Friday, October 29, 2010

Amazed

I have the most amazing Bishop in the world!! Truly I do. I'm not just saying that or being emotional - he really is the best. For the sake of this posting, let's call him ' Bishop Jim'.

About 5 years ago I came out to the then Bishop - not this one - and went through some Church discipline. That Bishop was and is still an awesome man. He loved me when I didn't think any other human being on the planet could; and I still love him dearly and appreciate what he did for me. One of the things that came out of that first experience was the need for a special friend, sort of like a "super home teacher", that I could reach out to in this difficult time of my life. I had no family to turn to. So the Bishop called Jim into his office one day and asked if he would be willing to be a special home teacher for someone in the Ward. He didn't tell him who it was until Jim had said he would be willing. Then he told him it was me, but he would not tell him why he had this assignment. The Bishop left that up to me to tell.

So Jim came to my house one evening and I had the privelege of telling him my life story and coming out to him. Here was a man that had only been a member of the Church a few years, and I was telling him about my homosexuality, sins and transgressions, negative experiences, etc. He took it all amazingly well and was incredibly supportive. He told me knowing I was a homosexual did not change his feelings about me one bit. I found I was comfortable talking to him about anything and everything. He's extremely intelligent and a great conversationalist. He invited me to sit with his family in Sacrament meeting, and that was such a nice way to include me. The family I had been sitting with was no longer in our Ward, and I was lonely at Church.

So for about a year this wonderful relationship grew and Jim was a constant support to me. He was there when I finally got my Temple Recommend back and was able to go to the Temple (we both have a special appreciation for the Nauvoo Temple). He checked up on me almost daily. He became my brother and friend in every way, and I learned to truly love him like a brother!

Then one Sunday they announced intentions to make a change in the Bishopric. Normally I would be panicked that they would put in some homophobic Bishop, but I knew immediately it would be my friend Jim - now Bishop Jim. I was so glad it was him!! I knew the supportiveness would remain, and it has. He is ever supportive, ever loving, ever caring. Even though I have slipped back into transgression he has not turned away or given up on me. He calls me almost every day, and every time he tells me he loves me. And I know he does. I know he does.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

...and NOW

for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!!

Pres. Uchtdorf spoke out on Same Sex Attraction this week (see Tribune article below). After all the rancor surrounding Elder Packer's talk, this is a welcome change, and is much more in line with previous messages and statements from the Brethren. I think the Church is making a good effort do do damage control and get the official word out. I would like to see more statements from the top, especially Pres. Monson.


High-ranking LDS leader weighs in on same-sex attraction


By Peggy Fletcher Stack
The Salt Lake Tribune
Published Oct 26, 2010

Mormons may not know until the hereafter what causes same-sex attraction, but “God loves all his children” and expects everyone to do the same, an LDS Church leader said Sunday.

While the message — delivered to more than 200,000 Utah Mormons — may not seem significant, the messenger was.

As second counselor in the governing First Presidency, Dieter F. Uchtdorf is one of the highest-ranking leaders in the hierarchy of the nearly 14 million member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to address the thorny topic of whether same-sex attraction is inborn.

The gentle tone and emphasis of Uchtdorf’s remarks — spoken at the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City and beamed to dozens of church buildings — came in the wake of an earlier speech by Boyd K. Packer, senior member of the LDS Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

In Packer’s original General Conference speech earlier this month, he said, “Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so.”

Packer later changed “tendencies” to “temptations” on the church’s website.

Still, Packer’s speech generated national controversy and protests from those inside and outside the Salt Lake City-based faith, many of whom saw the apostle’s statements as contributing to the self-loathing and suicides of gays.

In response to the outcry, LDS spokesman Michael Otterson issued a strongly worded condemnation of bullying and belittling of gays, saying, “Their struggle is our struggle.”

On Sunday, Uchtdorf reiterated the church’s position that it doesn’t know the cause of homosexuality and that it doesn’t matter.

