Wednesday, August 17, 2016

NewVistas living

I've seen this come up a few times in the last year or so, especially as neighborhoods near where Tim grew up are targeted for this: NewVistas development.

In short, the developer is a "visionary" with too much money messing around with two ideas: Cramming millions of people into the smallest space possible, and a united order-type communal living arrangement for all those people. In order to do this, he'd give each person just 200 square feet to live in (think small hotel room) that would "rearrange itself" over the course of the day to become whatever you needed--bedroom, kitchen, living room, etc. And the communal living arrangement, according to Deseret News: "Each NewVistas community would be governed by a board comprised of husband-and-wife couples. Each resident would contribute all their net worth to a corporate trust that would operate businesses on-site. 'Your dividends are according to what your contribution is,' Hall said."  (Lots more details here: http://www.ksl.com/?sid=41099114&nid=148&title=utahns-city-of-the-future-vision-stirs-opposition-in-vermont)

Here are three major reasons I'm opposed to this:

1. Family living. Where do you fit a family if you get just 200 square feet to live? Or even 200 square feet per person? I right now have 10 people living in 2100 square feet and we can't even move without bumping into each other. I need more space, just so people can have a little privacy every once in a while, and his proposal would give me not only less space, but no place the kids could go outside at weird hours and not be in someone else's way (because all yards are part of the communal space, so it's not private). The whole plan is making the entire community into one big apartment building, essentially, and that runs against everything my soul needs.

2. Conformity vs Weirdos. That kind of living assumes a high degree of conformity among people. They all have to like the same kinds of things and do the same kinds of things. There isn't a space for the kid who wants to learn to play the drums or the artist who needs to paint really big pictures. There isn't space for all of us weirdos in the world, who live at different hours from everyone else, or have very noisy, busy kids, or who need a lot of time in nature, or who collect live bugs to observe, etc. There's not a place for history lovers who want to collect bunches of old things, or families who function great as long as each person has their own bedroom but otherwise fight constantly. With people crammed in that tightly, there's not even space for colicky babies. I know big cities and apartment dwellers survive just fine, but they're not packed in as tightly as this guy plans. Also, many of us have the freedom to shun that kind of living so we don't get on anyone's nerves.  Because, admit it, you don't really want to live next door to my noisy frantic kids who are awake at 2:00 am every night, do you? And I'm pretty sure all my established and budding musicians do not want to have to practice where the entire neighborhood can hear, nor do they want to go out of the house to practice or compose.

And 3. This favors the rich and punishes the poor, under the guise of communal living. Instead of making all things equal, your dividends are according to what your contribution is. So if you can give a million dollars, your dividends are that much bigger than the guy who gives everything and it's a thousand dollars. The rich get richer and richer, the poor get poorer, and the ruling couples get to determine how that all plays out, with a weird and warped combination of left- and right-wing ideology messing with the power structures. You might just look at the accusations against Polygamist leaders for a hint about how this works in real life. (Here's a hint: http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/05/us/flds-secrets-warren-jeffs/)

Maybe this guy who has far too much money could start donating to great artists and musicians who need funding instead of the plan he's messing with now. Because it's a disaster for families, privacy, weirdos, and hard-working poor people.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Did I just read that?

"'This wolverine was not transplanted to Utah,' said DWR Director Greg Sheehan. 'It made its way here on its own. It's amazing to see the diversity of wildlife we have in Utah expand even more. Particularly, such a charismatic and mythical species as the wolverine.'"

http://www.ksl.com/?sid=40471215&nid=1288&title=wolverine-found-in-utah-for-1st-time-since-1974

Mythical? They don't really exist? Like a unicorn? 

Roadkill of a mythical beast is a kinda cool idea.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Another thought on Depression and the Spirit

If you suddenly had a profound but temporary deafness, and your hearing came back slowly, it seems reasonable that you would first hear the strong, loud, brash noises, and would slowly progress to hearing the soft, quiet voices, right?

I wonder if the experience is the same with when a person finally starts to heal from a profound depression.  I have heard often that anger comes back first. Anger is a loud, brash, strong emotion.

