Whorled View

November 8, 2008

Christians owe Obama a Debt of Gratitude?

At least in this one thing … the jury’s still out for what he may do in the future.

Thanks for my awesome cousin for nailing this one on the head … I just had to agree with her:  There were far more powerful forces at work in defending traditional marriage in California than the simple 2% of the population comprised by Mormons.  It seems we should be thanking the 70% of African Americans who voted this time for Prop 8 , 40% more than voted in 2004.

If you believe in the sanctity of marriage … that it’s far more than a social tool, but a sacred institution … and that it’s the only sacred institution that is and should continue to be promoted by the government of our nation, then you owe Obama a debt of gratitude.

Ironically, you can thank Slate (liberal rag) for originally pointing this out.

While violent same-sex proponents target LDS people and LDS buildings for hate speech and vandalism, LDS people only make up 2% of California, while 70% of all African Americans voted for the proposition.  Slate does a bad job of showing just how much a difference Obama made so let me make it more clear:  The black community swung the Prop 8 vote by 7% (10% of the vote was African American * 70% voted yes), 40% of that swing came from additional black voters over 2004 numbers as they were energized by Obama.  That means Obama personally swung the vote by at least 2.8% (7% * 40%), or by 5.6 points (2.8% *2).

In other words, if Obama had not run for president and if he had not stood against same-sex marriage conservative estimates are that Prop 8 would have lost by a 1.6 point margin (4-5.6=1.6) if not more.  Why do I say “if not more”?  Because we don’t know how many of the other 60% of black voters were influenced by Barrack making a stand against same-sex marriage.  The above number assumes that his position had no effect on the African Americans who voted in 2004, but it’s likely that it did.  Say if only 30% were influenced by his anti-same-sex position that would have swung the vote by at least another 2 points (0.3*5.6/0.4).

And yet gay activists disparage and vandalize the property of LDS people and the LDS church who only make up 2% of the entirely California population.  What’s more, there were quite a few LDS people against Prop 8 (our home-teacher, who used to be a bishop and is still a prominent authority in the church is one of them).  In otherwords, all the LDS who voted for it would not have sufficiently swung the election.

I don’t know if it has anything to do with the fact that the Gay community seems to focus more on liberal arts than in math and science, but it seems these criminals can’t do math when they decide whom they’ll attack to show their disatisfaction with democracy.

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October 23, 2008

Religulous, the movie: Shifting the blame onto religion. Part 1

Bill Maher, is an HBO talk-show host (professes to be libertarian, although lately he’s just seemed anti-conservative above all else).  His new movie “Religulous”, aimed at making fun of all religion and all religious people and blaming all of society’s ills on religion, has been in the theaters for a couple weeks now.  It’s already made more money than Ben Stein’s “Expelled” has over the last 6 months.

blaming religion for societies ills obfuscates the real causes … As a result greed and selfishness goes unchecked and continues to flourish

This is becoming quite popular to blame religion for societies ills, and it’s been a favorite topic of Bill Maher, but it is at best a cheap shot, and at worst it obfuscates the real cause of societies ills: mankind’s greed and selfishness.  As a result of obfuscating efforts like this greed and selfishness goes unchecked and continues to flourish as the #1 cause of the atrocities of mankind.

Maher used to have a fairly interesting show called Politically Incorrect, an ironic title since he acted as a shill for republican-hating liberals, bashing anyone who’s views don’t agree with what the mainstream media considers “correct”.  Ironically, more and more it seems politically incorrect to go against his gay-rights, pro-marijuana, anti-religion, PETA-loving agenda.  Ironically, with respect to his hot button issues he’s about as politically correct as they come.

But ultimately he proved himself the pinnacle of politically incorrectness in 2002 when he said suicide terrorists who’d go down with a plane weren’t cowards, but that our soldiers were indeed cowards for shooting missiles from long distances.

It seems he’s gone from “Politically Incorrect” to just plain old “Incorrect” … the guests on his show lapped up his comments like they were accurate.

So he calls our soldiers cowards for valuing life, complements plane-crashing terrorists as being brave, and then claims all other religious people “have a neurological disorder.”  Honestly, I don’t know if that’s politically incorrect or just really stupid.  Financial supporters pulled their ads and he lost his show.