“Many questions in life, however, including some related to same-gender attractions, must await a future answer, even in the next life,” Uchtdorf said. “Until then, the truth is, God loves all his children, and because he loves us, we can trust him and keep his commandments.”

Some audience members welcomed Uchtdorf’s approach, which seemed more consistent with the church’s position.

“It seemed fairly close to the line we’ve been getting lately — the idea that the practice is sinful, but homosexual tendencies are acceptable within the church as long as people don’t act on them,” said Jennie Pulsipher, a Mormon who watched the regional conference via satellite at her east-side Salt Lake City stake center. “He also emphasized that [gays] should be treated lovingly as children of God.”

Ty Mansfield sees Uchtdorf’s remarks as representing the church’s future.


“We’re going to be hearing more and more statements like this, calling church members to a greater expression of compassion and kindness,” said Mansfield, who writes at northstarlds.org, a website for believing Mormon gays. “Doctrine will remain the same, but we’ll see a pretty radical shift in the culture of the church in how we relate both to the issue of same-sex attraction and to those who experience homosexual feelings. We’ve made some significant strides over the last few years, and I think this is only the beginning.”

Though he wasn’t in the audience, Brigham Young University microbiologist Bill Bradshaw was pleased to hear of Uchtdorf’s remarks.

“I totally agree that no matter what the cause or what we eventually find out is the definitive explanation, it doesn’t alter our opportunities nor obligations to treat our gay brothers and sisters like everyone else — with Christian kindness,” said Bradshaw, who, with his wife, Marge, directs Family Fellowship, a support group for LDS parents of gays and lesbians.

That compassionate approach, he said, “resonates with me.”

Yet Bradshaw, who has a gay son, believes a wait-and-see approach to causality belies a mountain of scientific research.

“I have spent a long time investigating the published evidence from empirical studies, and I know that the overwhelming evidence strongly favors the position that sexual orientation is programmed by biological mechanisms,” he said. “The evidence that it’s a choice or that it’s programmed by social or psychological forces is lacking.”

On Monday, Bradshaw lectured about the topic in a BYU bioethics class, explaining all the research he has uncovered in recent years.

The question of cause inevitably leads to the next question — the issue of change, he said. “The evidence shows overwhelmingly that orientation is not amenable to change.”


During Sunday’s wide-ranging address, Uchtdorf did not mention the issue of same-sex attractions changing or anything else related to the issue.

But the German leader did allude obliquely to the question of immigration by calling himself a “legal alien.”

He thanked Utahns for welcoming him and his family to the Salt Lake Valley in 1999 when he was called for an “overseas assignment,” but he expected to return to his home in Europe one day. Then, in 2004, he became an apostle, a lifetime position. He and his wife, Harriet, realized, he said, that “the ‘Wild West’ was now our final destination.”

“You are and have been for generations wonderful examples,” he said, “of integrating foreign people into your neighborhoods and communities.”

Utah’s dominant religion hasn’t taken a definitive position on the immigration debate. Instead, LDS leaders have called for “compassion” and encouraged “careful reflection and civil discourse” when discussing the issue.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ancient Allergies

After considerable research I've determined that many of the people in ancient Greek and Roman cultures suffered from severe allergies - particularly to clothes. This resulted in many of them wandering about in a constant state of nudity, which in turn helped reduce the need for air conditioning, which (happily) prevented an ancient outbreak of global warming. I think we could learn something here...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Little Monster

Addiction is a strange disease. In essence, you're almost split into two personalities. The "normal" you is a nice person who wants to do all the right things, be happy, live the commandments, etc.etc.etc. The "other" you - well, let's get to that in a moment.

