near the house of someone I was once very good friends with but haven't heard much from since I came out of the closet.  But, I have become desensitized somewhat to the pain of losing friends.

However, one thing that I don't believe I will ever become desensitized to--and I hope never to be desensitized to--is the pain I feel when I hear that someone has died.  In particular, I am referring to situations where a person has reached that level of despair where suicide seems to be the best available option.

Jack Reese, a resident of Mountain Green, Utah, has just killed himself.  He was the target of bullying at his school.  (Read more here and here.)  Whenever I read a story like this one, I feel a deep sense of pain, regret, a…

Dictating Love

This following paragraph is the YouTube description of the video embedded above.  I felt it was a masterful explanation, so I have quoted it verbatim.

"The Outcast" is a 5th season episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation first broadcast on March 16, 1992. Commander William Riker (played by Jonathan Frakes) falls in love with Soren who is a member of an advanced, humanoid alien race called the J'naii. The J'naii are an androgynous species that views the expression of any sort of male or female gender, and especially sexual liaisons, as a sexual perversion. According to their official doctrine, the J'naii had evolved beyond gender and thus viewed the idea of male/female sexuality as primitive. Those among the J'naii who viewed themselves as possessing gender were ridiculed, outcast, and forced to undergo "psychotectic therapy" - a psychological treatment to remediate gender-specificity and allow acceptance back into J'naii society. When the af…

Traditions

Having seen the movie dozens of times, I can no longer hear the word "tradition" without thinking of Tevye defending the traditions of his people.  Traditions can be really good.  Certainly, they help to provide structure to a group or a society.  As a younger man, I avidly defended all of my traditions, seeing them all as helpful and wise.  Lately, I have grown to be more skeptical and to critically analyze many of the traditions I have been taught.

Gene Roddenberry was definitely a genius.  There's so much wisdom in the Star Trek series.  Yes, I just barely wrote about a different episode, but I just can't help but publicly admire the level of understanding Roddenberry shows where humans are concerned.  This episode is called "A Half Life".  In this, a scientist comes aboard the Enterprise to receive help with a project he's been working on his whole life.  While there, the very outspoken and opinionated Lwaxana Troi falls in love with him.  Toward th…

Witch Hunts

The thing that I most enjoy about watching Star Trek: The Next Generation is the philosophical insight that is granted.  The writer makes so many good points in every episode.  I just watched an episode called "The Drumhead" (Season 4, Episode 21).  In this episode, a Klingon is discovered to be a spy for the Romulans (who are at war with the Federation).  At that point in time, a witch hunt ensues to try to capture any of this man's confederates.  The admiral conducting the trial even accuses Captain Picard of being a spy.

The entire time (including before he was ever accused), Picard urges caution and insists that people must remain innocent until proven guilty, and yet those conducting the investigation declare people guilty and go about trying to prove that guilt through means of intimidation and circumstantial evidence.  At the very end, Picard makes the point that even though civilization has advanced so far, humans are still susceptible to fear and witch hunts.

Thank you

I wanted to take a minute to thank all of you who are reading my blog.  It looks as though I may break 4,000 hits for this month.  My current monthly record is about 3,600, so that's pretty cool.  It's exciting to think that there are people interested in what I have to say (even when the interest is just to keep an eye on me or to prove me wrong) and I like feeling good about myself.

The post where I came out of the closet last year remains my most popular post, having twice as many hits as the second-place post, which is where I announced my engagement to Conrad.  In fact, that was the first post to even break 100 hits.  I think that was the biggest catalyst to bringing my blog out of obscurity.

So, again, I thank you for reading and thereby showing an interest in my life and my ramblings.  I hope that if I have offended you, we can make amends so that I can do so again (that last bit's tongue-in-cheek).    I plan to remain as opinionated as ever and to continue to expr…

Thoughts on Silence

I'm actually writing this during the Day of Silence, but having promised to remain silent online during the day, I won't be publishing it until the day after.  But, even just a couple hours into my day, I've already had a few thoughts that I would like to share.

The first, and most poignant thought so far, was a rather sad realization.  In a YouTube video I made a while back, I discussed the pain associated with a very dear friend asking me to no longer contact him.  To aid discussion, I'll call him Sam.  Now, I have to make an aside--I'm very bad about checking my friends' blogs.  I sometimes go for months without looking at anyone else's blog.  I use Google Reader as my aggregator, so it's very easy to check all of the blogs I follow (that are public) simultaneously.  Sam has a private blog.  I know many people who have private blogs, and I certainly understand the reasons why people would want their blogs to be private.  However, I only just noticed…

The fundamental theorem of atheism

I think many times, with all the discussion of religion, science, atheism, etc, it can be easy to lose sight of the real purpose of what one is trying to accomplish.  Of course, this can happen in any discussion.  But, one of those ever-famous text-images found on Facebook caught my attention today.  (I do think it's funny, but from what I have seen a basic fact about human psychology, that people are more likely to read text when it is in an image--even if the image is purely text--than when it is just simply written text.  I wonder if they've done any studies on that.)

So, to bring my own focus back to where it should be, here is what I will call the "fundamental theorem of atheism".  Yes, that's a very mathematical title--every branch (and sub-branch) of mathematics has a "fundamental theorem".  So, here it is for atheism.  The burden of proof lies on those who claim that there is a god to produce evidence of its existence.  So, here's the image …

To My Lover

A long time ago, 
In a land far away
My heart had once seen
A far humbler day. 