HBO came to his rescue with “Real Time, with Bill Maher”, same basic format, different name, and just all around less funny and more angry and biased.  He’s called a comedian, but when I watch he seems to have simply degenerated into an angry old man as Carlin did in his late years with a humorless and bitter sarcasm about anything championed by the conservative agenda.

[Maher] calls our soldiers cowards for valuing life, complements plane-crashing terrorists as being brave, and then claims all other religious people “have a neurological disorder.”

What’s more his ‘facts’ can’t be trusted.  He seriously distorts the facts to justify statements that just aren’t true.  It seems he’s gone from “Politically Incorrect” to just plain old “Incorrect”.  For proof you need go no further than where he claimed the Mormon church taught Blacks can only go to heaven as slaves.  Most ardent anti-Mormons wouldn’t even say that simply because it’s nowhere to be found in LDS theology.  This is just one small example of many misrepresentations he’s made from calling the Pope a Nazi to calling all Christians insane, but this one sticks out for me because I’m LDS.  Not surprisingly the guests on his show lapped up his comments like they were accurate, which everyone seems to foolishly do and undoubtedly will do in Religulosity.

Why does he get the gimmes and mulligans for the gaffes and misrepresentations he makes?  Where does he get his platform of legitimacy?  Doesn’t anyone remember when he said “But I’ve often said that if I had — I have two dogs — if I had two retarded children, I’d be a hero. And yet the dogs, which are pretty much the same thing. What? They’re sweet. They’re loving. They’re kind, but they don’t mentally advance at all…. Dogs are like retarded children.”  When a guest said her nephew was retarded and she didn’t think of him as a dog he said, “Maybe you should.”

“Dogs are like retarded children.” When a guest said her nephew was retarded and she didn’t think of him as a dog Maher said, “Maybe you should.”

Yet reputable guests continue arrive on his show thereby giving him some form of continued legitimacy.  At least it helps me identify which politicians and pundits are filled with blind ambition and seem more interested in getting public face-time than in doing what is right and responsible.

You’d think his guests and potential guests would clue in.  Craig Ferguson had Bill Maher on his show when Bill Maher said Michael Jackson wasn’t as bad as the media was making him out to be because he wasn’t beating his victims senseless, but that the kids were simply being “gently masturbated by a pop star”.  You’d think Craig would get a clue, but as you see in the above link … Craig was there on Bill’s show a couple years later when Bill was misrepresenting LDS beliefs while Michael Steel nodded his head like it was all true.

Bill Maher said Michael Jackson wasn’t as bad … that the kids were simply being “gently masturbated by a pop star”.

Get a clue, people!  There’s a pattern here of not just political incorrectness, but just plain old incorrectness on Maher’s part.  Pick up on it.

I really don’t like airing someone’s dirty laundry without a fair representation of the good that they do, but that is precisely what Maher has done with regard to religion in general, as well as with regard to religious figures.  In my next post I’ll address his actual attack on religion.

February 8, 2008

Watch the Anti-Mormon-flavored PBS program “The Mormons”, or not

If you missed it 10 months ago don’t despair … recently reshown (as was “September Dawn”) to coincide with Romney’s epic struggle against the msm-nominated McCain , you can watch it Monday night on PBS.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about the most one-sided and history-selective treatment of the Mormon church that has ever been wrongly portrayed as a balanced treatment of the church. I actually don’t have a problem with all the anti-Mormon media that honestly admits that it intends to be highly critical and not give a balanced view because at least those treatments are at least honestly disrespectful. I’ll take honest disrespect over dishonest respect any time of the day.

But this one pretends to be something that it isn’t: Balanced. Some history: A couple years ago producers of the PBS series “American Experience” approached the Mormon church with a proposal to produce a “balanced” view of the Church in a 2 part documentary. Church leaders obliged and were interviewed as promised. Boy were they surprised when it aired.

Apparently “balanced” meant that they would give the same amount of time to a couple church leaders and BYU professors, as with excommunicated members, as with apostate ex-mormons, as with a couple of non-mormon intellectual critics, as with a couple evangelical anti-mormons, as with a non-representative members who made bad decisions or had ideas that weren’t backed up by official doctrine, and then they gave like 5 minutes to one good-representative lds family (out of 4 hours). So if you combine the time spent on negative and critical messages compared to positive messages the ratio was something like 5:1.

