Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Update




I have been away for awhile.  My friend Jeff pointed out that I have not posted since early November.  My brother Shaun told me he is waiting for my next post.  Well, I finished working on Pioneer Theatre's the Tempest; caught my homework up; worked Pioneer Theatre's Annie; finished two monster projects; got through finals week; and started designs for Le Belles-Soeurs.  I finished a 17 hour semester with a 3.94.

I am working on a post that discusses religion and how it is detrimental to education.  I have some nuggets from the LDS General Authorities about how public education is dangerous to belief.  I have not completely realized the concept in my head and so it will be a day or so before I post.  If you have any quotes, from any religious source, that disparage secular education feel free to point me in that direction.

In have been active on Facebook however.  I engaged in debates as to the origin of masturbatory prohibitions in LDS Doctrine (there aren't any). I debated whether the LDS instruction manual discourages vasectomy or does it really prohibit it?  More important does put the weight of the decision on untrained clergy[(Bishops) it does].  I was defended for calling a woman out on the war on Christmas crap that comes from Fox News.  I added 7 Facebook Friends and lost 5... so I am up 2.  I guess you can find the drama I engaged in on my Facebook page.



Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Plea to My LDS and Religious Friends... Put Your Children Before Your Faith!




I am going to broach a sensitive topic here.

I read a thread on LDS.net that has really troubled me.  I am going to paste the young woman's original post here.  This young lady's plea breaks my heart. Her suffering is obvious and needless. I am so disturbed by this girl suffering it has me on the edge of tears. The tragedy here is her religion will likely destroy her when in reality she has done nothing that is abnormal and to call it sinful shows the depraved nature of piety.

I have a rather sensitive topic that I would like advice on. I have been looking on this site, and other people have posted similar topics. If this is not appropriate then I will remove.

I am a girl, and I have a problem with Masturbation. I have been working with my Bishop, for almost 7 months and have not made a lot of progress. He is starting to get frustrated with me.

I've had an issue for around 4 years. I have read a lot of materials that are pornographic in nature(have not looked at visual much) and that is the reason, as well as a coping method.

This is the only sin in this manner that I have committed, I have not done anything with anyone. I am not very good at self-control and that is part of it as well.

I'm home schooled and do not have siblings living at home. I live in a fairly isolated area, and besides Seminary, I don't really have a lot of interaction with people besides my parents.

My parents have major issues in their marriage, there is not a lot of respect on either party's part, and they fight a lot of the time, really ripping into each other. It's not a very healthy environment for me and I get pushed and need to escape.

My bishop is fairly new, only being in the office for 9 months or so. He is also my families home teacher. I reported to him on a daily basis for 5 months, and have now gone to a weekly basis, with an extra report if I mess up. I meet with him around every 2-3 weeks for 15 minutes generally.

Before I started working with him, I had a problem about every day, every other day. The longest I went in the 3 1/2 years was a week without doing it. I read a lot of bad books during that time period.

Now, I can go 1-3 weeks. The longest I was able to go was 4 1/2 weeks, at which point I had an issue. I was making some progress until about the end of August, and then I started messing up more, but not back to where I was. I started listening to music that was a bit suggestive as well as reading things that were as well. I started backsliding big time.

I've now cut out the suggestive material 99%. I've been pretty clean on it for 2 weeks, but there were issues during that time anyway. When I am sick, or having my period, I would use this to distract, or in the case of cramps, it did actually help. I have times of the month when I'm a lot more likely to do it, so it depends.

When I started working with him, I made a lot more of an effort and then, well, I'm not. I'm not sure quite how to get back to the point of actually wanting to stop. My problem is that I also need some other type of outlet I can do to distract myself as a replacement.

I suffer from depression, worse some times and not quite as bad others. I've been suicidal and I still consider it sometimes.

At this point I am not taking the sacrament. My dad is like "Ok, it's time, you need to be done" but what I don't think he realizes is that for me it is an addiction and it's very hard to stop or want to stop. My goal is to go to college next year, so I am limited time wise.

With my bishop as far as he is concerned. He is a really decent man, and I have a lot of respect for him. Overall he has been very patient and understanding but it's been 7 months and no difference, or not much. He wants me to see a counselor and has brought it up in email 4 times as well as 1 time in a meeting.

I've told him no and he finally stopped talking about it after I asked him to. Is it needed for me to meet with him more often? This sunday will be the 3rd week and as far as I know I'm not meeting with him. He was out of town, so that's part of it.

How much should I expect from him, and what can I do so I can make progress? I have been reading a lot of church books, fasting once a week, and also sitting in the Temple Foyer for several hours while my Dad does work. I am making an effort but it's just not good enough it seems.

The problem here is she needs professional help.  She needs it from an unbiased counselor who will treat her as an individual not a member of the faith.  To be fair help has been suggested by her bishop; but, she needs counseling for depression not masturbation.  The girl is in an impossible situation.  She has no voice of reason in her circle of influence.  Her parents' marriage is not healthy.  The child his home schooled and segregated from her peers.  She is caught in vicious and needless cycle guilt, repentance, denial and self loathing.  This cycle could be broken by on adult in her sphere telling her, 'What you are doing is normal and is nobody's business but yours.'

I know your faith is important to you; but, there is a problem when the faith is deemed more important than the child.  My plea is: if you are doing this to your child... please stop.  There is plenty of evidence indicating masturbation is a normal part of development.  It is healthy and serves a purpose.  This uninspired policy stance will destroy this young lady.  It has already destroyed many children before her.  To ask children to deny their humanity in this manner is equal to making using the toilet a sin.  It is a normal body function that hurts no one

In this case religious leaders who interject them selves into the personal intimate lives of the youth are wrong.  There are countless examples of the leaders of faith being wrong.  Change in your church comes from you. That is why the LDS Church changed the policy on blacks holding the priesthood.  It was politically motivated and was causing a rift in the membership.   Demand they revise their stance on this matter.  Demand they stay our of the sexual development of your children.  Ignore advice that comes from leaders who have a degree in law or business and not child development.  Most importantly let your children know that you love them and there is nothing wrong with developing normal sexual awareness.  Nurture your child not the misguided policies on sexuality.  Put your child before your faith.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Existentialism V Infinite Gas Tank

A philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will


I just filled my tank and I am completely bothered by the anticipation my tank is about to be empty.  It doesn't matter that I just filled it.  I take no delight in knowing I can go another 300 miles instead I am haunted by the fact the tank will soon be empty again.  This obsession leads to changing the display so I don't have to watch the count down.   I do however think about what that tank of gas will do, how far it will get me, and if I drive on the freeway vs. the city streets will the tank take me further.

Metaphorically, that gas tank represents my life.  I have a limited time to experience life.  The rules I abide by are rules I have learned through experience work for me.  They are not rules that will benefit you nor will the same experiences or result in the same conclusion.  There is no universally applied law when it comes to the individual choices we make.  Sure you can drive on the freeway and get better mileage, but if the freeway feels unnerving it may not be worth the sacrifice.

The fuel was provided after the tank was created.  It did not exist in essence before there was a vessel to carry it.  The quality and length of the fuel is determined by the choices I make and when the tank is empty I stop.  While this is not a perfect metaphor I think you can get the picture.