The heart of a child,
Void of vengeance and fear. 
A heart full of love
For all those with me here. 

I loved and was loved
With the ease of a child. 
My smile was eager
My manners were mild. 

Now, where is this heart?
And whence has it gone?
'Twas bruised and 'twas broken
'Twas left feeling lone. 

All battered and sore
And needing some healing,
I bandaged it up
To keep it from bleeding. 

"My heart is too soft
I must make it stronger,
For if I do not
It shan't last much longer."

Hence up comes a wall
And closed is the shutter. 
My feelings shall not
Be sliced up like butter. 

I'll hide what I think,
Conceal what I feel. 
Leave everyone guessing
What's fake and what's real. 

My heart is too precious,
I can't leave it out 
For gossips and fraudsters
To toss it about. 

I'll tease you and mock you
And do what it takes
To keep my own heart
From being harmed by the ra…

Epistemology

So, since I wrote about Elder Nelson's talk the other day, and publicly admitted that I don't know any more than the crudest amount about the big bang theory, I decided that I should read a bit about it.  While reading NASA's website, my interest was greatly piqued.  For the first time in well over a decade, I felt like I might actually enjoy learning something other than math.  Perhaps one day I will take some classes in physics, astronomy, biology, chemistry, and maybe even other fields.

The first thing that struck me while reading this article on NASA's site (which is written for the layman) was the sheer lack of understanding Elder Nelson showed when he scoffed the theory in his talk two weeks ago.  This of course does not surprise me in the slightest.  When someone feels that their own beliefs may be threatened by another person's perspective (be it fact or merely opinion), one of the first reactions is simply to deny and reject what the other person has to s…

Day of Silence

The National Day of Silence is a day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.  You can read more about it here.  This year it is Friday the 20th (one week from today).

As an instructor, I don't believe that it will be easy for me to participate fully in the day of silence.  But, I will participate in my own way.  One of my classes will be having a test, so I can be silent during that class.  In my other classes, I can simply be economical with the words I use, and relying more on the written word to communicate.  But, I think that, for me, the most drastic way I can be silent is by being silent in cyberspace.  All day long, I won't be posting anything on Facebook or here or any of the forums I participate in.  For the day, I will essentially disappear from the Internet.  I know most people won't even notice (and some might be relieved).  But, this…

Childish things

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. - 1 Corinthians 13:11 A few months ago, I wrote a post drawing an analogy between belief in god and belief in Santa Claus.   I would like to continue that discussion and build upon what I said in that previous post.

In the previous post, I mostly focused on the parallels between belief in either entity.  That is, I mentioned how the concept of "nice" children get toys and "naughty" children get lumps of coal is analogous to "righteous" people going to heaven and "evil" people going to hell in the next life.  In this post, I think I shall focus more on the differences.

In fact, I mean to make the case that any of the silly fables that we tell our children is far more likely and believable than the story of the Christian god (and most gods, but I don't know too much about other gods, so I'll stick to…

The kettle being called black

I have had many many people criticize me for posting about the church being false and its teachings being ridiculous.  This post is to address this criticism.  I offer the following evidence from the LDS General Conference just last weekend to support my case.  Now, lest I be misunderstood, I would like to articulate my argument well.  I do not mean to say that the method of attacking another person's viewpoint is wrong.  I do not mean to say that Elder Nelson and Elder Cook are in the wrong in any way.  All I mean to say is that people who criticize me and tell me that I should not talk about the church being false are hypocrites because their own apostles do the very same thing with those who do not believe in Mormonism.

To make myself more clear, I do not mean to cease being critical of anyone's beliefs.  In the academic world, to publish a paper, you must have it reviewed and scrutinized by a peer--someone else in the community that understand the subject more or less as …

He isn't risen

A great number of my friends have posted Jesus-related things on their walls this weekend, as would be expected around Easter time.  The first thing I would like to say is that I think this, in itself, is harmless.  People have believed false things all throughout the ages and so this is not a first.  Also, I think aside from the fact that it's a disconnect from reality, there is no damage done in asserting that Jesus was resurrected.  In itself, it doesn't encourage people to be violent or prejudiced.  And finally, I love traditions--I like Easter songs, decorating eggs, chocolate bunnies, and all of that.  I love to have fun.  I'm certainly not opposed to celebrating holidays.

The next thing I would like to say is why I feel that I should be so vocal in making heard my own voice.  I have a few friends who are non-religious, but are what some might call more pacifistic about it.  That is, they keep it to themselves, most commonly in the interest of avoiding hurting believ…

Despise the church

The other day I posted on Facebook about the LDS General Conference.  In response, I was asked "Why do you want to watch conference if you despise the church so much?"  Having been asked such a thing, I believe that I should take the opportunity to articulate my feelings concerning the church so there is no confusion.

I do not despise the church.  I love the church.  Why do I love it?  Partly because I was raised to love it.  My parents love it and they taught me to love it while I was young.  Partly because it has played a significant role in my life--shaping and molding me into who I am today.  Partly because I have so many loved ones who are members of the church--my parents and siblings, nearly all of my extended family, and hundreds of friends I have made throughout the years.  And partly because there are so many good things that the church encourages people to do.

How can I honestly say that I love the church when I've said some of the things I have said about th…