Saturday, December 24, 2011

O Come, Let Us Adore Him

Isaiah 9:6

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Latter-Day Pharisees

My new Bishop is a great guy, but I haven't had an opportunity to sit down and really shoot the breeze with him yet. I do communicate with him quite a bit on calendar and Ward Bulletin items, and occasionally we exchange e-mails on Gospel topics. The other day, for instance, I came a cross the Pres. George Albert Smith response to a letter from a minister in Salt Lake that had been concerned about recent assertions in a Church magazine that First Presidency statements were infallible. The statement in question was "When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done." Pres. Smith's response is priceless, and says in part:

I am pleased to assure you that you are right in your attitude that the passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church. Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church, which is that every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, must, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, work out his own salvation, and is personally responsible to His Maker for his individual acts.
I thought this might be good fodder for a 5th Sunday lesson, seeing as how we have some very narrow and prejudiced minds in my Ward. Lots of blind followers, I'm afraid. So I sent the entire letter from the Minister and the G.A.S. response to the Bish and made my recommendations. He responded warmly and positively to it.

Then Sunday rolls around and the Bish corners me to talk about coming in for an interview. Before I could even respond he suddenly notices what I'm wearing and says "Wow! That's the most close-to-white shirt I've seen you wear all year. Maybe we'll see you in a white shirt soon." OK, that was totally unexpected and about threw me off the edge. Since my White Shirt Rebellion a few months ago, I have not worn a white shirt to Church a single time. Nor do I intend to. I can tell that when I do have my interview with this Bishop, I'm going to have to set some things straight with him. My pet peeve is white shirts.

Then to top it all off, we had the incident this past week with Skinny Jeans and BYU-I. I immediately made a post mocking the ridiculousness of this incident, but it really does have me worried about a trend I see growing in the Church, and which is tied to all of my posts lately. Today, I found the perfect quote that sums up my concerns:

“The worst sinners, according to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistence on proper dress and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism … the haircut becomes the test of virtue in a world where Satan deceives and rules by appearances.” – Hugh Nibley in his talk ‘What is Zion?’ 
So, with the current emphasis in the Church on appearance, rules, image, public opinion, and piety; are we Latter-Day Saints, or are we becoming Latter-Day Pharisees? I'm afraid we're headed for the latter, if we're not already there. What do you think?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Skinny Made Me Bad


OK, If you haven't caught the unbelievable buzz yet about BYU and Skinny Jeans, please click HERE .

Next, I think they should:

1. Ask in Temple Recommend Interviews if you own Skinny Jeans!
2. Add an 11th Commandment - Thou shalt not wear Skinny Jeans before ME!
3. Issue a new 'Proclamation On The Skinny Jean'.
4. Pen a new Primary Song called "Pioneer Children Did Not Wear Skinny Jeans".
5. Ban football, because after all, you can see their ass through those tight-fitting uniforms!
6. Ban basketball. Its those silky shorts  - might show someone's 'package'.
7. Ban soccer, because after all, you can see bulges through those shorts too!
8. Ban rugby, because its - well, its almost like watching porn! (Dieux du Stade)
9. Require all female students to hide their bodies in used refrigerator boxes mounted on roller-skates (for mobility) with eye-holes cut out, since sight of the female body might actually cause a man to have an impure thought!
10. Ban gay people from BYU entirely, because we dared to notice that all the fluff about Skinny Jeans was a slap in the face to women by a bunch of male chauvinists with a double-standard! (and also because we pointed out the bit about bulges!)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Thaw?

I'm sitting here listening to the Michael Buble` Christmas CD and reflecting on the past few weeks, which have been somewhat remarkable in a way.

First, I got the news that the government agency I work for is not going to cut our program or our budget. That's good news, at least for the next year. Jobs are so tenuous these days. Big relief!

Next, my whole family took a trip to the mountains, and it was really wonderful. We had a cabin with an incredible view, cooked good food, and had a more enjoyable time together than we've had in many years. I have a pretty decent family when you boil it all down. Not perfect, of course, but decent. There is still a lot of prejudice in the family, which bothers me to no end, but something happened on this trip that gives me hope.

I was riding in the car with my sisters, shooting the breeze on a variety of subjects, when somehow my aged uncle came up in the conversation. To my surprise, my sister began to talk about him being gay. 50 years ago he was in a gay relationship and lived with another man as a 'couple'. This was extremely bold and scandalous in those days. My sister revealed some little-known details of this relationship, including the fact that my parents wouldn't let him bring his partner to our house. I was too young at the time to understand what was going on, but evidently it became a source of contention in my family, as they didn't want his gay lover anywhere near us. Sadly, a few years later this man died unexpectedly, and my uncle was left alone. He never found another person to love, and lives alone til this day.

This has been one of those 'elephant-in-the-room' subjects that my family has pretended didn't exist for decades. Here in the South, especially among my generation and older, you simply don't TALK about gay family members. You pretend they aren't gay and hope one day it will just "go away", but you never mention it - it just wouldn't be polite. Plus you might embarass the fam! Anyway, my other sister piped up and said how it must have taken a lot of guts to live as a gay couple back in those days, and how sad it was that he had lived his life alone after his partner's death. She also noted how much my uncle loved his partner, and how he still misses him to this day.

Needless to say, after all the homophobic rants I've heard my family get into, this conversation came as a bit of a shock. Could it be that at least a few of my family members are starting to 'get it'? That the ice is thawing? Hearts are melting? I can only hope! The last thing my sister mentioned is how sad it was that my uncle had to live a "fake" life, and that he couldn't really be his authentic self around the family. I was sorely tempted to pipe up and tell her how I knew exactly how he felt; but my practical side took over and I resisted the temptation to come out least for now. There is more thawing left to do before that happens.