This is why I think religion is damaging and in many cases criminal in the way it expends our energy and asks to delay life as if were were idling.  We have potential for experience and to take roads less traveled to find ourselves and to do it on our terms.  There is a richness in this discovery that will lead to a genuine knowledge of who we are.  We are being asked to delay those experiences or the deny ourselves those experiences for a journey that in all likelihood does not exist.  In fact, in most cases it is so improbable that only elaborate rationalization and delusional thinking, prescribed by religious leaders, can convince us that we should delay our own personal grown in favor of adhering to their experiences. Our reward? ... an eternal tank of gas?  Preposterous!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Media Messages, Cultural Misogyny, and the Lie of Modesty





This video was making the rounds on my Facebook page this morning.  Here is the longer version ( http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=2349117563337 ) I agree in part with the trailer's premise; I also think they are missing the mark here.  I have long said that our girls need strong role models and the writer and I agree here.  However I don't think the media is responsible for the objectification of our girls and women.  I think the media represents or reflects our societal image of the role of women but they didn't create the image.  Are they guilty of perpetuating the stereo type... sure but culturally we accept it.  


In the early 1970's the series All in the Family aired an episode which portrayed our prejudices regarding male homosexuality.  If we were to produce that same episode today it would not only be a flop but an outrage because our society has morphed.  The fact that less than 30% of high power media positions are held by women has more to do with the persistent messages we give to our daughters in our homes than what we show on TV and in magazines.  In fact I would postulate, as a whole, the objectification of women is born and nurtured in the misogyny of the conservative movement.  


There is this morsel from the 2011 LDS Church's general relief society meeting:
I know that each of us has a vital and essential role as a daughter of God. He has bestowed upon His daughters divine attributes for the purpose of forwarding His work. God has entrusted women with the sacred work of bearing and rearing children. No other work is more important. It is a holy calling. 
Our daughters have reached their potential when they have babies?  There is no a call for them to be scientists, lawyers, or even doctors.  In addition we give them more and more pressure to be modest; to cover their bodies; and to avoid being a "licked cupcake".  It is that same line of thought that denigrates the female form to an object.  We don't value the women for their potential we value them for the conditions of their bodies.  




The above image was circulating on Facebook as well.  If further illustrates the distorted view we have about what modesty and chastity means.  I fully believe they are artificial markers by which we measure American women.  

I think we need to acknowledge a couple of things.  First, humans are sexual beings. Second, we will always find a way to sexualize each other. Third, when you cover breasts, put the curves of women under  loose fitting clothing we will find a way to sexualize non sexual parts.



We will find ways to eroticize shoulders, ears, eyes, or hair length.  The strong sexual drive we have is what propagates our species.  It is natural.  

What is unnatural is to assign rigid gender roles based upon contrived religious or social dogma.  I am going to confess.... of all the women appearing in the above trailer, the one that I find most attractive is Rachael Maddow.  Not because she is super sexy, not because she is a lesbian and I think lesbian sex is hot; but, because she is smart, articulate, educated, and accomplished.  Sure, I find the images of the scantily clad women that are paraded on the trailer, out of context,  titillating.  Why would I not?  I am a sexual being.  However, I cannot say that I am attracted to any of the women.  Our contemporary culture is replete with icons like Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears who appear to be attractive until you hear them speak.  

Unfortunately, we perpetuate the myth that the media operates independent of our culture.  We assume the media tells us what is normal.  If we want to change the context in which our daughter's are developing their identities we need to do it from the very core.  Abandon the idea that their lot is to be mothers.  Motherhood is a choice; in as much, as going to medical school is.  Stop placing artificial emphasis on modesty of dress.  In cultures where women wear nothing but a loin cloth their body ceases to be an object of sexualization.  We need to form our ideas of success in accomplishment not in puritanical ideals based upon a bronze age text.  Our daughters are not the condition of their bodies but the condition of their minds.  If that is what the whole film says... I agree... if not, it is another Bowling for Columbine.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Noise!


Is it me?  I have noticed that almost everybody on Facebook is talking but no one is listening.  Few people even take time to acknowledge that anyone else has something to say.  Everybody is talking over each other! I noticed this phenomenon over the last couple of weeks and it has been frustrating.  I follow a few bloggers and really prefer to read their posts on my Google reader.  The comments, in their comment sections, in many cases, result in real conversations (in print anyway).

I realize that Facebook is not the place to maintain real relationships.  It is however a way to meet and reconnect.  In some cases the interactions on either Facebook or in the Blogosphere can result in real human interactions.  For example, this summer I went to dinner with Kiley from We Were Going to be Queens.  I am good friends with Andrew from Hackman's Musings.  One I knew before I was Facebook and blogging friends the other I recently met.  When both a Facebook and real life relationship exists the interaction and empathy is richer.  That does't mean that all Facebook interactions are superficial.  I have several Facebook friends I have good interactions with whom I have never met.

I guess with my current school load I am feeling a bit disconnected from the daily interactions I had grown accustomed to with my peers.  I am feeling a little more isolated and my hourly Facebook fix is not filling the void  (like duh?).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sexual Development In a Fishbowl - The Mormon Problem with Sex


Over the last month, three articles regarding modesty or sex addiction have come to my attention.  One was the Children's Friend article on modesty. The second was brought to my attention by my friend Thad and was linked in PostMormon.org.  The article appeared on KSL.com and describes a mother's reasons for banning Barbie dolls from her home.  The third article was this gem written by a marriage and family therapist from St. George.

It is well known that I consume and digest many things in the Mormon Culture of Utah.  It is also well known that I am an open critic of the LDS Church's policies on sex and sexuality and the harm I perceive they do.  This post is no exception.

First I will address briefly the Children's friend article.  The mother has a four year old who is worried about modesty.... and the mother furthers the neurosis by giving her an undershirt to cover the bare shoulders under her sun dress.  The mother then celebrates her four year-old's modesty.  First of all there is no such thing as four year-old modesty.  This is a self concept that has been imposed on the child and is not natural and circumvents the natural development of the child.  As many posters have written already on this topic... shoulders and four year-olds are not sexy.  However, when we engage in a practice of covering every inch of flesh; the net result is, we sexualize those portions of the body which normally wouldn't be sexy.

The next article was written by a mother who had taken the bold step of banning Barbie from her home. Not because of the unrealistic body image that Barbie represents for her daughters but because of the thoughts a naked pink silhouette would give to her sons.

Then one day my oldest son (a big second-grader at the time) came up to me with a half-naked Barbie doll in his hands and said to me sternly, "Mom, I don't think this is an appropriate toy." He had just had a fatherly talk with my husband about what is "appropriate" and what is "a poison worse than the black plague of death itself and should be avoided at all costs, lest it rot your mind like an unstoppable rebel force."

So first of all why would you be giving your 7/8 year old boy a talk about pornography?  Why would you start him on the path of self flagellant guilt.  Making him aware of his sexuality and giving shame to his natural development is not the sign of healthy family... it is the sign of a family who engages in cultish behavior.

I know for families of girls, Barbies are a lifeline, an institution even. But that is not my family. My daughters are surrounded by brothers. Hot-blooded, American boys who should not be put into tough, compromising spots every time they're rooting around the playroom on a quest to find that one LEGO piece to complete their set.
Again, it is the neurosis developed inside of the family that puts boys in the compromising position.  Is it appropriate to make the female form responsible for the boys behavior?  I believe we are sending the message that our daughters are objects and men are unable to control themselves.

And then there was this comment left on the now closed comment board:

Mickelle W.
posted 1 day ago
i personally hate seeing a naked barbie or ken doll laying on the floor of my house. but don't feel like it is fair to allow my son to have his boy toys if i am not going to allow my little girl to have hers. so when the dolls are purchased they become mine long enough to color on a leotard, or boxers depending on the sex of the doll. now who cares if my 7 year old son and all his macho boy friends take off the doll clothes in a front to get sisters goat. barbie remains modest, and mom remains un-bugged that their is a naked toy lying on the floor.
This brand of craziness does not breed children with healthy sexual identities.   Is not the Barbie the appropriate metaphor for the Mormon view of women?  She looks good without any capacity of enjoying sex.  That is where this programming leads and culture is replete with examples.