 It seems like if you lost all ability to feel emotionally, you would be angry anyway. So while you were trying to heal, if the strong, brash emotions came back first, it would be pretty intense to have anger come back first.

And then, I suppose, it would be reasonable to assume that the healing process would involve re-learning to comprehend what you were feeling, and also what to do about that, how to respond. And, it seems reasonable that the still small emotions associated with the Spirit would be among the last to be felt, and you'd have to re-learn how to recognize them and what to do about that.

Just like any recovery from a catastrophic injury, it makes sense to let it happen slowly and foster the growth and recovery. But you wouldn't expect someone who had to re-learn walking after an accident to skip from bed to professional ballet dancing, and we shouldn't expect someone recovering from a catastrophic mental illness to jump from nothing to all the finest, most elusive details all at once, either.

Thoughts about Depression and Prayer

So I watched that movie about depression the church just released (and cried through the whole thing), and then later today read Hilary Pope Erickson’s blog here: http://www.pullingcurls.com/2015/11/how-to-find-hope.html. She’s an old friend from Timpview and Tim’s ward growing up, and her family has struggled with her husband being a band guy and being inspired to quit his job in a neighborhood she loved to get a Master’s degree in music, and his job cutting his hours to half, and they’re living where she doesn’t like living, and now he’s completely unemployed and they’re living off her blog income and odd jobs, and that’s not really enough...and he finally got an interview for a job she really, really wanted him to have, back in her home town, and he didn’t get the job. And she was devastated, having begged Heavenly Father to not let her get her heart set on something she couldn’t have because it’s too painful, and she immediately sank into a crushing depression, but didn’t identify it as that. She identified it as being dead inside. Which is what depression is. But here’s the interesting thing--she talked about praying and getting nothing, when she felt like she had been getting answers before, and about being angry at God and yelling at him and then apologizing and still getting nothing. She found solace in hoping for hope. That’s a neat little trick there, and effective.

But the not hearing God anymore thing really struck me. Third time I’ve heard that same story from depressed people. No, fourth--first time was on my mission when I realized you had to have hope to have faith and so depression makes faith nearly impossible. Once from Tim, once from Hilary, and once from a lady who wrote an article that was published in the Ensign (here: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2016/02/depression?lang=eng). All the same story.

So I had a lot of thoughts about this all evening.

Here are my theories: Depression makes us deaf to emotion, so we can’t feel it ourselves or hear it in others.

We are trained our whole lives to “feel the Spirit” and so when Depression strikes, and we become deaf to feeling, we can no longer feel the Spirit either, and can’t feel God speaking to us. So then we think He’s not.

But what if He still is and we just can’t hear it anymore? 

I had this idea on my mission (or just after): What if the Holy Ghost speaks to our individual spirits, and they understand each other, but the words and sentences don’t reach through our mortal limitations, and so the result is we feel the emotions evoked by the message without actually hearing the message itself because of the limitations of our mortal brains and bodies. We learn to identify the feeling, the vague impressions, the snippets of ideas as "the Spirit" because that's all we actually consciously experience. But what if there is more to it than that? What if the "feeling" the Spirit experience is actually the side effect of the interaction the same way feeling happy after getting good news is not the actual experience, but just a little piece of it?

I have no idea if that is what is actually happening, but if the feeling part of the experience associated with communicating with God is the only way we learn to “hear” that God is speaking to us at all, and that is taken away, we would think He is not speaking anymore and He must hate us or something. The familiar tag that says, "God spoke to me and I should take it seriously" is just plain missing, and we feel Nothing, so we assume that, therefore, God has shut up His mouth and doesn't want anything to do with us anymore.

But what if He is still speaking to us? What if He keeps talking and answering same as usual and we just don’t know it? What if He does go about intervening in life, and giving us instructions, and leading us down the right paths, and we just lack the familiar experience of hearing? What if our spirits can hear even if our bodies can’t, and so the message just doesn’t get through consciously, and we are left unaware that an experience even happened?

