Just my rambling thoughts about being gay and Mormon

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

History - fact or fiction?

Below is a link to an article in the Salt Lake Tribune by Peggy Fletcher Stack about how the LDS Church is trying to stem the loss of members because of the Church's misrepresentation of it's history.  Terryl Givens, an LDS professor of literature and religion at the University of Richmond is quoted as saying: “I definitely get the sense that this is a real crisis,” “It is an epidemic.”


I wish the church well in this up hill endeavor. It is clearly too late to be proactive and whatever the church does it will be at best an attempt to catch horses that have already left the barn.

I could probably accept just about anything that the organization has done if it would honestly acknowledge its errors and real history. It's the deception and then the excuses and justification when the truth comes out that I have a hard time accepting.  

I fully realize that you cannot judge the past based on today's moral standards, expectations and laws. However, for an organization that claims to be led by prophets who teach moral truths that never change the dishonesty and some past acts by its leaders are difficult to explain. So I wish them well and will look forward to hearing their explanations. I hope to be able to do it with an open mind.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Movie Review - Cowboys & Angels

Two Irish lads become friends through some unusual circumstances, which makes this movie a funny and endearing coming-of-age film. I'm a sucker for a good foreign film and I especially loved the Irish setting and accents in this one. 
Shane moves to Limerick to be closer to his civil service job (which he does not like), a position he took to fill a family responsibility after his father died. He finds a former school acquaintance, Vincent, whom he did not know well, is studying art at the local university. Vincent is also looking for a flat so he can move out of the school dorm. 
They become flat mates to share expenses. It gets more complicated because Shane is straight and Vincent is gay. The lads have good hearts and watch out for each. Shane decides to use his art talent to break away from his civil service job but he makes some dumb mistakes to get money for school and ends up running drugs. It all ends well in an easy-to-watch heart warming story.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Wicked, defying gravity

One of my favorite songs, "Defying Gravity", is from the Broadway play "Wicked".  Kurt and Rachael did a particularly good version of it for "Glee" (see link below).

The song means a lot to me because it talks about my life as I move forward and step out into the unknown. 

Something has changed within me 
Something is not the same 
I'm through with playing by the rules 
of someone else's game 

Too late for second guessing 
Too late to go back to sleep 
It's time to trust my instincts 
Close my eyes and leap 

It's time to try 
defying gravity 
I think I'll try 
defying gravity 
Kiss me goodbye 
I'm defying gravity 
and you won't bring me down... 

I'm through accepting limits 
'cause someone says they're so 
Some things I cannot change 
But 'til I try I'll never know 

Too long I've been afraid of 
Losing love I guess I've lost 
Well if that's love 
It comes at much too high a cost 

I'd sooner buy 
Defying gravity 
Kiss me goodbye 
I'm defying gravity 
I think I'll try 
Defying gravity 
And you won't bring me down... 

I'd sooner buy 
Defying gravity 
Kiss me goodbye 
I'm Defying gravity 
I think I'll try 
Defying gravity 
And you won't bring me down, 
Bring me down 

Oh Oh Oh 

Link to Defying Gravity:

In an earlier post I said I used to believe that if the Church were true then to be saved you needed to stay and be faithful forever, regardless of the personal sacrifice involved. I also said I don't believe that anymore and that I would explain my reasons in future posts.  Well, here goes...

Reason 1 - This is an amazing world we live in, which is full of variety beyond imagination. If the world and the people in it were created by God, then the world itself testify's that God is more expansive, inclusive, and accepting than any single organization, group, or society. All things are interdependent and all are necessary.

Reason 2 - I'm human and I'm free to choose. Any given culture or belief system is perpetuated because people who are raised in the culture are taught from a young age that the belief system is important and must be perpetuated. If those same individuals were born into another system, they would grow up supporting that system instead of the one into which they were born. The system into which you were born has nothing to do with right and wrong, it's just chance and fate. 
Reason 3 - If God wants everyone to be Mormon he's doing a pretty poor job of it. Seriously, if it's that important I'm sure He could come up with something more impressive to persuade people than billboards along the interstate.
Reason 4 - God gave me a brain. I suspect that he did not want it to be just a place to hang my hat. If God expects me to use all my abilities to make the best decisions I can for myself then it must be equally OK if I choose to join or choose to leave.
Reason 5 - God intends that I be happy. It is not consistent with any reasonable belief in God that he would want me to participate in a culture where I am not wanted, accepted, loved, and appreciated.
Having stated the above thoughts, I'm not saying that being LDS is not important and beneficial to people. I'm just saying it can't possibly be the only path for everyone.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Life update

For the very few of you who actually follow my life somewhat, you may be interested in an update of some open previous posts.
Work - I've been told that they are going to assign part of my responsibilities to others.  I'm actually OK with it because I've been doing it for a long time and it's pretty thankless. Hopefully, this will allow me to focus more on the stuff I enjoy and am good at. I'm going to headquarters next week and it will be interesting to see what kind of response I get there.
Church - I have yet to hear back from from the stake pres. I thought we agreed to talk again because I still had some things to say to him about how the church interacts and treats it's gay members. I think I scared him off. In fact, it's gone deadly silent. No word from anyone, ward, stake, home teachers, or church mice. I think I've been put on the "no hope" - sons of perdition list.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Marriage Equality

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops published a letter on Jan 12, 2012 that gives their opinion that marriage equality will destroy religious freedom. The letter was signed by leaders of many other churches, including the LDS Church.

