Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mormon Church Responds to HRC Petition

Here are two important quotes from the statement made by the LDS Church through a statement realised as a petition was turned in from the HRC.

Some expected this to come out  during general conference from the podium. It is a bit late in coming, and the doctrine of "feelings are different from behaviors" has not changed.  It is still nice to hear these things officially.  

"While we disagree with the Human Rights Campaign on many fundamentals, we also share some common ground. This past week we have all witnessed tragic deaths across the country as a result of bullying or intimidation of gay young men.  We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation or for any other reason.  Such actions simply have no place in our society."

"As a church, our doctrinal position is clear: any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in His condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel. His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down."

To read the release you have but to click.

Church Responds to HRC Petition

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Worth of a Word - A Timely FYI

Love ya Elder Packer
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has changed the text of Boyd K. Packer’s sermon on morality, homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Packer’s sermon claimed that homosexuality was not born of inbred “tendencies.”  In the Church’s online text version of Packer’s talk, the word “tendencies” was changed to “temptations.”

During his original talk, Elder Packer spoke of homosexual tendencies saying, "Some suppose that they were pre- set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, he is our Father.”

Another change to Packer’s talk includes the omission of the entire sentence, “Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?”

Also on Thursday night, the Church released a statement about the protest, saying:
“Of course, the Church recognizes the right of groups to voice their opinion in the public square. However, those familiar with the Church’s doctrine on the importance of marriage and family know it is based on principles of respect and love for all of God’s children. We have continually emphasized that there is no room in this discussion for hatred or mistreatment of anyone.”

UPDATE: Late Friday evening, Scott Trotter, LDS Church spokesman, released the following statement regarding the edits made in Elder Packer's talk:  “The Monday following every General Conference, each speaker has the opportunity to make any edits necessary to clarify differences between what was written and what was delivered or to clarify the speaker’sintent. President Packer has simply clarified his intent. As we have said repeatedly, the Church’s position on marriage and family is clear and consistent. It is based on respect and love for all of God’schildren.”

Though is is not uncommon for a talk to have edits between the time spoken and the time available in print, I think this is may cautiously be considered progress.  Elder Packer has taken some of the harshness out.  He talk mentioned that moral standards do not change, and they didn't.  But his wording did.  He could have easily let it be - I don't see him as one to cave in to public opinion.  The changes were made because it was the right thing to do.

Elder Packer has always been known as the champion of the working man, and this edit seems true to form.   

News 4 Utah Connection

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jenny, Emma, and Idaho

In honor of Jenny

I thought I would pass along a letter I received today from my friend Jenny (not as nice a name as her real one) – who kindly granted permission. I think the questions she raises are important as all get-out.

Hey- (Jenny is from Idaho where this is an acceptable greeting)

Help me to understand this, the talk by Elder Packer. I really thought the LDS church had moved past his kind of rhetoric. The reports of the G.A (Larsen) who spent time with church members in California was so encouraging- I knew that it wasn't going to make the church change course but it was heartening to read that the leadership was tuning in to the concern of families and friends over Prop 8.

I've heard from some folks that, “well it's just BKP- that's how he is. He was in his heyday a racist, sexist man”. It troubles me deeply that the brethren allowed him to give this talk. I have been thinking about it and what if it was black people he was talking about? What if it was my bi-racial son? Would the people I love, the people who love my son be okay with what was said?

I'm not suggesting that BKP was advocating hate, intolerance or anything like that but hearing a message, "over the pulpit" does do a couple of things:

1) For gay member or those who are dealing with SSA (using your lingo) what this says to them is, if you're not over it then you don't have enough faith. What is enough faith? It's like when my father had a huge dealy brain tumor and people would tell me that faith can heal and create miracles. So, what does that say to his family and loved ones that he died within the time-frame expected from this dealy tumor? That we didn't love our father enough or have enough faith for him to make a full recovery? And what does it say about the dozens, yes dozens, of young men and women I've known throughout my life who on bended and humble knees asked for the burden of homosexuality to be lifted and have failed?

2) Because the average church member doesn't understand the dynamics of being gay, hearing BKP say what he said about sexual orientation, they will think “yeah, get over it”. I think that viewpoint breeds intolerance in an already homophobic group of people.

I also think it was extraordinarily insensitive to give that talk in the wake of numerous suicides last week.

I have never considered having my name removed from the church..but in the aftermath of this I'm really thinking about it. I am angry, hurt, offended and I'm not sure I can get past this one.

I had to vent to someone on the inside.

Jenny, these are questions that thousands of us have, and I am thrilled that you would want to talk about them. I wish I was all wise and stuff.  I will do my best to let you know how I feel about the events. 

