Monday, March 29, 2010

45 And Counting

I turned 45 on Saturday. For me it was a somewhat emotional day. Not because I had come to the sudden realization that half my life was over and I had accomplished nothing; Not because I was in the middle of a mid life crisis; not because my children broke my laptop computer.

The reality is that I really don't care for birthdays and especially my own. Every March 27th a "Kevin New Year" begins and the old one closes. Sometimes I stop to think about what I have accomplished in my life and it always seems to me that there is little to reflect upon.

This year was different. The run up to the day was as anyone would expect. Uneventful with probing questions from my wife as to what I wanted for my special day. They day before the first facebook notification came in wishing me a happy birthday. From that post and well in to the 28th there was a steady stream of birthday wishes.

Okay, I am aware that Facebook kind or makes it easy for folks to send birthday wishes and just because I get a few postings I shouldn't be deluded into thinking I am "popular". I wasn't. What did catch my attention was the occasional acknowledgement from the folks who I had some how influenced either from my blog, my careers, the theatre company I helped co-found, or the folks who are just my good friends and of course my lovely wife and my children.

I hope at 45 I am just at the beginning of leaving a small mark on the history of this planet. In the short term... it is good to have friends and so many of them. Thank you all for wishing me a happy birthday.... and it was.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Remodled the Blog--Rearranged the Furniture

I moved things around and found a template more to my liking. For those of you on blogger they have a new tool. Blogger Template Designer is a draft or beta product but it is easy to use. Feel free to let me know what you think or what you might change. I'll feel free to accept or reject your ideas (it is my blog after all).

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Discussion Topic--Are we born with God

I have found recently, from all the noise on Facebook about the recent passage of the Health Care bill there has very little investigation of the issue beyond the bumper sticker rhetoric. I am looking to have a discussion. One where the topic is explored thoroughly with opposing view points in a respectful fashion. I thought I might start that discussion here with this topic:

Are We Born with God?

I have been confronted recently on both Facebook and here in this blog with peoples assertion of faith and the idea that I am a fool because I have none. As many know I started as a Christian (Mormon). I didn't have any real sense of what that meant until I was 8 or 9 and I was done with it at 16.

Here is what I think about the question for starters:

Religion is largely geographic. Where you live is will influence the religion you belong to.

"God" varies depending on location and historical period. The Judeo-Christian God was only known in a small region of the world until after the fall of Rome. Mono-thesism was not globally accepted until the beginning of the last milennium.

"God" in concept has to be taught.

This is meant to be a discussion not an argument/fight. You can give your opinion but be prepared to back it up with evidence/support for you opinion.

I am really interested in ideas and am hoping that most will participate.

Facebook friends follow the link to the original post and post comments on the blog.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Tribal Vs Family Values

There is not a term that grates on me more than "Family Values" Not because I have anything against the family unit nor do I fail to value the family unit (I do come from one and have created one) but because it is a code word for hate, bigotry, narrow-mindedness, and self righteousness.

Indeed "family values" represents the doctrine of conservatism, and in this country the doctrine of Christian conservatism. It comes about under the sheep's clothing of providing public policy that supports and protects the family unit. It is against pornography, nudity, immodesty, vulgarity, evolution, global warming, and a myriad of other conservatives causes.

The "Family Values" caucus is responsible for absurd practices like covering legally distributed magazines in the local grocery stores because someone might become aroused by cleavage. Frankly, I think this brings more attention to the periodical and increases the likelihood that little Johnny with become titillated by the airbrushed bombshell on the cover. I find it concerning that we allow any group determine what is potentially offensive to others and the exert their brand of control on that stimulus. I personally think that if you cover the Sports Illustrated Swim Suit Edition or the Women's Fitness magazines because it sexualizes women; we should also cover Modern Bride...after all you know what they are about to do?

In addition to censorship they are also the ones who have lobbied against advertisements of The Gardasil Vaccine, open discussion in public school health classes of the use of condoms as a way to prevent disease and pregnancy to our teens even with our permission. They are first to push capitalism even as it leads to the demise of the family unit through increased work hours and reduced benefits for the parents charged with providing for the family and ultimately a meager retirement for the elderly. They are also the first to push out family members who have been born gay and are foolish enough to acknowledge it and to warn us against social justice.

On its face the "Family Values" unit appears to represent the "Values of Christ" but under the banter of family values celebrities Like Rush, Glen Beck, Dr. Laura, and Sean Hannity, the values of Jesus look more like this....

