Friday, December 17, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Polygamy Part 1

I am having fun making these videos. This one addresses polygamy. Let me know if you think the video is too long or difficult to follow.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The video says it all.

I decided to get a little creative with my post today. I created a video online that is fun to watch. Hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Parents go ahead and lie to your children, it's okay.

There have been a couple of commercials on TV lately that have really been bugging me, it involves parents knowingly lying to their children, and thinking it is okay. The first commercial is for Tide detergent. A daughter comes to her mom and asks if she had seen her green shirt. The commercial then cuts to the mom's memory as she remembers having borrowed her daughter's shirt for a night out with her friends. During the night out, she spilled something on the shirt and now she does not want her daughter to know that she borrowed her shirt without asking. The mom responds to her daughter that the shirt in question is not her style, insinuating that she would not wear that shirt. There is the first lie! Next, the mom finds the shirt and washes it with Tide. Later, the daughter finds the shirt and the mom asks about it. The daughter indicates that it must have been hiding in her closet. The mom does not say anything and lets her daughter walk out the door with this impression. There is the second lie!

The other offending commercial is from McDonalds. A young couple is driving to McDonalds and their daughter asks where breakfast comes from. The mom instead of giving a legitimate answer spins a tale about giants and wizards in the land of breakfast that magically make this food. Once again, another direct lie! When the mom is done with this fantasy story, the daughter then asks, "Where do I come from?" The commercial ends showing the mom with a worried look of what to say next.

What a bunch of bullshit! These commercials are portraying parents lying to their children and thinking that it is okay. It really just leaves a bad taste in my mouth watching these commercials that advocate parents purposely lying to their children. Every time I see the McDonalds commercial at the end, I always think, "What fantasy story are you going to come up with now that explains where children come from?" Instead of making up a bullshit story, the mom could have answered the question about breakfast truthfully, explaining to her daughter the way food is really grown / raised and delivered to food places for purchase. She could also explain how a baby is grown inside of a mother's body without getting into graphic details. Would not this be a more responsible way to answer her child's questions? The Tide commercial just sickens me because a mother is setting a bad example of borrowing something that does not belong to her and lying about not using it.

So what do you think? Am I off base here? Maybe I just have this weird idea of parents being honest with their children. It just seems irresponsible to me to see commercials that show parents actively lying to their children and thinking it okay.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Everybody wants to go to Heaven

Yeah, I know, I am that annoying guy that just posts music on his blog. I have a couple more songs I would like to share. As I was flying to Connecticut today, I listened to Love and Rockets. Now I would imagine that most people have not heard of this band. Love and Rockets is an alternative band from the 80s and also a spin off from the gothic band Bauhaus. I find their music very enjoyable and two of their songs affected me today. I am going to share the song and lyrics and I ask that you take the time to actually listen to the songs and read the lyrics. There are some great messages and thoughts here.

Everybody wants to go to Heaven


Everybody wants to go to heaven
Everybody wants to go to heaven
Everybody wants to go to heaven
Do you wonder if heaven is true?
Do you want to see an angel?
Do you want to see an angel?
Do you want to hear an angel?
Do you wonder if angels are true?
The picket and the policeman
The astronaut in space
The skinhead and the student
The one who wears your face
Do you want to see the kingdom
Without a king?
Do you ever really wonder
If there is such a thing?
The future king of England
The little boy in school
The T.V. commentator
The prophet and the fool
The vicar and the rapist
The prisoner and the judge
The girl who works in Tesco's
The critic with a grudge
The rebel and the teacher
The vandal and the saint
The AIDS patient and the preacher
The one who says he ain't going anywhere
Everybody wants some heaven
Everybody wants some heaven
Everybody wants some heaven
Do you want to go to heaven?
Do you want to hear an angel?
Do you want to see the kingdom?
Oh Yeah!


I like this song; it gives you something to think about. I like that question, “Do you wonder if heaven is true?” Even after leaving the Mormon Church and all the stuff that gets posted about it on the Internet, you still have sit and wonder sometimes what is out there.


Alright, next song that has some deep meaning from Love and Rockets.

Sweet F.A.


I was rolling down the window of my car
And I was thinking where the game had got me so far
Doesn't matter where you're going or where you're coming from
Or is your life just like a grain of sand?
Fuck all else

Well I was rolling down the highway of my dreams
And I was wondering about highward sunsets and the silver screen
Doesn't matter where you're going or where you're coming from
Or is your life just like a grain of sand?
Fuck all else

Doesn't matter where we're going or where we're coming from
Or isn't life just like a grain of sand?
Fuck all else

Rolling down the highway in a dream

I was rolling down the highway in a dream

Just rolling down the highway in a dream

Just rolling...
Just rolling...



What I like about this song is the idea of all that matters is what I choose and I love the phrase “Fuck all else.” People like to make a big deal about religion either for it or against it, but it just doesn’t matter. Make your choice and fuck all else.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Aah, the Devil's Music, just the way I like it!

Just wanted to share a variety of great Devil's music that is non-religious and evil in every way.



Remember how Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven was suspect of being a song for the devil?



And how about Mephiskapheles and the Bumblebee Tuna song? These kids look like they are having a good time skank dancing, but the album this song comes from is God Bless Satan. Mephiskapheles? Mephisto? Demon anyone?



Now we're talking! The epitomy of evil, The Sex Pistols with Anarchy in the U.K.
I am an anti-Christ!
I am an anarchist!


You can have your Christian hymns, I'll take my Devil's music anyday!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Am I expecting too much?

Last night, I had a great conversation with my brother and his wife about my parents. I told my brother about the conversation that I had with my parents about a week ago. Here is what my conversation with my parents was about.

If I have not mentioned it before, my parents moved to Arizona; my dad’s health was struggling in Utah and they needed to be in a warmer climate. Well since the Mormon Church had their conference at the beginning of October, I have been curious about whether the controversy that followed was big enough for my parents to notice. Here in Utah, many people were outraged about the statements of Boyd K. Packer and the subsequent changes in print that the church made. Was it just a Utah thing or did anyone outside of the state of Utah notice?

As I was chatting with my parents, curiosity got the best of me and I had to ask them about it. I asked if they had heard any of the news about the controversy and protests that happened after conference. They said that they had not heard anything about it. I filled them in about what the issues were. They said that they had watched conference and had not noticed anything out of the ordinary with the talks. As my mom said about Packer, “He was just speaking for the Lord.” My dad went on to talk about the anti-Mormons that he so deeply despises. They also asked if I am going to church or believe in god now. I explained that I am not going to church and I am not sure whether there is a god or not. I am okay with saying I do not know for sure. Our conversation ended shortly afterward and everything was fine.

So I related this story to my brother and we had a good conversation about the results. We were fascinated with the idea that my parents had not noticed anything different about conference. The leaders were speaking for the Lord and nothing else mattered. Outside of the state of Utah, hardly anyone noticed that some leader of the Mormon Church had said anything out of the ordinary that would have upset anyone. As I have said before, outside of the state of Utah, the Mormon Church is very inconsequential and insignificant, hardly noticed by anyone.

I explained that I feel like my relationship with my parents seems so unresolved because they will not even acknowledge any of the issues that I bring up about the church. My brother, who is three years younger than me, had some good advice about this. He said that since our parents are in their senior years, it might be too much to ask of them to consider that the church may not be true. They have lived their entire lives devoted to this church and the thought for them of realizing that their efforts may have been in vain may be too much to ask.

This is sad to me that my parents may be afraid to investigate anything at all because they might be afraid of what they find. They have looked a little bit at the issues, but they do want to look any further. They love the church and have very strong testimonies, but it is not unheard of for people like this to lose their testimonies once they discover the truth. Imagine being in your 70s and investigating the troubling issues with the church and finding your testimony disintegrating before your very eyes. Think of the heartache that would be felt after realizing that you had spent your entire life devoted to a church that is a fraud, and there is no doubt, the Mormon Church is a fraud, no truer than any other church on this earth.