The final article and the one that really spawned this post was the one written by Geoff Steurer.  He discusses the talk he had with his father-in-law, 15 years ago, when he asked for his wife's hand in marriage.  He said, now the internet is more prevalent, he believes father-in-laws should be asking their potential son-in-laws about potentially sexually addictive behavior.

I have no doubt that if I were to go through that same interview today, her father would more than likely include one more line of questioning. I imagine it would sound something like this:
“Pornography is such a common struggle for so many young men these days. Naturally, I worry that this is something you have struggled with as a teenager or young adult. Will you please describe your experience with pornography and how you’ve handled it?”
Geoff, is a therapist.  They don't mind telling you that in the article.  However what they don't tell you is that pornography addiction and sexual addiction are not recognized by the APA.  He also does not tell you that masturbation is a normal sexual behavior.  Use of pornography for that purpose is considered normal.  Sexual addiction and pornography use at all, in LDS communities, is immediately assigned to addiction status even if the use is occasional and does not interfere with daily functioning.
If there isn’t a father in the home, then I still think it’s a good idea for the mother to have this conversation with the boyfriend. As awkward as it may seem to bring up this topic, I believe it’s even more awkward to deal with the potential aftermath if this issue surfaces later in marriage. 
Please note that if you are personally struggling with an unresolved pornography problem, it will make it difficult, if not impossible, to counsel a future son-in-law about your concerns. You will feel like a phony and will either avoid the conversation all together, or minimize the seriousness of it as a way to protect yourself from the reality of your own struggles. If you have struggled with pornography and haven’t fully repented and recovered from the impact on your life, make sure that you’re actively working the same recovery process you would expect from this young man.

Does anyone see this as a boundary issue?


Discussion Points:
  • Tell me about your experience with pornography over your lifetime.
  • Is there a history of pornography use in your immediate or extended family?
  • How do you define pornography?
  • How have you healed from the impact of pornography on your life?
  • Who helped you overcome your problems with pornography?
  • How do you currently protect yourself from pornography?
  • Have you ever wanted to stop viewing pornography, but couldn’t?
I know what I would have and would still tell my father-in-law if this came up... 'it is none of your business!'

Under his bullet point red flags the author says to worry if:
He insists that he’s never even seen pornography and appears “too perfect” in his responses. Recognize that even though he may not have seen hardcore pornography, we live in a culture saturated with pornographic images. If he acts like he doesn’t notice or isn’t affected by those, you need to be concerned. Every man should acknowledge the occasional pull from images that are designed to draw our attention and entice us.

The author is turning windmills into dragons.  He has to convince you that your normal sexual feelings and compulsions are abnormal.  So if you are looking at the Victoria Secret Catalogue  or the underwear section of the JcPenny Catalogue you are on the "slippery slope."  The problem with the author's stance here; is it is out of sync with contemporary thought on the issues of sexual development.  The migration to pornography may be more normal than the dogmatic abstinence of everything sexual.

It occurred to me, as I read the last article, growing up Mormon, especially in Utah, that you develop sexually in a fishbowl.  From the beginning, we have over protective and ill informed mothers inserting themselves into our sexuality.  If it is not the constant and unhealthy messages of modesty, it is interest in what we do in our private exploration.  We have Bishops, Stake Presidents and now future father-in-laws, asking us about our sexual habits as if they had a personal investment in it.  Mormons like to create distance between the practices of the FLDS and find the recent revelations that Jeffs engaged in sex in the temple with his brides in front of the witnesses disturbing.  Are they really that far removed from engaging in that type of voyeurism when they insert themselves into every aspect of, not only their children's, but every member's sexual practices?  Not just every member but also members of the unaffiliated community.

I have seen appropriately dressed females chastised for wearing clothing, that covers all of the appropriate regions, because they might be provocative or the are wearing fishnets and shorts.  I have had mother's assert that they would not allow their son's to engage in a stage kiss; because, they wanted their son's first kiss to be with the woman he was going to marry.  I have heard lectures of modesty given to unaffiliated girls who were also prepubescent and I have seen third parties put into a position of monitoring adult behavior to prevent any potential for adultery.

The Mormon obsession with sex is not healthy.  I have seen it cripple marriages and more importantly the healthy development of sexual attitudes and identities in children.  Instead of the fishbowl mentality it is time members tell everyone outside of their marriage "it is none of your business".  It is also time that we allow our children to develop sexually and to explore their bodies in a safe and nurturing environment that acknowledges that sex and sexual development are deeply personal and you are allowed to get aroused and deal with that arousal in a healthy, private, and pro-social way.  It is time we tell those loud and uniformed voices that what they are doing with their children is abusive and needs to stop.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Religious Debate... Where is your evidence?

A few days ago I linked this article from Not Very Useful Truths blog.  The author posted based upon a post placed by Kiley at We Were Going to be Queens.  This post resulted in, at last count, a 93 entry Facebook debate on my wall.  It was a debate that was brought to me not one I sought out.

I enjoy, for the most part, Facebook debates about religion and especially Mormonism.  This debate was no exception.  However when engaging in an "intellectual" debate one would assume that presentation of evidence that was objective, peer reviewed and or based upon accepted scientific principles would be enough to receive an acknowledgement that the facts in the argument simply do not support the belief structure.  Not when debating religion in general and especially, in this case, Mormonism.

The debate started of simply enough with an assertion that the doctrine was misunderstood.  When probed for proof the proof offered simply did not support the argument.  I certainly do not think of the LDS church, as a whole, is a force for good.  I don't think their stands on homosexuality, sexuality in general, and specifically as it pertains to the development of sexual identity in our children is a force for good.  I asserted in the argument that a church ran lawyers and MBAs cannot possibly run a church that is anything other than a corporation who looks out after its corporate interest first.

When the debate turned to the origin of the church and the lack of historical evidence that any of the claims are true; the debate turned interesting.  One of the participants in the debate, a medical practitioner, denied the validity of universally applied DNA testing methods.  He also denied that science has the ability to track the migration of populations based upon DNA.  Even though the Human Genome Project has provided enough information that we can track the migratory patterns of humans and determine through genetics where your tribe migrated from.  This is useful in the argument against the idea members of the so called Nation of Israel migrated to the Americas in 600 bce.  It also disproves the assertion the Garden of Eden was in Missouri.  What we know and now accept as fact is the human species originated in Africa.  Not the Americas.  The research has been published and peer reviewed.  The National Geographic Society published the finding and produced the documentary The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey.  When presented with the evidence this was the reaction:

Yeah right! And who's to say they're right or wrong? Their colleagues. I love so-called science that no one can prove or disprove. "This rock is 30 Billion years old". Who can refute it? I say it's 300 Billion years old! Wait, are we talking the age of it's creation, or the big bang formation of matter, in that case the rock is 600 trillion years old! Woah mama! These guys can throw around numbers with the best of them.
Wow, they disproved the garden of Eden was in Missouri? That's amazing! Oh the wisdom of men. They're so sure about things until another discovery comes along and disproved the whole notion.

I am not a fan of everything under the umbrella of "science". I am more a fan of applied science. You know, science that can actually be tested. The migration patterns of humans makes for good academic fodder, but there no way of testing thest theories.
(he hasn't seen the documentary but is willing to dismiss it outright)

 The fact that years of science education and critical analysis training cannot break down the two decades of prior religious indoctrination is concerning.  I think this graphic illustrates the discussion well.