Unfortunately the family is not really well served by rigid doctrine. It allows no room for mistake, growth or progress. While engaged in pulpit pounding demanding that Americans engage in personal responsibility they fail to acknowledge that everyone is dealt a hand that is somewhat random and not everything is in your control. When those who are poor, liberal, or non-Christian make mistakes, or are dealt with an overwhelming hand, the family values caucus is the first to eviscerate the sinner. However when a man like Rush admits he is addicted to drugs, or like Kevin Garn admits he had an illegal sexual encounter...they are first to circle the wagons. They cannot even give the opposing side credit when they say something that makes sense. Ultimately this is not family values it is Tribal values and is not meant to benefit humanity but to defend the ways of tribe no matter how dysfunctional...

This video was brought to my attention by Leah Elliot of The Whore of All the Earth. It discuss how we are wired as humans in our decisions about what is moral:

I think it is interesting How Jonathon Haidt identifies the the characteristics that form the conservative and liberal moral identities. The two of the five assigned to liberals is Harm(protection) and Fairness. The two assigned to conservatives is Respect for Authority and In group Loyalty. The conservatives "family values", it would seem are about the tribe and keeping control. The liberal values are about valuing humanity and I think are a better fit for my family.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Social Justice 1937

Man. Is there no one in town aware of social justice or industrial inequality?
Mr. Webb. Oh yes everybody is--somethin' terrible. Seems like they spend most of their time talking about who's rich and who's poor.
Man. (forcefully) Then why don't they do something about it?
Mr. Webb. (Tolerantly) Well, I dunno. I guess where all huntin' like everybody else for a way the diligent and sensible can rise to the top and the lazy and quarrelsome sink to the bottom. But it ain't easy to find. Meantime, we do all we can to take care of those who can't take care of themsleves and those who can we leave alone. Are there any other questions?

-Thorton Wilder Our Town

Simple Wisdom from a simpler time! Any Questions Mr. Beck?

Friday, March 5, 2010

I'll admit to being Anti-Mormon if you admit to being Anti-Reason

a prefix meaning “against,” “opposite of,” “antiparticle of,” used in the formation of compound words (anticline); used freely in combination with elements of any origin (antibody; antifreeze; antiknock; antilepton).

The problem with using a definition as a broad brush to paint any group or person is that it leads to "binary thinking". More importantly it allows us to dismiss a segment of the population because we don't agree with them, or in the case of this article in today's Mormon Times, because what they say may not be faith promoting.

I agree with the writer on the following:

First of all, we shouldn't call people who simply don't believe in Mormonism "anti-Mormons." We should call them Catholics or Baptists or Muslims or atheists. People who ascribe themselves to faiths or philosophies that contradict Mormonism should not automatically be seen as antagonists. They should be credited with having their own beliefs.

Now, what about people who try to convert Latter-day Saints to their belief systems? Are they anti-Mormons?


The believing Baptist who testifies of his church's doctrine to a Latter-day Saint is trying to do something he believes is constructive. Even if he attempts to point out supposed flaws in Mormon doctrine, if his genuine intent is to save a soul and he maintains a polite, rational tone, I don't think he deserves the anti-Mormon label. After all, should Mormon missionaries be considered anti-Catholics or anti-Protestants?

In the blog-o-sphere "tone" becomes subjective to reader and there is broad license to interpret that tone. My biggest concern with this writing is the permission to exclude from the conversation based upon perception without encouraging the reader to consider evidence, offer evidence of their own or to ask for clarification of meaning and intent.

The line, I believe, that separates non-Mormons from anti-Mormons is motivation. Anti-Mormons are people who put down Mormon beliefs, practices and people simply for the sake of destroying their faith. Not many anti-Mormons would admit that is their primary goal, of course, but that doesn't mean it isn't so.

I really think this is a trap. How is this interpreted? If you actively question doctrine and call people on what appears to be bigotry is that anti? When you confront the assertions that atheists are doing the work of Satan as offered by General Authorities is that Anti? When you question church history and the origins of doctrine is that Anti? Is it likely that the above examples will be interpreted as putting down Mormon beliefs for the sake of destroying their faith? Is a journey in reason and critical thinking likely to destroy faith.

For the most part, anti-Mormons should be ignored. But before that can happen, they have to be identified.

In my short tenure as a blogger I have come across as many "militant Mormons". I don't engage in combat blogging which means if I have made an assertion I have a source to back it up if you have a counter point of view I expect the same discipline. However my topics are pointed and not necessarily faith promoting. But I don't think that means I should be ignored (of course I don't that's why I am a blogger). I am of the opinion that the danger in the author's statements is a promotion of the tribalism that has proven to divide cultures in the past and which contiues to be a problem in Utah.

81 Words-The history of the removal of homosexuality from the DSM

81 Words

I found this post very interesting. It is worth the time to listen.