After talking to my brother, I came to the realization that I may be asking too much of my parents. I really cannot expect them to question their devotion to a religion that they have lived for their entire lives. They will remain strong followers of the church to the day they die and I just need to come to terms that they will never accept the decision that I have made to leave. The issues that I have with the church are items that they will never entertain with study or prayer the way that I have. I have questioned my life, my beliefs, and everything that I was taught since I was born. I have the luxury of being able to live the rest of my life the way that I want now and not having to look at my entire life as a waste of devotion to a false religion. I love my parents and I will work on respecting their choice of believing in this church even though I so desperately desire for them to see the truth and come to terms with it instead of running away in fear.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Long Lost Girlfriend

The other day at work, I was listening to the Pet Shop Boys and it reminded me of an old girlfriend that I had in high school. When I was in high school, I was not one of those guys that had a girlfriend all the time. I wanted a girlfriend, but it seemed like I could not get them to be interested in me. I think I was too boring and unnoticeable, but at the end of my junior year, I received interest from a girl that I never would have expected, her name was Cherie.

In my junior year, I took a Spanish class and this girl Cherie was in my class, she was a senior. She was cute and usually had the guys around her always talking to her. She was not the most popular girl in school, but she definitely got noticed. I said hi a few times, but we never had much interaction other than just small talk. If I remember right, I may have danced with her a couple of times at the school dances.

Well, along comes the end of the year and yearbook signings. We have all done this and get the usual “stay cool during the summer and see ya next year!” As I was walking around getting people to sign my yearbook, I saw Cherie and approached her. I signed her yearbook and I cannot really remember what I said, probably just the usual stuff like everyone else. When she handed my yearbook back to me, I thanked her and walked away turning to the page that she signed curious as to what she said. What she wrote completely blew me away. Here is what she said, “You are the Hottest Dancer at Taylorsville I have ever seen! What a Stud! Call me this summer and we’ll go dancing at Xenon! It is an honor to know you! Sincerely, Cherie.”

I was completely surprised! I had never noticed that she was interested in me. Well, I could not let an opportunity like this pass me by so after the school year ended, I found her number and gave her a call. We did go dancing at Xenon and had a great time. When I dropped her off, she even let me give her a kiss goodbye. I could not believe my luck and how well this was going.

We started going out during the summer and had some fun times. She was the first girl that I ever really had a “make-out” session with. You know, the classic going to the drive-in movie, but you never actually watch the movie because you are too busy making out with your girlfriend. I learned a lot on these dates.

One thing that was cool about her is that she liked my taste in music. She appreciated the fact that I was into the New Wave music of the 80s. I even had my big cassette tape box that she enjoyed perusing. The Pet Shop Boys had a song called Heart that kind of summed up how I felt about her with lyrics such as, “Every time I see you something happens to me. Like a chain reaction between you and me. My heart starts missing a beat. My heart starts missing a beat. Every time!”

My friend and I snuck over to her house and decorated her car for her birthday. I had streamers all over her car, it looked pretty good. The next day, I could not wait to hear how everything went. As I came home from work, my parents asked me to get something from my room. I went down to my room and turned on the light; Cherie jumped out of my bed and scared me half to death. We had a good laugh as she told me that she was running late for work and had to drive to work with the streamers still attached to her car. Funny times indeed.

As I started my senior year, Cherie informed me that she and her family were moving to Washington. This definitely bummed me out because I was enjoying our relationship for the few months that we had. Before I really had a chance to say goodbye, she was gone and just like that, my first real girlfriend was out of my life. I have never seen her since.

Even now as an adult, I still reminisce about that relationship, she really left an impression on me. It was a fun time with new experiences that involved a girl in my life. I still wonder where she is today. I have done searches on the Internet trying to see if I can track her down, but to no avail. I think the reason why is because our relationship ended so abruptly and seemed a bit unresolved. It would be nice to know that she is doing well today.

Ah, lost love.

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's Just Another Day

Danny and the boys of Oingo Boingo have this thought to share. . .

It's Just Another Day


Oingo Boingo - Just Another Day
Uploaded by Vince27. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

(There's life underground)

I feel it all around / I feel it in my bones
My life is on the line / When I'm away from home
When I step out the door / The jungle is alive
I do not trust my ears / I don't believe my eyes
I will not fall in love / I cannot risk the bet
Cause hearts are fragile toys / so easy to forget

It's just another day / There's murder in the air
It drags me when I walk / I smell it everywhere
It's just another day / Where people cling to light
To drive away the fear / That comes with every night

It's just another . . . . . . . It's just another day
It's just another . . . . . . . It's just another day . . .

It's just another day--When people wake from dreams
With voices in their ears--That will not go away

I had a dream last night / The world was set on fire
And everywhere I ran / There wasn't any water
The temperature increased / The sky was crimson red
The clouds turned into smoke / And everyone was dead
(but) There's a smile on my face . . . For everyone
There's a golden coin . . . That reflects the sun
There's a lonely place . . . That's always cold
There's a place in the stars . . . For when you get old

There's razors in my bed / That come out late at night
They always disappear / Before the morning light
I'm dreaming again / Of life underground
It doesn't ever move / It doesn't make a sound
And just when I think--That things are in their place
The heavens are secure--The whole thing explodes in my face

It's just another . . . . . . . It's just another day
It's just another . . . . . . . It's just another day . . .




A good song to remember when life kind of sucks.
And besides, Danny Elfman is creepy and dreamy at the same time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

That would be Nihilism for me, thank you.

I have been feeling rather nihilist lately so I need to write about it. For those that may be unfamiliar with Nihilism, here is a nice definition from Wikipedia.

Nihilism (pronounced /ˈnaɪ.əlɪzəm/ or /ˈniː.əlɪzəm/; from the Latin nihil, nothing) is the philosophical doctrine suggesting the negation of one or more meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nihilism

Since I have discovered all the issues about the Mormon Church, life has taken on a troubled meaning for me. I decided that the Mormon Church did not work for me, so I had my name removed. There, done with religion. Now what?

Lately, I have found happiness to be a little fleeting. On some days I feel okay and others days I feel a little down. I am sure all the TBM's would be the first to point out that the reason is because I rejected the "true gospel," but I do not feel that way. For my entire life, the church was always what I could depend on to look for meaning in life whether I liked it or not. Since stepping back and re-evaluating my choices in life, I simply do not agree with the philosophies of religions, especially Christian religions. I do not feel like a damage individual that requires saving through atonement.

So what is the point of life now? I wake up, go to work, come home, spend time with the family, then go to sleep only to repeat it all over again tomorrow. Sure, we have various distractions like family activities, vacations, family visits, biking, etc. Nevertheless, who cares? Does it even matter?

Feeling that nihilism? Yeah, that feels good.

Is there a god? I do not know for sure, maybe. Does he or she care about me? Possibly. What if there is no life after death? What if this is it? Is there a point to living? Sure, family members love me, but does it matter? If life ends here, what difference does it make whether I am here or not? Maybe this is why I cannot really call myself an atheist. I would say more agnostic. There might a god out there, it is possible, but who can know for sure?

One of the more interesting philosophers of nihilism is Friedrich Nietzsche. Here are a few interesting quotes from him.

**************
There are no eternal facts, as there are no absolute truths.

What is it: is man only a blunder of God, or God only a blunder of man?

Better know nothing than half-know many things.
**************

So why do I have difficulty finding lasting happiness? Is it because my former views of eternity are now so questionable? My relationship with my parents seems so unresolved. We cannot talk about anything of substance anymore because I do not think the same as they do anymore, just nice surface pleasantries now. I am sure that visiting with them after Christmas will be a fun experience. <<< Sarcasm, in case it was not obvious.

Yeah I know, quite a downer of a post. This is just how I am feeling at the moment and I needed to express it. I will work on being happier.

Is it always like this!?

And the sand
And the sea grows
I close my eyes
Move slowly through drowning waves
Going away on a strange day
-The Cure-

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Deadmau5 show at Sin City. Morals anyone?