I have watched Tim for three years now following promptings of the Spirit without knowing he was doing it, completely unable to recognize the promptings consciously because the feeling was gone. All feeling was gone. I marveled that God was speaking to Tim “in stealth” so that Tim didn’t even know (but, to his credit, he obeyed anyway, perhaps because somehow his years of training in knowing God's voice still worked, even if his brain and body couldn’t hear.)

It reminds me of Benji learning to read. For a long time, if I said, "Please read this to me," he couldn't do it. But if I was reading something, he would stand over my shoulder and say nothing and then suddenly ask questions about the text I was reading, even though I hadn't said anything either. He couldn't read if he tried to read. He couldn't understand that he could read. BUT...if he didn't know he was doing it, he could read just fine. 

If Tim didn't know he was hearing God, he could do it just fine. But under the pressure to feel an answer in prayer, he got nothing. He couldn't do it. Just like Benji trying to read.

If it were the case that God kept talking but we lacked the ability to hear, wouldn’t that change the way we prayed? Instead of yelling at God and being angry and then feeling abandoned and stopping praying, perhaps we would ask instead to recognize how God was speaking to us now, now that things were different--you know, like asking someone to speak to you in sign language because your ears no longer worked. You'd have to learn sign language, too, but perhaps that's the point--when depression strikes and we can't feel the answers anymore, perhaps we should assume God is still speaking and ask Him to teach us sign language, to help us understand His messages anyway, even if we have to learn a new language of hearing the Spirit in order to do so. 

Or perhaps that we would pray to know what to do even though we couldn’t hear it at the moment. Or perhaps for the patience and faith to keep praying even though we were deaf to the answers. Or perhaps for ways to see and "hear" God's love for us even though we could no longer feel it? Or perhaps for ways to obtain and hold on to Hope--the doctrinal Hope Elder Holland talked about--even when we are not capable of feeling the emotion of hope. 

Still, can you imagine how hard it would be to keep calling your parents on the phone even if the phone was broken and you couldn’t hear them talking back to you? 

Gives me reason to be patient and kind if someone is depressed and saying God isn't talking to them. The last thing they need to hear is "Of course He is. You're just not listening." Perhaps they really, truly are incapable of hearing the way we've trained everyone to hear. It's not a choice to not listen if your body is incapable of hearing. 

But knowing we might just be incapable of hearing, and not having something to repent of or something that's just wrong with us that is a character failing, perhaps that's enough to give us patience and help us approach the issue from new angles, without losing all our faith and going farther from healing and hope in our frustration and confusion.

One thing I've learned about depression in the last three years is that it is a profound breakdown in the body's ability to process and feel emotion. And, like learning to walk again after a catastrophic accident takes a long time and hard work, learning to feel again after a catastrophic depression can take a long time and hard work, and it seems reasonable that if we spent all our lives learning to recognize God's voice by our feelings, we have to re-learn that experience, too.

I don't know if it's even necessary to feel to recognize God's voice. That's the way we do it, for sure. I have no idea if it's the only way. It might be. It might not. It certainly is a test of Faith to keep speaking to and obeying a God who we cannot hear, and trusting a Savior is helping bear our burdens if we ask Him to when we cannot feel that. 

We do have a promise from Elder Holland (who lived it, so he knows), that things will get better, and we’ll be able to hope again. I suppose that means we can learn to hear again, too. It's a long but not permanent spiritual and emotional deafness? So perhaps, like Hilary hoping for hope, the answer is to hope for healing, even if it takes a long time.  

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Did I just read that?

"Your eyes are setting foot where man has never been before, at least not for a very long time."  Roger Tomlin, about looking at Roman inscriptions from the first decade of London's existence. (http://www.ksl.com/?sid=40012114&nid=235&title=2000-year-old-handwritten-documents-found-in-london-mud)


Because eyes have feet.

And because man has never been where he wrote things down.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Mother in Heaven

Mother's day week, so the inevitable happens: progressive Mormons start posting about Mother in Heaven.

I tried to imagine Mother in Heaven. I'm pretty sure she knows as much about our lives as Father in Heaven does.

I'm also pretty sure that she's not some lesser figure up there hanging around being God's housekeeper. I'm pretty sure she's an amazing, powerful woman.

