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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The problem with electoral democracy is that the skill set that you need to get elected is not the same as the skill set that you need to be a good leader. We use the political process to choose our leaders, and then we are shocked when our leaders turn out to be politicians.

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Instead of putting up a bunch of tedious posts about political issues that I feel the need to get off my chest, I’m just going to boil them down to little pearls of wisdom and put them all in one post, so if politics makes you retch, like it does me, you can safely and conveniently ignore all of it.

Religious Gay Marriage Alarmism:

No, legalizing gay marriage will not force churches to stop preaching that homosexuality is a sin or start performing gay marriage, for the same reason that the Civil Rights Act didn’t stop churches from preaching white supremacy or refusing to perform interracial marriage.

Freedom of Religion at Ground Zero:

I can be staunchly against the Ground Zero Mosque but still believe in freedom of religion for the same reason that I can be staunchly against you telling my four-year old son that Santa Claus is not real but still believe in freedom of speech.

X-Treme Presidents:

President Obama is not a communist for the same reason that President Bush was not a fascist.  Stop being fucking ridiculous.  When you wrap up your legitimate criticism in paranoid rhetoric, nobody takes you seriously except the other paranoid whackjobs who already agree with you.

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The biggest failure of American conservativism is its dogged insistance on being on the wrong side of gay rights and the environment. Not for good reasons, either. History will not be kind.

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A pretty good chunk of the Mormon, ex-Mormon, and New Order Mormon interweb-world seems to be focusing on California’s Proposition 8 right now (in short, there’s a referendum on the ballot to illegalize same-sex marriage, the LDS Church is actively supporting it and has called on members in California to commit their time and money in its support).  This is not very apolitical for a Church that claims to stay out of politics (no surprise, the “we stay out of politics” crap is really just a smokescreen to keep the Church from having to answer politically when it does not want to).

Whatever.  I know it’s a really big deal, for gays in California, for gays in the Church, and for Mormons everywhere.  But I wish people would take a break and talk about something else.

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When the calls and conversations
Accidents and accusations
Messages and misperceptions
Paralyze my mind

Busses, cars, and airplanes leaving
Burning fumes of gasoline
And everyone is running
And I come to find a refuge in the

Easy silence that you make for me
It’s okay when there’s nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay

Monkeys on the barricades
Are warning us to back away
They form commissions trying to find
The next one they can crucify

And anger plays on every station
Answers only make more questions
I need something to believe in
Breathe in sanctuary in the

Easy silence that you make for me
It’s okay when there’s nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay

Children lose their youth too soon
Watching war made us immune
And I’ve got all the world to lose
But I just want to hold on to the

Easy silence that you make for me
It’s okay when there’s nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me

The easy silence that you make for me
It’s okay when there’s nothing more to say to me
And the peaceful quiet you create for me
And the way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay for me
The way you keep the world at bay

-Dixie Chicks

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Like most people, I think, I don’t like to be pigeonholed.  I don’t like people to assume things about me based on single facts, observations, or labels.

Yeah, I left the Mormon church.  I didn’t “get offended,” I didn’t commit adultery, and I was absolutely committed to the Church in a lifelong sense before I left (i.e. I wasn’t a fair-weather Mormon).  Many of my problems with Mormonism aren’t the same as other peoples’ problems with it.  I’m not a bitter, angry anti-Mormon, though sometimes I am bitter and angryabout some things, sure.  I’m not an ex-Mormon caricature.

No, I don’t believe in God right now.  That doesn’t mean I think Richard Dawkins is a prophet.  It doesn’t mean I’m angry or I hate God or anything.  It also doesn’t mean it’s a done deal.  I don’t really want to stay an atheist.  I never did.  If I can find a way to believe in God and still feel like I’m being intellectually and emotionally honest with myself, I will probably return to theism.  If not, I will probably stick with atheism.  Whatever your official definition of “atheism” is, and whether or not you think I should really be classed as an agnostic, is completely irrelevant to me.  I don’t affirmatively believe in God because I do not recognize any affirmaitve evidence for God (even subjective evidence).  I’m not an atheist caricature, and I’m also not a very good poster child for the journey into atheism, because I don’t necessarily plan on sticking around anyway.