On Friday October 15, 2010, my friend Dave and I made the road trip from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas for the Deadmau5 show. If you do not know who Deadmau5 is, check out my previous post about him. Deadmau5, aka Joel Zimmerman is the current hot DJ touring the world and he is putting out some great dance/techno/house music.

So, here we are at the Hard Rock Hotel and the funny thing is that we end up running into Deadmau5 in the hallway. Dave and I said a quick hello with a handshake. That was pretty cool because he came across as just a regular guy and not some superstar celebrity. In fact, we saw him again later waiting in line for a taxi.

His show was at Body English inside the Hard Rock Hotel. He put on a great show and I really enjoyed myself. Instead of having the big light cube, this was a more intimate concert with him just upfront on stage doing his show.

I want to comment about the environment that I was in. Las Vegas is known as Sin City for a reason and I certainly witnessed a lot of “sin” in this nightclub. The biggest thing I witnessed was how the girls were dressed. Every single girl there was wearing the tightest, shortest dresses / skirts known to man. Now don’t get me wrong, the eye candy was pretty amazing. The boobs on display were incredible, legs a mile long, and unbelievably tight ass. After a while though, I started to wonder, “Where are the regular girls?” The girls almost looked unrealistic. My buddy Dave told me afterwards that a lot of the girls there were paid escorts. It was quite an experience to see the party atmosphere for real and not just on TV.

So let’s talk modesty and morals. Seeing these girls made me think of the Mormon Church’s strong stance on modesty. None of these girls would have been thought of anything other than completely immoral and immodest. To be honest, I did think that many of them just looked like whores. Is this what the world is? It seems like such an extreme. You have church standards on one side with people getting offended if too much shoulder is shown or a skirt above the knee. On the other hand, you have girls dressing as if they are getting paid for sex. Is there no middle ground?

I also wondered about the self-esteem of these girls. Do they feel like they have to dress like this in order for their boyfriend or other guys to be interested in them. How many of these girls will get so drunk or high on Ecstasy that they will wake up in the morning in some strange bed and wonder how they got there? Who did they end up having sex with that night and not know about it?

Now, I understand that I basically went to the den of evil by going to Las Vegas. It is so blatant there with signs everywhere advertising the many strips clubs located around the city. I guess it just seems a little sad to see people that have no sense of morals. I have left the church, but I still feel like morals and modesty are important. As I saw these girls, I thought of my own daughter; she is 11 right now. Would I want to see her dressed like these girls and dancing with men the way that I saw these girls do? I still want to instill into her a sense of morals and modesty that help her in not making the choices that these girls made. Yes, the church is not what I turn to anymore for my sense of morals and modest, but I still feel like that can be an important part of our choices in life.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Oh Satan, Where Art Thou?

Oh Satan, where art thou? Why can't I find you? Are you hiding in this bush? Are you waiting for me under the stairs? You promised that I would be in your power, but I cannot find you.

I remember going though the temple ceremony and watching as the actor portraying Lucifer / Satan turned and looked at me eye to eye. He was speaking to everyone in the room with me when he said, "I have a word to say concerning these people. If they do not walk up to every covenant they make at these altars in this temple this day, they will be in my power!" Did he just personally threaten me? Do I need to come up there and kick some Satan ass?

Well, here I am Satan. I have officially resigned from the Mormon Church and I am still here, so where are you? You told me in the temple that I would be in your power and yet I cannot find you. I am out of the church and yet I still feel the same as if I were in the church. I do not have evil spirits surrounding me and I do not live afraid.

I find it interesting that the Mormon Church places so much emphasis on "The Adversary" as if he is just waiting in the shadows to get you. The church teaches that those people who leave the church are under the influence of Satan and are led into evil ways. They are unhappy and bound down with chains. I do not feel this way. I am happy (for the most part) and I am glad to be living a more authentic life. I can be the real me without feeling as if I need to get church approval first about what I think or do.

I have not encountered Satan, nor do I feel like I have evil spirits influencing me. It is like when I was praying about the truthfulness of the Mormon Church and the Book of Mormon. I prayed so hard and for months hoping for an answer. I pled with god to give me something of a feeling. Just let me know that you are there and that I can follow your church.

Nothing. I got nothing. No answer. No feeling. No spiritual witness. No revelation. Really? You don't care enough to tell me that you care, god? So that was it, that was my answer. Satan said he would come get me if I left and yet I have not heard from him either. I walked away from the temple and the covenants that I made, but he has not shown up yet. He must be a pretty good hider.

Oh Satan, where art thou?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

My Dodge letter and thoughts


Well, Blondie beat me to it, but here is my confirmation letter from Gregory Dodge confirming my resignation from the church. Blondie called me when we received them and she was very excited. I was out of town, but when I got home, I immediately wanted to see the letters. It is kind of a weird feeling seeing four individual letters for each member or our family indicating that we are no longer members. I like the fact that the letter is simple and to the point, no guilt, or pressure for us to come back.

Since we have received the letters, Blondie and I have had some good discussions about why we are happy to be out of the church and why we feel it is wrong. Here are some of my thoughts. . .

Everyone is born on this earth with unique qualities, thoughts, and cultures. No one is the same. No one thinks exactly the same. No one acts exactly the same. No one looks exactly the same. Some people may be more conservative while others are more liberal. These various qualities are what make living on the earth so interesting and worth living for.

The Mormon Church comes along and says, "You are a great person and we love you, come join us to live in happiness." However, that is not all that the church says. They want you to join them, but there are things about yourself that you need to adjust. You cannot come as you are. You thought that having a cup of coffee made you happy? Well, the church is here to tell you that coffee does not make you happy. You are a man that enjoys wearing earrings? Well, that will just not do. A woman that wants to wear more than just one pair of earrings? You should reconsider your moral priorities. You have attractions to people of the same sex? We have therapy sessions to help you overcome your sinful nature.

The Mormon Church wants everyone to be a part of their church, but they don't want people to come as they are. The church wants everyone to change aspects about themselves that will conform to the vanilla, generic church member that the leaders of the church like to see. Clean-cut, white shirt and tie, missionary haircut, no facial hair for men. Modest dresses, modest unnoticeable earrings, very simple make up that does not bring attention for women.

How boring is this? Do I want to walk around a bunch of drones? Women who are more concerned about whether they are showing too much skin with either a sleeveless shirt or a skirt above their knee? Then there is always the risk of whether their garments are showing. I will join the countless others in expressing just how ugly and stupid looking garments are. They are a truly asinine piece of clothing that is wasting members' time. They are truly shiny keys.

So, this is one of the reasons why I do not believe that the church is true. Why would a god create billions of people to come to earth with all their unique qualities and then expect all people to be exactly the same? What's the point? I do not agree with the Mormon Church in trying to change everyone to fit one mold. I love seeing unique people that are different. The gay couple, the person with too many tattoos, the punk with the purple hair, the business man in a suit, my great neighbor that hunts everything, this is what I love, the variety. Imagine if everyone on the earth was Mormon. How boring would that be? Would I even want to live on an earth like that? I think not.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thank you Blue October, I was spiritually uplifted.

Last night was the Blue October concert and to put it simply, it was an awesome show. If you do not know who Blue October is, please go to this link and familiarize yourself with this band. They are talented beyond belief and the songs they perform will hit you on such a personal level.

Blondie and I wanted to have a fun night for the concert so we made some preparations. We went to the Gateway for dinner, but we decided to make our own drinks to enjoy before the show. If you have ever wanted to know, drinks in Utah really suck ass. The drinks are so specifically measured and can only have one to one and a half ounces of alcohol in each drink. In other words, you are paying a lot of money for pretty weak drinks. Here is how we prepared our drinks. We took regular sized Coke and Dr. Pepper bottles, poured out some of the soda, and replaced it with whiskey and rum; now the soda was fun.

