Monday, March 23, 2009

I read the news today, oh boy.

I thank the Daily Unifarce and its pinheaded minions for giving me fodder for this blog. Thank you for allowing dimwitted students, through the "Readers' Forum" voice their narrow-minded, offensive viewpoints. I swore off reading the Readers' Forum for awhile on behalf of my blood pressure, but the feeling still lurked that even though I wasn't reading about these opinions, there were still plenty of students around me who held them--ignoring these idiots doesn't make them go away.

I read today's Readers Forum during an hour lunch break but was still steaming mad when I got to German. I had stopped going to class because of my medical condition, but I came back today because we were talking about the Holocaust; to stop a horror and atrocity against humanity like that from happening again, we need to know about it, so I went to learn (and because I wondered how it would be different learning about it in a German class). I listened, and then before too long I realized I needed to write the response to these nincompoops I had been brewing in my head. So, while listening to my professor talk about those evil "democratic socialists," I fired this lovely letter off to some modern-day Nazis:
(by the way, here is the opinion page from today; my letter is directed to "Respect Yourself" and "Considerate Clothing." Man, those titles just say it all.)

To the self-righteous, arrogant pigs who had the gall to write letters to the editor:
What authority do you have to lecture your fellow students? How do you even have the nerve to chastise and talk down to them? I am not even one of these horrid sinners who burn copies of the Honor Code for fun and show affection on the grass, but I am still insulted. I am embarrassed that people like you go to this university. How is it your business what couples do in public? If it bothers you, don't look, you idiot. If couples lying (not laying, you uneducated slob) on each other sends you into such an uproarious tizzy, maybe it's you that needs help.
As to your suggestion to not do anything you wouldn't be comfortable doing in front of a parent or general authority–This is an oft-used method to keep people in line. For example, John Bytheway asks youth (well, female youth) how they would feel if the prophet was staying at the same hotel where your prom was and he saw you in your immodest dress?! Well, I don't want to dress modestly out of fear of being caught, judged, and embarrassed. I also think that if I, clad immodestly, did run into the prophet, he would be kind and loving, as you ought to be. He would not make me feel bad or ashamed. There are many things I would want to do in front of a parent or GA, such as enthusiastically play air guitar complete with slashing windmills or pretend to be a duck, but that doesn't make those things wrong. We shouldn't have to live in fear of being caught doing bad things by others like parents, GAs, or back biting morons like you. Thank you, Honor Code police for keeping us all in line.
And to the sexist premie (who with his appropriate Priesthood authority, of course) blamed the young women of Helaman Halls for his unclean thoughts: how dare you. You are just perpetuating unrighteous dominion and the beating down and blaming of women for what is not their fault. If their being "half naked" (what a hyperbole) offends you, don't look at them. If they're wearing a tank top and shorts (the absolute horror!!!!), that's more modest than a bathing suit. Do you flagellate yourself after accidentally glimpsing a girl at a pool or beach? I hope you douse your eyes with acid as you should after seeing such a horrendous sight. Would you prefer us women to wear veils and long sleeves and skirts so as not to tempt you? I mean, women are sinful creatures who are temptresses to otherwise righteous men. It is always our fault that we are your pornography.
No, I'm sorry, I'm being ungrateful. I'm glad you've pointed out whom we can blame if the freshmen men of BYU aren't worthy for missions–those devilish young harlots in their slutty clothes.
Authors, maybe these iniquitous, hard-hearted people in question would actually be willing to respect what you say if you weren't so condescending, holier-than-thou, and didn't speak as if you were calling these people steeped in iniquity to repentance.
Get over yourselves and stop judging others. You are absolute jackasses, and I'm ashamed on behalf of all Latter-day Saints that there are such myopic, misguided, pompous, unspeakably arrogant moron Mormons like you.
On Friday, the issues & ideas editor Samantha Strong (whose piece on R-rated movies I actually liked) described the letters that come in reaction to other letters to the editor:

"Usually, the knee-jerks pop in first–the letters that vehemently applaud or condemn the original message. The authors of these letters have either already thought through the issue and are eager to communicate the conclusions they have carefully arrived at previously, or they are simply reacting. They say the first thing that comes to their minds, often impassioned and often unintelligible. It's usually the latter."

Yes, this characterizes my letter. Yes, it could be viewed as hypocritical since I'm berating these idiots for berating others. But whatever. I'm not sending it in. And even though it is an impassioned reaction, that doesn't mean that it has no value or is not correct.