The first phase of addiction is called the Acting-In phase, and this is when the "normal" you is in control. You feel normal, you think normally, and you tend to forget or dismiss the addiction and the problems it causes. You're optimistic that things will work out OK, and you tell yourself, 'This is the last time I'm going to let that problem lick me. I've got it all under control now". These are, of course, lies and delusions; but you believe them becuse its convenient to do so during this phase of the addiction cycle.

The "other" you is really almost like a completely different person. I guess the official term is "alter-ego", but I think this really goes way beyond that. In an addiction it becomes more pathological than a simple alter-ego. Whatever it is, I call mine "Little Monster", and he comes out of his box then the second phase or Acting Out part of my addiction kicks in (that's when all the nasty stuff happens).

Little Monster isn't like Normal Neal at all. He is VERY manipulative, VERY demanding, VERY clever, and VERY, VERY naughty. He should have been a lawyer I suppose, because he seems to be able to win just about any argument you might care to engage him in. He can twist things around so quickly - I almost always give in:

Neal: "Gotta stay away from anything suggestive today"
Little Monster: "Right. Tow the line, my man"
Neal: "Yep. Gonna do it right this time and stay outta trouble"
Little Monster: "I'm right there with ya! Fill your day with something productive to keep your mind on the right track. You could make some goodies for the Missionaries today. That's a wholesome activity!"
Neal: "You're right. That's a great idea! I make killer Chocolate Chip Cookies. Let's see - oh rats! I'm outta chocolate chips."
Little Monster: "Dude, Wal Mart is just around the corner - it will just take a second."
Neal: "Yea, just a second. We're off."

10 minutes later...

Neal: "OK, got the C. Chips."
Little Monster: "But didn't you need some windshield washer fluid for the car? Its dry and we're all out."
Neal: "Of course - I think that's back in the back somewhere. Wait a second, that will take me past the men's underwear section!"
Little Monster: "There's nothing to look at there. Its just Hanes. Whats the big deal about some "old man" undies anyway? You're over-reacting"
Neal: "You're probably right. I'm in a hurry anyway, I don't even have time to look, so what could happen?"

20 minutes later...

Neal: "Dammit! I shouldn't have gone down this aisle! I can't believe they have such cute underwear models on these cheap underwear packages!!"
Little Monster: "Heh Heh! I'll show you cute. Just wait til we get home...."

And that's usually all it takes for me. Just one little turn-on from something so simple. It can be almost anything - from a man in underwear, to the cover of a magazine, to a Gillette commercial. If it has a hunky guy in it, just one look can let Little Monster take control and the whole Acting Out phase starts. Once it starts, its like a runaway train goin' down hill! What scares me is how powerful Little Monster is. I can look at porn literally for days straight. I've gone on a binge where I called into work sick 2 days in a row because I was literally drowning myself in porn. I went without sleep, food, and hardly a pee break for 2 straight days! And I just couldn't stop. I COULDN'T! I can't tell you how degrading and depressing that is. You hate yourself for it later. Literally. There are times I just want to die.

So that's why I'm nervous about this new round of therapy. I can lose control SO easily. I can fail so easily. I hate you, Little Monster!! I hate you!!! Hate you!!!


...... and I love you...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Battle

My Bishop is working with me on ditching my porn addiction. Its gonna be a long battle, I can assure you.

First step is to get me some regular interaction with someone who knows about my problems and will agree to check on me daily. Someone I can call in a dark moment. So the Bish called a cool guy in the Ward to be my home teacher. We told him all about my homosexuality, childhood molestation, pornography addiction - the whole nine yards. This guy is pretty great and really seems to care about me. Plus he's on the High Council, so he knows how to keep his mouth shut. Nice to have someone on the team.