I struggle to understand why, given the evidence, people of science trained in critical thought can find themselves sitting in pews of any religious order and especially orders that have assertions that are so easy to disprove such as Scientology and Mormonism.  They invest 10s of thousands of dollars in tithes, offerings, and service hours to these organizations who sit at the fringe of intellectual thought.

So here is my challenge.  If you come to my blog or Facebook page with assertions your religion is true.  Prove it!  Not with articles from the Ensign, FAIR, FARMS, The Catholic League, The Watchtower etc., but with peer reviewed scientific studies that have been published in secular scientific journals.  Your doctrinal claims mean nothing without objective evidence to back it up.  I have yet to see one ounce of credible evidence that any of the claims of Mormonism are based in fact.  No migration.  No great civilizations. No golden plates. However there is a great deal of evidence that disproves the migration, Eden in Missouri, the authenticity of the Book of Abraham.  When added to the historically factual accounts of the miserable characters of both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young it makes it a hard pill to swallow.  So if you feel the need to defend your faith from people like me... first bring your evidence.

But before you do you might want to brush up on you logical fallacies:

.
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Monday, July 25, 2011

... and I Like to Jog Naked


I have struggled with how to approach this topic or if I should even discuss it.  We held my Mother's funeral on July 20th.  It was kind of non-traditional for Utah.  There was a small private viewing held for her close friends and family who could not be with her when she died.  Her children, including myself, did not attend the viewing because we said our goodbyes at her bedside as she struggled with the disease and and eventually died.  We did not need that part of closure.  We held the service at graveside.

I look at funerals somewhat differently than my religious friends and family do.  I don't believe that my loved ones are on the other side waiting for me.  There is simply no evidence this is the case.  So, the funeral is my last opportunity to publicly memorialize my loved ones memory.

My mother had 4 children.  3 are atheists.  My youngest sister is a practicing Mormon.  There had been quite a bit of discussion between my siblings and I, with my mother's input ,as to how we would proceed after her death.  Her wishes were met as were ours.  No one's voice was drowned out and the discussion was civil and all sides were represented.  The plan was: My mother would be buried in a pink dress with her mother's ring.  She made it clear she did not want to be cremated.  She did not care if the coffin was expensive.  She did not want the service in a church.  She did not believe the Mormons had the corner on god and found them to be pushy and judgmental and she did not want her children to be lectured.  If the weather was warm she wanted to service to be graveside.  If the weather was cold she wanted us to have it indoors so those who came to pay respects would not be cold.  She did not want a viewing if we did not want to hold one.  We would not pray at the graveside and there would be no official religious representation.

When we met with the funeral director we outlined what we wanted to have happen and he was extremely helpful in assisting us in meeting those requests.  His compassion and sensitivity were a noted quality and we enjoyed, as much as you can, his assistance and would recommend his company without hesitation.  During our conversations it was clear that there would not be a religious rite of any kind for this funeral.  My   mother's sister asked if they could hold a family prayer at the viewing as they closed the casket.  It was made clear that we did not have a problem with the prayer (we wouldn't be there after all) if it made them feel better but there would be none graveside.

The service was successful.  I conducted.  There was a musical number sung by my daughter Jessica and my sister-in-law Jennifer.  My Aunt Nene read a beautiful poem she wrote for my mother.  I made opening remarks followed by an open mic and concluded with closing remarks offered by me again.  I operated in the capacity that my siblings had requested and expected me to.  By all accounts, the service was beautiful simple and was exactly the type of service my mother wanted.


My Mother's Siblings and their families at her funeral 07/20/2011
So curmudgeon what is the issue?

We had three guests at our little secular funeral who found it necessary to use the open mic as an opportunity to bear their testimonies.  They could not stand the fact we were fine without the mention of the Mormon church or Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation, or even god.   Additionally, the hearse driver pulled me aside.  He told me that he had heard that there might be an anti-religion sentiment to our service.  He told me that he was happy to see that no one was forced out of their beliefs.  He thought it would have been wrong to not allow people to speak.  My mother's siblings attended the funeral in their Wrangler's.  They were dressed informally.  I was dressed in a black suit, white shirt, and red and black tie.  The hearse driver mistook me for the out voted religious minority at the service.  He made a broad assumption that I was a "member of the church" and about shit when he realized he was talking to one of the "angry militant atheists".  I was gracious and let him and the other's say their peace.  I didn't attempt to stop them.  I was non confrontational.

During this process many people have expressed their condolences and a few have had to add that they know my mother is in a better place, is watching down on me, is with her relatives, or is comforting someone else who is recently deceased.  As people would offer their religious views including the afterlife while offering their condolences I found myself turning them off or going somewhere else in my head until they were done while graciously accepting their kindness.  I don't understand why there is an imperative for them to share those things with people who do not want them.  I don't share my atheism unless it is solicited.

My point of this writing is to illustrate how unwanted religious expression is really a two way street.  Imagine, if you will, if I were attending a Mormon funeral and told the guests at the funeral that this is it.  Your loved one is going to rot in the ground and you will never seen them again.  While this is what I believe I have never shared it during a persons most painful or emotional times.  What if I made a point of telling them that they can pray their lives away but there is no one there to hear them.  Would any of those conversations give comfort to a hurting human?  No!  Neither do expressions of faith to an atheist.  My father-in-law put this in perspective to one of my wife's siblings.  He told them, 'you need to understand for Kevin this is it.  There is no more and he will never see his mother again.'  That was an appropriate acknowledgement of what I believed.  He did not offer faith promoting insights to me instead he cried with us and gave us incredible emotional support.

I have said it before, unsolicited expressions of faith are icky.  Faith, like your bedroom habits, should be shared when solicited and with like minded people.... otherwise keep them to yourself.

I think the next time someone offers an unsolicited and otherwise inappropriate expression of faith to me my response is going to be... " ...and I like to jog naked."  Well, as long as were sharing inappropriate information....


Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Mother's Obituary

This will appear in the Salt Lake Tribune on July, 19.  The funeral is July 20, 2011





Brenda Lynn (Young) Dudley 
07/18/1945-07/15/2011 

Our mother, Brenda Lynn (Young) Dudley, died on 07/15/2011 from a long struggle with Emphysema (COPD) and Post-Polio syndrome. She was surrounded by family. Brenda was born July, 18, 1945 to Kenneth James Young and Melva (Kinser) Young in Newport, Rhode Island. She grew up in Utah and spent her happiest years with her Grandpa and Grandma Kinser in Springville, UT. She contracted polio between the ages of 5 or 6. While the illness left her with residual physical impairments it did not affect her spirit or capacity for love. She met and married Parley Elton Dudley in 1964. This union produced four children. They were divorced in 1994. She also parented several foster children and almost everybody she met. Our mother was a champion of her children who was satisfied living vicariously through her children. She put her children first and was always first to hold their hands when they were sick and to parade their accomplishments for the world to see. She loved each of her 12 grandchildren and wanted them to have the world. She is preceded in death by her parents and triplet brothers Ken, Kent and Brent. She is survived by her four children Kevin (Lisa) Dudley, Shelly (Anis) Aoude, Kimberley (Kyle) Walker and Shaun (Jennifer) Dudley. The family would like to extend special thanks to Jeff Abbott, her nurse, and to Lisa Dudley, her daughter-in-law, who both provided extra care and tenderness to our mother and the family in her final days. She will be interred at the Herriman City Cemetery (12465 S. 6000 W. Herriman, UT) after a graveside service on July 20, 2011 at 11:00. Flowers should be sent to Premier Mortuary Services 7043 Commerce Park Drive, SLC UT 84047

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Her Fight is Over

Brenda Lynn (Young) Dudley
July 18, 1945-July 15, 2011
Taken 07/14/2011

My mother died last night from a long illness that included emphysema (COPD) and Post Polio Syndrome.  She had been on hospice for 4 months and had made the decision that reality of death was preferable to continued hospitalization.  This was was not a decision that we were initially very excited about.  However she lived alone, was in pain everyday and fought for every breath.  This was her decision, as difficult as it was to face,  we respected it.