The main point in this letter is that marriage equality will infringe on the freedom of religion of churches who don't practice equality. This is essentially the same point the LDS church emphasized in a publication earlier this month.  

The following is from the Executive Summary of their letter and summarizes it's key point.
"Altering the definition of marriage will change not just one law but hundreds, even thousands, of laws.  There will be government mandates, requiring the recognition and accommodation of so-called same-sex “marriages,” that pose a critical threat to institutions and individuals who for reasons of faith and conscience will resist the law’s compulsion."  

"The law not only will coerce and impose disincentives, but will also teach that religious 
objectors must be marked as if they were bigots."

In this particular letter they don't say that marriage equality would harm any individuals, only that the legal fallout may require organizations that currently discriminate to act otherwise and that they may be labeled as bigots. Well guess what? That's not new, we are already there. Organizations that discriminate ARE viewed by the majority of people as being out of touch with the behavior of best-in-class organizations.

Today in Washington State, Microsoft, Group Health, Nike, Vulcan, Concur and Real Networks joined with 70 other businesses to endorse marriage equality and urge the Washington State legislature to pass the legislation this year. This is where leading organizations are headed.

What do these businesses see as a benefit in marriage equality that the churches obviously don't see?  Below is from Microsoft's press release about why they support marriage equality.

"At Microsoft, we pride ourselves on our products and services, our brand, and our global reach. But unquestionably, our employees are our greatest asset."

"To be successful, it’s critical that we have a workforce that is as diverse as our customers. Every day, the national and global economies are becoming more diverse. The lifeblood of a business is its ability to understand and connect with its customers. We’re no exception. Now more than ever, the most effective workforce is a diverse workforce."

"While some of our employees literally grew up around the corner, others have come from every state and almost 150 countries around the world. They reflect virtually every background in the country and on the planet. They bring their creativity to work, and they put it to good use in developing new products and serving our customers. There simply is no substitute for their diverse backgrounds, perspectives, skills and experiences."

"Inclusiveness is therefore a fundamental part of our values, and is integral to the company’s business success."

"This means it’s important to go beyond simply forbidding discrimination; we strive to actively promote diversity, equality and inclusion in our workplace. In 1993, Microsoft became the first Fortune 500 company to provide same-sex domestic partnership benefits. For almost two decades, we’ve benefited from this support and the resulting contributions of our LGBT employees."

According to Microsoft it's fundamentally about inclusiveness. This is where religions have a problem. One of their basic tenets is that they don't want inclusiveness. They only want to include those who agree with their creeds. They certainly have the right to include and exclude who they want. Should they also have the right to deny a privilege to individuals who don't want to belong to their church?
Below is some more from Microsoft's statement about supporting marriage equality and discusses how they believe marriage equality AND religious freedom can co-exist.

"While Microsoft’s support for marriage equality is motivated by respect for our employees, we also respect the views of those who may not agree with our position. For example, we have many highly valued and highly successful employees who hold a wide range of views on this and many other issues. We’re not asking anyone to change their views to conform to the company’s position."

"We also recognize that marriage has meaning as both a civil and a religious institution. Like the marriage equality bill passed last year in New York State with bipartisan and business support, this bill preserves religious freedom in Washington’s churches while ending discrimination in Washington law."
What? No crisis or end of the world if marriage equality becomes reality? Apparently not, according to these businesses in Washington. 
In truth, the biggest threat to traditional marriage is the high rate of divorce among heterosexual couples. For generations now young people have lived through the divorces of their parents and have become wary of marriage. Marriage equality may actually improve society's respect for the institution.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sunk costs


The concept of sunk costs is used mostly in the world of finance when discussing irrecoverable expenditures. It also can apply to any irreversible past action such as commitment, service, faith, and love. 

Our human tendency is to value things a lot more once we have put investment into something. Because of this tendency we often use our sunk costs (money, time, energy, love) to justify making a decision about how to act today. 

One brief example; An abused spouse stays in an abusive relationship because they've been together for a long time. OK, one more example. Scientists have shown that they can actually sway people’s pro-war attitudes by highlighting casualties of a war prior to administering a questionnaire about people's support for the war.

Economists and social scientists know that making today's decisions based on sunk costs is almost always a bad idea. In the examples above, the years the abused spouse spent in an abused life and the dead soldiers are both sunk costs. They really have no bearing on whether the spouse should stay or go or whether the war should continue or end. Sunk costs are tied to the idea of “loss aversion”, which is a preference to minimize losses as opposed to maximizing gains. If the best decision for the well being of the abused spouse is to leave then he/she should do it regardless of the sunk cost of the past relationship. Likewise, if the best decision is to end the war, then it should be done regardless of the past regrettable loss of soldiers lives.