So that leads me to the conclusion that she is not more involved in our theology and worship because she doesn't want to be. Maybe she's busy taking care of the all the people who have yet to be born, or doing some other work. I mean, if she wanted us to pray to her, wouldn't she have said so?

Anyway, all the talk of Mother in Heaven, and the only image I can conjure in my mind is her putting her head in her hand and saying, "Oh, you silly children spending all this time talking about me, fawning over me, painting pictures of me, writing poetry to me. All I really want for mother's day is for you to stop fighting with each other. What I want is for you to do what your Father asked--go out and help each other, be kind, and stop doing stupid things."

Three thoughts on Rape Culture on College Campuses

There is much talk of rape culture on college campuses lately, but I'm finding the discussions to be stilted because of feminist ideology that has slipped in.

Three things that are bugging me:

1. We are ignoring Due Process.

In our eagerness to avoid "victim blaming" and our eagerness to push investigators to believe the victim and actually investigate, it's really, really easy to assume that "believing the victim" means an accusation is made and it's a done deal. Boys get expelled from school because we're so anxious to believe the victim. But we must remember that we are legally NOT ALLOWED to believe the victim except to the extent that we always investigate what a victim is saying. In our country, even in cases of rape, it is categorically innocent until proven guilty, which means even the vilest rapists get due process.

Believe the victim means we investigate. It means we don't write her off or blame her for the rape. It means we do post-rape examinations not at the cost of the victim, and we actually process every single rape kit as quickly as possible (is it possible within a week? That seems ideal).

It does not mean men are all guilty until proven innocent. Because we have to accept the reality that not all women are angels, and if men are guilty instantly on a woman's word when it comes to rape, then any woman can destroy any man's life on her word without any proof required.

2. We are ignoring the reality that self-defense ought to include the idea of not getting in dangerous situations whenever possible.

Recently, a big cat keeper at a zoo was killed by her cats. It came out in the ensuing investigation that she had not followed protocol.  Was it the cat's fault that she was killed? Yes. Would she likely be alive if she had followed protocol? Yes.

We are so anxious to not blame victims that it has become unacceptable to say to girls, "Don't go places where rapists go." It HAS to be okay for self defense to include preventative actions. And that means, while it is impolite to say to a rape victim, "You shouldn't have gotten drunk" and while it is absolutely true that even drunk, a girl should not be raped, it also has to be okay to teach our daughters, "Hey, don't go to frat parties, and if you are getting smashed, you're putting yourself at risk of getting raped."

Yes, we teach boys not to rape.

And we ought to also be free to teach girls to be wise. Don't walk in dark alleys. Don't use an ATM at night alone and flash the money. Don't get drunk with a bunch of boys at a Frat party.

In a perfect world, boys don't rape. But in a imperfect world, girls ought to at least be told not to go places where stats say you are more likely to be raped. That needs to be okay to say, to protect other girls, even while we are kind to girls who did get raped while drunk and don't write them off or ignore their plight because they were foolish. We still prosecute thugs who steal stuff even if you left your door unlocked. Victims of crimes are still victims, even if they made a dumb mistake. But we still use that to warn other people to not make dumb mistakes. Like getting drunk at a frat house.

3. Porn.

I brought this up and had it thrown back in my face that porn use is going up over all while rape is going down overall. So there can't be a connection.

But the stats they threw at me were overall, not on college campuses. So that's useless for my purposes.

So I'm not claiming using porn turns a boy into a rapist.

But I am saying that porn objectifies women. Even non-violent porn objectifies women. And there is ample evidence that using porn desensitizes men to real women, making it so that normal human sexuality is not interesting, so that men need a greater "rush" to get satisfaction, and also it makes what used to be "fringy" sexual behavior is seen as normal to the porn watchers. Teen boys who watch porn report to researchers that they think things like "choking" and "rough sex" are normal and that girls like that. Girls report that they don't but they think that's what sex is.  Porn also deadens men's emotional reactions to women's emotional and physical needs. I've seen this first-hand in men that I have met--their needs and emotions were the only ones that mattered. They had no empathy at all and very little sympathy, especially for women.

