Monday, November 30, 2015

Feminism Thoughts

Obviously I think about feminism often.

I think it's because there is so much pressure from the media and society (especially educated men, weirdly) to be feminist, and I'm just not inclined to join, so I'm constantly trying to figure out why I am so--I can't think of the word; offended but not that and disgusted but not that and opposed but not that but somewhere in between--by it. It's presented as a good thing. How can you be against something that is supposed to help women?

I think that part of it is that it's "supposed" to help women but spends a lot of time and resources proving why my choices (which I made freely and with full knowledge of what I was choosing) are "wrong" and "bad for women." (They never will believe that I wanted to study the humanities because it gives me great joy--not because I was socially pressured into it. In fact, the social pressure was to accept the mechanical engineering department's courting of me into their program, or study chemistry or something equally science-y because I'm good at science and I enjoy science. But studying the humanities was fun and easy, and that's what I wanted to do.)

Anyway, I was reading an article in the newspaper about Utah having the largest "wage gap" in the country, but the article was highly misleading because they were comparing not a woman in one industry with a man in the same industry, but apparently ALL women in Utah (including the stay-at-home moms) with ALL the men in Utah.  Total amount made by females divided by number of women in Utah compared to total amount made by males divided by number of men in Utah = simple math but not true comparison. Of course if 78% of men are working full time and only 49% of women are working full time, you're going to see a wage gap using that math because there are fewer women adding to the total amount made.

They did acknowledge that women are drawn to caring professions and men to mechanical professions, and that mechanical professions pay more. But they falsely attributed that to women being told from a young age to consider only those professions instead of respecting women's ability to follow their hearts and talents. (How many women do you know who actually WANT to wok construction jobs?  Can't we respect that as a reality instead of a cultural manipulation of women?  Wouldn't it be better to ask why we value the caring jobs less monetarily?) (you can read the article here:

Really, it would help in the evaluation of women's earnings if people would back off and respect women's right to want to stay home and raise children and recognize the immense value that choice has to society. Why are they constantly belittling women who want to stay home? Why constantly push them toward the workplace?

(It should be noted, of course, that friends tell me that women who work feel equally attacked and belittled for not staying home, even outside of Utah. You just can't win, I guess. And this is something the feminists should be addressing, instead of adding to the problem.)

The comparison that needs to happen is within a single industry. That would give us more information about the wage gap, if there is one. Does a female grocery store clerk with the same amount of experience as a male grocery store clerk in the same store get paid the same amount? That's the statistic that is significant.

At least the article is acknowledging that part of the problem is women take time off to raise kids and therefore have less experience than men of the same age. And that's a thorny issue because it's not fair to the men to just pay the women more for less experience. But the end result is fewer women in management, and that looks bad.

Similar to the wage gap issue being a lot more subtle if you have valid statistics and look at the whole picture instead of over simplifying, recently scientists determined that there are few if any differences between male and female brains, and the scientists and feminists made that out to prove that men and women are identical except for a few inconsequential physical differences, so all the differences between men and women are actually cultural and should be stamped out.

That's a big conclusion from a small study. For one thing, people are made up of more than their brains. Male and female hormones, for example, are vastly different and have an enormous impact on how people think and feel and act. And those don't show up in a comparative brain scan. And science completely ignores the influence of the spirit, which they can't acknowledge exists but might have an enormous impact on a person. But we don't know because we know very, very little about the true nature of spirits, especially since our bodies limit them and limit our ability to perceive and understand things as they really are in the eternal world.

Looking at the world and interacting with babies will tell scientists more about the nature of men and women than a simple brain scan comparison. Considering how little we understand of how the brain works at all, saying the structure looks similar means very little anyway.  The study even acknowledged they were not looking at how the brains worked, only how they looked. Similar things can work in very different ways (listen to a male voice vs a female voice, for example).  Also, small difference in appearance can be massive in function or output. Think how much difference a pinch of salt can make to a dish. Or how different "nine" is from "none."  It's just a letter different, but it will change the output significantly. I guess what I'm saying is it's a mistake to attack all women as inferior based on one study that is very limited, just like it's a mistake to include stay-at-home moms (who earn zero) in an analysis of the wage gap.  (The brain study was reported on here: --note that the scientist at the end also is saying what I'm saying here: similar is not the same as equivalent)

So, two things I was particularly thinking about women in work lately.

One: there is a lot of "advice" from feminists about how women should succeed in work. Much of it is based on the idea that women and men are functionally equivalent and only differ in behaviors that were imposed on them by society. This drives me crazy because what they are saying is that women are simply inferior men and if they would just do things men's way, they would be less inferior and more successful.

Why are they assuming the men's way of doing things is superior? Why not assume the women's is? Or there is an in between way that is better than both? And why pressure the women to change instead of educating the men's culture about listening and how to "hear and see" women?

This is one of the big reasons I can't get behind feminism. They can't see women as women, but merely as inferior men who, if taught, will be less inferior or maybe even equal. But we don't become equal by becoming less female! If we don't value women, instead of changing women into something we do value, let's change what we value instead. In other words, why are the women trying to to adapt and change in order to be accepted by men who have prejudices? Why not ask the men to heal their wrong views?

