Whorled View

December 1, 2008

The Dalai Lama: At odds with marriage & family

I read somethings today that the Dalai Lama said that really highlighted what a clueless mindset comes from living like a hermit-king.  I’m not quite sure why the Dalai Lama is regarded as a great sage of wisdom but I wonder if another reason the media worships him (while disparaging the original pacifist, Jesus Christ) is because of his anti-marriage and anti-family message.

The only people I know who honestly think [celibacy] is “better” than marriage because marriage involves sex, are embittered losers who have a purely self-gratifying interpretation of human sexuality.

Similarly, only self-absorbed people who are clueless about human intimacy would think that “[attachment] towards your children, towards your partner,” is “one of the obstacle or hindrance of peace of mind”.

The Dalai Lama said both of these things though … and nonetheless it seems he gets more respect and reverence today than any other religious leader dead or alive.

Now, I’ll admit when you have kids that seem to be doing everything you’ve taught them not to do, including screaming and crying over practically nothing while in your face is anything but peaceful, but “peaceful surroundings” is entirely different than “peace of mind”.

For example, the times I had the least peace of mind were times when I was most detached from commitments and relationships around me like when I was nearly 30, still single, and trying to figure out where I fit in the world.  What’s more, I’ve never felt more peace of mind than when in a committed interdependent relationship with whom I could share everything, despite the fact that I was overwhelmed with far more commitments than I’d ever had.  Peaceful surroundings is not peace of mind.

At first glance, this wouldn’t seem like an issue worth tackling: the fact that the Dalai Lama says marriages and family attachments prevent peace of mind, as I’m happy to leave people to believe anything so long as it leads them to do good (Matt 7:16), but I’m convinced this idea forwarded by the Dalai Lama is one of the most destructive ideas ever.

The mere idea that the family unit is bad, or at least the idea that it has some harmful effects for society, especially with regard to peace is ludicrous and should be loudly repudiated.

What’s even more disturbing to me is that this idea seems to be one of the fastest growing doctrines of men today.  It’s growing quickly and becoming wildly popular to deride the traditional family unit and family oriented policies.

Calling family commitments the enemy to peace of mind and contributing elements to murder and suicide (both assertions of the Dalai Lama) is remarkably clueless.  It’s akin to calling religion the root of all the atrocities of mankind.

You’ve heard that, we all have, that religion is bad because terrorists kill in the name of God, or that the “Holy Wars” were done in the name of Christianity.  The argument is so absurd as to mock reason, and yet seemingly intelligent people make it, completely disregarding the fact that murder and violence is almost unanimously condemned in all mainstream religions, and that hypocrisy is a reflection on the soul of the hypocrite, not the religion which is corrupted in the process, and that people will justify the same atrocities by any vehicle they can find be it a tradition, political philosophy, or just plain old prejudice.

Now we see those same kinds of irrational arguments being promoted by the media to disparage traditional families and traditional marriage, with the Dalai Lama as thier prophet.

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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.

October 30, 2008

Proposition 8 … LGBT forced the hand.

I was nearly 30 when I first married, and it was not for lack of trying or lack of desire.  I had in fact been engaged previously to someone else 7 years earlier but I’m convinced now that the earlier endeavor would have resulted in a difficult marriage.   I had forced the engagement thinking that marriage would make me happy, make her happy, make us happy, and generally make everything peachy-keen.  But I would have been wrong.  Getting married that time would have been a needy response to  a long distance relationship that was generally a bad idea from the start.

Marriage never fixes anything on it’s own.  If you’re not already happy being together even when times are tough and when your differences (everyone has differences) are painfully obvious then getting married isn’t going to help at all.  In fact it may make things worse.

Marriage is, above all, a sacrament, introduced by God and ordained of God, no matter what your religion is, or regardless of who you call God … It is in so many ways the most symbolic representation of our relationship with our Creator.