My Mother contracted polio when she was a little girl.  She was initially left without the ability to walk.  While she regained her ability to walk, she was left with one leg that grew shorter than the other.  This and her post polio syndrome contributed to her degenerative disk disorder and the resulting pain.  She became ill during the United States' polio epidemic of the late 40's and early 50's.  Her illness occurred before the vaccine was available.  She was always a vaccine supporter because she experienced, first hand, the devastating results of a now preventable illness.

With her declining health and increasingly frail condition came increased demands on my siblings and me.  I am personally grateful for the opportunity to serve her for those months.  I spent time with her that was invaluable.  Sometimes my other responsibilities kept me away for a couple of days and It was so nice to visit her and hear her say, "I have missed you so much!"  When I would arrive in the evenings to help her settle in for the night; I would ask her if she had taken her evening medication.  She would frequently tell me, "No, I waited to take them because they make me so tired.  I wanted to be able to visit with you."  On Monday, I was sitting with her, reading on my iPhone not saying a word.  She was drifting in and out of sleep and I asked her if she wanted me to give her her pills and let her sleep.  She said, "I'm not sleeping I am listening to you read."  When I would finally put her breathing mask on her she would tell me, "Looks like the party is over."

Her time on hospice was a trial for us all.  I walked in to find her unconscious and on the floor.  I found her passed out while sitting in the bathroom.  She was found a couple of times in the last few weeks without her O2 on.  These times were equally as painful as her death.  I have cried for what I was loosing and for what I already had lost.  Those tears have been shed over several months.  I learned that there is an indescribable beauty in putting someone other than yourself first.  I found comfort in giving comfort, cooking, listening and loving her for who she was.  I experienced some of the sweetest moments of my life by being patient and just sitting by her bedside.  She engaged her last months with humor and wit.

I know that my mother was proud of me and loved me.  She told the entire world and never forgot to tell me.  She would fight to attend the plays I did and my recent graduation form SLCC even though it meant she was in excruciating pain.   She loved my children and always spoke highly of them.  She also loved my beautiful wife Lisa and frequently told me she thought she was the sweetest woman.

Her fight is now over.  It went quickly.  I had a brief conversation with her yesterday morning over the phone.  The same afternoon she was struggling to breathe and by 7:40 pm it was over.  I miss her already.

Monday, July 11, 2011

If it is not true... It is not useful!


There is a common theme in both the Mormon and Post-Mormon communities and it is couched in the "truth."  What I have come to learn in both is that the real definition of truth carries a different values.  I asked the following question on Facebook a couple of weeks ago:
"Have you ever honestly asked yourself what if it's not true?"
It was a simple, albeit leading, question and yes it was designed to 'poke the bear'.  In the social media era of Facebook those of us who have faithful friends of the LDS Church are frequently graced with testimonies of faith and the assertion that they "know the Church and the Gospel is true." These messages invade the inbox of my email as well as appear on the on the news feed of my Facebook page.  So with out specifically calling out posters I asked the question.  I really just wanted to know what is their basis for belief.

As a young teen I realized there were logical problems with the doctrine of the LDS church.  The recent advent of the Internet and the ease in sharing information in the great information age gives the average seeker access to Mormon history.  The push back, in the advent of easier access to information,  by the 15 leaders of the church has been to obfuscate the definition of truth.  Even prior to the internet the value of a full education was discredited as Boyd K. Packer told a group of Church Educators(edited to correct mischaracterization):
“There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not.
Some things that are true are not very useful.
That historian or scholar who delights in pointing out the weaknesses and frailties of present or past leaders destroys faith. A destroyer of faith — particularly one within the Church, and more particularly one who is employed specifically to build faith — places himself in great spiritual jeopardy. He is serving the wrong master, and unless he repents, he will not be among the faithful in the eternities."
So unless the teacher repents for telling the truth he will not obtain his highest degree of glory.  In fact telling the truth is not about the real history or facts it is about undying adoration of those who founded and lead.  There has been much progress made in the realm DNA research which has fully disproved Joseph Smith's claim that the Lamanites were descendants of Jewish or Israelites migrants.  The lack of archaeological evidence that any of the great civilizations existed and battles ever occurred where Joseph Smith or the subsequent prophets of the church claim further diminished the claims of the restoration.  But the real history of the world, and physics, and our understanding of how the natural world works not only diminishes the claims of Mormonism but of Christianity as well.  In fact the scholars have enough information to deconstruct the entire Bible and the Koran.  An understanding that not only challenges the divine origin of the LDS triple combination but relegates it to the lowly status of fictional literature and in the case of the Book of Mormon; poorly written fictional literature.


So back to my original Facebook post...  I was asked:
Have you ever asked yourself what if it IS true?
To which I responded:
I, at one point, thought it was. However, there is overwhelming evidence that says it is not... and none.... none that points to it being true. So yes I asked and the answer was provided in the facts.
And the inquirer replied:
Most people can skew facts and data to prove what they want them to prove, so I will go with those fuzzy things called intuition and experiences that only prove something to the person who experiences them.
That reply is the result that Boyd K. Packer et. al. was hoping for.  By making truth seem ethereal many faithful members can engage in inane justification of the lack of evidence and more importantly the overwhelming damning evidence that proves the church's claims are not true.  

It is in this debate that I struggle with the gist of the Mormon Stories conference recently held in Salt Lake.  The idea that you can be at odds or just not believe in the teachings of the church but still want to participate in the weekly religious services and to attend the temple.  If the plan of salvation and the plagiarized three degrees of glory are not based upon verifiable principles then why would you subject yourself to the droning sermons of sacrament meeting.  If the church was founded upon a false book why would you go through temple rituals that have no real world meaning?  They lead to nothing!  There is a reality that much of the church's doctrine is harmful to the self esteem and self worth of its members.  So I question why you would pay tithes to continue temple admission?  I know many members who pay thousands and some tens of thousands to tithing and offerings each year.  If it costs you that much wouldn't you want to know the truth?  Once you know the truth why would you continue to participate?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sophia!..... You're Blowing It!

I was sitting on my front porch last night watching a group of kids play in the park across the street and watching the quiet evening bustle of my neighborhood.  The children had been in the park for well over an hour.  It was about 8:30. The children were playing of the playground equipment and getting into the kind of mischief that children do in a park.  The oldest was about eight and there were a couple of others that were as young as 4.  A dark haired stout mother in her early 30's rounded the corner saw her children in the park and yelled, "Sophia!  What did I tell you.  Where are your brother and sister.  You are blowing it.  I cannot believe how badly you are blowing it!  You are about to be baptized!  You know better and you are blowing it!

So from what I can gather by this exchange is that the mother had no idea where her children ages 8-ish 6-ish and 4-ish were.  She had lost track of them for over an hour.  I know because that's how long I had been on my porch drinking a beer and sketching the homes across the street with the temple in the background and listening to the children's banter.  What struck me odd about the entire exchange was was the fact that the mother blamed the eight year-old because the mother had no idea where the children were.  The eight year old was expected to be accountable for her siblings well being.  However the idea that baptism was being used as a hammer I not only found odd but abusive.

