Sunday, December 25, 2011
Happy Holidays to you all. I wish I could give you each a hug and tell you how much you mean to me. Thanks so much for your support during the past year. Let me know if I can do anything for any of you. Be safe, have fun, and I hope you get what you most want for the holidays!!
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
The following is quoted from an internet forum cited on the BBC website. I've re-posted it because I liked it.
“You should read “What’s the Matter with Kansas” & “Deer Hunting With Jesus”. Both are great takes on a working class, anti-intellectual, redneck culture that has been convinced to consistently vote against their own best interests. I listen to my own father, who has been the victim of layoffs from corporate merger after merger, who’s had his retirement fucked, who’s lost money on wall street – he’s done everything he was ‘supposed’ to do. He joined the military, went to college, had 2 kids, bought the house, invested & saved his money, worked his fucking ass off all his life & he still has squat to show for it. Now as a man well into his 60s he’s feeling the wrath of age discrimination, he’s finding his skills becoming outdated & his pay & benefits today (for the last 10 years) are lower than what they’ve been in the last 30 for him. Living the american life he finds his health failing as he’s a lifetime smoker with a growing waistline.
He’s the prototypical uncultured, red-blooded american male. He slathers his streak in ketchup, votes conservatives down the line, and wants the good old days before the women, blacks and fags took over. He’s a flag waver, supports his troops, and fends for himself. He’s always bitching about how much money corporations have to spend bc of regulation & about how the upper class need a tax cut. Nothing in the world makes him angrier than “socialism” & the so-called welfare state. Working people getting needed services bothers him tremendously because a few extreme token examples get painted as degenerate leeches by the likes of AM Radio & Fox News. And then he’ll turn right around & support corporate subsidy for just about anything from corn to oil – b/c it “stimulates jobs” and it “trickles down”.
He refuses to recognize that we as a nation spend more money at the beckoning of corporate America than we even begin to touch what we spend on our own citizenry through what he claims is “welfare” or infrastructure. He’s a working class guy who’s been fucked by the system all his life. He still puts his suit on with a kind of sad pride, every day, & goes to work downtown to phone-monkey job nowadays. He’s doing a job any body could do but he likes to pretend all his education & experience has gotten him somewhere. He’s deluded about what America’s exceptional way of life has brought him personally as he is deluded about what the world is like at large. So he denies global warming, blames the unions, blames teachers & other government workers, blames regulation, blames the EPA & the FDA, blames those struggling to make it in this world, blames the blacks, blames the immigrants, blames everyone & anyone but those at the top.
He’d rather blame fellow working people trying to grab a piece of the pie, rather than blame the crooks who deprive us all. Because somehow – be it by gender identity, racial identity, national identity, he thinks his class, his type belongs at the top. He’s the top dog! But he’s not. He’s a nigger, i’m a nigger, muslims are niggers and mexicans are niggers, teachers and steel workers, and farmers too. To people like the Koch Brothers, we’re all niggers and my dad can’t see that. This is an us vs them game and people like my father are fucking deluded as to what side they’re on or can be on one day. Somewhere deep down inside, he admires those at the top – he wants to be them & even though he knows he’ll never be one of them, he likes to pretend.
He goes to his Applebee’s, Red Lobster & Outback & bitches about all the blacks there. I think this is important to note – it’s indicative of his whole perspective. He is the same CLASS of people as these folks, he’s spending roughly the same amount on dinner as them, but thinks things are going to hell because they are there. He doesn’t get that he IS THEM. He’s the same fucking class, in the same fucking boat. He’s got relatively the same education level, roughly the same pay checks, living roughly the same way of life. But he’s been convinced to fight, to hate, to dislike his own class of people & to admire & defend the class that basically owns & controls his life & all our lives. He has been perfectly trained to rail against the ‘other’.
Against feminists, environmentalists, labor movements, racial minorities, immigrants, public sector workers, union members. These people aren’t HIS brothers & sisters – they are his enemy. He’s so busy hating “otherness” that he doesn’t realize he is them – and we’re all getting fucked by the same small group of people at the top. This is the same thing as him blaming unions & the welfare state. He has been indoctrinated through the years to fight amongst, to disagree with, to blame, & sometimes to outright hate people in the same boat as him. Not only kiss the ass of, but actively defend & fight on behalf of those who would take everything away from him, his wife & his family if they could make a buck on it – because he believes in an American dream & a way of life that simply doesn’t exist. He talks of freedom of those who have all the capital, but he doesn’t worry about his own freedom. He doesn’t worry about the freedom of his neighbors.