First up, I just read a biography of Mother Teresa in which states the she struggled throughout her career (Do nuns have careers?) with her relationship with the savior – wondering if she was committed enough.

Would anyone dare to think less of her because she had doubts and questions? Why do we freak out a little when we do, or when we run upon issues that cause us to re-evaluate our beliefs? I am grateful for Elder Packers talk, if only for one reason – it is getting people talking about Mormons and homosexuals. (Gays, SGAers,…whatever term you use)

Second, I am just a guy, and forth, I am not all that bright. I will say this. I believe that God is God, and after that knowledge things fall into place a little for me. I don’t know if Elder Packer meant to be insensitive. But he was. I don’t like it that he was. If he was my grampa I would say to him that he needed to go take his pill and have a nap before he tried to speak to any group anymore. But he is not my grampa, he is a General Authority. Does he speak for the Lord? I believe that he does. Would the Lord allow him to be as insensitive as I feel he was? Apparently yes.

Brigham Young, anyone? I believe he spoke for the Lord. He, like Elder Packer was a man. He was, according to dozens of accounts, a bit arrogant and in your face. One of the reasons Emma Smith choose to stay east was due to her poor relationship with Brigham Young. She didn’t like him much. How disrespectful is that? Did Brother Brigham speak for the Lord when he spoke for the Lord? Yes. Was he also insensitive at times? By all accounts, yup.

Ezra Taft Benson was blue, which was the original red.  That is to say, he was very conservative republican and, for those who remember, political and out spoken.  He put the fear of God into people.  Many were afraid that when he became the prophet his politics would become policy.  However, as prophet his personal political leanings stayed personal.  I always felt this was because he became a spokesman for new polices - those of the Lord, and that these overruled his personal opinions. 

Many question what would happen if Elder Packer became the prophet.  Would the church become as ridged as he appears to be? We are told that the Lord will not allow the prophet to lead us astray.  Does Elder Packer's being "a prophet" count as "The prophet"?  I don't know.  But I do know that every Apostle that has ever lived has had a personality, and some of them were not very PC.  Elijah taunted the Queen and her people on Mount Carmel for heavens sake.  Jonah ran like the wind and sank like a stone.  

Elder Packers remarks may have been even harder for those of us in gayland to take when we realize that some of us - a lot of us - were hoping for something kinder and gentler out of conference due to recent events in the church and by some church leaders and in reaction to the week’s tragic events with several gay youth. I was hoping for acceptance - not just tolerance, but downright acceptance and fellowship. Honestly, I got that from 99 percent of the talks. Some made me hopeful and excited and loved – even when there was chastisement involved. The priesthood session was one of my favorites of all time. I think secretly we were hoping for something a bit more all encompassing.

It may boil down to this. If you have been a member you understand the relationship we can have personally with the Savior. This is the time to test that. The gift of the Holy Ghost is for THIS VERY THING. Even if we feel unworthy, the spirit of the Lord can testify to us.

The questions you have are excellent questions, and I know there are more where they came from. I have them, too. We must ask the Lord with sincerity and faith that HE will and can answer us. If ever there was a time for the assurance of the spirit, THIS IS IT!

Let’s leave this somewhat open for respectful discussion.

Questions? Answers

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

And Now, A Breather...

If we seek to change anything but our own disposition, we will only multiply the griefs we purpose to remove.

I think this was said by Ben Franklin.  Or maybe it was Gandhi...Oh heck, I don't remember.  Some one bald if I recall.  I suppose this quote  is the intellectual equivalent of "If you chance to meet a frown...".

So, this week may prove to be a tough one.  Frankly put, we can come out of it with stronger testimonies of the Gospel, or not.  We may start next week with a better understanding of the world and our place in it, or a sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs. 

I encourage you, in light of conference and the things said, to get on your knees, or at least keep a prayer in your heart that the spirit will let you know through his famous subtlety what is needed to get you where you want to go and where your particular focus should lie. 

It may indeed be your miracle week. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Into the Fire

I am thrilled.  Thrilled, I tell you.  What an opportunity to gather information, promote a worthy cause, and to bring an issue  that is near and nearer to our hearts further out of the closet and into lives.  I'm not trying to get all Pollyanna on you.  I genuinely think that great good can come out of SLC and General Conference for all of us - not just those of a red right vantage.

Because we are not afraid of opposing opinions, lets hear what others have to say...