That would be fair I suppose if the church does 5 times more damage than it does good, but if you look at the statistics of Mormon communities you’ll find quite the opposite dynamic: the presence of the Mormon church (at least statistically when you look at family values, crime, suicide rates, graduation rates, education, etc) has a tremendously positive effect on communities. Christ said “By their fruits shall ye know them” (what I like to call the divine litmus test), but for whatever reason this maxim is never applied to modern-day Mormons or modern-day Mormonism.

I blogged on the program when it first aired back in May of 2007. You can read my summary of it if you don’t want to waste your time to find out how one-sided and selective it was (see here for part 1 and here for part 2).

Don’t get me wrong – it was done very professionally by Hollywood standards, narrated by a well known actor (David Ogden Stiers, the uppity surgeon from Mash) with nice camera work, with the deceptive appearance of good research, commentary by self appointed experts sitting in comfy chairs in wooden walled offices, paranoia enabling sensationalism, and most of all: artistic liberties (ie. innuendo, fact wrangling, and most of all: extremely selective history coverage).

So if you watch it then please remember the divine litmus test (“By their fruits shall ye know them”) when you consider what most of your Mormon neighbors are about. What do THEY do? How to THEY act? Then consider the amazing social statistics of communities with lots of Mormons compared to anywhere else. If you’re an atheist and thus don’t like the idea of “By their fruits shall ye know them”, consider this adage: “Actions speak louder than words”. It means the same thing. Our beliefs guide our actions and words so you can really get to know us by what we do on a daily basis.

Otherwise you can watch a million programs called “The Mormons” and never still have a clue what a “Mormon” is. Don’t be scared … we won’t bite, and we probably won’t even convert you. In fact we’d love to give you the other side of this documentary so you will truly have a “balanced” perspective.

July 26, 2007

My God vs. Your God

Today I was hopelessly searching for a decent radio station to listen to in the garage, and in the process happened upon a “Christian music” station where they were singing some song about how great their God was. It wasn’t about “God” in general, or “the” God, but they consistently used the term “my God” with as much or more gusto on the word “my” as they did on the word “God”. I then thought – if you believe in only one God why even mention “my”, or “our”? The phrase “my God” implies that there is more than one God (my God vs. someone else’s God). That’s an oxymoron if you’re a monotheist (someone who believes in only one God).

“The obvious problem with this claim, of course, is that these people who are comparing Gods also claim to be monotheistic.”

[added 7/27: I actually don’t really have so much a problem with “my God” or “our God”, because I think people generally mean that they’ve chosen to be subject to God. In fact, “How Great Thou Art” is one of my favorite songs, as are others which frequently use this terminology to denote subservience and dedication. It seem however that not everyone uses those phrases with that intended meaning.].

I’ve also heard from many (but not all) religious people claim that their God is better than another person’s God. As a Mormon person I frequently hear this directed toward me from mainstream Christians. I’ve always responded that we worship the same God, although we understand the physical/spiritual nature of the Godhead to be different from their concept. To which they usually respond vehemently that no way is our God the same being as their God. The obvious problem with this claim, of course, is that these people who are comparing Gods also claim to be monotheistic.

The only logical rationale I can imagine for this implicit contradiction is that they consider “God” to be a concept rather than an actual being. I don’t think that is what they’re doing though since they, like me, claim that God lives, not that He’s just some kind of philosophical construct to make people feel better. So I must conclude that they’re just trained to insist that different religions believe in different Gods even though they’re monotheists, and they don’t care that what they’re saying makes no sense.

“…most of the problems in the middle east have their roots in the irrational My God vs. Your God mentality, instead of promoting the fact that we all worship the same God differently and simply have different ideas about Him.”

If one is literally referring to God with the intent to compare religions the best thing they can say is “our understanding of the nature of His being and power are different”. Of course, the implied meaning is “You’re wrong about God’s nature and power, and I’m right”, but at least it’s plainly understood that there is only one God.