I distinctly remember being eight and discussion around what it meant to be baptized.    I understood that without the membership in the church and having my sins washed away it meant that I could not get into the top level of heaven.  If Sophia understands the same thing what her mother did to herself esteem is unforgivable.  I personally don't think an 8 year old has the cognition to comprehend what that commitment means nor do they have the ability to discern truth from fantasy.  Sophia still likely believes in the magic of Santa Claus and is no more able to determine if Santa is true than she has the ability to determine if Joseph Smith was a prophet or if any of the tenets of the LDS church have even the remotest possibility  of being true.

Sophia is not old enough to be responsible for her siblings nor is she old enough to sort through the baggage given to her by her mother and determine the difference between upsetting her mother and myth that that behavior will lead her to hell.  Her mother does know and used this tool as a weapon to gain compliance.  It was shameful and one of the worse things I have seen exhibited by a parent.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Self Reflection: an Evaluation of why I choose to blog

While I have read my favorite blogs for the last 6 weeks, I have been absent and I haven't written anything new.  I am acutely aware that there are those who are upset by what I write and disagreement turns to easily offense in the social media arena. My blog has a disclaimer and an acknowledgement that what I write is for me and not for everyone.  I do write with that in mind, but I also write with the blog followers in mind.

I started blogging to process my frustration with living in Utah and being surrounded by the LDS religion and not really having an in-group or community to identify with.  Blogging allowed me to say things that I could not say "in polite company" or to voice an opinion and request feedback that was not encouraged in the circles in which I ran.

So, for nearly three years I have written about topics that interest me including religion, alternative medicine, politics, and my family.  I have pushed some buttons and lost some superficial Facebook friends over my writings.  I have asked myself if it is worth stirring up controversy.  I have many friends who are religious or into alternative medicine, or conservative politically who I would hate to intentionally offend.  At the same time, my thoughts on the topics listed are part of my personality.  They are what make up who I am.  Is expressing them really any different that posting my testimony or linking an article to alternative medicine or endorsing the latest Mormon Presidential candidate.  I have come to the conclusion that they are not.

During the last 6 weeks two notable events occurred related to my blogging.  The first was a Facebook message from someone whom I was remotely aware related to some of the things I post. They stated they appreciated what I write and what I post.  It gave them a sense of community in a community that they felt like they were pushed to the fringe and my postings let them know that they were okay.

The second was meeting and working with a young adult person who found me and the theatre company I help run through a posting I had made on a bulletin board.   I broadened my community and the young person theirs in an environment that was safe for idea exchange.  It was a meeting and an experience that might not have occurred if I wasn't active in social media.

I don't suggest that I, by myself, serve an incredibly important purpose in the world and that my little blog is a reflection of that important work.  As a blogger, I do however participate in a community that is bigger than my South Jordan neighborhood.  Blogging has given me more rewards than pain and as a result I will continue to blog about religion (because I think it is harmful to humans)... Alternative Medicine (because I think it is harmful to Humans) and any other topic that I find interesting... because the things that swim in my head are part of my humanity.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hard to Believe She's 21

Jessica as Helena
May, 10 1990, we were blessed... cursed?.... no blessed! with a baby girl.  She came about 6 o'clock in the morning and was one of Lisa's quickest deliveries.  We named her Jessica Anne because her dad loved that name for a girl.  We gave her that name despite my mother's objections.  Apparently my mother had worked with a disabled girl named Jessica who had less than desirable habits.  I knew the name Jessica from Shakespeare and loved assertive, smart and competent character in the Merchant of Venice.  Anne is Lisa's middle name.  It is also a family name and a salute to her grandmother Valerie Anne Green.  She is the only child that has been named after a family member.

Jessica's High School Graduation
Jessica's personality was evident from her earliest years.  She was strong willed; earning the nick name Kate.... another Shakespeare reference.  She was compassionate and very moral.  At three, we traveled to Boston for my sister's wedding.  We flew in June after her birthday.  We hadn't purchased a ticket for her because she could ride on our laps at the time.  However the airline had a policy that two year olds could ride on laps not three year olds.  We tried to convince Jessica that her birthday was in August in the event she was asked.  She was not willing to play at all, "No Daddy!  No Saugust... I'm May!"  When she was in second grade when she came home from school.  I asked her how her day was.  She immediately started crying.  I asked her what was wrong and she said, "I think I cheated.  I was taking a test today and I looked up and saw the answer on my friends paper."

Jessica as Kelsey in HSM
I have enjoyed being Jessica's dad because she let's me be a dad.  I enjoyed coaching her competition soccer teams.  I have enjoyed participating in theatre with her and directing her in a Midsummer Nights's Dream (not a coincidence it was a Shakespeare show).  Jessica is not only a beautiful girl in her appearance but a beauty in the deepest recesses of her being.  She has grown into the woman that I always hoped she would be.  She is now headed to college with a focus on attending Northwestern University in Chicago in a couple of years.

Happy birthday Jessica.

Your dad is proud of you and loves you!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Grace & College Graduation


Yesterday, May 5th, 2011, I had the pleasure of graduating from Salt Lake Community College with an Associate of Science degree.  It took me 14 years, but I did it.  However, as sweet as it was, there were two highlights to that experience that touched me.

The first: my mother was able to attend.  She is in the advanced stages of emphysema which has wrecked her body.  My wife, my sister, and I worked all week to make sure she would be in a condition good enough to attend.  My mother was determined, no matter how much pain she was in or how short of breath she was, to attend.  For my mother the three hours it took from the time she left her house until she saw me walk was excruciating but it wouldn't prevent her from seeing her son graduate.  Even as an adult, it is so nice to bask in the pride of an approving parent.


I do know that I could not have accomplished what did had I not had someone like my mother who believed in me or like my beautiful wife Lisa who not only believed in me but gave me all the support a spouse could possibly muster.   I had a cheering section in the audience in my sister Shelly, my father-in-law William Green, and my 5 children.  If felt so good to model what I had been preaching for the last 24 years.   



The second was probably the most surprising when you consider my former career.  I had a 10:00 am biology class.  The first day of class this short wiry 30 something man sat next to me.  He had a longer beard, smelled of cigarette smoke, and opened his thermos to pour his coffee.  My law enforcement instincts told me that he was 'from the other side of the tracks'.  It came up in conversation that I was a retired parole officer.  He immediately said, "Oh.  Do you know Scott Richards?"  I told him I did and that I had just left a job where Scott and I were on the same unit.  He then said, "He was my probation officer 12 years ago. If you talk to him tell him Jordan says hi."  I knew it!

If that is where the conversation ended the story would be relatively uninteresting but typical for law enforcement/felon interaction.  Jordan and I continued to talk through semester.  He decided he would walk for graduation.  At first, he didn't think it would be a big deal.  It is after all just an associates degree.  I had a similar opinion.  He though it would be beneficial for his kids to see what he had accomplished.  I could see his point.

Jordan's study habits were excellent.  He got one of the two 100% tests during the semester.  I had the other one.  He was a peer note taker and took notes for the guy I mentioned in my article What We Do Not Teach.  He also volunteered at the Decker Lake Facility for juveniles as a mentor.  During the semester I started to really like Jordan.  I liked his focus and his humility.  He gave back to the community and had a drive for excellence.  When he picked up his cap and gown they gave him his honor cords for his 3.8+ GPA.