I really wonder how those students would function at a more liberal university (and I know, there's not many that are more liberal than BYU, let me tell you!). I imagine them curled up in the corner of a dark room, holding up a crucifix to the unwashed heathen who try to communicate with them. I wonder how they survived high school; maybe they're from Utah or were home schooled.

My main issue with these letters' authors is that they feel the need to correct others, feel justified to do so, and their tone suggests that they are a moral compass to these wayward souls, who definitely need to listen to them.

Also, I had just read my sociology textbook's chapter on gender inequality, which made me notice the sexism in "Considerate Clothing" more. We discussed last semester in New Testament class that in New Testament times (plus before and after, as we see it still exists today), if a man and woman committed adultery it was always the woman's fault. Women were temptresses who needed to be contained to protect the virtue of men. My terrific professor, Dr. Holzapfel, pointed out that even nowadays, if a guy messes around and then repents or whatever people let him move on. But if a girl does that, she has soiled her name forever. There are different standards for men and women. This dumb"Considerate Clothing" letter is just another example of those horrible letters to the editor about how the women on campus are disobeying the Honor Code and need to cover up more, because they are disturbing the men. PIGS! Those people make me sick.
Stay posted for more. . . posts mocking Daily Unifarce letters to the editor! It'll be fun!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Parrot-Ox

I have trouble making sense of this paradox found when pairing scriptures such as these:

"And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you" (Mosiah 2:25. Oh, yeah, emphasis added. But whenever are the scriptures italicized??).


"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God" (D&C 18:10).

If the worth of souls is great, but we are less than dust, then dust must be pretty dang valuable. I'm sure this makes sense somehow, but I don't understand it now. I just got through with talking with someone who said that God gives us things that we do not deserve and that we would never be worthy of. I always balk at statements like that: it sounds more like the perspective of a slave to his master than of a child to his father. I imagine a penitent figure bowing before God, who looks like the statue of Zeus from Hercules, saying, "I am not worthy!" Yes, that's how I imagine it. It also reminds me of an exchange from the fabulous movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail:
God:What are you doing now?
King Arthur: Averting our eyes, O Lord.
God: Well don't. It's just like those miserable psalms–they're so depressing.
God also says, "Every time I try to talk to someone, it's 'I'm sorry this' or 'Forgive me that' or 'I'm not worthy. . . .'"

I think there is indeed some truth from this irreverent 70s comedy: God doesn't want us beating ourselves up and prostrating ourselves before Him. Does He give us things we don't deserve? Well, what does deserve mean? If it means, "What we earn, based on justice," then no, we probably don't deserve forgiveness. But that's neglecting mercy and the fact that we are divine children of God. Yes, according to justice, we don't deserve forgiveness; but justice isn't the only thing at play. Perhaps when this point is made, it's just emphasizing that we can't just rely on justice to make sense of punishment and forgiveness.

Part of the reason I have such a negative knee-jerk reaction to statements such as "We don't deserve what God gives us" is that I have been so hard on myself, setting higher standards than God had for me. I've been way too harsh and thought I was making so many mistakes–which is not only normal, but fine, because we can't be perfect. I've been trying so hard to get out of that mind set, thinking I'm not "clean" or "worthy" that I hate it when someone comes along and says something to perpetuate the myth that we are such horrible, base creatures who don't even deserve mercy from our Heavenly Father.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy Happy Joy Joy

One of my biggest complaints with LDS culture (remember-not the Gospel itself, but the culture that twists the truths of the Gospel) is the notion that if we just have enough faith and do everything right (e.g. read scriptures, pray, go to church, pay tithing, fulfill callings, etc.) we should always be happy.  Really, if you're sad, you're doing something wrong.  Obviously.  "Men are that they might have joy" and all that, you know?  Well, "joy" does not mean being perkily, heel-clicking happy all the time.  Joy can be just a calm peace amidst the storms of life; it is the core solidarity in times of change and confusion.  This solidarity comes from knowing the truth of the Gospel.  Unfortunately, many people think having "joy" means always having a great day and smiling.  

I was recently diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and it has been increasingly obvious to me that people are mistaken about why people are sad.  So often, it's said that having the Gospel brings happiness and that only those who know the truth are truly happy.  Yes, that's true.  But happy as in the happiness that comes from knowing the truth (as in the elimination of existential angst); it isn't always the same kind of "happy" you feel when it's your birthday or you eat your favorite food or that cool guy asks you out.