From time to time I’ve heard the interesting accusation (from people of all religions, including my own) that certain people “don’t worship the true God” or variations on that theme. Although this seems very offensive, I don’t think it is as dangerous as pitting one God against another, and besides this accusation abides by the rules of a monotheistic perspective. Of course, it is an extremely presumptuous accusation to say someone simply isn’t worshiping the true God because they don’t understand the nature of God’s being and power. It is also irrational to suggest that misunderstanding something about the object of worship instantly disqualifies the worshipful actions, making them null and void; Besides there are no scriptures I know of to back up that absurd claim.

“Making such presumptuous and irrational accusations alienates others and engenders spite between religious groups, wherein the Christian should consider the counsel to ‘Judge not an unrighteous judgment’.”

It’s also obvious that making such presumptuous and irrational accusations alienates others and engenders spite between religious groups, wherein the Christian should consider the counsel to ‘Judge not an unrighteous judgment’. It can be reasonably argued that most of the problems in the middle east have their roots in the irrational My God vs. Your God mentality, instead of promoting the fact that we all worship the same God differently and simply have different ideas about Him. If the middle-east Jews, Christians, and Muslims accepted what an irrational idea that is, and that they all believe in the same God, but only interpret Him and His nature and purposes differently, then the idea of the “enemies to God” based on religious preference would dissolve as would the philosophy behind “Jihad”. The challenge there is that so much of their scriptures do seem to refer to a plurality of monotheistic Gods, so that isn’t likely to happen without a new interpretation of those verses.

Sadly, that’s not going to happen as long as religious leaderships continue to senselessly pit their monotheistic Gods against each other as the Greeks or Romans did. Fortunately, those of us in the civilized world can be rational and realize we all worship just one God, the Creator of the earth, – just differently. Admittedly some might be more accurate that others in their ideas about God, but can all worship the same God by simply doing good and appreciating each other for it.

May 1, 2007

No, that isn’t who we are either

Filed under: christianity,Mormonism,Politics,Religion,Sociology — lullabyman @ 10:08 pm

I just watched the 2nd installment (see my last blog), and I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by what I saw. Let me just say that none of the LDS people I know would intentionally plan to have another baby when the mother was 42 years of age and had gestational diabetes. The man who did that, I’m terribly sorry for his loss, but “another spirit waiting to come to our family” concept is not fully justified solely in LDS doctrine. The program presented many other similar stories where the questionable (if not downright wrong) actions of a few Mormons were once again misrepresented as being reflective of the Mormon religion and people as a whole.

All I can say is please know that the PBS “Frontline” documentary called “The Mormons” represented at best a very non-representative cross section of the body of the church, except for one family (out of dozens interviewed). If you want to know the truth then please get to know your Mormon neighbors and find out for yourselves. Personally I’m only further disappointed with the sensationalized focus the documentary placed on fringe members to have the audacity to call the documentary “The Mormons” and suggest that what they described was a fair cross-section of this religion and people.

No No, that wasn’t who they were!

Filed under: Mormonism,Politics,Religion,Sociology — lullabyman @ 3:54 am

I said in an earlier blog this was going to happen. As Mitt Romney’s chances of winning increase we’re going to see an increase portrayal of the Mormon church which will border anywhere from somewhat misleading, to filled with innuendo, to downright wrong. It’s already beginning.

I saw the first half of the public television special tonight “The Mormons” and I was appalled. Those were not my ancestors that they discussed so one-sidedly. One hour of instruction – footnotes given fanfare as minuscule as the short lived action-less Mormon Militia (but not the laudable and much larger Mormon Battalion), inordinate attention to portrayals of Joseph Smith wielding a sword as if he thought he was Napoleon every where he went, calling Smith our “Alpha” and “Omega” (could they get any more offensive?), the 1842 burning of the expositor, but no coverage on vandalized LDS property, a quarter of the time on early Polygamy, another quarter of the time drawing up an elaborate case to blame Brigham for Mountain Meadows massacre despite a complete lack of evidence that he ordered such a treacherous act, and another quarter covering recent polygamy which is outlawed by the LDS church and only practiced by less than 0.01% of Mormons (if you can call apostates Mormons). That’s who my ancestors were? That’s who the Mormons are? This program is called “The Mormons”, right?