Ironic that feminists are trying to solve problems by using the exact same techniques, thought processes, and behaviors the same feminists decry when being used by an abused wife. Instead of insisting the husband stop being abusive, the wife works her tail off to make herself somehow acceptable to his insanity. Hint for the feminists: You can never work hard enough to satisfy an abuser. They will always abuse because it's not really about you.

Two: It is important to realize where the wage gap came from. Way back when, it was socially acceptable to pay men more than women for the same work in the same industry. Why? The men were assumed to be supporting a family and the women were assumed to be single and supporting only themselves.  Why the assumption? It was, generally speaking, true. The exceptions were few and far between (and culturally invisible, to a great extent).

You can look at it this way: What was going on was the men were getting paid for their work AND getting a stipend for their wives' work in staying home raising the children. Women were, essentially, getting paid, through their husbands' employer, to do the immensely vital work of raising good citizens in an intact family.

The problem with it is on a very basic level: it's fundamentally unfair for a woman to deliver ten pizzas for $15  and a man to deliver ten pizzas for $20. Same work. Same duties. Same skills. Same amount of education. And really, the assumptions just didn't hold up. Not all men were supporting families, but they still got paid more. And not all women were single without children, and they still got paid less. And even if the assumptions were true, if you are getting paid to do a job for someone, there isn't a way to twist it that makes it okay to pay different people different amounts for the same job.

So I'm not in favor of keeping the wage gap by any stretch. But it came from a different, woman-friendly and family-friendly place. It was not "pure discrimination" and it would benefit society immensely if people valued the idea that it was best for men to stay with their families and for women to be free to focus on raising their children (whether they have an additional job or not). And one way we show we value things (the main way, it seems) is through money.  The wage gap was and is completely unfair, but it seems it could have been an attempt to support strong family structure and keep families (and therefore society) stable.

Unfortunately, any attempt to keep families strong and stable is seen as an attack on women any more.  Staying home is not a choice, in their minds, but a prison. Raising children is not a choice, but an abusive obligation that women need to let go of.

As long as feminism denies the nature of women and treats motherhood and raising children as abusive (even while giving lip service to the idea that women get to choose what they want their lives to look like--but if you want to be happy it will look like a man's life, they insist. Their way or no way because any other way is a social manipulation that you didn't choose freely), I can't buy in. Wouldn't it be better to draw the men home more instead of pulling the women out into the workplace more? I do not understand why feminism is blind to what women are and refuses to respect what so many women want.

Who defined your net worth to the world in purely monetary terms? Who decided that success looks like lots of cash and few obligations except to yourself?  Who decided that hedonism is the key to happiness?

As long as that is the definition of success, happiness, and value, I don't want any part of feminism.

Did I just read that?

"Only children are actually totally normal, according to science"

The rest of us--teens and adults--are totally messed up. (Does that mean refusal to go to bed and temper tantrums and hyper-picky eating are normal?)

(The article is about children with no siblings....)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Funny kids: Jack says....

The kids are frequently telling me they enjoy reading about what they were like when they were littler--here on the blog. And I realized I have drifted from that some. Those things sometimes end up in my journal and sometimes on Facebook, but really the kids themselves can't go back and reminisce either of those places.

So funny kids is back. For the moment. Until I forget again.


A few days ago Jack informed me that he had an owie on his "fronthead."  "Forehead," I corrected him, looking at what he was touching.

A few days later, he told me the owie was still there on his "Fivehead."

He kinda got it.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Please no more!

I keep running across sensationalized stories (told by FB friends, in the media, etc) of babies and toddlers being tortured to death. Always, the stories are told in graphic detail.

Please, please no more.

I can't take any more.

It's making me physically sick and giving me nightmares and anxiety attacks. I don't need my head filled with the graphic details of how an evil person tortured a baby.

Let's not torture babies at all.

And let's have some decency and not share all the graphic, explicit details.

I can't take any more.

I know the point is to disgust people enough to move them to action, but it seems like this approach is either feeding disgusting voyeuristic tendencies or driving us all into our caves to hide behind our hands and cry.

What good does the manufactured outrage do if I refuse to read the articles because the last one was so distressing? There is no outrage if the coverage of the topic is so disgusting that good people refuse to read. (And that is no favor to the victims).

The media used to quote cops saying, "It's one of the worst cases I've seen," but now they just spill every gruesome detail. Has our society descended so low that we love that kind of thing? Are we not seeing these innocents as suffering humans but instead seeing their gruesome deaths as entertainment?

Just please. No more.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Core Issue

There are still many, many angry and hurt people out there arguing against the church.

I move on and then stumble upon yet another article.

Two things I think are important to keep in mind:

Almost every single article I've read from someone who is decrying the church can be traced in one way or another back to John Dehlin. It appears he is single-handedly trying to destroy the church, and it is important for people to realize this is a manufactured "crisis" from a self-proclaimed religious leader who was censured recently. It appears he is trying to get revenge, single-handedly trying to destroy the church. I'm sure he thinks he's succeeding.

Whether it is even possible to succeed depends on the second thing.

That is, the entire debate actually boils down to NOT what Dehlin is saying ("The LDS Church is a bully"--that's what he wants you to think the issue is).  The entire debate boils down to who do you believe is actually in charge of the LDS Church.

