Monday, September 7, 2015

Children are the challenge - Kiera Chapter 2

It's been six years since I last wrote about Kiera on this blog.  Two years ago we moved to Iowa.  She has developed into a fine young woman and turned a corner last year in which she decided her friends needed to reflect her own common sense.  This path was realized by open, frank, and timely conversations.  She is surrounded by high quality friends who are nicely positioning themselves to rule the world.  

I am pleased that as she has matured, she still includes her mother and I in her life and her decisions.  She feels comfortable enough with us that she doesn't need to hide who she is.  Last year, interrupting a moment of silence, she told her mother she thought she might be bi-sexual.  There was a girl in her friend group she was emotionally and physically attracted to. A couple of months later she told us she was pansexual.  She discovered this scale on the spectrum when she  joined the Colors group at school.  Colors is a group that supports LGBTQ kids and their friends.  

We didn't dismiss this revelation.  We accepted it at face value.  We also didn't share her news outside of our immediate family.  We knew she was trying to figure out what it meant.  She "dated" a couple of kids from school.  Both boys and girls.  The guidance she received from us was, "Only do what you are comfortable with." We also advised her to take things slow.  Don't rush to commitment. Don't limit yourself to dating just one person.  Some of our advice was well received and some of it has been ignored.  At the end of the day, we are observers.  Our only role is to preserve her ability to consent.  

We knew we had little to worry about from the kids she chose to "date".  We were less concerned with the fact she believed she was bi-sexual than we were about how our conservative Mormon family members would treat her.  The pernicious evil that exist in our world is not homosexual relationships. The evil exists in a self righteous belief that their brand of morality is better than ours.  It is in the harm they might inflict on our child out of ignorance and hate. 

Last week, Kiera made it public.  She is in a relationship with a girl.  Téa is a delightful young woman.  She is a senior and has been accepted to the University of Iowa. She comes bundled with a ton of energy. We asked Kiera if she realized she had outed herself when she posted the Facebook status.  She said she had nothing to hide.  We agree.  

How long will this relationship last?  We don't know.  We will be moving in a year.  It could end long before the move or it could endure in spite of the move.  What we do know is that if anyone has anything harmful or judgmental to say to our child, they will hear from us.  We would rather end a familial relationship or a friendship than to allow them to make her feel she is broken, twisted, perverted or immoral. Our child and her mental and emotional health are precious to us. What we do know is the move to Iowa allowed Kiera to discover who she is.  We cannot imagine how much more difficult it would have been to help her navigate this portion of her life if we had remained in Utah.     

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Okay South Jordan... I told you so! Dave Alvord is not good for South Jordan!

I would like to remind of you a couple of posts from the past:

and this one:

A couple of things to note.  

  • Neither Federal or State tax dollars are spent on abortive services.  Let's acknowledge this.  
  • This letter goes out on the heels of Herbert's ill advised order to defund Planned Parenthood.
  • The letter is not good public policy nor does it represent one of the most educated voter bases in the State of Utah.  It is grandstanding.  
  • This is a veiled attack on Planned Parenthood.  It is very clear.  Even the comments on the Facebook post make it clear his actions and the actions of the South Jordan City Council are not represented of either fact or the majority of its constituents.
  • It is heartening to see the number of citizens who not only oppose this policy but are taking the mayor to task over it.
He also makes the claim that the city should be interested in abortion because it is a matter of public safety.


The same David Alvord who refused to participate in a public safety program to install An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) in his dental office. Even though this public safety program, which he was required to participate in by law, would potentially save a life.  Oh wait... we are only interested in potential life.  He has one in his office now.  Do you know why?  Because it was donated by the Fire Department.

David Alvord, now, wants to stand guard at every woman's vagina to make sure they don't show their own autonomy.  He wants to put money toward something that has been legal since before he was born.  He indicates, later, that he wants to address legal abortion because every has unintended consequences.  That unintended consequence is autonomy.  A woman does not need the approval of a man to enjoy sex and to choose when and if she wants to be a mother.  The unintended consequence of his refusal to put an AED in his office might be... the death of someone he could really have saved

He says he feels this is a way to directly influence something he has little influence on.  This is misguided at best and represents the misogyny so prevalent in South Jordan. If he wants to reduce abortions he should support comprehensive sex education in schools.  He should support ready availability of birth control to all of his citizens. He should support STD testing.  All of those have been shown to reduce abortions. All of those services are 97% of what Planned Parenthood does.  The rest of what they do is paid for by private donations.  They are paid for by those who support a woman's right to choose.  