So fortunately I spent another 7 years finding the right kind of person and to have done it at the right time of my life.  I now see in retrospect that it had to be that way, and I’m grateful that I met Melissa when I did … no earlier, no later.

One other thing had to happen too though … I had to know that God wanted it.  At the time I didn’t know how important that was, and neither was I seeking for “His” approval but in retrospect it was necessary in my case.

Seven years later, the second time I was engaged … this time, the right time … things were completely different.  I felt different.  I was different.  The girl was different.  The relationship was dramatically different.  Instead of a needy dependency for nurturing there was a calm assurance of deep respect and mutual appreciation.

as Americans … we believe in marriage … precisely because it is a religious institution.

In fact, it will probably surprise you that despite getting engaged on our 3rd encounter it was not love at first sight … nor was there great passion right away, neither did we even deeply love each other when we got engaged on our second date.  What’s more, I’d venture to say that both of us had preexisting relationships that were still at the time very heartfelt, but very quickly we learned something that made all that moot which I suspect few people probably learn when they make that choice:

God wanted it.

Thomas Jefferson’s “separation of Church and State” was never intended to mean a separation for God and State. Historically you’ll find that our founders believed our country had everything to do with “Divine Providence”.

Far be it from me to tell you what the spirit feels like.  I think that, like most people, throughout my life I’ve largely been guided by instincts, wisdom, and my heart (love, peace, joy, charity, hope, faith, etc).  Those things are wonderful and essential to a happy fulfilling life but for me feeling the spirit itself is an entirely different experience than all those things, and I can no more describe to you my spiritual experiences than describe the taste of salt to someone who’s never had anything salty.  Only a few times have I deeply felt it, and then only briefly for only a moment or two.  One experience stands out though.  The day after our 2nd encounter … it lasted for nearly 8 hours non-stop.  I remember going home for lunch that day wondering how much longer I could take it as it was so intense and constant.

While the experience was sweet … like honey is sweet (if you could taste the spirit it would be sweet exactly like honey), I was simultaneously overjoyed and a little upset and anxious.  I was upset and anxious because I knew what God was telling me and yet I had no idea whether Melissa was having any kind of the same experience.  What was I to say to her … “I know you don’t know me … and being nearly 30 I probably sound desperate enough to come up with something crazy like this … but God told me we’re supposed to get married.”

That would have gone over like a lead balloon, or so I’d supposed.  I was wrong, and we were engaged on our next date.

Truth be told, I did not say that … but I didn’t have to either.  We were married 3 months later and have been insanely happy with each other with a love that can only grow so quickly and immensely when two people are … well, to get real sappy … meant for each other.

the LGBT community is intent on removing all sacredness and turning it into a social tool to command respect in a way that would trample religious ideals.

Now this sounds like a really long winded way to get around to what this post was intended to discuss: Proposition 8, and why the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transexual) community forced the hand that put that proposition into motion, but everything I mentioned has everything to do with that topic.

Marriage is, above all, a sacrament, introduced by God and ordained of God, no matter what your religion is, or regardless of who you call God.  It is in so many ways the most symbolic representation of our relationship with our Creator.  There are sacraments in marriage, throughout marriage, and throughout each day in one’s marriage, that are all symbolic of our relationship with God.

Admittedly, I don’t think everyone should expect to have the courtship Melissa and I did, nor do I think it makes us or our marriage any “better”, but I do think there’s a synergy that exists when marriage is intertwined with the divine and I’m grateful ours started out that way.  Similarly marriage has demanded a greater reliance on God from me, and it seems obvious to me that my spiritual growth is and will continue to be accelerated through close association with my wife (even if I sometimes fail to take advantage of doing so).

[Government sanctioned traditional marriage] IS proof that we do not have a Godless state

Overwhelmingly we, the Americans, are a God-fearing people.  Unusually so, and surprisingly so since we are just a melting pot, an amalgamation of the refugees from all the other countries.  But with good reason are we so God-fearing.  Our country was largely founded by those who were deeply religious, and even today many of the refugees who come here do so so they can practice their beliefs in a free country.