I looked for Jordan while we were lining up for graduation.  He also looked for me.  He was the only person  I knew out of the 1,000 or so graduates.  We stood in line and discussed what was next.  I was off to the University of Utah for the summer semester.  Jordan would start at the U in the fall.  My major: fine arts.  Jordan's major: forensic anthropology.  We celebrated our mutual "A's" in biology.  I was impressed by Jordan.  I was proud of what he accomplished and was humbled to graduate with him as his peer.  Jordan represented, I think, the concept of grace.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

You Know Were You Can Put Your Passive-aggressive Flag!!!

I am sure it is well known to the readers of the blog how I think of fundamentalist thinking.  Today is no exception.  The strangest thing happened today.  We live in an upscale neighborhood by the Oquirrh Mountain Temple in Daybreak, South Jordan, UT.  We moved into this home about 8 months ago.  The house has a flag pole.  It had a flag on it with tattered edges.  We replaced that flag with our own.  The flag has not weathered the winter sun well.  It became tattered and faded and bound itself around the flag pole.

I was sitting in my office proofing a paper that my lovely wife had written.  I saw a shadow flash across the blinds of the window that faces the porch.  There was a thump like a package had been delivered at the front door but no knock at the door and no door bell.  I have been waiting for a text book that was supposed to be delivered today and I assumed that was it.  I did not immediately get up and go to the door instead I continued to proof the paper.  Several minutes later I got up and went to the door.  There was a package on the door step.  I was a distinctive red white and blue box.  I opened it and found our tattered flag inside with an advertisement to have the flag repaired and the care and proper handling instructions for the American flag.    There was a new flag on the pole.

Oh how nice right?  Wrong!  Passive-aggressive self-righteous behavior is never nice.  I am aware that some people wear their patriotism on their sleeve and know in their heart that this is the greatest country in the world!  I know to them our tattered flag is an insult to their patriotism.  Such an insult that they were spurred into action to replace our flag and to rub our noses in their patriotism.  This chicken shit act of anonymously replacing our flag, coming on to our property, and self-righteously depositing our tattered flag on the porch with "protocol" instructions doesn't make you a patriot it makes you an ugly-American.  

Ugly American is an epithet used to refer to perceptions of loud, arrogant, demeaning, thoughtless and ethnocentric behavior of American citizens mainly abroad, but also at home.
As we have walked in our front door over the last 6 weeks or so, we have been aware that the flag needed to come down.  We have had a couple of conversations about that.  However, with the demands of our family, my school load, and the extra care my ill mother has taken..... the condition of that flag has ranked last on my priorities.

You might be tempted to say that nice neighbor did you a favor. They didn't!  My wife has been humiliated by the thoughtless act.  She has told me that our next move will take us out of Daybreak and out of South Jordan.  She stated unequivocally that she hates living here.  She cried for the better part of an hour.  She already felt like a misfit because was we don't assimilate into the local culture.  This was the straw.

The American flag is not a sacred symbol to me and I refuse to bestow a piece of cloth with any amount of adoration.  I am not a chest thumping patriot.  I don't think that America is beyond reproach.  I think there are several other countries I could live in and thrive in.  I am as much as a citizen of the world and humanity as I am an American.  I won't ever say if you live in America you had better learn goddamn English.  I don't give members of the military extra respect because they served the "country".  I served the country for 25 years domestically as a police officer.  I have been shot at, physically assaulted and willing put myself in harms way to protect the very thing that was taken from my wife today.... the right to live peacefully the way she chooses.

I don't know who was responsible because they didn't have the personal integrity to knock on my door.  The net result of their action is that my wife feels more isolated than ever.  I personally resent their fundamental patriotism and would have no problem telling them that to their face!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

If You are an Anti-vaxer You Are at the Root of this Outbreak

I attend Salt Lake Community College where we received this email:

IMPORTANT
SLCC Measles Exposure Notice

On April 11th, 2011 you were potentially exposed to a person who was infectious with measles. This exposure occurred at the Nicholas Kristof presentation, held at the Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) South City Campus.

In an effort to help reduce the possibility of spreading the measles to others, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) is requesting that you as a recipient of this email contact the Utah Department of Health at 801-538-6191 if you begin experience signs and symptoms of measles.

Signs of symptoms of measles include: (People generally become ill from measles 7-18 days after exposure to the virus)
Fever of 101 degrees or higher
Cough
Runny nose
Red, watery eyes
Rash (The rash usually occurs about 14 days after exposure and begins at the hairline and spreads to cover the face, trunk and arms.)
Sensitivity to light (symptom for some people)

Additional important information regarding measles:
If you develop symptoms of measles, please contact your healthcare provider immediately. Call ahead before visiting your healthcare provider or any medical facility so precautions can be taken to avoid potential exposure to other patients.
Measles is very contagious, 90% of people exposed to measles who have not been vaccinated against measles will get measles.
Measles is spread by close contact with an infected person. Just being in the same room as an infected person can be enough for a person to get infected with measles, even after the infected person has left the room.  The measles virus can live on surfaces for up to 2 hours.
If you have never received a MMR vaccine or only one dose of the MMR vaccine it is strongly recommended a first or second dose of MMR vaccine immediately.
If there are people in your home who are not completely immunized, it is strongly recommended that they receive their first or second dose of MMR immediately.
If you have had prior measles illness you are protected and need not do anything.
Additional information on measles can be found at www.cdc.gov/measles


Utah Department of Health
Office of Epidemiology
PO Box 142104
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-2104
801.538.6191
801.538.9923 (fax)

To report a disease or outbreak
1-888-EPI-UTAH

This outbreak coincides with an outbreak on the eastside of Salt Lake County in the Granite School District. According to a study outlined in the Journal of American Academy of Pediatrics parents who are most likely to skip vaccines are mothers who are educated, white, with above average incomes. The Oprah generation who get their medical advise from Dr. Oz, Deepak Choprah, and Dr. Phil. The same parents who bought off on the Wakefield study and who continue to practice this dangerous abstinence.

Because of the MMR vaccine learning and physical disabilities such as congenital and acquired deafness have a much lower incidence. If you are a teen or young mother who was not immunized and you get rubella there is a 60% likelihood your child will be deaf. If your infant gets the measles there in a likelihood they will suffer from hearing loss. There is NO chance they will get autism. None. ZERO.

Fundamental thinking is bad for humans with or without a god!  If you deny your child vaccines against childhood diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, polio and pertussis you should not only not be allowed to keep your children but you should be voted off the island as well. You have no business endangering your children or the herd. In exercising your right to abstain you impair their right to life and happiness.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What We Do Not Teach

I have not posted in over a month.  I know that is no way to keep a readership nor is it keeping the goals that I set at the beginning of the the year.  I know that you are wondering 'what happened to curmudgeon?'  Okay I know that I am not really weighing on your minds but I like to have my own fantasies.

In January I made a radical change in my life.  I ended my 25 year career with the State of Utah.  I retired 5 years prior.  I was double dipping in a job that really met none of my needs much less contributed to happiness.  After my friends Matt's suicide and some other financial trials I reevaluated my priorities and decided it was time to make a radical change and to live out my remaining 30+ years pursuing life instead of money.  I reentered Salt Lake Community College taking 17 credit hours to complete my Associates Degree in General Studies.  I will graduate in May.  I will return to the University of Utah mid May to work on my bachelors degree in Theatre Performing Arts Design.  Once completed I will follow that up with masters in education.  I can complete half of the M.Ed. while an undergrad.