He doesn't though.  This policy is not about what is effective it is about his next election and imposing his religious world view on everyone he comes into contact with.  The city council is complicit and guilty as well.  They are sending the wrong message.  It is a message that one of the most affluent cities in the state is determined to hold women as property.  If she has sex that is non-procreative she will suffer for it. She should suffer for it!  Why?  Because god said.  

David Alvord has a history of misogyny and sexism.  I have documented that above but let me help you out with this screen shot:

 And then he thought this was funny.  You know in the same way a high school kid quotes lyrics to make is point... out of context.

The City of South Jordan can directly effect good public policy.  As I suggested above that is by petitioning the legislature to approve fact based, science supported, comprehensive sex education.  It can work with Planned Parenthood to reduce the number of abortions through a sex positive information based program.  Instead David Alvord is a the lead of misinformation campaign in the city.  The facts escape him.  In fact he admits he is ignorant to the facts.  Does that stop him?  No! Facts have never swayed him.  I'll say it again!  David Alvord is wrong for South Jordan. 

If you want to make your voice on the matter heard... Planned Parenthood is holding a rally on August 25th!  Here is the link: 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

You may have been born that way... but it was your choice!

I recently posted this article on Facebook:> It is an article in which a nun calls out the conservatives in this country with this quote:
"I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-
birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”
 Now the article is clearly about the way we treat children who are poor and disadvantaged once they are born. The article is not about abortion. The conservatives in my feed couldn't help but make it about that.  You can read the entire thread here: 

David, a 20 something white Mormon male who lives in Provo, UT, entered into the discussion. What caught my attention was his application of Mormon theology.  I am very familiar with his mind set here.  I had just forgotten how twisted it can be.

In regards to the moral and up righteous, I was recognizing or trying to recognize that there are people of variable moral focuses.  My point when using those words was that pretty much no matter what, if a woman who is raped and impregnated, of her own choice, decides to go through the pregnancy and raise the child, no one is going to come up to her and say "You are a terrible person, how dare you do what you just did, it was morally wrong for the following reasons:" because they would have no reasons.  If you can come up with one please, go ahead and tell me.  As for fertilization and conception, that is focused primarily in both my knowledge of biological science and religious belief.  I believe that we were all spirits before we came into this mortal life.  I believe we Volunteered to come into this mortal existence because it was only through experiencing mortality and being able to choose between right and wrong that we would be able to become more like our Heavenly Father, the father of our spirits.  I believe that when conception occurs, when the ova and sperm cell combine, that that new cell which is now as capable of becoming an adult human being as a baby outside of the womb, is given to one of my spirit brothers and sisters who still lies beyond the veil.  That body, though it be a single cell, is theirs, and just for us the moment it dies there goes all future chances for mortal experience in this life for them, they don't get another body.  This is why the "It would be better if they don't get born in a terrible situation" argument doesn't work with me.  I believe the(y) Volunteered, knowing full well what they were getting themselves into, to be put in that body.

Mormons believe we were all spirits in a pre-existence.  The number of bodies are finite and were all conceived by a heavenly father (god) and a heavenly mother.  It also could be a father and several mothers because polygamy is still alive and well in the afterlife. They are conceived mechanically the same way you and I were conceived by our parents.  They gestate in the same way humans do now.

If a child dies in childbirth or in the womb it is considered to have lived its life.  It has one chance to get a mortal body.  That is it.

Here is where the theology becomes concerning:  Mormons believe that we all choose to come to earth and to get a body.  We knew, in some cases we would be born into challenging situations. Those might be:
  • to a mother that was raped
  • it might be in desperate poverty
  • that might be with a physical or mental disability
  • that might be with "same sex attraction"
It matters not the plight... we chose it!  This belief disconnects your average Mormon from empathy and divorces them from any responsibility to fix anything outside of their sphere.  It also allows them to dogmatically cling to "god's law" without considering the harm or potential harm the the theology may cause. 