In short, believing in God is part of our identity as Americans.  We believe in marriage, not because it’s a social institution, but precisely because it is a religious institution.

Similarly, nowhere in the constitution or any of the amending articles, is God excluded, and certainly not with respect to marriage either.  While respecting no particular religion, our leaders have always been God fearing people.

Cry foul if you want, Bill Maher, but those are the historical facts, and they are as true today as they were then.  You don’t like it, then move to Russia or China where the mention of God is still taboo.

Each member of [the LGBT] community needs to be loved and appreciated the same way [as are] straight people

Nowhere is the respect and reverence for God more evident in our federal documents and laws where the right to marry not only exists but is encouraged.  The reverence for God has nothing to do with “Church” lest others complain I’m promoting a theocracy or the favoring of one religion over another.  Thomas Jefferson’s “separation of Church and State” was never intended to mean a separation for God and State.  Historically you’ll find that our founders believed our country had everything to do with “Divine Providence”.  Our constitution was founded upon the idea that our inalienable rights exist only because God gave them to us.

We are only created equal because God is no respecter of persons (not because we can marry whomever we find cute or sexually stimulating).

Now the LGBT community wants to take that sacrament: marriage, and turn it into a self-serving political tool to forward their agenda.  Marriage is NOT a tool.  It IS a sacrament.  It IS proof that we do not have a Godless state like Russia, or China, or the Scandinavian countries who’ve seemed happy to rid themselves of the “outdated” institution of marriage.

[Proposition 8] does NOT mean people in the LGBT are any less equal, nor does it mean we think any less of them

Marriage will never be a purely social or political tool, although it’s often used for social and/or political reasons.  I’ve read many treatments on this topic and they’re all wrong, incorrectly stating that historically it was designed to be a tool to be used for social reasons so we should use it now to include the LGBT community.  It was not created for that purpose.  Rather marriage has historically been a religious institution first, often manipulated for social or political purposes.

That said, I want to be clear in my opinion that people in the LGBT community are no different than straight people with regards to their value to society – you may disagree with me, and that’s okay.  I think gays and lesbians have been poorly treated although it seems that they do tend to play the martyr (even now they’d claim I’m being condescending when I’m really sincere).  Each member of that community needs to be loved and appreciated the same way that straight people are, but unfortunately no amount of love will prevent their community from operating with a selfish mob-mentality insistent on destroying the sacred nature of marriage.

marriage must be government sanctioned, and must be the only sacrament sanctioned by a government

That is why Proposition 8 is necessary.  It does NOT mean people in the LGBT are any less equal, nor does it mean we think any less of them.  It’s only because marriage is the most universally sacred institution throughout all the world … it is the great common sacrament among all civilizations and religions … and the LGBT community is intent on removing all sacredness and turning it into a social tool to command respect and trample religious ideals.  Marriage is intrinsically a sacrament in nearly every sense of the word, and it is and always must be the only sacrament sanctioned by a government that was originally founded on Godly principles entirely by God-fearing men who never wanted our government to become an atheist entity.

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.

June 24, 2008

Apology to those who were offended

I removed my post about my criticism of Carlin from yesterday because I’ve since come to realize many people saw him as family and are in pain or feel a sense of loss with his death. I was wrong to reason that there’s been and will be so many platitudes and pandering this week and next that my little pip-squeak contrarian view was okay to voice at this time.  I was wrong and I’m sorry.

May 29, 2008

Reconnecting with kids after divorce

As a family we’ve been reading “7 Habits of Highly Effective Families“, and lately we’ve been reading about the unique challenges divorced parents have.  No matter who you are or what you’ve done, my heart goes out to you if you are having a difficult time reconnecting with your children.  As mentioned in the book we’re reading that’s perhaps the most difficult challenges you’ve had to face.