After our dinner, we sat on a bench at the Gateway and enjoyed our sodas; no one knew anything different. It got time to head to the show so we finished off our drinks and went to the concert. By this time, Blondie was feeling really good. We maneuvered our way to where we wanted to be and then waited as the opening band finished. Blondie was pretty tipsy and basically held onto me very close; it made me happy to know that I have a girl that loves me so much.

Blue October finally started their show and it was mesmerizing. Blondie loves them so much and their songs mean a lot to her. With almost every song, she had tears streaming down her face because the lyrics of each song affected her so strongly. For me, I could not stand still. At most concerts, guys look pretty stupid if you ask me. They stand there and try to look cool not showing any emotion or desire to dance to the music. Not me. The music was just so damned good; I could not stand still any more. I started dancing and dancing my way. I did not care if anyone was looking at me or laughing, it did not matter. It was a spiritual experience for me to let myself go and do what I wanted to do with a big “Fuck you!” attitude for anyone that thought anything less of me for it.

When the show ended, Blondie and I walked back to our car. Surprisingly, she was still feeling pretty tipsy, good thing I was feeling pretty good. We drove home with smiles on our faces reminiscing about just how good the Blue October show was. I think we will go see them any time they come back.

So this weekend is conference weekend for the LDS church and I just don’t care. It does not matter to me because I don’t need the spiritual uplifting from it, which I would not have received anyway. The Blue October concert gave me all the spiritual uplifting that I need.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It is official; I am an Ex-Mormon.

Well, it is now official; I am an Ex-Mormon. Blondie called me to let me know that we received our letters today. We received four letters, one for each member of our family.

So how do I feel about this? I would say that I have mixed feelings right now. I am happy and yet I have a feeling of loss and remorse. I am sure that I am not the only that has felt this way. So what do I do now? The future is wide open, I am still finding my way through life and I will keep discovering what works best for me.

In a future post, I will post my letter.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Walking though the art museum

I’m walking though The Minneapolis Institute of the Arts and there is so much to see. I start with the Asian art collection. So many influences of Buddhism and Taoism here. I enjoy looking at the intricate artwork, so detailed. Entire rooms have been recreated inside the museum depicting the lifestyle of these ancient Asian people. I try to envision what life was like for these people. Were they overly religious and expecting conformity from all members? With so many religious influenced art and sculptures on display, it looks like rigid religious expectations were definitely a part of this culture. Was there anyone that questioned or decided that the religious culture was not for them?

I move into the Egyptian display and see various wooden sarcophaguses on display showing the burial practices of the Egyptians. Inside the sarcophagus is Egyptian artwork. I see images with very similar imagery to the facsimiles in the Book of Abraham. Did Abraham get buried in this sarcophagus? I remind myself that the imagery used here is for burial purposes that Egyptians used and really had nothing at all to do with Abraham. How funny.

I walk into an area with various ceremonial masks. I’m not sure if this is American Indian or Pacific Islander, I guess I forgot to look. There is an amazing wooden mask with so many colors and designs that is mesmerizing to look at. I have my camera and try to take a good picture of it. Damn this reflective glass that has encased this mask! No matter what angle I try, there is always a reflection or some other person showing up in my picture. Photography is fun and yet frustrating at the same time.

On the upper level are displays of modern art. I enjoy walking through here and seeing various displays, but I can’t stop thinking about the Asian displays. I found those sculptures so intriguing, but I also ask myself, “How the hell did they get a full sized car up on the 3rd floor?” Beyond the modern art, I find more renaissance type art from the 1600’s. So many portraits of affluent people. Did they really dress and look like this? The clothes they are wearing almost look like clown clothes. So interesting to see what they were like and some of them are just not attractive people. Maybe we have evolved into better looking people compared to back then, just a thought.

Then I walk into the Christian art, ugh. As I look around, I see the same types of paintings about Christ that I have seen so many times before. Mary holding her blessed son, angels flying over head. One painting shows God in the clouds sending the baby Christ down to Mary as if he is throwing a strike over home plate. I also chuckle when I seen a painting of Christ clearing the vendors out of the temple with his whip; one of the women is walking through the scene with her son has her boobs exposed. I’m pretty sure that is how it happened, women running through the temple topless. Or maybe artists just like painting boobs. As I look around, I find that is a common theme in many of the paintings. Yeah, boobs are nice to look at, just no other way around it.

As I walk out of the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, I realize that I found the art displays quite enjoyable. I only wish Blondie could have been with me. She would have dug the Asian art, too.

Friday, September 24, 2010

My love for Bowie

I want to share why I chose to use the name Bowie for my online persona, there is a reason. Essentially, I consider David Bowie to be one of the greatest performers of all time. He does not perform so much anymore in recent years, but during his heyday, he was the shit! I need to give credit to my brother for introducing me to Bowie back in the 80’s when we were teens.

David Bowie has reinvented himself so many times and you may think that since I first heard him in the 80’s that I would like his 80’s music such as Let’s Dance the best, but you would be wrong. My favorite incarnation of David Bowie is the work the produced in the 70’s. Ziggy Stardust was a mind blower for the type of character and music he produced, but I really like the music that he released in the mid 70’s as the Thin White Duke. If you look at the picture of him that I use as my avatar, it is of the Thin White Duke.

I watched the VH1 100 Greatest Artists of all Time and David Bowie was rated as #12. This is a list that was created from polling the rock and artists themselves. One reason why I love Bowie so much is because of his absolute talent in writing and performing his music.

I want to share some of his amazing performances.





I couldn't get the embedded code for this video, but click the link. It is worth it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQFuNHCMF2Y&ob=av2n

Well, I hope you enjoyed the perfection and musicial genius of David Bowie. There are so many other songs, but then this post would be never ending.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Interesting Religious Maps of the United States

I wanted to share some interesting maps and charts from the book Sociology 13th Edition by John J. Macionis. As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, this book has a great review of religions around the world. I found these maps very interesting since it shows various religious concentrations throughout the country.

Take a look at this map first. This shows where most religions congregate in the country. The purple is more than 75%, the tan is 50% to 75%, the light blue is 35% to 50%, and the darker blue is less than 35%.



See any interesting results? The Midwest down to the south is a pretty religious area. Texas looks to be very religious. Check out the east and west coasts. There are some very low religious areas here. Gotta love Washington and Oregon, hardly any religion at all. I think the most obvious is Utah. It is the most religious state in the entire country.

Now take a look at the next map. The colors here break out the actual different religious sects, which happen to all be Christian. Red is Baptist, Light blue is Catholic, Tan is Non-denominational Christian, Dark blue is Latter-Day Saint, Brown is Lutheran, and Green is Methodist.



I find this map fascinating. First of all, there are maybe two tiny spots for Methodist. Lots of light blue scattered around for Catholics. New England, southern California, and southern Texas are very Catholic. I guess North Dakota and Minnesota love their Lutherans up there. Of course, we have the Bible belt completely covered by the Baptists. I cannot tell you how many Baptists churches I have seen in those areas, too many to count!

Once again, let us look at Utah. The entire state is dark blue and the dark blue has seeped into Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, and Arizona. Doesn't this just enforce the idea that the Mormon Church is a Utah church? They want to say that they are a worldwide religion, but look; they do not have hardly any numbers outside of Utah. I would be curious to see what a worldwide map would look like. Various insignificant specks of dark blue scattered about?

This final chart shows percentages of religions in the United States. Latter-Day Saint does not even show up, it is probably in the 19.4% of All others or no denomination. I wonder if the 16.5% of No religious preference includes atheists and agnostics.



Here is the source for all maps and charts.
Macionis, John J. 2010. Sociology 13th Edition. Page 503. Publisher: Pearson.

Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed these maps as much as I did. I find it very telling that the Mormon Church is so concentrated into one area of the United States while the rest of the country and world dismisses it as almost inconsequential.

A nice CALM Sunday

Today, we had a fun picnic in Farmington, Utah hosted by John Larsen. The name of the picnic was CALM (Community After Leaving Mormonism). Blondie and I had a very enjoyable visit with everyone there. We brought our kids and many of the other families brought their children, too.