What Mormon's fail to see is the disconnect in believing the above and the application of "free will" in this life.  The life you chose was pre-determined.  You knew you would be born to a woman who was raped.  Therefore she had not choice but to be raped.  The male who raped her had no choice.  If they hadn't been complicit in their destiny you wouldn't be able to realize your own. They fail to see how it leads to "this life must be endured" mentality instead of "this life should be lived."

It is easy for David to regurgitate these teachings.  It is much more difficult for him to think critically about what they really mean.  This is the pernicious nature of Mormonism.  It divorces the believer from critical thought... because that is the only way it can survive.  It does that at the expense of the human condition and ultimately harms our humanity.  

Thursday, June 4, 2015

It is all about Consent

A couple of thoughts on Human Sexuality:

First, your sexuality is your own.  Nobody owns it.  You don’t subjugate it to someone else when you get married. You certainly do not subjugate it to a god.  As such, as parents or adults we do not own our children’s sexuality.  We merely defend their right to consent.  That defense should be against anyone who wishes to take their right to consent away from them.  I think molestation and the perversion of defining sex and sexuality as sinful or immoral is equally damaging to a child.  Teaching children to fight their natural urges because there is some eternal punishment waiting for them takes away their ability to consent. 

Children should be free to explore their own sexuality on their own terms. That means masturbation is an activity in which they can give enthusiastic consent to.  It is not something we should wrap in guilt and control (outside of teaching it is personal and private).  That does not mean it is a free-for-all. Part of exploring sex and sexuality is acknowledging that there are ground rules.  In my house that included a “Don’t Rape” conversation in which we discussed who is legally and ethically able to give consent. It also means discussing the consequences of sex including disease and pregnancy.  We certainly have on going discussions around what a healthy relationship looks like.

The individual defines sexual preference.  To deny someone their own sexual identity and preference, in the framework of consent, is to deny them the ability to consent. In that, teaching rigid gender norms also denies the child, in part, the ability to consent, as they become adults.  They are unable to engage in sexual expression that is free of guilt or shame. Consensual sexual behavior should not be wrapped in guilt.

When it comes to marriage/committed relationships monogamy is one relationship style.  It is not the only relationship style.  There are times when it certainly is not a healthy relationship style. While Lisa and I have chosen monogamy and it works for us, I don’t think any less of those who successfully practice polyamory. I also do not have an issue with non-religious polygamy, serial monogamy, asexuality, co-habitation, or fetish lifestyles like BDSM.  The question that has to be asked when evaluating any relationship is, "Does consent exist".  If it does, its none of my business.

Pornography is not addictive.  That does not mean that there are not compulsions that exist around sex and sexual behavior.  But the underlying mental illness is not in the media.  It is in the compulsion itself. Many studies have found that a stressor triggers compulsions.  When the stressor is removed, the compulsion diminishes or disappears.  There is some data that suggests our puritanical views of sex and sexuality creates that stressor.  We tell women they are not only the subjects of their husbands but also the gatekeeper of all that is moral and wholesome in the household.  It is their job to watch their husbands so they don't stray.  That includes watching the husbands Internet use to see if he is looking at pornography.  This leads to secrecy and in many case triggers a compulsion.  Its not the pornography that triggers it.  It is the secrecy.  This brings me back to my original assertion: “Nobody owns your sexuality… not even your spouse”.  There are many reasons to not like pornography.  You may find it exploitative.  In some cases it has been.  You may find it reflects unrealistic expectations on how sex works.  It does.  But at the end of the day if consent is given in the production of the pornography and your spouse views it privately, it is none of your business.  It remains none of your business until he/she asks you to partake. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Colonoscopy: Not as bad as you are led to believe

Lisa and I both had our colonoscopies this week.  There is much information on the inter-webs about what you can expect, how horrible the experience is, the worst case scenarios, and as with anything health related or consumer related you look you find on the internet you should know... the whiners and complainers will be the first to review a procedure or product... negatively.