Wow, talk about picking and choosing history. Why not discuss the Mormon battalion where 500 Mormon men marched 2000 miles on foot to fight for this country during the Mexican war, immediately after the government allowed Missouri to issue an extermination order allowing LDS people to be shot on site. Why not tell about the tremendous sacrifices made by 10,000’s selling all they had to come from Europe to “the promised land”? What’s with this “promised land” terminology? Why not tell about the multiple 1000’s (1 out of every 10) who died on the trek westward, or the Martin and Willie Handcart company alone wherein 220 people died? How about the unprecedented worldwide growth rate? How about telling what happened from 1900 to 1960, and the amazing welfare system that abolished poverty among the LDS during the depression … they completely skipped that period (1/3 of our history) … perhaps they couldn’t dredge up any scandals. Any scandals did happen afterward was with splinter groups who make up less than 1% of the “Mormon” population – but they still covered those right up until the program ended.

They gave whatever dirt on Joseph Smith they could find, so why not the many good reports given by non-LDS of Joseph Smith’s character and his good nature? What about all the early 1st hand accounts from non-Mormons of the time that admitted the Mormons were peace-loving and tried to be considerate as possible. How about a more detailed account of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith and others who were there and the false charges he was held under, and the murders and raping of LDS people before the trek west, or the draining of the Nauvoo swamp and the 1000’s that died there from malaria? How about the method of church succession (Brigham Young didn’t just “take over” as PBS seemed to suggest), or how about the actual extermination from Kirtland and then Nauvoo and the massive burning of Nauvoo that followed? How about the massive splintering after the martyrdom? How about the surprise that most people followed Brigham to Mexico despite that he chose the most difficult trek of all the splinters? Or why not tell how all other splinters died off except those who inherited Nauvoo who have since struggled just to maintain their numbers. How about the building of the early temples, and the other temples, and what those early temples represent not just to Mormons, but to Americans?

Lastly they never got into the minds of those early converts. Why did Joseph’s church attract so many more dedicated followers than all the other upstarts in the “burned-over district”? Was it the Book of Mormon – or the unique concept of a priesthood restoration – or the 100% lay ministry – or the level of dedication that’s expected – Joseph’s mere magnetism – or the unique “plan of salvation” that he taught? Perhaps these things will be discussed in the second part of the series.

No, they didn’t cover those histories nor those events, but THOSE things were the substance of my ancestors. Not Mountain Meadows. Still, the Mountain Meadows massacre was a harrowing part of mormon history where a secluded group of members disregarded everything they were taught in order to commit so great a crime, and so I and all my Mormon freinds were taught about Mountain Meadows in our youth, and like all Mormons I will always be horrified and disturbed by it. The act was just as contrary to the LDS faith as it is to any other faith – a most important fact that PBS neglected to mention. Even worse, one of the PBS historians for unknown reasons then accused Mormons of not accepting the reality of Mountain Meadows and not having learned from it.  Note the unjustified subversive scare tactic they use that those who don’t learn from the past are condemned to repeat it – we will?!  Well, if you’re LDS then that may well be just what your neighbors now think of you.

I shudder to think that my non-member friends and neighbors saw that incredibly biased treatment of my heritage, and what they must think of my own ancestors now. What they must think of me that I might believe in that horrendous pick-n-choose history, and lastly that they might now consider something so hurtful and baffling as myself having a part of Mountain Meadows massacre in me. Way to go PBS … way to fuel the flames that one of your historians admitted were so unjustified.

November 29, 2006

DISHONEST RESPECT vs HONEST DISRESPECT

Filed under: Communications,Mormonism,Religion,Sociology — lullabyman @ 6:53 pm

I was born into a mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints) family. Just so you know where I’m coming from I should probably let you know that I also believe in the doctrine. Much of it I believe is literal (like Christ being the Son of God), much of it I believe is symbolic (like the world being created in 7 days), and I believe in all of it in one way or another. Some would call me “dyed in the wool”.

Mind you, I don’t think I’m any better than anyone else by virtue of my religion. Neither do I think all non-mormons go to hell nor do I think all mormons go to heaven. On the contrary, the LDS (short for “member of the Church of Jesus Christ of (L)atter (D)ay (S)aints”) doctrine teaches that most all people will go to a heaven-like place that is very similar to the heaven that most other Christian churches believe in – but that’s another often misunderstood topic which I didn’t intend on blogging about today.