If you believe the church is run by God with the understanding that He uses imperfect people to do His work, but He is still very much in charge, that completely determines your reaction to any statement, policy change, rule, or doctrine. Your perception of God becomes significant in determining your reaction. My personal understanding of God as someone who loves us deeply leads me to always ask, when something perplexes me, "Could this be God's way of showing love to us? If I try to see from God's perspective, would I see this as loving? I trust that it's loving and will ultimately make people happy eternally even if I don't understand."

If you believe the church is run by a team of men with minimal involvement from God, then you see power-brokering, control, corporate resistance to change, big-company money, etc. You see men who are trying at all costs to try to maintain control without letting people in on it, so they will keep following. You see compulsion and manipulation in everything they do.  Perplexingly, if this is what the Mormon Church is, then it is exactly what other churches supposedly are, too, so I don't see why people who dislike how the men of Mormondom run things don't just go someplace where they like how the leaders run things.

Of course, there is more subtlety to the way it's discussed, with varying degrees of God being involved. But ultimately the question boils down to that one question: WHO is actually in charge? God or Men?

Watching all these debates play out, D&C 121 comes to mind frequently.  Here are verses 33-46:

"How long can rolling waters remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens? As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints.

"Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.

"That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.

"We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

"No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

"Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever."

This is an interesting analysis of the subject. One thing I find particularly interesting is that the righteous leaders do not need to exercise power or maintain power or exercise control in order to stay in charge. This is directly related to what the discontent are saying: They are accusing the brethren of exercising unrighteous dominion, trying to manipulate people into staying and force them to remain subservient (and tithe-payers).  The reality is that, for a righteous leader, the people follow without compulsory means. They don't have to be manipulated or controlled.

How you answer the question "Who is in charge" determines how you see what is going on, whether you are following willingly or you feel you are being compelled.

Did I just read that?

Blog post from June 2011:

From Boulder Craigslist today: "Free Stuff!!! Kids trucks, Gazelle, Patio furniture, freezer, toddler - (Lyons) pic"

As if Gazelle wasn't surprising enough--toddler?

Follow up on Choir or Not?

From Sept 2011

It has been suggested that individual amplification is a boundary line for whether something is a choir or not. I actually think this is a good general litmus test.

However, it takes but 2 seconds on YouTube to find examples that break the rule:

Definitely a choir, and every member has individual amplification (due to the nature of the venue and the fact that they were filming, so they needed pristine sound).

and this is definitely an acappella group, but singing completely unamplified:

Obviously the rule must be "I know it when I hear it."

Did I just read that?

Old blog post, from February 2012:

The teaser under the top headline on right now: "Despite 2008 Supreme Court decision ensuring DC residents can own guns, some say getting one is 'expensive' and 'very difficult,' but local councilman counters that capital has a higher public safety burden."

MONEY has a higher public safety burden. Of course.

The error is repeated in the article: ""This is the nation's capital, and we have a higher public safety burden than any other city in this country," Mendelson said."

I think Washington must have an inflated sense of their own value. That city is the capital for all the rest of us? I want to cash out, thanks.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cleaning up blogger

I discovered (to my horror) that I wrote 62 blog posts that ended up in "drafts" instead of published.

That's a lot.

Some are not finished but were written in 2009 so I have no idea what I was planning to say.

So over the next few days I'll publish the ones that warrant publishing, but keep in mind that they're old.

Sorry about that.

(I deleted more than half, so you only get spammed with 30 of them....)
A blog post I found from 4/30/2010 that for some reason I never published.  I'm so glad Tim has put family before career all these years:


Hi Mister Tim,

I'm a casting producer for NBC's The Marriage Ref produced by Jerry Seinfeld. I saw your video for Enter Sandman on kazoo and I couldn't resist shooting you an email. Any chance you're married and kazooing drives your wife nuts? Just had to ask. Would love to put you in touch with the casting producers if you are married!!

Theresa Horwitz
Shed Media

Tim replied:

Hi, Theresa!

I am married, but my wife adores the kazoo. We are also not really interested in the reality TV thing if it involves showing my family (we have five kids, and have been through the contract stages for AGT and The Sing-Off; we know the huge family story would make for great TV, but we're not interested).

If there's a way to get me on TV doing music, not involving the family, I'm interested!

Thanks for the email!

Where do they get these questions?

I wrote this in 2007. I don't know why it didn't publish then:

"Raising kids, I get more difficult questions than ever I answered in college.

Today, Dan asked, "Mom, do monkeys have fingernails?"

Um....I think so. I'll have to look up monkey pictures online to be sure."

SO excited about this--can't not share it.

Wrote this in 2010. I don't know why it went to drafts instead of publishing then:

This is the coolest site on the web.  Seriously.

You can now walk 17 of the world's greatest art museums virtually. Zoom in on paintings. Make comments.

You can even make a personal art collection that you can share with others.

Incredible. I love this place.


I was just following an interesting discussion on FB that has been deleted, so I can't even catch a screenshot of it.

Someone asked the LDS Homeschoolers (national) facebook group (think: stay at home moms with multiple children who are devout in their faith) a simple question: What do you do for fasting when you are pregnant or nursing?

The ensuing comments were really fascinating to me. They revealed so much--about what people think "fasting" means.

Officially, the church defines fasting as refraining from food and drink, and they ask us to fast for "two meals" once a month and use the money we would have spent on food for those meals to donate to the poor.