In my family I know that’s been the case.  I’m not divorced, but like everyone I have many friends and family members who have been.  We’ve made some real effort as children, all of us have, since my parents divorced a dozen years ago, to get over feelings of resentment and betrayal.  Our parents have made some real efforts to try and reconnect with us kids to mend those ties as well.

Although you may be divorced I must point out that there is a good chance that this entry doesn’t apply to your situation.

With that in mind, let me also say that I know that regardless of the circumstances divorce is devastating and few people deserve the pain of a divorce, and yet almost half of all Americans will experience that pain.  Besides, many of you if not most (at least most feel this way) endured a terrible relationship for the longest time before you were divorced.

Also, many of you, after many years of the divorce are still beating yourself up over it.  Stop doing that.  I’m certainly not doing that with this blog entry.  You need to forgive yourself if you think you need forgiving, and you need to forgive your ex because if you have spite it is just gnawing at your soul and rotting in your gut in a way that just hurts you in the long run.

My main intent is in this entry is to help those of you who are challenged by the idea that even after many years some children still haven’t forgiven you.  Many of you feel that they have no right to be angry because of the divorce.  If you feel this way then you are probably already doing all the wrong things to reconnect with your kids, even though you think you’re doing the right things.  I strongly suggest that you can start the path to reconnecting with your kids if you read the book “7 Habits for Highly Effective Families“.  If you want your kids to “get over it”, then this book will help you help them get on that path.

It will make you feel better, largely because it will help you understand and get you on that path to reconciliation.  It’s also just an amazing book for anyone and everyone – and, no, it isn’t for perfect families … quite the opposite.  It’s written for you, and for me, and for everybody regardless whether they’re married or have kids or not.  Everyone is after-all a family member no matter what, and although each family is vastly different we all deal with the same kinds of issues even if they are at different levels.

If you’ve made some real efforts to reconnect with your children then that’s wonderful and I applaud such efforts, and as a child of divorced parents I hope you continue doing that (but make sure you’re doing the right things).  Especially if it doesn’t seem to be working, find out what might work, and keep working at it.  Sometimes it may feel like it isn’t working, but in truth you’re making deposits into an emotional bank account that was probably far more withdrawn than you may have ever thought, but in time you will find those deposits were worth it if you don’t give up.

As a family today we read something from that book that was profound and especially applicable to this topic: “I’ve come to give a simple four-word answer; ‘Make, and keep promises’ … I’m convinced you would be hard-pressed to come up with a deposit that has more impact in the family than making and keeping promises … the promises we make in the family are the most vital and often the most tender promises of all … Even when promises have been broken in the past, you can still [say]: ‘Will you please give me one more opportunity? Not only will I come through, I will come through in gangbuster style.’ … Dealing with a difficult problem, and a mistake in an honorable way, [makes] a massive deposit in [thier] emotional bank account.”

I know that works with me.  “Make, and keep promises”, is one of the best formulas for success in life, and especially for mending ties that were damaged by broken promises. But you have to both “Make” and “keep” a promise that they’d appreciate.  That may even mean they may want you to promise to leave them alone for a time – now you must promise to honor that wish, and you have to keep it, no matter how much it hurts you.  Don’t promise something they don’t want, and don’t break the promise whatever it is.  Lastly, you also have to expect nothing in return (that’s discussed later in the book) or it will only eat you up inside, in which case it may do the same to them.

Hey, nobody said it would be easy, but these efforts are worth it.

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.

July 3, 2007

Healthy High-Tech Family Living

Filed under: Family,Lifestyles,Miscellaneous,Religion,Sociology — lullabyman @ 8:30 pm

We live in an amazing time with wonderful technologies to greatly improve and enhance our life styles. As always, there’s bad that comes with good, and in a world where we all live in glass houses it’s critical that parents be thoughtful and take necessary precautions to protect their children. For example, we all know there are unsavory characters in chat rooms disguising themselves as other children. There are other dangers in cyberspace too that if unchecked can have disturbing consequences. This blog entry introduces ideas on both 1) protecting your family and 2) how to leverage high-tech tools that are otherwise wasted on unproductive activities in most households.