So the title of this post is "The Things We Do Not Teach."  At the community college I have taken two courses this semester that have been wrapped into the conservative fabric of this state.  The first is Human Biology.  In Human Biology we discussed, as we should, evolution.  I was a bit disturbed by the fact that when it came to discussing Macro Evolution the instructor stated we would be skirting the topic so that those who believed in a higher power would not have that belief challenged.  There is one person in the class who noted the text book is not as sensitive and directly discusses macro evolution.  This is a guy who has made jokes about democrats being parasites in the class when we discussed the immune response system.  He also accepts state offered and paid for assistance in the form of a note taker as provided by IDEA.  A Democrat supplied program. I found it frustrating that we are in a class full of adults and we have to skirt the topic of evolution because, although there is plenty of evidence supporting evolution, it might offend someone's fantasy about a god created earth.  In fact there is more evidence for evolution than there is for a god.  We are adults.  Provide the evidence and the data in an objective matter and let us make the conclusions from that.  If you want to entertain the idea of a god at a collegiate level take philosophy .

The second topic that bothered me was in my Human Sexuality Course.  When we talked about sexual satisfaction and guilt we were told we could not discuss religion in that context.  Now I agree that we should not bash religion in the context because there is some evidence religion contributes to delay of risky sexual habits in teens.  There is also the evidence that practices like teen sex and masturbation are normal natural processes in sexual development and the religious programing can be harmful in the healthy development of adult sexual experiences.  Religion in this case became the 1,000 pound gorilla in the room.  Again, we are adults.  We can handle the truth in an evidence and socially responsible conversation regarding the entire spectrum of the topic of sex and human sexuality.

I have to say as a whole these courses have been exceptional.  I have enjoyed the instructors and their approaches to the topics.  I just think in a higher education institution the truth should be discussed as supported by evidence in classes that demand it.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Piety Creates a Marketplace of Ignorance




 The covered Cosmopolitan (left) is a common sight here in conservative Utah.  This was was photographed with my iPhone at our South Jordan Harmon's grocery store.  I really enjoy our Harmon's grocery (as much as you can a grocery store)  They have friendly employees and the store is clean.... for the most part.  They have a good selection of produce and meat in general.  I struggle to understand why a market that is open 7 days a week and only closes on Christmas is willing to pander to religious fundamentalism and to cave to the "morally" outraged prudes who push this type censorship and control.  The reality is that the magazine covers on Cosmopolitan and Fitness magazines as well as the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition do not show anything that you will not see if you go the pool, dancing at a night club or on the patrons shopping inside your Harmon's.  Yet we have the 'Coalition for Decency' determining at what lengths we have to go to see the bylines of those covers because they might be surrounding some cleavage.

So we cover this magazine because we are afraid someones's husband may think that Lea Michelle is the standard by which we judge what is sexy or because her cleavage might be titillating to little Johnny increasing the likelihood that he may explore his sexuality while he is alone.

Of Course there is the argument what is being shown is not real and it gives our daughters and women in the community a standard that is unattainable.  While I agree that may be the case are we doing anyone a service?  However we don't think much about breast augmentation which is as common in Utah as it is anywhere else in the country.  When you cover it up you also close off the opportunity for any type of healthy discussion. Discussions like 'your realize that the cover has in all likelihood been airbrushed and she doesn't look like that in real life?' 'Do your think that is a shirt or dress you could wear and feel comfortable in?' 'Do you think the views about sexuality that are discussed on the cover of that magazine are healthy representations of what sex is about?'

I am the father of 5 kids: three boys; 23, 19 ,13 and two girls 20, and 11.  The conversations that went on in my home over the weekend included questions about anatomy: 'What is a clitoris.... what is a douche for?';  A statement: 'Just because a girl likes anal sex doesn't mean she isn't a nice girl'; and concerns about pornography use by underage children.  As adults my wife and I could have brushed the topics under the rug or overreacted making discussion impossible or we could do what we did and address topics head on in a non-threatening educational way that quenches the curiosity and leaves the child feeling empowered to control their own sexual identity and destiny. The STD rates are increasing in Utah.  Teenage pregnancy is on the rise again. Sexual dysfunction inside of marriage is high.  It certainly is not because information and attitudes about sex are free flowing.  It is because we have restricted the information and attempt to create a taboo around sex and sexuality.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

How Legislated Hate Gets a Pass in Religious Communities

Two days ago I posted my commentary on Lavar Christensen's proposed HB 270.  While I still mean everything I said in that post it has come to my attention I may have been distracted by the shiny keys being jangled.  It appears this is one of three bills designed to not directly, but in a round about way, void the progress made by local municipalities to give equal protection to homosexuals or any other fringe group not specifically protected by the federal anti discrimination laws.

This article written by Peg McEntee outlines what she call may be unintended consequences of the HB 109, HB 270 and HB 182.  

McEntee: Unintended consequences in “one man, one woman” bill

Given the way the Utah Legislature works, there is no such thing as an unintended consequence when it comes to piety.  Mr. Christensen has put together a strategy to very callously strip away any inroads we have made toward equality and to affording all of our citizens equal protection under the law no matter what they believe religiously or who they love sexually.  What he will be successful in accomplishing is the further insulation religious bigots from consequences for their actions.

For some reason, Christensen finds it necessary to beef up protections for “religious liberty and freedom of conscience” that already exist in the Utah and U.S. constitutions.
But at what point does religious liberty collide with more secular protections against racial, gender or any other manner of discrimination?
Your religious principles allow you to refuse restaurant service to a person of color? You object to a woman with children working outside the home, so you won’t hire her? You won’t rent an apartment to two single women or men because their possible sexual orientation might be an affront to your faith?
Christensen has an answer: “The free exercise of religious liberty is a recognized exemption to otherwise generally applicable laws and a valid defense to claims of discrimination by others.”

So if you believe that Black Americans are inferior based upon religious dogma you are free to exercise that here in Utah without consequence.  If you want to deny housing, in Salt Lake City, to homosexuals, where the  denial would be illegal you are free to do so under his additional religious expression.  If you want to refuse to teach principles in the class room that have been proven by science you are free to do so.

Equally disturbing is his amendment to 13-8-6 makes a law that violates "public policy" unenforceable.  If paired with HB 270 it makes it so the no fault divorce option may be unavailable to couples who fall out of love and don't want a long messy divorce.  It further prevents gay adoption, marriage, and perpetuates legally protected discrimination when paired HB 109.

As an outspoken Militant Atheist the idea that religion needs additional protection is absurd.  You have the right to practice what you will as long as you don't injure someone else in the process.  Denying someone housing based upon what they might do in their bedroom is causing injury.  Denying a child a loving parent because that parent loves someone of the same sex is injurious.  But it is not just on the gay rights front that this is dangerous.  It is single mothers, unmarried couples, and potentially mixed race couples that will run afoul of the cleverly disguised trifecta of hate proposed by Rep. Christensen.

There is a question that often runs in atheist circles:  "Do we have to show tolerance to that which is intolerant?"  Does religion deserve the respect it demands and that is constitutionally protected?  More importantly, does it deserve additional protections that alters the playing field and gives it a "better than" status.  I submit the answer to the above questions is no.... not when it uses it protections to force the rest of us to live in its shadow and harms any member of our populous in the name of its distorted world view.  Mr. Christensen is using his piety to influence public policy even though the result will ultimately be harmful to our society.  Unfortunately most Utahn's will nod their heads in agreement or are too busy watching the Super Bowl or American Idol to pick up a local news paper to educate themselves the impact of the legislation.  We know we want a democratic republic but we are unwilling to participate in the process.

Write you local Representative and Senator and let them know you find this group of bills unconscionable.  Let's give no public forum for hate.