Many of the women in the group came down hard (which is why I think the post got deleted) in saying, "NO. You should never fast when pregnant or nursing."  First of all, that violated the first rule of civil discourse for women's groups on social media: Use the word "I" and discuss your own personal experience rather than insist on your answer being the law.  So it was kinda weird to see how many women don't get that. Secondly, it was a reflection of official advice from the church: women who are pregnant or nursing are not expected to fast.

Other women talked about fasting from everything but the bare minimum to stay alive.

Others (including me) talked about changing the amount of time you expect to fast to something healthy for the baby.

I saw, underpinning each of the comments, an interesting thing.  Many people in the church have bought into a cultural impression that "2 meals means 24 hours" (which it doesn't unless you eat in one particular way--only at meals that are always at set times with no snacks ever) and that "fasting" means the monthly fast of "Fast Sunday" and nothing else.

It is so fascinating to me because to me, fasting is a choice you make to abstain from food and drink for a period of time as a way of petitioning Heavenly Father for something. I don't know why it works, but it does.  I think it works to abstain from other things, too, and I find prayer an integral part of the experience. (I always combine fasting and prayer or else I find myself wondering what the difference is between going to church and forgetting breakfast in the chaos of dressing everyone and going to church fasting. I, personally, need the prayer to distinguish fasting from just being hungry.)

Anyway, the different views made a true discussion almost impossible because we were all talking about different things. (Note: this is why at the beginning of any lesson I teach, I define the terms we are talking about. I always start with the question, "What is ______?" so that we all know we're on the same page, or at least are aware of each other's interpretations of the topic.)

Here is why I don't subscribe to the "fasting means 24 hours without food or drink on Fast Sunday" interpretation of the "law of the fast": it is inflexible.

Generally speaking, I find the gospel and the church to be incredibly, unbelievable flexible. Miraculously so, actually. The principles can be applied in any life, despite handicaps and hiccups. The general rules are taught, and the application of them is left up to you.

So, for example, the teaching to fast "for two meals."  For those of us with energy production disorders (like fibro or chronic fatigue) or food-related disorder (like diabetes or hypoglycemia), two meals can mean something vastly different than it does for the average, non-disordered human. When I was on my mission and tried to fast for 12 hours (not even the full 24, as I actually cannot fall asleep--at all--without having just eaten before getting in bed (or even in bed). Apparently that's common for people with fibro) I discovered that I would become not just "hangry" (hungry+angry) but downright cruelly abusive to the people around me. My poor companions. I had to stop trying to fast by other people's rules because that was leading me toward sin, not away from it.  It didn't take me long to realize, though, that I could still fast from 2 meals: I was eating every 2 hours, so I could fast for 4 hours, eat at the end of church, and still get the benefits of fasting.

That's the beauty of the way God has set things up: they work for all of us. The blessings of living the gospel, like the blessings of fasting, are not denied to people because of their disabilities.

(I know you're saying, "But some people never get to get married, and some never get to have babies..."  True. True.  I'm not talking about all blessings that exist, but the blessings of obedience and the blessings of living the gospel, which are different than the idea that each person gets all the good things in existence.  That's not true no matter how we splice it.)

Can pregnant and nursing women fast for 2 full meals according to the traditional meal schedule?  No. It's not healthy for them or baby.

Can they still fast and get the blessings of it?


You just have to remember that the church-wide fast is different from "fasting" as a principle.

You can fast, using the principle, any time for however long you want for any purpose you desire. That means a pregnant woman can fast for 20 minutes if she wants.  Or five. God understands our limitations and what constitutes an actual fast within our own limits.

You can also fast from a particular thing. If you can't go without food and water, perhaps you can fast from all but certain types of simple foods. Or fast from all electronic media, including your cell phone. Or fast from something else that is important to you. That works for a lot of people I know (fasting from everything except bread and water, for example). In Arizona summers, missionaries are not allowed to fast from water. It's too dangerous.

In other words, the real world application of the gospel is flexible and God is okay with that.

You can also participate in the church-wide fast by following the guidelines (notice that they aren't rules--it's not an all-or-nothing proposition on this one):  Fast for 2 meals and donate to the poor. And if 2 meals for you is one hour, that's fine. And if all you can donate is a few cents, go for it. You participated.

And if you can't participate or don't want to or forgot (how many times have I forgotten? Many), there is no punishment for that.

Can a pregnant woman safely fast for 24 hours? No. But I do think it's a shame to tell a pregnant woman, "You can never fast" because what if she is in particular need of something? What if her husband is sick? What if she needs revelation and thinks fasting will help? I have noticed fasting has immense power in my life, and to deny me that for 15 years straight (that's how long I have been pregnant or nursing straight through so far) because of some arbitrary interpretations and rules that have been imposed socially would be a great tragedy.

So the whole discussion left me pondering, again, how bizarre it is that we seem to feel compelled to impose our "version" of righteousness on everyone around us, like a 5 year old tries to force his siblings to obey the rules the way he says to (all my 5 year olds have done this). It's like trying to say "Chocolate is against the Word of Wisdom because it has caffeine in it and caffeine is against the Word of Wisdom" (no, I didn't make that up.)  That might be true for one family, who finds that the Spirit tells them to abstain from chocolate. It's not true for all of us.