Here are my tips for getting a colonoscopy:

  1. GET ONE!!!! ...if you are 50 or over and/or if you have a family history of polyps or cancer.  It is the best way to detect colon cancer early and to prevent polyps from growing into cancerous tumors.  
  2. Have a physical and know your medical issues before scheduling your procedure. This will help you avoid the pitfalls of #3.
  3. Don't read the crap on the internet.  It will lead you to believe you already have the cancer, are going to have an allergic reaction to the medication or you are already in renal failure.
  4. Eat a low fiber diet and avoid nuts and popcorn for two days (at least) before you start the colon prep.  Think, as you consider what to eat, "How will this feel coming out... UNDER PRESSURE!"
  5. Use Vaseline on your anus.  This will help keep your but from cracking and bleeding and burning.
  6. The colon prep is not that bad.  The lavage you ingest is not "Nasty".  Its not pleasant or delicious but its not nasty.  You won't feel like you have the flu.  It will literally flush you bowels out.  It is inconvenient but not horrible.  In fact, neither of us found it was that big of a deal.  
  7. Plan to spend time in the bathroom.  Take your iPad, a book, or your phone with you.  Have plans to feed your spouse, kids, and pets during the two evenings before your procedure.
  8. Drink plenty of fluids before you start.  Dehydration is the worst... and it wasn't a problem for us.
  9. They day of your procedure you should plan to have nothing planned.  It will take you a couple of hours at the hospital to be prepped, have the procedure done (you probably won't remember it) and to recover from the sedation.  
  10. Celebrate with a delicious but reasonable meal the evening of.  You won't really want anything too rich but you will want something tasty.  For me it was the most exquisite peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Followed by Pizza... Okay the pizza wasn't the best idea.  I realized this at 3:00 in the morning... heart burn!
It really wasn't that bad.  I will do it again in 10 years.  My colon was healthy.  No polyps. No disease. No CANCER!  However, had it not been.  I would have wanted to know.  That is how I am staying on this path to live past 90!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dear Neglected Readers: Its time for an update!

I am now in my second year of graduate school.  Christmas has wound down and now I am in that odd time in-between semesters.  You know, that time when you should be doing something that will make the next semester easier and recognizing that you just don't have the energy yet to face it.  I am Halfway though my program and now am applying for jobs is on the immediate horizon.

This is our second year in Iowa.  It has been nice to finally feel like we are home in Iowa.  Although we left so many humans in Utah who we are fond of and miss terribly, we don't miss passive-aggressive and smug Utah culture.  We have really enjoyed being allowed to be adults.  Iowa normalizes adulthood.  You can buy your hard liquor in bulk at the Costco if you choose.  Wine is sold on the aisle ends by the checkouts at Hy-vee. Almost everybody drinks coffee.  You can find a wide variety of personal lubricants on the shelf at Wal-Mart.

I have found that being away from Utah and specifically Mormonism, has resulted in fewer conversations about the religion and its negative impact our our family. I have less of need to be surrounded by "like minded people" to insulate me, intellectually and emotionally, from Mormonism.  I have unplugged from all but two ex-mormon groups on Facebook.  I still visit the A Post Mormon Atheist/Agnostic group and a group that discusses the issues of sex and sexuality in a Post Mormon Context.  I have still been know to challenge assertions made by the faithful and occasionally in a dick-ish way.  One observation I made over the last year: It doesn't really matter if you are nice or a dick when you challenge the delusional beliefs of others, the net result will be the same.  You will be unfriended, ignored, and pitied by them.  I have not put up a post related to Mormonism specifically for a little over two months now.

With John Larsen's exit from the Mormon Expression podcast, I decided it was also time to stop listening to the ex-mormon related podcasts and deleted and unsubscribed from all.  I have hid most TBM's from my newsfeed.  While I am interested in them as people, I can't really stomach the delusion that one must engage in to believe any of it is real.  It doesn't mean religion is safe from my criticism.

So what is important to me?

I still rant about alternative medicine and pseudoscience.  I openly and unapologetically challenge vaccine deniers and woo pitchers.  I will continue to do that because I think it is more important than religion.  The harm is immediate.