HRC to Mormon Apostle: Your Statements are Inaccurate and Dangerous  - Mormon Leader’s Inaccurate Statements Yesterday Fuel Anti-LGBT Violence, Teen Suicides10/4/2010

Washington – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, today called on Boyd K. Packer, the president of the Mormon Church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles, to correct statements he made yesterday calling same-sex attraction “impure and unnatural,” claiming that it can be corrected and characterizing same-sex marriage as immoral. Packer’s inaccurate and dangerous rhetoric comes on the heels of the suicides of at least four teenagers over the past month, all victims of anti-gay bullying or harassment. An additional seven teens committed suicide in the past year in one Minnesota school district alone; three of the teens’ suicides were connected to anti-gay bullying. Packer, who is 86 and one of the church’s most senior leaders, made his statements to a crowd of 20,000 – and millions more watching via satellite transmission -- during the church’s 180th Semi-annual General Conference in Salt Lake City.

“Words have consequences, particularly when they come from a faith leader. This is exactly the kind of statement that can lead some kids to bully and others to commit suicide,” said Joe Solmonese, president of HRC. “When a faith leader tells gay people that they are a mistake because God would never have made them that way and they don’t deserve love, it sends a very powerful message that violence and/or discrimination against LGBT people is acceptable. It also emotionally devastates those who are LGBT or may be struggling with their sexual orientation or gender identify. His words were not only inaccurate, they were also dangerous.”

As a church leader immersed in these issues, Packer should know better. The American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association have both concluded that same-sex attraction is normal and that “reparative” therapy – like the kind being advocated by the Mormon Church -- is unhealthy and harmful. This is not the first instance in which the church has spewed lies related to same-sex orientation. Last summer, another senior member of the church’s hierarchy, promised that same-sex attraction could be cured. “If you are faithful, on resurrection morning – and maybe even before then – you will rise with normal attractions for the opposite sex,” Mormon Church leader Bruce Haffen told a conference.

Packer also took the opportunity to dismiss efforts toward marriage equality as ones that “legalize immorality.” Ominously during this speech, the apostle declared that the church hierarchy’s opposition to marriage equality “…will not change.” As HRC has chronicled on its website, the Mormon Church is a key funder of the so-called National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a powerful fringe group that regularly encourages anti-gay attitudes and behaviors. The church was also a prime funder of efforts to pass Prop. 8 in California. NOM board member and famous Mormon writer, Orson Scott Card, has said, “Any government that attempts to change it [marriage] is my mortal enemy. I will act to destroy that government and bring it down, so it can be replaced with a government that will respect and support marriage…”

"Elder Packer's remarks in General Conference were not only ill-advised and contrary to fact, but were mean-spirited and will be perceived by many as bullying,” said David Melson, Executive Director of Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons. “We see no potential for good coming from his words and much possible damage, to the church, to individuals, and to families. The LDS Church should be a source of love, compassion, and conciliation, and not of fear and unfeeling petty hatred."

My concern is that people will read the many commentary's which will be presented this week, combine them with the Prop 8 political fiasco and decide that the LDS church, as either a spiritual or a political/temporal entente is uncaring and unfeeling - which has not been my experience.  My larger fear is that SGAttracted young men and women will glean from all commentary and original comments made by EBKPacker that anyone considers them to be less than, or damaged.

As a quick Side bar, my father has experienced what I fear is becoming a standard for men.  He was once outspoken, grandiose and aggressive in his political views and moral stances - even with his friends and family.  It was, honestly, rather off-putting.  He then seemed to develop a kind of political correctness that made his stances less offencive.  As I understand it, his views didn't change, but his approach became kinder.  I liked him better.  I didn't cringe when he spoke to a group of people.  Now he is older and wiser - but he has gone back to rude and confrontational.  Where I may have listened politely to what he had to say when he was being "nice dad", I now have little tolerance for his assaults.  I talk to him less and less.
Put into context, there is nothing that was said during this conference that has not been said before.  I may or may not be ecstatic at the manner in which this was presented - especially in conjunction with the horrors that have been perpetrated toward young SGA men this last week, but the doctrine has been consistent.  Take away the abrasive manner in which this talk was given (I cant say as Abinadi to Noah was any more silver tongued) and the principals are correct.  Homosexual behaviors, BEHAVIORS, PEOPLE!, are contrary to the Lords plan.  (As in, I may want to smack my mother-in-law, but I am only in trouble if I actually do it.)
However, and I cant believe I still have to make this stipulation, Homosexuals are not contrary to the Lords plan.  Homosexuals are not less-than.  Gays are not inferior to straights.  Being heterosexual does not give you a leg up, or a head start to heaven. This is not a contest, people! 
My Heavenly Father is the same as your Father.  He made me with love and kindness and purpose - just like he did you.

Here's the rub (there is always a rub) I am GAY!  No butts about it. I am also a believing true blue dyed in the wool Latter day Saint.  Let me go out on the same limb I named myself Gay with (a term not PC anymore) and say I am a Mormon. I wear the clothing.  I went to BYU.  I take the sacrament and teach Sunday school.  Still gay, gay gay.  Yet I understood what BKPacker was saying.  I knew what he was going to say before he said it.  He has always been a bit in-your-face, and where he stands on issues is not going to change because he is now sitting.