And when I was a Mormon, I wasn’t a stereotypical Mormon.  I believed that homosexual marriage should be legal.  I had my own spin and my own interpretation for many doctrines.  I strongly disliked some of the General Authorities (Gene R. Cook, I’m lookin’ at you).  My gut always leaned in a little more of a pluralist direction than the party line espoused.  I was never interested in the Work and the Glory, and I thought a lot of Mormon art, music, and film was really, really lame.

If I become a Christian, I won’t be a stereotypical Christian.  I won’t be a fundamentalist caricature.  I won’t blithely abandon rational thought.  I won’t start lobbying for the Ten Commandments to be put up in courtrooms.  I’ll never claim that I can logically prove Christianity.  I won’t start reading Left Behind books.  I probably won’t vote Republican.  I certainly will never believe in Hell.

The thing is, I shouldn’t have to feel like I have to qualify myself like that.  I wish I could just say “I don’t believe in God” and then enter into a real dialogue where people actually listen to what I am saying instead of assuming they know where i’m coming from already.  Especially since I’d just as soon believe in God.  I’d prefer to be religious, actually.  But when I tell people I don’t believe in God, they either 1) assume that I’m a Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris clone and begin to argue with me or write me off accordingly, 2) try to convince me that I should label myself differently than I do because they don’t agree with my definitions, or 3) congratulate me heartily on growing up and leaving silly religion behind.  None of those approaches comes close ot the mark, and all of them subtly influence how I perceive myself.  So like I said, I’m mildly irked.

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When I was actually confronted with serious doubt last summer, I was neither reading my scriptures nor praying meaningfully.  I also hadn’t been participating fully in the Church for several months. I was attending meetings, sure, but I wasn;t engaged in the ward, involved in the work, and if I had a calling I wasn’t doing anything about it.

This one seems obvious to most Mormons I talk to.  Duh, if you get involved in the work and stay busy, your doubts are easily dispelled.  I had similar experiences on my mission. When I wasn’t working very hard, I would have all kinds of doubts about the gospel, but when I was really thrusting in my sickle, all those doubts seemed to evaporate.  For many people, and for me at one time, that is further evidence that the Church is true: when you get involved and stay on the right track, you feel good about it, and you don’t leave.

I wasn’t involved, I wasn’t thrusting my sickle in, and so when doubts came along, I was able to give them form and power, and it enabled me to decide to leave the Church.

But see, I don’t really think that’s evidence for or against the Church.  There’s nothing sinister about it, but when you get busy, involved, and fully engaged in something, you don’t question it.  It’s not proof of truth, because it works for any organization or cause.  It works in politics- the more you are involved with one part or another, the more you are busy with the party’s issues, the more you are talking to people about the ideology’s position, the more you are sure that you are right.  It doesn’t prove truth, because it works for the Democrats as well as for the Republicans.  It works for noble organizations with lofty goals as much as it works for the Nazi party.

It’s a human equation that has nothing to do with God whatsoever.  When you get busy and fully engaged in something, your certainty is reinforced.  You don’t have time to doubt.  You’re in the middle of doing stuff, and it fulfills you.  It’s only when you step back and look at what you’re doing from a distsnce that you can objectively decide whether it’s worth doing.

You can’t really see what it looks like from the inside.   At least, you can’t see the big picture.  I believe that’swhat the phrase “can’t see the forest for the trees” is talking about.

Anyway, I don’t expect Mormons to agree with me on this one.  When our bishop came to see us last fall, this was the sticking point.  To him, if getting busy in the Church made you happy, then the Church must be true.  I simply diagree.

In any case, I was neither busy nor fully engaged when I was confronted by serious doubt, so I was vulnerable to doubt.

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