A parallel idea is that you can't live in either the past or the future. You can only live today and make the best decisions you can based on where you are now (or the landscape you are currently in - thus the name of this blog). 

Someone once said, “Play the board as it is, not how you want it to be.”

I like the quote from Michael Novotny's mother in the TV show "Queer as Folk" where she says, "If you've got one foot in tomorrow and one foot in yesterday, you'll piss on today." More crass, but it gets the point across.

These ideas are important to me because they help explain where I am today with respect to my feelings for and about the LDS Church. I have gained a lot from my participation in the Church but today it seems very irrelevant and potentially harmful for me to continue to invest in it. The high returns are no longer there for me. I can get better returns by investing my emotions, time, and commitment elsewhere. So regardless of the sunk costs, in many respects it's time for me to move on. 

Some will say that this way of thinking does not apply to matters of faith because if the Church is true then to be saved you must stay and be faithful forever regardless of the personal sacrifice involved. I also used to believe that but I don't anymore and I think I've got good reasons (more in future posts). Most importantly, I believe I've got the same spiritual confirmation that it's time to move on that I had before about staying. 

So stop focusing on the sunk costs, live and love and smile, and take a flying leap forward today.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

All these things that I've done

A small tribute to my favorite Mormon of the day, Brandon Flowers, the lead singer of The Killers. He writes and sings indie rock that's edgy with passion. He seems like a cool enough guy but I'm most jealous that he's been taken into Elton John's circle. Brandon wrote the words of a Christmas song about Joseph and Elton laid down the music. Since then they've become close buds. 

He's definitely not your mainstream Mormon but I think it's cool that he still claims his heritage in the Church. 

Check him out in this concert video:

You can also check out his video at mormon.org:


If you can't hold on...hold on


I've got soul but I'm not a soldier



Well as it turns out, my timing is impeccable. The Vice President I pissed off last week was named Chief Operating Officer of the company today. He got the corner office and I'm not sure what I got...but it probably wasn't good.

Hopefully, he'll be too busy spending his new big salary to remember much about me ;)


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Change is coming

Don't read any further. This is not for you and I don't want to be a drag. I'm just putting down some thoughts to help me work through them.  

I am prone to bouts of depression. In the last few years I've done better at managing it. This weekend I've been sinking lower than usual. I find that by writing I can help clear my mind and move on.

I've been struggling at work for a long time with some serious program deficiencies. Slowly, they've been turning around and we just completed the longest successful run in the life of the company. Then, we had an event that caught everyone's attention, including headquarters, located several thousand miles away.  

Most the people I deal with at headquarters are relatively new and I've been working to solve a very complex and difficult problem for the company for years. Ironically, it was a problem created years ago by folks at headquarters.  

They have little understanding of where we have come from and the enormous progress that's been made. This most recent event has focused a lot of attention on me and it's obvious they don't think I'm doing a good job. 

The truth is they have no knowledge of the relative insignificance of the most recent event in the whole universe of challenges that we face. While the event was unfortunate, it is merely a blip in an otherwise much improved picture. No matter, the guys at headquarters smell blood in the water and they love to shake things up. They seem to follow the mantra, "if you can't solve problems, just shuffle things around so it looks like you're doing something vital."  
Last week, they gathered in a conference room at headquarters and invited me to call in for a discussion. I suspected I was being set up but I did not know that there would be three Vice Presidents listening in on the call. The folks on the call proclaimed to know the solution to a problem they could not clearly define. After an hour, I chimed in and told them what I thought of their plan and how little they really understood of the situation. It was pretty clear when I finished that they had no rebuttal to my logic and arguments. I had made the point but it was going to cost me. Wrong move.  
Friday, my boss called me in to tell me that his boss, and his bosses boss, and his bosses boss, all had concluded that I was not the right person to "lead the organization on to success."  He explained that the only way I could be redeemed is to either call the VPs and grovel to explain why I felt I could do it and should be allowed to proceed, or agree to be moved out of my current spot. 
This is not the first time I've tangled with some of these "leaders".  Previously, I've always been able to help them understand what they were missing and why the path we were on was the right one. This time it was different.

I've probably been in my current position too long anyway. Modern organizations need constant change, sometimes no matter the direction. I'm too vested in the projects and have brought them too far to objectively talk to idiots who wouldn't know the answer if it bit them in the butt. At least they probably aren't going to fire me this week.

I'm not morally opposed to groveling, if needed, but in this situation, I think it would only be a short term solution. I may repair the damage for a while but I'm convinced they want me out and will just find another way to do it. It's very hard on me to stay where I'm not wanted.

Change is not a bad thing and dealing with the the internal administrative bureaucracy has been overly draining on my morale and health. I think this might be a chance to get back into the technical stuff I enjoy.  Anyway, I agreed to be moved out of my current spot and was asked to propose some options. We'll see if they are any more willing to listen to my options than they were my thoughts on the phone call last week.