Michael will graduate from West High School in in Iowa City this year.  Kiera is a freshman at the same school.  They both seem to be doing well.  They are great kids and we are proud of them.

I turn 50 this year.  With that milestone, I recognize that I am on the downhill side of mortality.  I might make it to a 100 (if I stay off Facebook and manage my stress) but it is unlikely.  So it is my desire to seize the moment... each and every precious moment.  I am no longer 10' tall and bullet proof.  I have had friends and colleagues see their time cut short by genetics or poor lifestyle choices. I can control one of those factors.  I need to control what I can because both of my parents were dead by 70.  I have lost 22 lbs. since August.  I would like to loose 10 more.  I need to find a away to continue to exercise through the cold Iowa winter.  Although through discipline I have avoided the holiday weight gain.  Lisa is on a similar path.  We want to hold off the health effects that come from poor lifestyle choices.

The plan for 2015:

  • Colonoscopy scheduled for the first week in January.
  • Physical scheduled for March
  • Drink less alcohol:  Make it a social event or an occasion.  Avoid daily consumption.
  • Monitor blood pressure and cholesterol:  Eat less meat and salt and more veggies.  This has resulted in appreciable weight loss.
  • Manage stress:  If you know me at all this is my achilles heel.  I am an obsessive thinker and a worrier.  I have tried deep breathing and relaxation but the narrative in my head always seems to dominate. 
  • Have plenty of sex!

So there it is.  I may find the inclination to write a little more as the ever evolving me finds something else to say.  We'll see where this year takes me.  I do know that I have grown quite a bit in this experience.  We are looking around and trying to determine where the next move will take us.  What we know is that we are only in Iowa for another 16 or so months.  That time will go quickly

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Who is watching and why it matters how we talk about homosexuality

A couple of years ago I was engaged in a discussion on gay rights on Michelle Willis's board.  The subject was the Jc Penney ads featuring lesbian mothers.  It was argument I engaged in with passion.  I supported, as I have since 1984, the rights of homosexuals to live a genuine life.  I was up against the pious and self-righteous Mormons on Michelle's board.  Trite arguments were volleyed back and forth.  I knew there was no way to "win" the argument with these people but I was still up for the fight.  In the middle of the whole mess I got a private message.  It was one of Michelle's friends who had been watching the debate.  The messages was a "thank you for the support".  'I thought Michelle was my friend.  I can see that she is not.' Was the tone.  While Michelle lost a friend that day, that person knew there was an ally who was willing to stand up.

Last Friday, a federal judge struck a fatal blow to Utah's amendment 3.  The Facebook feed blew up.  I have engaged in as many conversations as I could on those feeds.  Some might even call me a troll because I engage even when I am not invited


Because people are watching that is why.  I was reminded of this when I read a friends beautiful and eloquent response to his mother who was asking if his support for gay rights would change it it were his own child.  He of course said no... and that people are watching.  People in pain who are trying to find someone to talk to.

So when you are fighting equality in your Facebook feed who are you helping?

Are you standing up for your god?

Does he really need you to stand up to him?

Are you standing up for your church?

Are you on the church's legal team?  Do they really need you.

Are you standing up for freedom and the constitution?

Are you a constitutional attorney... and don't you see the hypocrisy?

Who are you hurting?

You are likely hurting someone who isn't vocal.  Someone who is sitting in the dark crying because they feel like there is something wrong with them.  Someone who may be your child, sibling, maybe even your own parent.  What they are is a human being who needs support, love and acceptance.  They didn't ask for this and to ask them to deny who they are is harmful.  To characterize their being as a "sin", as a "choice" as a "lifestyle" or one that is "not to be acted on" inflicts an undue amount of pain.

The LGBT community inside of Mormonism has one of the highest suicide rates.  The LGBT community in the United States has a suicide rate that exceeds the national average.   It is time we stop treating them like they are throw aways.

I am a supporter of equality.  I support the choices consenting adults make out of love. I support teaching our children how to develop healthy fulfilling intimate relationships with whomever they love.  It is not about sin.  It is about humans.

Conversely, I do not support bigotry and on this blog I will identify bigots by first and last name.  The world should know who you are.  Those who are watching should know who is not safe.