It's so fascinating that for people for whom the "rules" have always worked, the idea that anyone would need to bend them is unfathomable.  It's easy to say, "All my way or nothing at all" when you've never been pregnant and needed to fast for someone you love.  It's easy to say, "Never drink caffeine ever" if you've never had a migraine. And, sadly, it's easy to condemn people who don't follow "the rules" the exact way we do.

Is it important to be obedient? Vitally so. But it's also important to notice who we are being obedient to: societal expectations? Or God?

In some ways, it seems, we are all inclined to be like the Pharisees.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I find this amusing

A bunch of people just resigned from a church that they say is not true and is hurtful and damaging. Why did they resign? Because the church didn't let small children join...

This makes no sense.

Friday, November 13, 2015

A beautifully confusing doctrine

A sister who I never knew but who served with my mission president popped up in my facebook feed today.

She was participating in the new fad: Saying "I am a member in good standing and I believe in the church with all my heart, but I have to make a public statement that the church is actually wrong when society says they are."  They always use the phrase "stand with" in the statement (as in "I cannot stand with the church on this issue"). I assume you've seen one. I only recognized it today as a viral behavior--a fad.

Aside from pointing out how odd it is that it has become faddish to publicly express apostasy rather than privately turn to God for understanding when something doesn't make sense, I thought a phrase she used was interesting.

She quoted my mission president (who I loved and who helped me through some very difficult things) in saying that God will never make us eternally unhappy. And so, she concluded, the Church will change that policy about gay marriage and she'll just wait it out until they do.

The problem with that interpretation of what Pres. Bates said is two-fold.

First, it doesn't say that God will never make us unhappy in this life except temporarily, and if we wait He will fix it. In fact, God does leave us in unhappy circumstances for a long time in this life. Some people (many people, in fact), are left in unhappy circumstances for their entire lives. God is in the eternally happy business, not the happy every second of my life business. As far as I can tell, eternally happy is created by earthly unhappiness. That's how we grow.

Second, that interpretation assumes that we know what will make us happy eternally. But, given that we don't understand our own nature as gods in embryo, and given that we are actually not capable of understand eternity, how could we possibly determine what will make us happy there? I can't count  the number of things that I thought would make me happy and I didn't get and then later was so glad that God denied them to me.  Obviously I can't even determine what will make me happy next week--how could I determine what will make me happy eternally?

I believe the right approach to the idea that God will never make you unhappy eternally is to assume that God knows more than you do, and God wants even more than you for you to be happy, and He knows who you really are, and His ideas about what will make you happy eternally should always, always trump yours.

Which means, as unpopular as it is to say, that even the rules that are socially unacceptable (like no sex outside of marriage) are designed to make us happy if we have the faith to obey even when it makes no sense. The key is that we have to obey even if it makes no sense, and even if the entire world comes down to say that it's wrong.  Even if that means we don't get to have sex ever, for our entire lives. We have to trust God more than we trust ourselves or our understanding.

And that absolutely necessitates that you first figure out who has authority to speak for God, how those messages come, and what obedience looks like. Who can we trust? Who brings us the word of God? And if they bring us the word and we don't like what we hear, what do we do about it?

And yes, the sister was right: we do have to wait, often. Wait for rescue, wait for help, wait for understanding, wait for the eternities.

Good thing praying for understanding and praying for patience are some of the most useful things I've ever learned to do.  Also, I've found it extremely beneficial to pray that if there is something I'm pretty sure I know for sure that isn't actually true, could God help me understand what the truth is instead?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Two bits on an issue I wish wasn't an issue

Okay, so I've tried to avoid writing on this issue because it's being yelled everywhere, and nobody is listening or agreeing or able to see eye to eye. But here I am writing. And I'm going to try really hard not to tell you what is the "right" answer here, although you'll probably know what I think by the time I'm done writing.

The church recently updated the handbook for bishops, and the information was made public on purpose to discredit the church and drive people away. I'm sure many people have heard this already. The updates include instructions that children in gay-marriage households cannot be baptized until they are "of age" (commonly believed to mean 18 yo in America) and agree to the church's doctrines on gay marriage. Also, participating in gay marriage is now defined as apostasy and automatically triggers church disciplinary hearings. (This decision takes the discretion out of the hands of bishops dealing with the issue and creates a unified response to it church-wide, Elder Christofferson explained.)

Cue uproar, engineered by men who openly are trying to distress people and discredit the church.

And yeah, it sounds mean at first glance.

The confusion and unhappiness were so instant and so widespread among my generation of church members that our Stake Conference adult session was about this issue, to a great extent.

I have many, many friends and family members who are confused and angry and hurt. "How can they do that to kids?" is what they're asking. "How can they punish kids for their parents' sins? How can they make this supposed sin more firmly dealt with than other sins? How are stable gay parents' children being judged when drug addict and pedophile parents' kids aren't? How can they make kids denounce their parents?" Lots of questions, many rooted in a knee-jerk reaction that doesn't seem, at first glance, to be founded in the reality of the situation or careful thought.

But I've found that many of my friends are living in this knee-jerk reaction, roiling it around and around in their brains without asking two very pertinent questions:

1. Given the church's doctrines about marriage, family, and homosexuality, what is the kindest, most respectful, most supportive and compassionate way to treat children in families founded in a gay marriage?