Next we'll start going through the 12 Step manual. I've started it several times but never finished. Hopefully this time I'll get through the whole program. Its not an easy thing. Truly, this is just as serious as a drug addiction. In fact, it IS my drug! The only difference is I don't swallow it or inject it - I drink it in with my eyes and ears. But the effects are the same, and the addiction just as strong. I've been addicted since I was about 8 years old, so I have 40+ years of acting out to deal with. The habit is so ingrained its almost a part of me. I'm a little scared, to be quite honest. Scared I won't be able to get through all this. Scared of failure. There's nowhere to hide...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Two Steps Back

Boyd K. Packer's Conference address this month has touched off a firestorm of protests, petitions, and heated dialogue. In one stroke he nearly erased the progress the Church has made over the past several years to soften its rhetoric on homosexulaity - in particular homosexual attractions. Its doubtful the Church will ever change policy on the sinful nature of homosexual (or heterosexual) extramarital sex, but some great strides had been made in educating the membership that homosexual attrractions were not chosen and not a sin. In a couple of sentences, Elder Packer blew that all to hell.

Quote:
"Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?"

This flys in the face of the recently released pamphlet 'God Loveth His Children', which clearly states some may NOT overcome Same Sex Attraction in this life. Other GAs have made similar statements.

Elder Packer has a history of approaching this issue in a condemning tone. In a former conference address he praised a young misionary for slugging his gay companion. In an older Church pamphlet he pronounced the cause of homosexuality as "selfishness". These statements have had a lasting negative effect on SSA church members and the Gay community as a whole.

Conference talks are NOT screened before the fact, so this is Packer going out on a limb, and the Church is now doing damage control. Do I think he meant to offend? Probably not. But the damage was done, nonetheless. Although the Church issued a rebuttal, which was almost an apology, and Elder Packer "edited" the original content of the talk; no one can erase the fact that he said what he said. In this age of near instantaneous communication, it went viral around the globe in a matter of minutes.

Am I bitter over this? Not really, I think I'm simply disappointed, frustrated and I'm definitely concerned. An opportunity to uplift and educate was replaced with a disastrous statement that will perpetuate misunderstanding and prejudice for years to come. Its hard sometimes, waiting on the Church to catch up on this particular issue. We don't need setbacks like this, especially from someone of Packer's stature.

The Brethren can make mistakes. Moses did when he struck the rock against God's instructions. Joseph Smith almost lost the ability to translate because of his carelessness with Martin Harris. We read that the Apostles of old were sorely chastened because they bickered and fought among themselves. Hard for us to imagine Apostles fighting, but there it is. What I'm saying is that these men are still men, and still frought with imperfections, prejudices, and all the other human frailties we have discovered are the common lot of man. 'For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God'.

So in our day and time I don't think its at all surprising that an Apostle could translate some of their own prejudices into their remarks. Brigham Young said once, at a General Conference, that the members should not just accept his words as the truth. Rather, they should go home, ponder the things they had learned, and then ask the Lord if they are true or not. This is a profound statement. In another instance he said:
“I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self security. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.
We are NOT to simply swallow everything that comes over the pulpit from the Brethren! We must apply the filter of the Spirit to their words and recieve a testimony of the truth of them for ourselves. I think most of us, including me, are remiss in this duty.

And we must allow even the Brethren the grace to make mistakes and grow in their callings. They are still being perfected, as are we. We must not forget all the good they do, the sacrifices they have made, and the many inspired talks and writings they have produced. I must forgive, but I wonder - how soon will the world forget?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Many Moons

After ignoring my blog for many moons, I'm back! Much has happend in those moons, including:

1.) I have a new job. Same pay - much less stress! Grateful to have a job at all.

2.) I've done a LOT of work on my house. Fun, challenging, and *GULP!* expensive. But it was worth it.

3.) Am close to getting my Temple Recommend back! Yipee! Cross fingers and pray for me. Maybe by the end of the year?

4.) My web site - www.lds-ssa.org has been merged with NorthStar. This had been discussed for a long time, and now has become a reality. We're better together.

5.) I've lost a lot of weight and am still losing. I feel a heck of a lot better, by the way. Fat leaves you in a funk. :)

Will post about these and other subjects in detail as I get the time.