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Showing posts from 2015

Bigoted but not a bigot

I'm sure many people wonder why I write so much about religion and sexuality (specifically the intersection of the two).  There are many reasons. The most significant is that it is a personal issue for me.  I grew up in a religious home where my sexuality was taboo.  I was taught from a young age that to feel the way I do about other males is inherently wrong.  I have overcome these feelings of self-loathing and I feel that I have a much healthier outlook on myself and on life, but I would be naive to assume that there are no lasting scars from my many years as a homophobe.

I see so many people object to being called bigots.  I really do, and here's an article I read that I believe does a very good job addressing just that phenomenon.  I was bigoted when I was a Mormon.  I believed, as the church taught, that homosexuality and gay marriage were sinful.  I opposed marriage equality.  I believed it was ridiculous that people were trying to marry someone of the same sex.  But I …

Exclusive club

On Thursday,  November 5, 2015 (yesterday), the LDS church updated its handbook of instruction.  This is a manual that is intended for local lay leadership of the church (bishops and stake presidents) to provide general instruction on how the church should be run.  Among the changes were two points that discriminate against homosexual couples.  The first is that "Are in a same-gender marriage" was added to the list of offenses which qualify as "apostasy" (see an image of that quote here).  The second is that children living with parents who are in a same-sex relationship (whether married or not, whether natural born or adopted children) are not allowed to be given a name and a blessing in the church (an ordinance performed on infants) nor to be baptized and become members of the church.  Once they reach the age of 18, if they move out of their parents' house and disavow their parents' relationship, with the permission of the President of the church, they ma…

Job creators

When discussing socioeconomic principals, I often hear employers called "job creators".  I'd like to dispel that myth.  Consider Bob.  Bob is the CEO of Widgets Inc.  His company makes widgets to sell to widget users.  Every employee that he has can make 100 widgets per day.  How many people will Bob employ to make widgets for him?  Simplifying all other variables, Bob will find an equilibrium price for widgets and try to sell the number of widgets needed to bring the cost to the equilibrium price.  Let's suppose this number is 5,000 widgets per day.  This way, he will guarantee maximum profits.  If he makes fewer than 5,000 widgets per day, he will miss out on possible sales.  If he makes more than that, the price will drop too low and his profit on each one will diminish and possibly even turn into a deficit.  So he chooses to hire 50 employees and make 5,000 widgets per day.

So, we say Bob is a "job creator" because he is hiring 50 people to make widgets…

Skepticism vs Cynicism

In the LDS general conference last weekend (the 3rd and 4th), Dieter Uchtdorf said "There is nothing noble or impressive about being cynical.  Skepticism is easy--anyone can do it."  (The full talk can be found here.)

One reason why I wanted to write about this is because I myself often conflated cynicism with skepticism for much of my younger years, and this may possibly have been because to religious people they may seem like the same thing.  First, I'd like to briefly give dictionary definitions for both words (something which, ironically has seemed fairly common in novice Mormon talks in local church meetings at least in the last decade or so).

I take these definitions from Dictionary.com.
Cynic (n): a person who believes that only selfishness motivates human actions and who disbelieves in or minimizes selfless acts or disinterested points of view.

Skeptic (n): a person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual.

There are, of cour…

The Davis phenomenon

I bring up again the topic of Kim Davis, not to give her specifically more limelight, but to illuminate a phenomenon I see occur in her that I also see happen in other people.  Watching this interview that Megyn Kelly did with Kim Davis made me think of this.

First I'd like to highlight the points of the interview that stuck out to me.  Aside from the fact that Megyn seems to be exhibiting an inhuman amount of patience with Kim, there are a few things that in particular caught my attention.  Also, having watched the interview, I do believe that Kim Davis truly believes what she says.  I don't think she's lying or trying to play a political game or anything of the sort.  I believe that she is genuine in her belief and in how she asserts herself.

Megyn asks about people who ask "Why are you judging me?  Who are you to judge when you've been married multiple times, you too are a sinner?"  So Kim first asserts that she's not judging anyone.  She truly believe…

Economical economy

One view of the economy is that all people should be gainfully employed, doing something productive to help out, in order to obtain a living for themselves and their dependents.  I do not mean to imply that this notion is altogether wrong, but I wish to supply reasons why I do not believe it is the best way to view the situation.