2. Is the issue that's bugging me the kids thing, or is really that the church has gone ahead and made a definitive statement that living in a gay marriage is apostasy?  

For many of my friends, they think they're upset about the kids not getting to be baptized, but when you listen to them talk for any length of time at all, it becomes very clear that what they are actually upset about is that the church has defined participating in gay marriage as apostasy, not that kids are not being allowed to join a church that preaches against their family structure. 

Why is this so horrifying to them, especially since the church has considered homosexual behavior a sin for as long as any of us can remember? I think it comes from three places.

The first is that many people know a gay couple now, and they know their friends are actually not freaks or weirdos or scary or evil. They're nice people. How could such nice people be labeled sinners? They're nice. They're loving. They're good friends. They are devoted spouses. We love them. Obviously they're good people. So it becomes very uncomfortable to even hint that they might be sinning--especially a sin like apostasy. How could such nice people be apostate? 

The second is our entire culture, including many Mormons, had concluded that the church was "coming around" to agree with society, and that now that gay marriage is legal, it is acceptable in all realms or would be very soon. It seems as though people had concluded that sex outside marriage is wrong, so sex inside marriage--any marriage--is right, and therefore gay marriage is no sin because the sex is all inside a legal marriage. And, furthermore, people seemed to think the Church as an institution was moving in that direction and pretty soon gay marriages would even be taking place inside the temple, once the church leaders understood how much gay couples love each other and what nice people they are. With that belief, or even a hint of it, firmly tucked into people's minds, it came as quite a shock that the church would come down and say that participating in gay marriage is apostasy. You mean they aren't actually coming around? How could that be? Our culture, science, and our laws say this is okay, so how could anyone go against that?

The third thing that is influencing this reaction seems to be that people don't know what apostasy actually means. When they think of apostasy, they think of people who have done horrible things and been kicked out of the church--people who are scary to associate with. Apostates are those awful people who believe ______ thing that we find offensive, right?

There's a big part of the problem. Apostasy isn't this horrible, heinous crime committed by evil people who want to destroy the church.  Apostasy is defection. It's leaving. It's not agreeing with the doctrine of the church and choosing to go another direction. 

"Apostasy (/əˈpɒstəsi/; Greek: ἀποστασία (apostasia), "a defection or revolt") is the formal disaffiliation from, or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person. It can also be defined within the broader context of embracing an opinion contrary to one's previous beliefs."

So the church has made it clear that in their eyes, the action of participating in a gay marriage is, itself, a clear abandonment of the church's doctrines. It is an apostasy, by the very definition of apostasy above, because it is an action that proves a person does not believe what the church teaches about marriage, which is central to church beliefs. THIS is what has upset many of my friends, although they don't seem to realize that. It's as if legal and socially acceptable came to = okay with me and therefore okay with God, and this change in the handbook has gone against that.

Interestingly, many of my friends who are upset about this actually abandoned the church and many of its teachings years ago. They don't go to church. They disagree with many of the doctrines. They speak out often about how wrong the church is about so many things. But they don't want to be labeled apostate because it's a loaded word with all kinds of cultural connotations. But if we go by the strict definition of apostasy, they or their friends are already there. It just hasn't been formalized. 

Others of my friends are hurting and sad because they have loved ones and close friends who are gay and in steady relationships or marriages, and they can't reconcile their knowledge of how wonderful their loved ones are with the idea that their relationships are being labeled sinful. I have no idea what is actually going through their minds, but they seem to be upset that even if their loved ones get married (the former "cure" for illicit relationships in the church), the relationships will still be considered sinful, even if they make the loved ones happy and are the best thing that has happened to them in a long time.

Others are upset because the policy is already being misapplied, with things like children who live with straight parents but have gay parents (in a divorce situation) that they don't even live with being denied baptism. Or straight married faithful mormons being told if they speak to their gay parents ever again or let them see their grandchildren, they'll be excommunicated.  That's just wrong, and it needs to be clarified and corrected.

The thing my friends seem to be upset about is the idea that the church is calling people they love sinners. And that's is hard for them to swallow. It's very sticky--how do they say that something that has given joy and stability to their loved ones is wrong? How could they possibly ask them to abandon that for a life of loneliness? And yet, if it's a sin, how can they not encourage them to repent? How can they go hurt their friends by saying the friend's love--or marriage!--is actually sinful? And yet, if it is....

You see the problem? It's very difficult. People really really don't want homosexual behavior to be a sin. They want it to be a healthy lifestyle choice that brings happiness. They want God to be okay with whatever we choose on that. And the church said He's not. Or at least that they aren't.  And so people are confused and hurting and wondering where to go from here.

Part of the issue, too, is how you see baptism. I'm not going to go into detail here, but people who see baptism as a sacred covenant to behave certain ways are responding to this differently from people who see baptism as a cultural rite of passage and a social construct.

And do I have an answer for that? No. No solutions except turn to Christ for comfort and pray for answers because I haven't got any for you other than that. I can't even tell you what you should believe--but I do believe that God will do that for you if you ask Him. He promises to give liberally and upbraid not, as the scripture says.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

"Doctrines" I hear that hurt when you're suffering anyway

So often when I am suffering I see people and hear people sharing "doctrines" that are supposed to help, but actually make things worse. They are false doctrines that we use to soothe our own souls (not really those who are suffering), to make sense of someone else having to suffer, and to relieve us of responsibility to do something about it.