One can’t be neutral with respect to “respect”. A person is either respectful or disrespectful. There is no middle ground. Actions alone will prove how respectful a person really is.

Today’s blog is a pre-emptive response to all the negative attention the LDS church will be getting as it becomes more and more evident that Capitol Hill needs people with the morals and integrity that mormons like Mitt Romney and Orrin Hatch have.

You might hear innuendos and lies like “Mitt Romney belongs to a cult”, or “Mitt Romney believes in baptizing dead people”, or “Mitt Romney considers his mormon underwear is sacred”, or lies involving partial truths that will make you think “Gee, that doesn’t sound like that mormon I knew”. That’s politics, and I’m just fine with political jabs. The church and it’s people whom I have grown to love has suffered far worse attacks.

What I am not fine with is when these attackers dishonestly claim to be friendly, supporting, or respectful of others when they know that they can be less offesive in their approach. I can discuss almost any topic with anyone in a disarmingly respectful manner without loosing the power of my arguments. If I have to rely on an offensive approach to win an argument then that speaks poorly of my abilities. If I chose to take the offensive approach and then I claim I’m respectful of the person I’m knowingly offending – then I’m just a liar.

Let me give an example … I recently read a blog by Andrew Sullivan, a Time Magazine writer, who is displaying a photograph that most mormons I know would find obscene and the displaying of it as quite offensive, and then he claims to continues to continue doing it without “disrespect”, even after 100’s, possibly 1000’s of LDS people told him how offended they were. That’s without “disrespect”?

One can’t be neutral with respect to “respect.” People are either respectful or disrespectful. There is no middle ground. Actions alone will prove how respectful a person really is. Jesus Christ put it this way: “By thier fruits shall ye know them”. Someone else said “Actions speak louder than words.”

Don’t confuse dishonest respect with honest ignorance. If someone is honestly ignorant that they were offensive then they are offered forgiveness, but forgiveness doesn’t endow them with a wholesale license to perpetuate the offensiveness withouot being considered rude and disrespectful. It is at that point when they add the label “disrespectful toward certain persons” along with “offender of certain persons”.

… which reveals this Time Magazine writer as grossly dishonest, as are all others who knowingly and needlessly offend those to whom they claim they’re respecting. One cannot claim being respectful of a group of people while intentionally doing something that they know is offensive and obscene to them.

I’ve personally known a lot of Anti-Mormons, and there are many kinds: ex-mormons, fundamental christians, someone who had a bad experience with a mormon, the wanabe-mainstream types, the bash-mormons-for-fun hobbyists, and even the I’m-spending-all-my-$-to-publish-evil-tidings variety. Among them there are a few that I respect … and even some that I like, and might gladly spend time with sharing an enlightening discussion with some of them.

Those are the anti-mormons who are honest, but it seems to me that they’re the exception to the rule. It seems there are few anti-mormons that will either admit that thier approach is disrespectful, or few that will show respect by being considerate of the sensitivities that mormons have for things we hold so sacred that we don’t even discuss them outside our temples.

Although the Muslim-Extremist’s response was shameful, the shameful cartoons were extremely disrespectful of all Muslims – a fact that is completely disregarded by most non-Muslims who thought Muslims were being overly sensitive. Respect, however, means respecting another’s sensitivities with no expectation of receiving a rationale for those sensitivites. It means admitting that sensitivities are justifiably unique to the individuals who must have them for good reason.

Although I’ve used anti-mormons as an obvious example because I see this “dishonest respect” hypocrisy so regularly with so many of them, it’s also become so commonplace everywhere that the phrase “not to be disrespectful” has lost it’s meaning. Remember the horrible backlash when those scandinavian cartoonists portrayed Allah with bombs in his hat? It seemed everyone came to the rescue of the cartoonists without considering how disrespectful it was. Although the extremist muslim response was shameful, the cartoons were extremely disrespectful and shameful as well.

I’m not saying let’s not discuss potentially offensive topics. I’m saying lets be respectful in our approach. Society can use some more honest respect. When that isn’t possible, let’s at least see some honest disrespect (where the disrespectful person at least admits their disrespectfulness instead of hiding behind fake”fact-finding” missions), but dishonest respect (where the disrespectful person dishonestly claims to be respectful) is unworthy of anyone’s respect.

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