All he see’s as those liberal that take away rich people’s money are the same people telling him where he can & cannot smoke and that he should put his seatbelt on – so liberals must “hate freedom!”. Those damned reading elitist liberal communists! He has been convinced, as have many Americans – to hate their own & to defend their masters. To squabble over our petty & even cosmetic differences, rather than to unite on our common interests to fight for proper pay, benefits, rights as a consumer & as a worker, & for a clean environment. This is what happens when you have a class of people who were never taught to think for themselves, who act like reading is for fags, who are more willing to listen to hot heads like Beck & Limbaugh than to read any kind of political theorists, scientists, or economists.
This is what happens when you close your mind & you become one who’s always looking for that “other” to hate & to blame for your problems rather than to look at yourself or open your eyes to the bigger picture. People like my dad are willing to accept AM radio, Fox News talk shows, & even Fwd chain emails as official sources, & then single-handedly ignore any material the talking heads on these shows didn’t point him to. Because you can’t trust anyone but them! The ability to critically think, verify, discern the credibility of sources, to do the damned research yourself, is completely lost on these folks. That’s what these fucking Tea Party & GOP talking heads hope for. They hope to god that their lies they spew get echoed in the public sphere so often that it becomes reality. That people are too dumb or too lazy to verify what they spout.
This makes it so that people who are trying to get real shit done have to waste our time correcting mis-truths & disinformation just to garnish the slightest bit of public support to make progress anywhere. People don’t realize how dangerous this shit is. Right now the economy is & had been in the shitter. People are scared. People have lost their jobs & they’re angry. They have organized & mobilized into this populist “tea party”. They even think it’s a real grassroots org & dismissing the fact that they’re being led by billionaires & a corporate media. These are the angry masses that will eat up any scapegoat that their “leaders” feed them.
We’ve seen this in history before. I’m not trying to evoke Godwins Law or anything but i see a lot of correlations between the right-wing disenfranchised populist uprising here in America & a lot of what people experience in Wiemar Germany. There was a lot of angry people, scared about the loss of their jobs & an economy in bad shape. Those angry, uneducated people were looking for someone to blame. They didn’t care if they sided with a political party that would be responsible for fucking them over & destroying their democracy, not to mention the massive harm they would do to other groups. No, all that mattered was they found leaders who pretended to have answers. People like quick & simple answers & fixes, certainty & shared anger.
That’s what the Nazi Party gave them. That’s what the Tea Party/Fox News/AM Radio & portions of the GOP are giving this right wing uprising too. Anything intellectual is ignored or met with disinformation & a general air an superior anti-intellectualism. Everywhere I go: home to my parents, at work in the break room, flip on the tv, browse the internet – i see the same message: “My opinion is better than your facts”. This approach is rooted deeply in ignorance & anger most of the time. When the populace stops listening to those with brains & ignores factual information, & opts for those that shout opinions, we got a problem. The Tea Party would be an extremely powerful force if they had a politician that was worth a damn. Every time they have someone who is charismatic, they’re an obvious idiot or crook.
If somebody comes along who is charismatic & honest the US is in trouble bc of the frustration, disillusionment, justified anger & the absence of any coherent response from liberals. What are people supposed to think if someone says ‘I have got an answer, we have an enemy’? There it was the Jews. Here it will be the illegal immigrants from Mexico, the Muslims, teachers, unions, Planned Parenthood, NPR, & blacks (you can toss in atheists, homosexuals & liberals too). We will be told that WASPy private sector males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves & the honor of the nation. instead of fixing problems that truly affect the all of the working class, the nation will be convinced to support legislation that will further protect & consolidate power for the corporate elite.
All those privacy rights, the voice we have in our government, & due process checks & balances that protect us all? Those things just get in the way of security & stability. The right-wing that supports these parties & leaders get hurt too, just in a more subtle way – they give away their rights & are too stupid to realize what they’ve done to themselves.
I have watched with some interest the news reports about North Korea and the death of their latest tyrant. Most fascinating to me is that so many people are weeping uncontrollably and completely devastated by his death. WHY AREN'T THEY CELEBRATING IN THE STREETS? I know that many of the mourners are just going along to avoid catching the eye of an evil regime but some, according to first hand reports, are truly broken up that this jerk is dead.