All of the effects of porn are the very things that have to happen in boys to create a rape culture.

Does that mean all boys who look at porn will be rapists? NO. But it empowers (if you will) some boys who might not rape to become rapists, and it dulls their sensitivity to women so they might not even realize it is rape.

Porn use has gone up at the same time that rape on college campuses has become an issue. If rape overall has gone down, I don't see that as relevant to this issue.

I would very much like internet pornography to be outlawed in the same way that TV advertising of cigarettes was banned. People who really want it will still get it, but we can spare entire generations of teenagers, and I suspect the rape culture will be addressed at the same time.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Did I just read that?

From 9news.com: "Nate Currey with RTD estimates that between 80 and 90,000 passengers used the new line  since noon on Friday. That's well below, the about 18,600 they predict will use it on the average weekday." http://www.9news.com/news/travel/free-day-means-long-waits-for-dia-train/151330836

I guess the 80 is below, but last I checked, 90,000 was WAY above 18,600.

Also, 80 to 90,000 is such a huge range that it's practically meaningless. Perhaps they meant "80- to 90,000" or "80,000-90,000"?

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Missing Tim

Tim is gone today for the first time in a long, long time. He had pretty much sworn off traveling--even to Denver--and then out of the blue ended up with three trips this month: Chicago, New Mexico, and Tennessee.

And of course this first trip has been a doozy so far, with expenses above the expected ones reaching into the hundreds of dollars (not exaggerating), primarily due to other people's errors (like whoever schedules work schedules for TSA).

Over the years, I've seen many (if not most) of our performer and sound tech friends at one point or another publicly thank their spouse for letting them "chase the dream" and for "making this all possible" (meaning making it possible for the traveling spouse to tour and be a musician, sound tech, or other entertainment industry professional).

Over the years I've felt guilty because I never really encouraged Tim to throw caution to the wind and do whatever it takes to get famous or rich as a musician.

And I am so grateful that Tim decided clear back at the start of this insane adventure that family came first, and that he did not have the freedom to abandon us to pursue his career. He's tried to never be away for more than 4 days at a stretch. Sometimes that extends to 7 days, and once 10 (because he was on a ship and couldn't get off in the middle of the ocean).

Tim has actually turned down opportunities--more than once--that would have paid him well and set him on a path to a steady income because it would have required him to largely abandon us for long, long stretches at a time (270 days a year or more). He has been mocked and blacklisted for choosing to be home and available to us in person (not just on the phone). He's put his career and reputation at risk over and over to uphold his standards, openly refusing work when we were desperate for work because it would have required him to not put his most sacred duties (as father and husband) last instead of first. (And that's not counting all the times he has put his work at risk by refusing to do events that were inappropriate for a priesthood holder to attend, for refusing even the appearance of drinking alcohol, for refusing to wear immodest clothing, etc. He is constantly having to make choices to uphold his standards.)

And every time I see an entertainment person thank their spouse for making it possible for them to chase the dream, I feel guilty. I never did that for Tim.

But I also feel grateful that he never asked me to make that sacrifice. Not only that, he regularly expresses a desire to help me pursue my dreams.

I hope that some day God will bless us with a steady, livable income anyway, despite it being nearly impossible to have a music career and a family. I hope that Tim will be blessed with a lot of work that is family friendly because he has consistently chosen to put God's commandments and our family first.

But if not, Tim regularly reminds me that other musicians tell him--often--how amazing it is that he gets to have a family at all because in order for them to pursue their careers, they had to give that up. Almost all musicians have to give that up. And so, clearly, we have been abundantly blessed by Tim's choices, even if it is not with money. Despite this career that he has been driven to, we get to have an amazing family, and that is a rare thing indeed.

I'm glad for that night many years ago, when we were just 16, that Tim and I sat outside talking all night and I asked him, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and instead of answering, "A musician" or "Famous" or "Rich," Tim said, "I want to be a dad."  And I'm glad that he has consistently made choices to make that most precious dream the reality of his life.

We got the good part.

And thank you, Tim, for never thanking me for all the things I've sacrificed to make your career happen because thank you for never making me sacrifice those things.