We spent most of our time sitting, visiting with others about their experiences in the church and why they are leaving it. Everyone certainly has a story to tell, everything from not receiving answers to prayers, opposition to Proposition 8, or finding church history repulsive. I was fascinated with meeting people and hearing what they had to say.

There was a sad commonality among many of the stories; everyone had difficulties with acceptance from friends and family. I find the breakdown of family relationships so frustrating. Why does this church have to create such a stereotype and cause such a strain on family relationships? This is just another reason why I find religion in general so damaging. Instead of building up family relationships, religions (especially the Mormon Church) tear down family relationships when a family member does not believe. I heard someone at the picnic say about her dad that he had told her, “I don’t want any empty chairs.” He was referring to the afterlife and having missing family members because they were not obedient to the covenant. Just another way to pile on pressure and guilt to family members that might be doubting.

Yesterday, Blondie and I listened to some of John Larsen’s podcasts and one of them was about a Jehovah’s Witness making his way out of that church. Hearing about the way that his family and friends are shunning him now is just heartbreaking. Blondie and I discussed about how we think we might have it bad with our family relationships, but it could be worse trying to come out of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Another observation I noticed while visiting at the picnic was whether people have sent in their official resignation letter or not. On our way home, I realized that Blondie and I were the only ones out of everyone that we visited with that had actually sent in our resignation letter. Sending in the letter is such a personal choice and for some people it works and others it does not. For Blondie and me, we wanted that separation that allows us to feel like we are completely free of an organization that we no longer support or believe in. I was very interested in hearing others say that it was not important to them or that they felt like they could not send the letter because it would hurt their family too much. I can certainly understand this since I was very hesitant to send in my letter in fear of how my family would react.

All in all, this was a fun Sunday activity. How great is it to visit and hang out with cool ex-mo friends. These people are some of the coolest and nicest people I have met. Everybody has a story to tell and they are all at various points in their journey out of the church. I also enjoy the idea of losing toxic Mormon friends on Facebook and gaining cool friends that can relate to me with my journey in life.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is the Mormon Church a sect or a cult?

Lately, I have had some conversations about whether the Mormon Church should be considered a cult or a church / sect. I have always been uncomfortable with calling the Mormon Church a cult. It just feels weird to me. Yes, the church does have some strange views and expectations of its members, but there are other churches that are similar. Every church a cult, every cult a church?

I had the opportunity to look at a brand new Sociology book by John J. Macionis. It is simply titled Sociology 13th Edition. I found this book very interesting with the various topics that it covers and of course, it covers religion. I appreciated the fact that it covered all religions in a very non-biased way. I found a section that defines sects / cults and I am going to reproduce that section here.

Sect

. . . The sect, a type of religious organization that stands apart from the larger society. Sect members have rigid religious convictions and deny the beliefs of others. Compared to churches, which try to appeal to everyone (the term catholic also means "universal"), a sect forms an exclusive group. To members of a sect, religion is not just one aspect of life but a firm plan for living. In extreme cases, members of a sect withdraw completely from society in order to practice their religion without interference. The Amish community is one example of a North American sect that isolates itself. Because our culture generally considers religious tolerance a virtue, members of sects are sometimes accused of being narrow-minded in insisting that they alone follow the true religion (Kraybill, 1994; P.W. Williams, 2002).

. . . To sustain their membership, many sects actively recruit, or proselytize, new members. Sects highly value the experience of conversion, a personal transformation or religious rebirth. For example, members of Jehovah's Witnesses go door to door to share their faith with others in the hope of attracting new members.

Cult

A cult is a religious organization that is largely outside a society's cultural traditions. Most sects spin off from conventional religious organizations. However, a cult typically forms around a highly charismatic leader who offers a compelling message about a new and very different way of life. As many as 5000 cults exist in the United States (Marquand & Wood, 1997).

Because some cult principles or practices are unconventional, the popular view is that they are deviant or even evil. The suicides of thirty-nine members of California's Heaven Gate cult in 1997 - people who claimed that dying was a doorway to a higher existence, perhaps in the company of aliens from outer space - confirmed the negative image the public holds of most cults. In short, calling any religious community a "cult" amounts to dismissing its members as crazy (Shupe, 1995; Gleick, 1997).

This charge is unfair because there is nothing basically wrong with this kind of religious organization. Many longstanding religions - Christianity, Islam, and Judaism included - began as cults. Of course, few cults exist for very long. One reason is that they are even more at odds with the larger society than sects. Many cults demand that members not only accept their doctrine but also adopt a radically new lifestyle. This is why people sometimes accuse cults of brainwashing their members, although research suggests that most people who join cults experience no psychological harm (Kilbourne, 1983; P.W. Williams, 2002).
Macionis, John J. 2010. Sociology 13th Edition. Publisher: Pearson.

So, what do you think? Is the Mormon Church a sect or a cult? I tend to lean more toward a sect. The church has many strict expectations and views itself as "the one and only true church on the face of the earth," but categorizing the church as a cult seems a bit extreme to me. Is Joseph Smith charismatic enough to be considered a cult leader? Should members of the Mormon Church be considered crazy? If the Jehovah's Witnesses are not considered a cult, then certainly the Mormon Church is not a cult either.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The big visit with our bishop

Tonight was the night that we have been waiting for; our bishop called me up and asked if he could come by to visit. We knew exactly why he was calling; our letter had been forwarded to him and he wanted to meet with us about it. We were more than willing to have him come to our house; we really did not want to meet with him in the bishop’s office.

Our bishop is a really cool guy. He grew up as a Utah dairy farmer and he is very down to earth and friendly. His visit was actually very pleasant. We talked for a while about various normal things such as home improvements and living in the neighborhood. Blondie says that I talk too much, but I like to be friendly when people come to visit.

He eventually brought up the letter that we had sent in. He asked Blondie if she had copied it from the Internet. She confirmed that she had written the letter herself, using example letters from the Internet as a guide. I think he asked about this because we had hit all of the major points in the letter that are normally counseled upon and was probably surprised that we covered them all. He asked about the 30-day waiting period and we explained that we had already put a lot of thought into this and that this was not a knee-jerk reaction. We explained that another 30 days would not change our minds. He complimented us on taking our time with this and not rushing into it.

We explained that we have informed our families of where we stand with the church. They know that we do not believe. He acknowledged the fact that we indicated in our letter that we know of the ramifications of resigning. He made sure to say, “It will be as if you were never baptized and confirmed, never received the priesthood, and never married in the temple.” We responded letting him know that we were well aware of this.

I wanted to make sure that he knew that we were not offended with anyone in the ward and not upset with them in any way. He asked if he could inform the leaders of the ward about our resignation and we told him that would be fine. He also asked if we wanted any contact from the ward. We explained that we do not want home teachers or visiting teachers or primary activities, but if someone wants to visit with us as a friend or neighbor, we are perfectly fine with that. He said that he might come by and visit occasionally and we were fine with that.

Our visit ended very pleasantly, he told us that he would waive the 30-day waiting period and expedite our letter. We really could not have asked for a more calm and relaxed visit. Blondie and I are happy to know that this process is moving along and we will receive a confirmation letter from the church in the near future.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I likes me the Deadmau5

Have you heard of Deadmau5? This guy is incredible. My friend got me turned onto him just recently. His music is all techno / electronica and I think it is some amazing stuff. Here’s some videos with great music and amazing visuals. His trademark is the dead mouse head that he wears. The first 4 videos are live performance with his mind blowing light show and visuals. Since these live recordings never give justice to the actual music, the last video is one of his studio recordings.

Looks like the videos don't fit my blog layout too well. Sorry about that.


So what do ya think? Crazy shit? Mesmerizing? When I listen to this stuff, I can't help but start dancing around.