This brings me around to something I've commented on before; why do people do things that are obviously not in their own best interest? But first, some background information about North Korea. The following is from BBC correspondents reporting from North Korea:
North Koreans have been taught from an early age to express devotion to both Kim Il-sung, the so-called Great Leader who died in 1994, and the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il.
At the university's foreign language department I asked the students how they had managed to learn such good English. "Thanks to the Great Leader," one young man replied, "we are allowed to watch English and American films, like The Sound of Music." When asked which world leaders - other than the Dear Leader - he admired, he quickly answered "Stalin and Mao Zedong!" However, the students had not heard of Nelson Mandela.
Kim Il-sung died 16 years ago but he's still the country's president, and there are more than 500 statues of him.
No wonder the 3,000 or so North Koreans who escape this, the most isolated and secretive country in the world, and arrive in South Korea every year feel as though they have landed on another planet.
North Korean TV only broadcasts hagiographies of the two leaders and pictures celebrating the country's army, model farms, model villages etc. Our minders had probably never seen any other kinds of news item or documentary about their country or the rest of the world.
They were not allowed to, and they could not, because no-one has access to the internet in North Korea. Instead, the North Koreans have a special internal intranet which I was shown at Pyongyang University.
A postgraduate metallurgy student who spoke good English explained that he could not compare his research with a fellow student in say, London or Los Angeles, because the system would not let him. But, he added brightly, "the Dear leader has kindly put all we need to know on our intranet system".
BBC Correspondent Sue Lloyd Roberts, June 2010
We all live in insulated bubbles to some degree. North Korea is an extreme example, but it shows what can happen to basically good people who have no other source of knowledge than what the system provides.
Personality cult is extremely dangerous and incredibly easy to develop when you start with a group of people who basically agree to follow you and then give up their right to critically challenge and examine.
Any organization that does not allow open dialog, fact checking, challenging of assumptions, and that fosters personality cult worship of its leaders, should be avoided.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
I just finished reading a book that I really liked called "Middlesex" by Jeffery Eugenities. It's been out for a while (published in 2002). In 2003, it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
The novel is a family history of Greek immigrants who settle in Detroit after fleeing war and the great fire of Smyrna. The history extends to several generations of descendants of these immigrants. It is a wonderful read full of the tragedy and comedy of life for this family.
The story is told by Cal, the grandson of the immigrants. Cal is born with 5-alpha-reductase deficiency, a recessive condition, that causes him to be born with female characteristics. Cal is a hermaphrodite man. However, because he appears to be female, he is raised as a girl, Calliope, until he is diagnosed when he enters puberty. He knows he is different from other girls and when he learns his true identity he embraces it and begins to live as a man. The change is difficult for both him and his family. The book is charming, poignant, and insightful. Eugenities successfully presents the struggles of both Cal and his family to come to terms with who he really is. Along the way, we learn the fascinating tale of the immigrant family, their traditions, and adapting to and becoming successful in America.
The photos above are of Andrej Pejic, a male model who fits perfectly the description in "Middlesex" of Cal. Pejic has been wildly popular as a model because of his androgynous nature. He has modeled both as a female and as a male and refuses to be tied to a single gender (when he met the Queen of England, he dressed as a women wearing a Versace skirt).
The book "Middlesex", while a novel, sensitively portrays the real life situation of those born into the intersex world. I recommend it!
Thursday, December 15, 2011
"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus" - Galatians 3:28
"Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose" - The Family: A Proclamation to the World
I don't pretend to know what these two statements mean. Each needs a lot of definition and explanation, which we don't have. But, if I assume for now that they are both essentially true, which is the assumption of the Mormon church, then might the following also be true?
- Gender may not mean what you think it means, especially when used to describe the pre-mortal and post-mortal existence
- Spirit "births" in the pre-mortal existence likely did not involve sex
- At least one mortal example, Christ, was born without sex as explained by James E. Talmage
- Therefore, both spirit birth and mortal birth can be accomplished without sex between a man and a woman
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Today's Sunday School lesson was on overcoming the world. I've never really much liked this topic. It's in the category of the other "everybody hates us and is out to corrupt us" lessons.