What The Research Says
Pornography, for example, is usually only a typo and a click away in most households. The research (see here) concludes that pornography elicits the same biochemical response as PCP or any other highly addictive hallucinogenic drug, requiring increasing doses of a more concentrated and vile nature to provide the same biochemical response with consecutive addictive pornographic voyerism. Another example of cyberspace dangers are the myriads of activists (example: Clinton Fein’s “ADULTeration”) who feel compelled to expose as many children as possible whether “four years old or seventeen” to “mature dialog”, and since it isn’t technically pornography their efforts are unrestricted, and in some cases it’s even promoted by educational foundations (examples: “Advocates for Youth”, “Siecus”, etc.) that are paid by your taxes to encourage alternative lifestyles among youth as young as 5 years old. In short, enjoying the benefits of living in an information age while protecting youth from untold unwanted influences is a significant challenge, but one that is easily addressed with just a little upfront effort.

“Very young kids don’t need the internet. Within a few hours of training any 13 year old can be nearly as computer competent as another 13 year old regardless of their background. Beyond 13 years old however it’s critical that kids gain certain computer skills or they will be left behind. Unfortunately even many children who already grow up with computers never gain the computer skills that will most help them”

Solutions
How best to meet this challenge? Do you shut your children out of the digital world entirely? Actually, this is not necessarily a bad approach when kids are less than 13-14 years of age (although you can’t do this when they’re not at home). Computers provide few advantages for young children than can’t be quickly made-up later on. For example, within a few hours any 13 year old can become nearly as computer competent as another regardless of their background. Beyond 13 years old however it’s critical that kids gain certain computer skills or they will be left behind. Unfortunately even many children who already grow up with computers never gain the computer skills that will most help them.

How about giving them an unconnected computer to use any time they want? This has many advantages over internet capable computers, though it’s only one of many viable strategies and can be part of a multi-faceted approach. A properly configured unconnected computer can have all of the scholastic advantages of a connected computer and then some. Student based research is perhaps even made easier by using an unconnected computer if it is loaded with Encarta, or Encyclopedia Britannica on DVD, etc. Teachers would far prefer those references to most web-based references (although you can get wikipedia on DVD). Having them use an unconnected PC whenever they want can help them focus on really learning about the computer, computing, programming, etc… instead of surfing the net and loitering in ineffectual chat rooms. The truth is that “the digital divide” is a political and marketing term unscrupulously used to promote government funding of broadband projects, whereas a cheap (used) properly configured unconnected computer can be far more advantageous for kids than an expensive window to the internet requiring a $25/mo to $50/mo fee.

Allowing a net-capable computer in your kid’s bedroom (or other private area) will almost guarantee access to whatever they want no matter how “good” you think they are. It isn’t about them being “good”, it’s about them being curious, and kids are curious. Don’t kid yourself, kids are kids; I kid you not. A simple typo can peak a curiosity, which often becomes seemingly harmless voyerism, descending to a habit, and from there even worse – again, it’s all in well documented research. Again, don’t kid yourself… it isn’t about being “good”, it’s about the curiosity of a child (which is a good thing) and human nature, which can be an entirely good nature if nutured by conscientious parents.

“… kids are curious. Don’t kid yourself, kids are kids; I kid you not. Would you tell your kid to never play with guns and then put a loaded one under their bed? Would you?”