Here is some extra info on Deadmau5 from MTV.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I told my parents and it wasn't too bad

I would like to thank Kiley and Maureen for their advice of telling my parents about my family’s resignation. I decided to take their advice and send my parents an email. I sent them an email telling them that if they wanted to talk to me about it, I would be willing to do so, but if they did not want to talk, I would understand.

After sending the email, I waited to see if I would hear from them. After a couple of days, still no response. Blondie and I listened to a podcast by John Dehlin that she found recently. Here is the link, http://mormonstories.org/whytheyleave/

I found this podcast very informative and exactly what I wanted my parents to hear. I decided to send them an additional email with the link to this podcast. I did receive a response from them after this email; they indicated that they would like to talk on the phone.

I spoke to them last night and found that they were quite pleasant on the phone. We talked about various items and I was beginning to wonder if they were going to bring the whole church subject. Eventually, I brought up the church so we could address the pressing subject at hand. Surprisingly, they were pretty reasonable and did not lay a lot of guilt or hurt feelings on me. They had one main request of me; they do not like seeing any critical comments about the church on Facebook and would like me to stop posting those. I found this interesting since I already feel like I have been censoring myself. Oh well, I guess I will re-double my censoring efforts on Facebook and just let out my real feelings on my blog instead. My parents are not aware of my blog so I can basically say whatever I want here.

Overall, I found this to be a positive experience. I am glad that I am the one that told them about our resignation instead of them finding out by accident. I hope that my relationship with my parents will start to stabilize and we can move into new phase of our lives. They want to be happy in the church and I want to be happy out of the church. Let’s all be happy together; I hope that we can be.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How should I tell my parents about resigning?

Okay, well some interesting developments have happened recently. Blondie and I have submitted our resignation letter to the church. We have received a correspondence from the church and you can see the results of that here.

This brings up some hard questions concerning my parents. We have not told them yet that we have submitted our resignation letter. From everything that I have heard, they will most likely find out when they have their tithing settlement at the end of this year since the tithing statement will show all of their children along with their member record number. In my case, it will probably say something like Member – no.

I have started to wonder how they will react to this. I am sure that they will be crushed once more after coming to the knowledge that I am officially out of their “true” church. We are making plans on going down to Arizona to visit them between Christmas and New Years. I am getting the feeling that it may not be a very pleasant visit if they find out about us right before we come down.

Here is an interesting twist on this situation. My brother is in Afghanistan and he will be coming home at the end of this month. He and his family currently live in Ohio. I had the chance to chat with him online last night and I told him about our letter. He was surprised, but supportive knowing that this will be the best for my family. He also surprised me by saying that they are planning on also coming to Utah and Arizona to visit with family members and our parents. I was very excited about this because this would mean that my family and I would not be visiting my parents on our own, my brother and his family would be there also. Extra family support is always good.

So here is the new situation that I have been thinking about today. If my parents find out about our resignation right before we all come down to visit, I will have once again ruined their happiness of visiting with my brother and his family. This happened last year when I sent them my letter telling them my feelings about the church right before my brother came to visit. I did not want to tell them right before he came to visit, but I was kind of cornered into telling them since they wanted my brother and I to give my dad a blessing. I was not comfortable with faking a blessing so I sent them the letter. They blamed me for ruining the visit. I really do not want to repeat this and I am envisioning that this could happen again.

The thought hit me today of how I might resolve this situation before everything hits the fan. What if I sent them a letter now telling them that we have resigned from the church? Of course, they will still be hurt and feel really bad, there is just no way of getting around that. The good thing would be that they would have time to recover from the shock and prepare for our visit along with my brother’s visit later in the year. The other good thing is that they would hear it from me and not find out second hand from some random bishop’s visit.

What do you think? Do you think this would be a good idea? Has anyone else had experience with telling his or her parents or family members about officially resigning from the church? I would love to hear what you have to say.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

La Roux, that girl with the hair

There is a new artist that I have discovered that I really enjoy. Her name is La Roux. She is a British artist that definitely has a unique style. She originally caught my eye with her red hair that she has styled straight up; I love it. She looks like David Bowie in the early 70's and everyone knows how much I love David Bowie. Blondie does not care for her voice, but I find it unique and actually quite clear. Here are a couple of videos. Let me know what your think.


This is the video that initially caught my eye. I love her hair and make up.




This video is my favorite, it is quirky and cool.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tattoos and parents, oh my!

Hey everyone, I am still here. I have been busy with various other things in my life like work and such. I have been trying to decide what to blog about and I found something that at least for me was kind of funny and frustrating.

Last week, I had an interesting interaction with my parents. My dad had been struggling with his health for a few days and ended up in the hospital. I kept in touch with my parents to make sure that he was doing okay. He was released from the hospital and made it back home when we had this conversation. We talked about how he was doing and hoping that he will feel better. At the end of the phone call, I asked if there was anything else they wanted to talk about. My dad asked, “Did you get a tattoo?” I answered, “Yes I did.” His response, “Do I need to take my strap across your backside?” (I am 39 years old and yet my parents still want to talk to me as if I am 10.) Now at this point, I asked, “Did you see my pictures on Facebook?”

Let me give a little background information before I go any further with this story. If you have read some of my older blog posts, you know that Blondie and I got our tattoos back in mid-May. We showed our friends, but we did not immediately advertise this fact to various family members. Blondie showed her tattoo to all of her family including her parents and they were fine, hardly a reaction. We actually received many compliments about how pretty and cool looking they are.

My parents are a different story. A few weeks after getting our tattoos, my parents took a flight through Salt Lake City, Utah out to see my brother’s family for their son’s baptism. We planned to meet them for the evening, but we did not want them to see our tattoos. My tattoo was easy to cover since it is on my chest, but Blondie’s tattoo is on her wrist. We went through great lengths to cover her tattoo up and not make it noticeable. Here is the reason why we did this. My parents were heading to my brother’s house for his son’s baptism and we did not want to cause an issue in between. I was afraid that if they saw our tattoos, we would receive comments from my parents such as, “We were looking forward to our grandson’s baptism, but seeing your tattoos ruined the spirit for us. This tainted our visit since we could only think about what you have done to your bodies.” I did not want to be responsible for ruining their experience, so we did not reveal our tattoos to them at that time. Our visit went well and they had a nice spiritual time at my brother’s house.

Fast forward to July. Blondie and I have decided that we no longer need to hide our tattoos from anyone, including my parents. We took pictures of ourselves with our tattoos and posted them on Facebook. Blondie set her main picture as the new one of her with her tattoo. I did not broadcast mine. I simply created a photo album and put the pictures in there. In essence, my tattoo pictures would not be seen by accident, someone would be looking intentionally.

Now let us return to the conversion that I had with my parents last week. My dad used these words when he asked me, “Did you get a tattoo?” I replied yes and then I asked if he saw my pictures on Facebook. He said, “Yes, I saw your pictures.” My response was, “If you saw my pictures on Facebook, then why did you ask me ‘Did you get a tattoo?’ when you already knew that I did?” He said, “I wanted to hear you tell me.” Completely frustrating.

They then went on with asking me if I was going to get more. I told them not right now since we are spending our money in other areas at the moment. (Have no fear, I will definitely be getting more tattoos, they are just a little bit expensive.) Here is another gem of a question, “Are you going to let your son and daughter get tattoos now?” What the hell? Yes, since I am an adult and decide to get a tattoo, this now means that I will let my 13-year son and 10-year-old daughter get tattoos. What kind of logic is this?

I told them, “No, I was not going to let my children get tattoos at their age.” They then proceeded to talk about all the ugly fat women that they see with tattoos and skimpy bikinis at the lake. Just unbelievable.

Well, there is a nice glimpse into the futile and completely frustrating relationship that I have with my parents since I did the absolutely worst thing ever, I decided that the church is not true for me and my family.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

To my moving neighbors, WTF?