Since I was tired of hiding how I really felt (clinically depressed) and tired of cringing every time people asked, "How are you?" and clearly just expected me to say, "Good, how are you?" and move on with the conversation, I posted a note on facebook explaining what was going on in my life: I was like the sad little Zoloft blob who felt no interest in things anymore, I had insomnia from the racing thoughts I had from anxiety, my medication hadn't kicked in yet and was only making me exhausted, I had physically injured myself to deal with the pain.  Loads of people responded, and most were helpful and good.  I had spelled out in my note that no, I didn't want advice and that the most meaningful thing someone could do is just be there for me and able to listen.

Some of the responses were not so pleasing, and they were from adults in my home ward.  One of their messages included the phrase, "We all have our ups and downs."  The other was from a previous youth leader who is one of those people who is always perky and grateful for EVERYTHING.  The gist of her message was to read my scriptures and pray more and I would feel better, God is so close to me and wants me to succeed, and read two talks from the past General Conference: "The Infinite Power of Hope" and "Come What May and Love It."  "Come What May and Love It"?  Really?  Yes, I just love cutting myself with a knife!  Yippee!  This message also said that hope was on the way!  OK, so the basic message is that I am sad because I am separated from God; to close the gap, I need to read scriptures and pray more.  I am not separated from God at all!  At.  All.  This is a mental illness, not a manifestation of my iniquity and how I've turned my back on God!

Most of the time, I feel unmotivated and blah.  Sometimes I have bursts of enthusiasm for something.  I noticed on facebook that my friends mostly update their statuses when they have something good to share, and I felt myself doing that.  I felt myself trying to find the good and put on that happy face for the world when I felt miserable.  So I just updated my status to say that I was unhappy, but that that was OK.  Well, one of the perky little pixies in my ward commented by saying, "Oh no!  I hope you feel better!  And then that will be even more OK!"  OK, sweetie, I think you're missing the point.  There is no "more OK."  How I feel is OK.  There is nothing wrong with how I feel, OK?  I don't need to be fixed.

People have skipped over "mourning with those that mourn" and "comforting those that stand in need of comfort."  They're just on automatic fix-it mode.  Lessons about trials always emphasize that we can get over them!  Yay!  But what beauty there is in having someone say, "I know your life sucks right now.  I'm sorry.  I'm here for you."  Gosh, that is so much better than having someone tell you exactly how to fix your problem (which really is being "separated from God.")  Let's please acknowledge that having trials doesn't mean you're doing something wrong.

Rivaling the usefulness of telling a depressed person to read scriptures and pray more is the idea that the trials are going to help you be SO MUCH STRONGER and that God KNOWS THAT YOU CAN HANDLE IT and TRUSTS YOU or else He wouldn't have "sent" this trial.  I was just browsing pieces of flair on facebook under the subject "depression" and found a pin that says, "God gives us tests because He knows we are strong enough to pass them."  1. That doesn't make me feel better.  2. Some sucky things are just life; God doesn't spend time picking and choosing what to afflict us with.  He is our father.  Yes, parents help you through trials and give you counsel.  But do they purposely afflict you with trials?  No.  Does the mom of a middle schooler call up a classmate and ask her to be especially catty to her daughter so that her daughter can learn valuable lessons from having a bully at school?  NO!  It doesn't help me to hear how much stronger I'm going to be at the end of this, because who knows when that's going to be?  And what about now?  What do I do about this now?  I found another flair pin that said, "If pain is weakness leaving the body, I must have superhuman strength."  Amen to that, brotha!  

I am sad, and that's OK.  Get off my case.
Peace out.


Yo.  I am a devoted disciple of Jesus Christ and a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true, but certain tendencies in Mormon culture bother me.  I don't like myths that get passed on without documentation, or that so many members feel so guilt-ridden (especially the women), or that so many think it's their duty to correct and judge others.  I'm quite discontent with this at the moment and want to write about it.  

I started another blog in September for my New Testament class; it was was an effort to sharing the message of my church online.  However, even though I'm all for writing positive things about Mormonism on the internet, I felt that my posts, though sincere, were too impersonal.  I want to share more personal experiences, especially my thoughts about things in LDS culture that conflict with the true Gospel.  Yes, I said above that I don't like people who feel they need to correct others.  Well, here's my disclaimer: this is my opinion; take it as you will.