Some examples:

"Everything happens for a reason."  Every time I hear this I think about child abuse. Yes--that abuse happened for a reason. The reason was there are wicked people in the world. It is not true that everything is set up and controlled by God, or else God is a monster and there is no agency. But there is agency and humans are the monsters. And some things just happen, not controlled nor set up by God.

"You won't be tested above that which you can bear."  Yes, you will. Else why would you need Jesus? The point is not that we can do it ourselves, but that we can't.  This, I think, is a corruption of this scripture, Alma 13:28-29: "But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble,meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering; Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest."  Praying continually that you not be temped above that which we can bear is a far cry from a promise that we'll never be tested too hard.  In fact, we do get tested to the breaking point and beyond, and I think that's not by accident.

"Everything works together for your good." This one, like the others, is a corruption of actual scripture. The phrase appears repeatedly in scripture, but always as part of a sentence, not a whole sentence. For example, Romans 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." And D&C 100:15: "Therefore, let your hearts be comforted; for all things shall work together for good to them that walk uprightly, and to the sanctification of the church." And D&C 90:24: "Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another."  Clearly it's not a blanket promise the way we sling it around: Don't worry, keep sinning, and everything will work out for your good.  Not so. The promise includes some serious devotion to God on our parts to be applicable.

"If you pay your tithing, God will bless you financially."  This, of course, is actually part of the old erroneous belief that you can tell how righteous a person is (or isn't) by their money because God's blessings come in coins and bills. If this were true, then Jesus was the sinningest of sinners--he was homeless, after all.  The reality is that God does promise us a blessing for paying tithing, but He doesn't specify what that blessing is. (Malachi 3:10 says, "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.") Might be money. It might be love, or great ideas, or health, or patience to get through trials. Paying tithing is not a way of manipulating God into making us rich.

"If you come to God with full purpose of heart and repent, he will take your trials away from you." Like tithing is not a way to manipulate God into doing things your way, repentance is not a way of manipulating God into giving you what you want. We are commanded to repent, but as far as I can tell, the results of our obedience are in God's hands, not ours. We can petition Him for blessings we want, but we don't get to make deals with God that if I do _____, you'll do _____. We just have to learn to trust Him anyway, and that's hard when we have no control. If you say this to people, though, they think they are to blame for their trials ("You just aren't repentant enough or you'd get pregnant; you don't have a baby because you are a sinner") or that God is a liar ("I repented and my baby still died.") or that there is cause-and-effect where there is none ("If I repent, my infertility will be cured.")

Ultimately, all of these things we say are really hurtful and, instead of increasing faith (which is what the speaker is intending), they damage people's faith because they aren't true and can't hold up to logic, reason, faith, or the pain of trials.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Things I didn't consider

I always wanted a lot of kids, but now that we have 8, I'm finding there are things that I didn't consider that are tricky or surprising about having a lot of kids.

For example, I didn't think about:

-having to wrangle 8 Halloween costumes, all of which have to go on in the same hour on Halloween

-how many socks, shirts, pants, underthings, etc. 10 people wear in one day, or have to own all together. (Once a friend suggested we might simplify things by having fewer clothes. So I started doing some math: if I limited each person to only owning 5 shirts and 3 pairs of pants, that's 80 items of clothing not counting socks or underwear or specialty things like swimsuits. And everyone seems to agree that nobody can live with just 5 shirts and 3 pairs of pants.)

-the fact that my dishwasher actually can't hold all the dishes it takes just to feed (not even to cook for) 10 people a single dinner

-how much it costs to get one person a decent, simple Christmas. Times ten.

-fitting people around a normal table in a normal dining room (normal tables and dining rooms are not designed for dinner parties)

-that everywhere we go, we'd be our own parade

-shoes. SO. Many. Shoes. (and none match when you're in a hurry)

-how long it takes to put 8 people to bed, and how shocking it can be when, an hour later, six people show up in the kitchen insisting they can't sleep without a snack--and that's when some stay in bed. (Is there a bedtime equivalent of elevensies?)

-preparing 8 math lessons every single day. Or even just finding places to put 8 different math books.

and so much more....

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Fixing cars

Our little car is working again. Van not so much, but we mostly can get around okay with just the little one, provided we don't all have to go somewhere at once. (Good thing we can walk to church!)

Apparently we've been fixing cars too much.

Tonight, Jack asked us to take him to King Soopers so he could drive the car cart around the store. So we took him over and he drove while we did a little bit of shopping.

Then he insisted we stop. He climbed out and said, "It has a leak."  He lay down on the floor and peered under the car cart.  "It's a battery leak," he said solemnly.

Then he lay down on his back and tried to slide under the car cart to fix it. He banged his head. "I don't fit!" he said in surprise, and hopped up.

I finally showed him how to hit it to make it go (like you do with old TVs, right?). So he settled on fixing it that way and climbed back in to keep driving, after a swift kick for good measure.

Alas, even the 2 year old has figured out that part of the deal (for us anyway) is that we drive a bit and then the darn thing breaks down and you have to go slide underneath on your back to fix it.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Did I just read that?