Here’s the multifaceted approach that we use at our house. Feel free to borrow as much of it for your own high-tech family strategy as you’d like:

  1. Educate. Explain in detail to kids why computers are wonderful, while also potentially dangerous with dangerous people, and why porn victimizes and how it alters judgement, alters character, and is socially repugnant. Even if you protect them from harmful internet influences in your own house you can’t place filters on their friend’s computers libraries, etc. so they need to be personally educated on it’s effects.
  2. Provide a “Safe” Environment. Also, give them a protected environment where they can feel safe in, and where you can feel comfortable that they’re safe. You wouldn’t tell your kid to not play with guns and then put a loaded one under their bed would you? Then get to work, here are some methods – you can use any one or a combination of them:
    Method: KidRocket Glubble Client Based Filtering
    (Blue Coat k9)
    Proxy Server Filtering
    What is it: Dedicated kid-friendly fullscreen locked-down browser that won’t exit (not a plug-in), that we link to in the startup folder of their XP account. So when they click their account it boots straight up to this browser. See kidrocket.org. Free. A plugin for Firefox. Restricts where kids can go. You can define where it can and can’t go. Free. More flexible than Kid Rocket, and allows your kids to go to alot more places. Be sure to remove other browsers. Filter all content on each computer as it comes in from the internet or as it is requested. You can do this for free with Blue Coat k9 which is one of the best out there. It doesn’t noticeably slow down the browsing experience and is easy to administer. WHETHER YOU DO ANY OF THE OTHERS AT LEAST DO THIS! You ought to put this on every computer in the house (unless you are doing proxy server filtering). Filter all content by setting up a proxy server. Every webpage viewed on your network is automatically routed through this server, There’s no way around it. Think of it as Big Brother. You can do it for free with a spare computer and Dansguardian and Squid. There are also retail products for doing this.
    How easy is it: Easy. Download and install on their own account (note, early windows versions won’t allow you to create seperate accounts). Put a shortcut in the startup folder so it boots up when they log in. Delete all other browsers from their account. Then password protect your account. Easy. Install Firefox, then install this plugin on their own account (note, early windows versions won’t allow you to create seperate accounts). Delete all other browsers from their account. Then password protect your account. Very easy. Just download and install. For experienced users who know a bit about servers
    How secure Secure enough for under 10. Not very secure, but better than nothing. Pretty secure. Can be circumvented, but not very easily. Only Proxy Filtering is better. Very secure. Can’t go around this as long as they’re using your network.
    Downsides: Very limited. Content is for kids under 10 only. It doesn’t really lock down the user environment (like kid rocket does). Seems like it might be easily circumvented. Not many Downsides. You have to type a password to go to a non-approved site, but that’s easy, and you choose right then whether to make the site temporary or permanently available. Takes some server knowledge, but nothing that you can’t learn given enough time.
  3. Public Area Internet Access. Keep all Internet capable computers in public places (kitchen, family room, etc), and access should only be allowed when they aren’t alone. This can be facilitated by an account with a password that only parents know, to prevent unsupervised use.
  4. An Unlimited-Use Unconnected PC. Provide an Internet-free computer they can do non Internet stuff on (multimedia and DVD-based encylcopedias, homework, journal, write letters, play games, burn cd’s, create, print, make cards, run CD-ROMS, learning programs, etc). Ideally this computer will physically have the Internet capable hardware removed so they can do anything they want, although a password protected network may be adequate. Note: once you have the computer correctly configured then back it up (and create a system restore point) so you can easily do a complete reinstall (this will be necessary from time to time).
  5. Be Upfront and Follow Up. Explain to kids that you’re using a separate program that records all the websites they visit and that you’ll check it regularly (nearly all internet browsers allow this). If you have a way to really do this periodically ask them about a site or two that they visited – that will really let them know you’re seriously interested. It might bug them – but ask yourself whether are you their peer or parent… you can’t have it both ways. They’ll respect you more as a parent if you act like one, and you’ll discover a more enriching and rewarding experience in the long run when that relationship naturally grows into a justifiable peer-peer status.

If you have any more suggestions please post them here.

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.

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