I have been in a state of shock today. My beautiful wife Blondie posted some very disturbing news on her blog last night. Our neighbors that live across the street from us have children that are the same age as our children. They have decided to move and the reason that we initially thought is not the real reason at all. We initially heard that they had grown out of their house and needed a larger one. After reading Blondie’s blog post, we have now discovered that they are moving because of us. Since we have left the church, started drinking casually, and got tattoos, I guess we are now the worst neighbors to have and our children are a bad influence on their children.

Is this really what Mormons do? I guess I have lived my entire life as a member of the church and never caught onto this idea. Do Utah Mormons think that they can live in a bubble of holiness and protection from the real world? I guess Blondie and I are just extra dangerous since we used to believe and now we don’t. We are not one of those unsuspecting non-members that do not know anything about the church. We know all about the church, every aspect about how it operates and what is expected. I went through the temple with the old ceremony before the changes in 1990. Yes, I did the death penalties in the temple. There is no pulling the wool over our eyes about what happens or has happened in the church.

So my question for our neighbors that have decided that we are longer good enough to live by is what happens when you move to another neighborhood and find neighbors that are not up to your standards? What if another family has children of similar age that no longer go to church? What if your neighbor is a sexual predator or criminal of some sort? Is that better than good upstanding neighbors that no longer go to church or share your belief system? Do you move again?

I guess I am taking this a little personally because my parents just did the same thing. They moved to Arizona for my dad’s health. They have been very diligent in reporting to us about how much better they are doing health wise since they moved there. The interesting thing is that they did not even think of moving until after we told them that we no longer believed in the church. Now our neighbors who have lived across from us for about 10 years have decided to do the same thing. I guess telling people that you no longer believe in the church is one of the worst things you can do.

Anyone want to move in across the street from some non-believers? I promise we are nice people. We have good hygiene and shower every day.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Who is God and what is He (or She) like?

Okay, time to get rhetorical. I have been thinking of some aspects about God that just seem weird to me. Have you ever heard the term “God fearing”? Here is an example, “I respect Bro. Johnson because he is a God fearing man.” “The United States is great because it is a God fearing country.”

So here is my question. Why is it good to fear God? I can certainly see why some people do fear God when various stories in the Bible show God as a jealous or vengeful God. Fearing God is even in the Ten Commandments with “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” So right from the get-go we have a fear of God instilled into us, but why? Why does God want us to fear him? Is respect or love not good enough?

Joseph Smith’s version of God even gets personal. God, in the words of Joseph Smith, personally threatens Emma Smith with destruction if she does not follow Joseph Smith and his teachings of polygamy. Even though the practice of polygamy is repulsive to everyone, Joseph Smith’s God will not accept any other way. Why would we want to follow a God like that?

I am currently in Leesville, LA and as I drove here from the airport, I drove by so many churches that I could not count them all. They were mostly Pentecostal and Southern Baptist churches. Of course, they all have their various signs out front to get your attention. One in particular caught my eye, it said, “We were created to glorify God.” Is God really so egotistical that he created us for the sole reason that we could turn around and worship him? What’s the point? Does He get some sort of satisfaction from having an entire world full of people worshiping Him, hoping that He will bless them?

The more that I think about the Mormon Church’s Plan of Salvation, the more that I think it is a setup for failure. Here is how the plan goes. God created all of us as spirit children and decided that we needed to gain bodies and experience. He created an earth and gave us the opportunity to choose if we wanted to go there. Well of course, once we come to earth, we become sinful and need redemption from our sins if we want to live with God the Father and Jesus Christ again. So, God sent his Son, Jesus Christ to atone for our sins. Here’s the catch though. According to the Mormon Church, Christ’s atonement is not good enough to return to live with God and Christ. We have to choose the “correct” gospel and church to make it to the Celestial Kingdom. So if we do not choose that, then we are screwed. Basically, God is telling us that since we did not choose correctly, He does not want anything to do with us again. That does not seem very loving or understanding to me.

If my son or daughter make wrong decisions or choose a life differently than I would prefer, will I turn them away and never see them again? The answer is a resounding NO! How is it that I can have more love for my children than the Christian God can for His children? Is God really that willing to turn away his children just because they did not listen to His “prophet”? The idea of prophets really bothers me. I prefer to make my own decisions in my life instead of having them dictated to me.

So I will end with this. Who is God and what is He (or She) like? The Christian idea of God just does not sound right to me. What do you think about God?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Father's Day call

Calling my parents on Father’s Day was not quite the same for me as it probably was for others. I’m calling wanting to be the good son and show my parents that I am the son they can be proud of. When I talk to them, they are friendly and cheerful. Our conversation seems so trivial. “How’s the weather?” “Did you get the Father’s Day package I sent to you?” “How are the kids?” The whole time I am hoping that nothing uncomfortable comes up. What do they think of me? Do they look on me with disappointment? Why can’t I get these thoughts and feelings to go away? I can tell that the conversation is starting to become strained in trying to find additional trivial topics to talk about. I tell them that we are getting ready for dinner and end our phone call. Well, I’m glad that is over. Our conversation went well, completely on the surface, but in the end, it felt lacking. I can’t talk to my parents about anything in depth anymore. My relationship with them feels so unresolved. I want to talk to them about why I have chosen my life and turned away from their church, but what would it accomplish? They really don’t want to hear any of my reasons about why. I keep thinking that maybe I could obtain some sort of acknowledgement from them that would justify my reasons. They are so defensive now about their church that I don’t think that anything I can say would ever register with them. Everything I say now is tainted with the fact that I have left their church. I hesitate to have my name removed from their church hoping to prevent hurting them even more. Would it make a difference if I did? I feel like the only way to make things better is to come to them and tell them I was wrong and will come back to their church. If I never do that, I feel like our lives will never be reconciled. Everything is so different with them now. There is always the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about anymore. I wake up every morning and am faced with the thought of my parents and their church again and again. Blondie says that it will get better with time. When will that be? Other people that have left seem to be facing these issues for many years. My issues have only started; I have many years to go. My parents want us to come visit them this winter. It could be fun, but I’m sure it will be wrecked with various disappointments. I can’t wait to see what their reaction to my tattoo will be. What will they say when I tell them that I want more?

Yes, I know, one big paragraph. I wanted it to be that way. Kind of like spilling out all of my thoughts and feelings into one big pile.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Possible Proposition 8 overturn. Beautiful

Right now final arguments have been made in San Francisco concerning the possible overturning of Proposition 8. Read the story here. Here’s to hoping that the judge will overturn this horrible and hurtful proposition.

As always, I am a big fan of music and lyrics. I personally find Christina Aguilera’s music very enjoyable. Here is her song Beautiful along with the lyrics. The video is very meaningful with the portrayal of various rejects of society. These are my kind of people.

(mmhm hmmm)
(ohh yeah)
(mmaa ahhh)

Everyday is so wonderful, then suddenly,its hard to breath
Now and then I get insecure, from all the pain
I'm so ashamed

I am beautiful no matter what they say
Words can't bring me down
I am beautiful in every single way
Yes words can't bring me down (ohhh nooo)
So don't you bring me down today

(mmmhmm mmm)

To all your friends you're delirious
So consumed in all your doom.... (oohh mmm)
Trying hard to fill that emptiness,
The pieces gone,left the puzzle undone,
Aint that the way it is?

You are beautiful no matter what they say
Words can't bring you down (ohhh noo)
you are beautiful in every single way
Yes words can't bring you down (ohhh noo)
So don't you bring me down today

No matter what we do (No matter what we do)
No matter what we say (No matter what we say)
We're the song inside the tune (yeah yeah oh yeaaahhh)
Full of beautiful mistakes
And everywhere we go (And everywhere we go)
the sun will always shine (the sun will always always shine....)
And tomorrow we might awake
on the other side

'Cause we are beautiful no matter what they say
Yes words won't bring us down (ohhh noo)
we are beautiful in every single way
Yes words can't bring us down (ohhh noo)
So don't you bring me down today

Yeaah eeeeeeee yeaahh eah Dont you bring me down mmmm, today

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Watch out, the gays are coming!