“I think it has to have something to do [with] the pain underlying it,” both physical and psychic, he said. “That is the age when people have their midlife crisis . . . I think it has to do with that stage of life, and physical ailments do start to accumulate at that age."

Psychic pain...interesting. I guess seeing the future is painful.

(I believe the word he was looking for was "psychological." Technically psychic is appropriate in this sentence, but psychological would have been more clear.)

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Did I just read that?

"And men are more comfortable being touched by a woman than by another man. But then, men feel more comfortable being touched by strangers than by women. " (

Where is the sense in this?

Developmental Stages The Doctors Forget to Tell You About

We've noticed, now that we've had 8 kids, that there are developmental stages kids go through that nobody ever talks about.

Some stages we've noticed and roughly the age our kids hit that stage:

The "I did not give you permission to sit down, adult, and so I will wail" stage: 3-4 months
The "I must nurse right when everyone else wants to sit down for dinner" stage: 4 months
The "I must nurse right when we're supposed to walk out the door, even if I just ate 10 minutes ago" stage: 4 months
The "I'm bored and can see what everyone else can do, and my brain is ready but my body isn't" stage: 5 months
The "let me help you cook/lean toward the hot stove while you're trying to hold me while you make dinner" stage: 6 months
The "Just kidding! I don't sleep through the night any more!" stage: 6 months
The "rip your lips and nose off with my sharp claws" stage: 7-8 months
The "tries to turn head while nursing without letting go" stage: 8-9 months
The "flop around on the bed" stage: 8-9 months
The "Oh, look! It's Daddy--he'll hold me! Oh, Mommy--you hold me! Oh, look! It's Daddy--he'll hold me" passing-the-baby-back-and-forth-at-his-request stage: 7-8 months
The "Scratch and hit the wall for no reason" stage: 9-10 months
The "I'll feed You" stage: 9 months
The "oh, wait, I can actually lick stuff off my fingers?" stage: 9 months
The "I must watch the potty flush" stage: 9 months
The "nod with my whole body" stage: 9-10 months
The "I refuse to sleep in a crib any longer. I will not sleep unless you are holding me, even if I have slept alone my whole life" stage: 9-10 months
The "crawl in a room alone and close the door and sit in such a way that you can't get it open without hurting me and then wail because I'm stuck and you won't help me" stage: 10 months
The "crying real tears because my feelings are hurt" stage: 10 months
The "help you by unloading the dirty dishwasher onto the floor" stage: 10 months
The "I can do peekaboo by myself" stage: 8-10 months
The "hold me here by the light switch so I can turn it on and off and on and off by myself" stage: 11-12 months
The "I'll wave bye-bye to you, stranger who said bye bye to me, but only three or four minutes later after we've walked away and I can't see you anymore" stage: 10  months
The first "I say super cute things" stage: 1 year
The "I like to put things in and take things out" stage: 1 year
The "I want to stand on a chair and play in the sink" stage: 18 months-2 years
The "I can't sleep when you want me to, but I'll fall dead asleep on the kitchen floor at the strangest times" stage: 1-2 years
The "I love micro-short little nearly-plotless stories about me playing with toys or a puppy" stage: 18 months-2 years
The "I can do the actions to songs myself" stage: 1-2 years
The "line up toys in long straight lines" stage: 2 years
The "mommy is six years old and brother is eight and I am seven" stage: 2 years
The "wow. YouTube." stage: 2 years
The "hey, I can tell a joke and tease" stage: 2 years
The "hand soap on the mirror--I was cleaning it!" stage: 2-3 years
The "Love to play Pease Porridge Hot with Daddy" stage: 3 years
The "I will not answer to my name; you must call me ____" stage: 3 years
The second "I say super cute things" stage: 3 years
The "are mom and dad brother and sister?" and "what do you mean Grandma is Dad's mom?" stage: 3 years
The "I can anticipate where you are going so I'll stand right where you are trying to end up" stage: 3 years
The "making potions for hours" stage: 3-4 years
The "can I PLEASE go on the roof?" stage: 3-4 years
The "I refuse to go to bed" stage: 4 years
The "I refuse to let anyone else go to bed, either" stage: 4 years
The "Suddenly I'm afraid of everything at night" stage: 4 years
The "I can't sleep because I'm hungry" stage: 4 years
The "I came up to go potty in the middle of the night but I had to wake you up to tell you first" stage: 4 years
The "Please can I sleep on the couch while you sit up next to me all night" stage: 4 years
The "river system/I like to play in running water and mud" stage: 4-5 years (and beyond, but it really starts at 4-5 years)
The "it doesn't look like I imagined it so I'm going to tear it up and melt down into a puddle on the floor and refuse to do ___ ever again! Loudly!" stage: 5 years
The "okay so maybe I don't actually care if you're cooking something, I don't need to stand on a chair and help/watch" stage: 5 years
The "oh, maybe I actually _don't_ want to come to the store with you" stage: 6 years
The "drawing a lot of comics" stage: 6 years
The "I delight in absurdity" stage: 6 years
The "I want to cook things on the stove myself" stage: 7 years
The "I have a lot of great ideas at bedtime and want to tell you all of them before I sleep" stage: 8 years on up
The "I think I'm going to write a novel" stage: 8.5 years
The "I'm so glad I'm weird, right?" stage: 10 years

Do you have more to add that you've noticed?