Consider a simple example.  100 families live in a village.  Each family runs a farm to produce food for itself.  Then new technology is invented.  Tractors make it so that one farmer can produce all of the food the entire village needs.  That one farmer can produce all of the food and all the other famers can benefit from it without doing any work at all.  The same level of production is achieved with a much lower cost of human labor.  The way our economy currently works, the other 99 families would then attempt to gain employment by some other means to earn enough money to pay for the food from the 1 farmer.  This increases productivity and keeps the cost o…

Open letter to Kim Davis

Kim Davis,

I am writing this letter in response to the statement you made in regards to issuing marriage licenses.  (This statement is found in the Washington Post and the Liberty Council, among other places.)

You said "I love my job and the people of Rowan County."  I believe that recent events are evidence contrary to this statement.  Part of your job, as county clerk, is to issue marriage licenses to any of the citizens of Rowan County who have met the requirements set by the government, which now includes couples of the same sex.  You have expressed not just lack of love, but complete distaste and fear of filling this duty.  You have said that it is a matter of Heaven versus Hell for you.  That if you issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, you are consigning your soul to Hell.  That means that you do not love your job.  You fear your job.  You are afraid that if you fulfill your job, you will be sent to Hell for it.

You said "It is a matter of religious liber…

Individualism

I've spent many hours thinking about the arguments in favor of individual liberties, such as the libertarian argument.  And I've posted about it in the past.  Many times I'm bothered by the doctrine but can't quite put my finger on why it bothers me.  So the purpose of this post is to lay forth one reason why I believe the argument for maximizing individual liberty (by minimizing the role of government) is invalid.

To say that the freedom of all is maximized when the freedom of each individual is maximized is to discount the social nature of human beings.  We are not a sea of individual humans existing in isolation from one another.  Rather, we are social beings.  We interact with one another in very meaningful ways.

Consider, for example, one argument in opposition to heavy taxes in order to fund things such as social welfare.  The conservative argument often includes "I don't want the government to take my money."  The premise is that when one works ha…

Scapegoats

As human beings, we are biologically predisposed to avoid accepting blame.  It is uncomfortable.  It's unpleasant.  We have invented many ways of trying to get out of accepting blame.  But the simple fact of the matter is, when something bad happens, someone needs to accept the blame.  Sometimes this blame is placed on supernatural beings such as mischievous gods or devils.  Sometimes it is placed on a random unfortunate target.  But, in many cases, there is a designated person or group of people which is arbitrarily assigned the blame.  This is the definition of a scapegoat.

The event that triggered me thinking about this concept is when Donald Trump asserted that immigrants coming from Mexico are rapists, criminals, and drug dealers.  Considering that he is leading the most recent polls, it seems that his message resonates with at least a plurality of conservative voters.  So we must ask ourselves why this is.

In defense of his assertion, Trump cited this (rather disturbing) st…

Attention Seeking

A friend made a comment to me in regards to the Donald Trump backlash.  He said that Trump is an attention-seeker.  In fact, he seems to be pretty good at getting people to pay attention to him.  That attention isn't always positive.  But some people just want attention, whether positive or negative.  (Although, I'm fairly certain he doesn't enjoy all of the abandonment he's been experiencing lately.)
That thought is tangentially connected to what I'd like to make the main point of my post, which is people who say or do similarly hateful or ignorant things.  I've been thinking these last few days how incredible it is that I see more posts about hateful things people say about gays coming from my gay friends than from my conservative friends (the few of those who are left).  
I have made many posts myself of the nature "Look at how ridiculous this thing is that this person said."  Some pastor says some hateful things about gays.  Pat Robertson voices i…

Gays given permission to support Mormons on social media

Breaking news: leaders of the Homosexual Movement have confirmed that active homosexuals in good standing are allowed to speak positively about Mormons on their social media profiles.

Elton John, Johnny Weir, and Adam Lambert, the First Presidency of the Church of Homosexuals of Latter-day Gays have unanimously agreed that it is acceptable for queers everywhere to support equal rights for Mormons to co-exist among the rest of us, without being expelled from homosexuality.

This is a landmark decision, one that contrasts heavily with past homosexual leaders such as Harvey Milk who made statements including "Mormons want to kidnap your children and molest them." and "I'll never use the word 'Mormon' as a noun.  I reject it as a noun.  I will use it only as an adjective."