I have had a little difficulty putting up posts lately, Blondie and I have been very busy with cleaning house and getting new flooring done. I had an interesting, yet very minor, conversation with one of my coworkers today that was kind of funny.

This past weekend was Gay Pride 2010 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Gay people from all around come to have a celebration with a parade and other various festivities. I was chatting with one of my coworkers and made a joke about him participating in the parade. He is very much Mormon, so I was curious about what his reactions would be. He said, “Oh, those poor people!” I asked, “Why are they poor?” He answered, “They can do their own thing, but don’t push it on me! I don’t want anything to do with them.” I responded, “Well, make sure you return the favor and don’t push your views on them.” He basically did not have a response for that. One of the other guys listening in piped up, “That’s a good idea.”

This little exchange just brings up doubts and questions about Christians, religious people, and gays. Why do Christians, especially Mormons, have such a problem with gay people? This was the issue that sparked it all for me; the church’s involvement in passing Proposition 8. I am troubled by the idea that a church teaches its members to dislike gay people so much. Maybe it is not a direct doctrine or teaching, but I sure can see the results of how Mormons react to gay people. Can’t we all just get along without religions having to push their anti-gay teachings on us?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

My 10 Favorite Things

Well, I have been challenged by C.L. Hanson to come up with a 10 favorite things list. I will see what I can put together. These items are not in any particular order of more favorite or less favorite.

1. As with everyone else, my top favorite item is my family. My wife, son, and daughter just do it for me. I love being home with them. Life is just more fun when you can be with your family doing fun things.
2. Mountain biking. Blondie and I have enjoyed mountain biking for quite a few years now. My school is now finished and I am hoping to travel less, which I am hoping will lead us back to biking like we used to, almost every weekend.
3. Trains. I do not quite geek out about trains like some other train nerds, but I do enjoy them. I have photographed many trains; one of my favorite subjects. Recently, my son started getting into model trains. I have had some great times with him as we run his trains around his layout and just enjoy each other’s company. Yeah, trains are cool.
4. Photography. I have enjoyed taking pictures ever since high school. I took a 35 mm SLR camera on my mission and loved it. My camera was completely manual, which meant I learned a lot since it was completely up to me to take a good picture. Today, I have an awesome Nikon D300 DSLR, which is one of the big digital cameras that do everything. Even with all that, I still struggle with my confidence in taking a good picture. Gotta keep at it.
5. Punk Rock. Thanks to the Punk Rock movement of the 70s, we now have some kick ass music today. The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, and The Ramones along with other bands led the way in changing music forever. No longer did we have to listen to shitty Top 40 music, a band could get on stage with a big Fuck You! and play the music they wanted to play. I support that.
6. My favorite bands. In relation to #5, here is a list of some of my favorite bands. David Bowie, The Cure, Muse, Blue October, Green Day, Blink 182, Angels and Airwaves, Oingo Boingo, Depeche Mode, The Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Adam and the Ants, Morrissey, Garbage, Love and Rockets. There are many more, but you get the idea. Just for good measure, Country music can kiss my ass! Country music is popular because it appeals to the lowest common denominator. (Probably just lost some readers with that statement.)
7. Cool cars. I would not consider myself a car guy or gear head, but I do enjoy nice cars. I had the recent opportunity to take a 2009 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 out for a drive. This was an absolute amazing driving experience. I also like the Aston Martin DBS; that car is pure pornography. The Audi S5 is another cool car with beautiful styling. One of these days, I will have a nice car.
8. Computers and the Internet. I have basically focused my entire working career into the Information Technology arena, so I would consider it one my favorite things. The Internet is just cool. I can find out anything I want just by doing a search; no need to go to the library and search through books. Instead of praying and hoping for a spiritual answer, I can just pray to Google. I get all of my answers there now.
9. Mountains. I live in Utah for a reason, the landscape. I love being surrounded by mountains. Blondie and I will head up a trail and just play in the mountains either on a hike or riding our bikes. I get really bored in flat country; I need variety.
10. Cool haircuts. I really do not like boring hair. I am 39 years old with the sides and back of my head shorn very short. The top of my head has spikey hair that stands straight up. There is a reason why I call myself That Guy with the Hair. I stand out and people definitely notice me. I also like seeing unique hairstyles on other people. I love seeing a girl that has red, blue, or purple hair with a unique cut. The guy with the mohawk? That is just kick ass. Yes, I like cool hair.

Well I guess that does it. A fun challenge indeed. Since I do not have many readers, I will just encourage whoever wants to make their own list.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Wild Bill and the underwear scandal

Just after 2 am this morning, I received a phone call from one of my work friends (we’ll call him Wild Bill, not his real name, and not necessarily a wild guy, but you get the idea), he was feeling pretty sick. One of my first thoughts was, "I hope he doesn't ask me to perform a priesthood blessing." Years of religious teachings are hard to get away from.

Shortly after this call, I answered my door and he was not looking too good. He needed the keys to the car so he could go to the hospital. I asked if he wanted me to go with him, but he said he could drive himself. I programmed my GPS for the nearest hospital and handed it to him and wished him luck. As I closed the door, I turned only to notice that I had forgotten to give him the keys to the car. I grabbed them and opened the door; unfortunately, Wild Bill had already rounded the corner of the hallway. I called for him and as he came back around the corner, I heard the door to my hotel room shut and lock behind me with me standing in the hallway in nothing but my t-shirt and underwear. That was just great; let me tell you how I got to this point.

I first met Wild Bill just a few months back this year. He was a new hire and had come out on one of our installs. One of my other buddies and I went to dinner with Wild Bill and I soon found out that I liked this guy. Well, as we all know, I am in the process of leaving the Mormon (LDS) church. Wild Bill is a very strong member and is quite happy in the church; an interesting dynamic for sure. Since our first meeting, we have seen each other in the office and had some fun conversations. One of these included his participating in a church disciplinary council. He is the Executive Secretary of the bishopric in his ward and they asked him to attend. I think he took notes or something. It was very interesting to see his perspective of how everything was handled for the guy that the disciplinary council was for.

Anyway, just last week, Wild Bill and I ended up on another install together. It was a large install with many installers, but I was pretty sure that Wild Bill and I could end up having dinner together. As it turned out, we were able to have dinner on our own; yep, just a cute man couple out on a date. We had a great conversation and got to know each other better. I ordered a beer while we were there; I think I was mostly curious as to what his reaction might be. As it turned out, he did not react at all.

After hearing each others’ stories about how we met and married our wives, our conversation got much more interesting. He asked me about how I had got to where I was with the church and all. I thought to myself, “Well, this is going to be interesting to see how this turns out.” I told him my story about my parents, my dad’s conversion, and how I was raised in the church. I told him about my questions and finding the answers I was looking for. I was careful with the details of the church information because I did not want to offend him.

After I told him my story, I asked him what he thought. He said that he was fine and still wanted to be my friend. He also said that he has other friends that are in situations similar to mine and he is not here to judge. I found it very refreshing to have a devoted member of the church willing to accept me as a friend even though I am considered an apostate. I really like this guy.

Well, back to me standing in the hallway in just my underwear. Wild Bill asked, “Did you just get locked out of your room?” I said, “Yep, I sure did.” Well, I had no choice but to walk down from the second floor to the hotel desk on the first floor. Fortunately, since it was 2 am in the morning, no one was out and about. I went up to the desk and asked the desk guy for a room key. He asked me a few questions about who I was and what room I was in. He then asked, “Do you have any ID on you?” I looked at him in disbelief, “Uh, no.” Wild Bill was still with me and vouched for who I was. Well, after all that, I wished him well on his way to the hospital and I walked back to my room and went sleep again.

Sadly for Wild Bill, he is still not feeling too well today. He may end up going home tomorrow. I hope he gets to feeling better. The hospital said he might have some strong allergies or something. He is just having trouble breathing and getting energy.

You know, there is nothing quite like getting locked out of your room in nothing but your underwear. You have to suck up your pride and make the walk. Ha ha, good times.