Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Casting the first stone...and the second and the third...

So much of what I am able to write has been positive and affirming, stories of changing perceptions, education and understanding.  This post is not part of that.

I read today that the Islamic State stoned to death two men, claiming that these men were gay. The Islamic State seems to be functioning under the impression that it is God. Or Allah... as if either would stone anyone.

The killings were reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. According to this report, the first victim was approximately 20 years old and was killed in Mayadeen, an eastern province of Deir Ezzor, which is close to the Iraq border.

The Observatory, a group based in England reported that the IS claimed it had found proof of "practicing indecent acts with males" on the victims cell phone.
In a separate but similar incident, another man was killed for the same reason.  An 18-year-old man was stoned to death in Deir Ezzor city after the IS proclaimed him gay, the Observatory said.

"Activists on social media said that the dead men were opponents of IS and that the group had used the allegation as a pretext to kill them" said the Observatory.

Activists who have taken to social media say the IS carries out public executions regularly. Many of these are beheadings.  Women have been infamously targeted for centuries.

This is what modern Gadianton robbers look like.  Take a good look and understand it for what it is. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Are there lines to be drawn between Homosexuality and Polygamy?

In 1986 I was on my mission in a very poor area of Central America.  I didn't entertain a lot of sophisticated questions. 

I did answer preguntas like "are you part of the CIA". "How many TVs does your family have?" "What shampoo do you use?" (because my hair became increasingly blond throughout my mission) and "How many girlfriends do you have?" which, in retrospect, may have been a prequel to "how many wives do you have?"

This was the closest I came to having to answer the polygamy question.

After my mission I did have chances to explain our position on polygamy -- mostly to fellow Mormons.  I was always amazed at how many of my contemporaries didn't know about polygamy, had chosen to ignore it completely, or used it as the reason to not commit to the Church. 

As a youth, a very gay youth, I had been fascinated with church history from a young age and read what I could find in the pre-Internet world -- which included some anti-Mormon literature I'm afraid.
There was always a part of polygamy that I didn't not understand -- kind of like a chapter that was missing from the information available.

However, and this is a big deal to me, I never doubted the LDS church or its teachings, or the Gospel, because there was a chapter missing.  I knew that someday I would find it and I could read all about it and have my questions answered.

From what I had read, polygamy happened.  It had been a Mormon thing. Some in the early church were called, or asked, to participate, and others were not.  Some found out about polygamy and tried to exploit it. Everyone knew what was happening, but they didn't know the why.

My understanding, again as a youth at the time, was that polygamy existed to care for many of the woman. With my current understanding, the caring for women may have been a result but was not the impetus of the decision.

 I do not know details of the impetus. I do believe that Joseph Smith moved in holy circles which were part of his very human existence, and I believe that he received revelation.  I believe that Joseph god fearing man would not have taken such a thing lightly. Therefore:

  "It's a good day to be a Mormon moment"

Don't you just love a timely press release?

The good news is that there is acknowledgement and information on the subject.  More good news is that conversations may now happen on the subject without people feeling that they are somehow subversive. We are now, if we actually weren't before, free to ask questions in a way that has never before been done.  About.  Anything.

Do you see where this is going?

Like I said... good day to be a Mormon.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Push those buttons!

Mormons are pushing the right buttons, and I say Yah!  or Yeah!  I can't spell it but I am saying it.

I have always been proud to be a Mormon.  Always.  Sometimes I looked like a farm boy from Idaho in the polite protestations of my faith.  I have been called ignorant, and blind.  I have been called gringo and fag.  I have been called a Ute fan.  

That last one really hurt.

On my mission, when I would bear my testimony, I was sometimes questioned about polygamy, or my underwear, or a slew of things I felt I had to keep somewhat mum about. 

Even in the days when I was actively being gay (having sex with men) I defended the church. That should have clued me in -- that I was feeling strongly about both the LDS church and about my homosexuality.  They were both completely totally real for me. I feel the same today.  I know that the Church is true, and I know that I am gay.

I was never really good at keeping mum. If I was ever asked about something church-ish I would do my best to explain while trying to be respectful to all involved. Even once, in a very compromising situation (not going to get into my past much on this blog) I defended the church and the church leaders while acting very much like someone who would have a problem with the churches stance on homosexuality.

(It wasn't a secret that I was gay, nor was it a secret that I believed wholeheartedly in the priesthood and the authority of the LDS church.)

Now the church is doing the same thing.  No, they aren't doing that same thing at all, but they -- the leaders -- are doing their best to explain churchy stuff while being respectful to those involved. 

Therefore, today's 


is brought to you by this Deseret News article on Mormons making clarifications.

Today's clarification concerns LDS stances on suicide and suicide prevention. The gist is that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released a new "Mormon Message" video regarding suicide prevention.

The video, entitled "Sitting on the Bench: Thoughts on Suicide Prevention," encourages people of the LDS faith and others to be aware of those around them and to offer help by reaching out..

Thrilled.  I am thrilled by this video and by the sentiment that is firmly attached.  My own mother took her life in 1974.  Had those around her been aware of symptoms and behaviors, her death could have been avoided and she could have gotten real help.  Of course the bulk of the help in 1974 was a butt load of Thorazine, so maybe this is the perfect time for the LDS church to put such a video out.

With the video is a  painting by Greg Olsen in which a boy sits on a bench next to Jesus Christ. Nate Olsen, Gregs son,shares the personal story that inspired the painting involving a friend of his who took his own life.

Tomorrow I will write about the churches stance on Polygamy.