When asked for comment, James Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the most recent SCOTUS ruling which upheld marriage equality, said only "I don't know any Mormons, but I hear that…

Rights

Today the Supreme Court of the United States is hearing arguments in the case Obergefell v Hodges.  In this case, the court will decide two questions.
1. Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
2. Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

I can't describe how excited I am.  I've been following along on the live blog.  I plan to listen to the audio of the argument later today when I have time.  Tears started to well up in my eyes as I thought about it.  This will definitely be an historic case, at least if it is decided in favor of equality.

I think that perhaps some of my heterosexual friends will understand, but I doubt many will, just how much this means to me.  It's thrilling.  It's invigorating.  To think that we're this close to seeing the day when marriage equality …

Learning

I've been very quiet on my blog recently.  And I've even had long stretches of time when I've been relatively quiet on Facebook as well.  One of the reasons is that I find that sometimes I learn more when I talk less.  Often I find that being vocal about certain things only makes me angry and causes conflict with other people.  So in some ways I've tried to reduce or eliminate that by being less vocal, by reading and listening more and talking and writing less.

One of my favorite people to follow is David G McAfee.  He is a skeptic.  He's an atheist.  He's made it his career to promote critical thinking and skepticism.  He addresses not just religious ideas, but all sorts of superstitions and other unfounded claims.  The thing that I admire most about him is his ability to admit that he's wrong.  He does not seem to be emotionally connected with his views, which helps him to abandon a view if he finds it to be incorrect.

One very simple example was that h…

Segregation

Image
So, apparently this story ran in the Knoxville News Sentinel the other day.  My immediate reaction was awe at the stupidity of some people for letting such a small thing as skin color affect the way they treat people.  I've never personally understood racism.  I can't look at people of different skin colors differently simply because their skin cells have more or less melanin than mine.  I don't understand why that's such a big deal to some people.  But it clearly is a big deal even today.  Yes, that year at the top of the page says 2015, not 1915.

But as I thought about it more, I realized that there are two counts of bigotry that are glaringly obvious in this article.  Not only are non-white people unwelcome, but so are non-females.  It made me wonder if we, as a society, will ever reach the point where sexism is as repugnant as racism currently is (at least among professionals).

We have a very sexist society.  Aside from the points that are often discussed (which…

Apology

In light of LDS apostle Dallin Oaks' refusal to apologize, I would like to offer general apologies for mistakes that I believe I have made in the past.  If there's anything I miss, feel free to let me know.  Yes, I acknowledge that there is a degree of irony in this because I'm essentially proving myself better than Oaks by doing something he has declared himself unwilling to do, thus nullifying any real humility I might exhibit by providing an unprovoked apology.  However, I do feel a sincere desire to alter my past behaviors and become a better person and it is to this end as well that I write the post.  There may be some overlap with my previous post, but I want to make it clear that I am apologizing for my behavior.

I'm sorry for being mean to people on the internet.  I'm sorry for calling people names and making assumptions about them because they disagree with me.  I'm sorry for being rude to people for voicing differing opinions.  I'm sorry for actin…

De-escalation

De-escalation is one thing that I am not good at.  I criticize police officers for using maximum force when it's unnecessary, and offer my opinion that they should de-escalate rather than escalate.  But in doing so, I make myself a hypocrite.  When I am in a discussion with someone of a differing viewpoint, I escalate more readily than I de-escalate.

I write my blog posts with the delusion that I will change the world by the things that I say.  I do hope that some people have given pause to their own beliefs and have been affected by my words.  But it is most likely the case that the best way I can change the world is to change myself.  My sister posted a quote the other day that said "You can't change how people treat you or what they say about you.  All you can do is change how you react to it."  And when we were chatting the other day, a similar quote, something to the effect that it's easier to wear slippers than to carpet the whole world.  If I examine myse…

Tender, loving care

The Learning Channel (TLC) will be airing a new show called "My Husband's Not Gay".  The first episode is on tonight at 10:00.  Having heard so much opinion about the show being thrown about, I wanted to add my own thoughts.  I do recommend that my readers read through the post Ty Mansfield made about the show, as well as Carol Lynn Pearson's.

My biggest concern is that no one should feel they ey has the right or the duty to dictate to other people how to live their lives.  What makes one person happy doesn't necessarily make another person happy.  Things that one person may consider completely repulsive another person may consider entirely appealing.  I do not like grilled mushrooms.  I think they're slimy and gross.  My little brother loves them and would eat an enormous bowl of them.  Is it fair for me to say that he cannot eat them because I think they're disgusting?  Or for him to say that I must eat them because he thinks they're delectable?

Th…