Besides teaching intolerance, homophobia, racism, elitism and the like, the idea that we can overcome the world is just the opposite of reality. To make any sense of this discussion one must first define "the world". Generally, in church "the world" means anything that is counter to what the church teaches, which is not a very useful definition unless you just want to talk in a circle - overcome the world (anything outside of the church teachings) by being totally immersed in the church's world. It's great for the church but may or may not be great for the individual. It's just the opposite of reality because we all are overcome by the world we choose to live in. The completely correlated Mormon is probably more likely to be overcome by her/his world than the outsider is overcome by his/her world. This is because of the complete package of life activities bundled into the Mormon world - you never need to leave the bubble.
So, for me, I need a better definition. I define and "the world" as the natural physical world and the human experience we live within. As a scientist and based on my life experience, I'd postulate that nature (or the world) always wins. No human has overcome the forces of nature, either in the physical world or in the human experience. We are all subject to the forces of nature, disease, pleasure/pain, death, etc., regardless of whether we are "good" or "evil". Hey wait, that's the same idea that the Church teaches in another lesson - yes, Virginia, they got that one right.
But the church seems to be unwilling to accept that nature always wins when it comes to our "human nature". Here the idea is that we are evil by nature (the natural man) and we need to overcome this evil nature to be like God. Wait again, the church has repudiated the idea of original sin ... or have they just renamed it "the natural man"?
Anyway, back to the point at hand. The church seem to be OK with your human nature as long as it has the characteristics they like. Living "in the world" but not "being of the world"...as the saying goes...is a whole different experience for gay Mormons.
You have probably seen the YouTube video of the young soldier in Iraq who came out to his dad on the day Don't Ask Don't Tell was repealed. He has a YouTube channel that's had over 10 million hits. Anyway, for National Coming Out Day he posted a video of him live in the the airport in Birmingham, AL. You can check it out at the link below.
One of the things he says in the video is that coming out is like throwing up. I've never heard such a concise analogy and I love it. You feel terrible, you swear you're going to die, and you can't keep it in any longer - it just has to happen, and when its over you feel a lot better.
He's a great guy doing a great service to both his country and his fellow gays.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
"Hello", I'd like to bear my testimony of the Book of Mormon -- Musical. "It has so many awesome parts", how can you not like it?
Or maybe just share my thoughts on how it may influence Mormon culture. I've only been able to view a bootleg copy of the Broadway play and I'd love to see it live. I've pretty much memorized the songs. They are great and I loved the show. It has language that could be offensive but that's part of the show - take it or leave it.
The musical has been a fantastic hit and won a pile of Tony Awards so it's not going to go away as much as some Mormons would like to "turn it off". Show companies are already being formed in cities beyond New York and it will be widely produced across the country and likely the world. So what does it mean to Mormons and their Church?
"Life is about to change for you and me". It's a show so I don't want to over analyze it but I do think it means something to Mormon culture. Part of what it means is that the LDS Church has grown to the point where it cannot completely control it's message, as it has been so determined to do in recent decades. The musical completely destroys the Church's control of it's public perception, which in my opinion is not a bad thing. Any organization needs to be judged not just by what the organization says about itself but also by what it's audience, customers, members, and outsiders say about it and how they perceive it. The Church can either fight it and lose or go with it and let it strengthen good things about the Church that it presents. It seems to me the Church has been wise and chosen to just go with it but the members, at least in Utah, have chosen the other direction.
In the end, "I believe" the musical will only be good for the LDS Church. It will likely have a big impact on both how the Church is perceived by outsiders and how it how it deals with the world. The musical along with many other developments, including the Internet itself, are all working to expose and destroy the myths and misstatements that the Church has either perpetuated or allowed to be perpetuated. The truth is always a good thing and while it may be painful for the organization and may shake the faith of some of it's members, "bringing the truth to the world" involves being true with the world.
"Orlando" - The organization will tend to want to back away from and down play doctrine and past statements that have been proven false or misleading. The world will demand total honesty and ultimately it will prevail. The Church has a dark side as do all man made things -- and sorry to burst your bubble, the Church has lots of man made stuff in it. But this is just an opportunity to separate the wheat from the chaff, as the saying goes. It will help facilitate the blowing away of the man made junk and expose the bureaucratic stuff for what it is and leave the beauty and purity of the gospel exposed for all to see. If the Church is fundamentally true ("God loves Mormons, and he wants some more") then exposing the bad shit can only polish the beautiful parts.
It will be interesting to see how the songs and lines from the musical become part of Mormon culture over time - am I'm betting they will
*if you haven't seen the show you may not catch that the "quotes" are from the songs