Look at the doctrine.

No, it wasn't as soft or as fuzzy as if the talk had been interpreted by Elder...well, Elder Soft and Fuzzy.  (You know who you are!) It may have been a little over the top for me as a SGAttracted individual, but I will get over it and not use it as an excuse to take a detour. 

I will still follow the prophet.

U.S. News - Mormon Leader Preaches Gays Can Change


Published: Oct. 3, 2010 at 10:44 PM
SALT LAKE CITY, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- A senior Mormon leader said in a sermon Sunday in Salt Lake City same-sex attraction can be overcome and non-heterosexual unions are morally wrong.

Boyd K. Packer, the 86-year-old president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Quorum of Twelve Apostles and considered next in line to be president of the church, rejected the position gays are "pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural."

"Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?" Packer said. "Remember he is our father."

Packer told more than 20,000 church members at the LDS Conference Center and millions more watching the church's 180th Annual General Conference via satellite those who advocate legalizing same-sex marriage seek to "legalize immorality," The Salt Lake Tribune

"A law against nature would be impossible to enforce," he said. "Do you think a vote to repeal the law of gravity would do any good?"

Packer's sermon drew from the church's 1995 declaration, "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," to back his contention that the power to create offspring "is not an incidental part of the plan of happiness," but "the very key."

Of course this is what we latched onto.  Maybe this is the miracle we needed.  These are selective quotes from the conference talk.  Reading the entire talk is better, but my understanding is that it is not out until Thursday.  This will give us time to ponder and discuss.

So, O ye of SGAttraction, gays, homosexuals and/or the people who are foolish enough to love us, what say you?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Miracule Week is brought to You By: Diet Coke

Maybe I was looking for something. I wouldn't put it past me to sit back and wait.  I will met you halfway as long as I see you starting first.  I've done that sorta thing before.  Its a little arrogant, but it works at times. 

Ive been such a stanch supporter of the General authorities these last several months that I may have felt a bit entitled today just to sit and wait for the show to come to me - like when you have a free ticket to a performance or when you have heard how good a movie is - somehow it has to exceed all expectations in order to pacify.   I was wanting the conference crew to do well, to say the right things, to explain why suddenly it is very unpopular to be a Mormon in the wake of Prop 8.

I think I was secretly looking for a fire to be lit under a soaking wet offering burning it to a crisp so I could say I told you so to all my friends who are on the other side of so many issues. I wanted to have something that I could hold up and wave and say - we have something too that makes us valid and just as important.

There was no banner waved.  There was no fire.   Nor was there a sea parted, mountains moved - not one seagull devoured so much as a hamburger bun let alone a cricket while I watched.

And it didn't start off well.  The one general authority with whom I have had a personal relationship was moved to Emeritus statues.  So no more special treatment. 

But then the talks came one by one.  Non-pretentious, straight forward, unwavering and affirming.  Repent so you can holds gods priesthood power, modern day prophets are key, wisdom of the world is secondary to knowledge of God, empowerment, inclusion - the only thing mission was a chorus of the sisters sledge and "We Are Family".  Its only day one and I have had so much of what I've needed.  Leave aside pridfullness, always wear shoes around scorpions, good choices beget good choices - all things I need to fill gaps I have been working on for the last six months.

So, I feel good about recommending conference - even two more sessions at two hours a pop - Just as long as you can do something with your hands like make sill putty animals or play majong.  I have actually had to resort to bringing my diet coke/mountain Dew Red to Priesthood session- to my bishops chagrin. 

So, boys, Miracle week is in full swing.  So don't be shy.  Find your miracle. Make it happen.
And when its all over, I will tell you mine if you tell me yours.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Love the Quarterback, Hate the Pass

It is conference weekend and already I am in a spiritual quandary.  Actually, conference weekend doesn't begin until Saturday, but I sit here listening to Greg Wrubell on the sports radio channel in tears: Big sad spiritual waterings of the soul tears.  The question I have for God is this:

How do I love my team and hate the losing? 

I am taking down the BYU flag I have hung for every game since Bronco Mendenhall was resurrected out of the dole drums of Jr staffing, thinking about how much I liked him immediately.  After all, his name was Bronco.  I have watched as he drove a Harley around Utah County for good cause, and defend Austin Collie when the youngster was a tiny bit zelot-ish.  I have listened to his kidney cars commercials and smiled to myself remembering that he was a man made for other things that personal appearance's and reading in public.  He is the man to lead my team to glory - even now that we are 1 and 4 on the year.

I am folding the flag to put away for next week.  Did I take my flag down a little more quickly after the game was over?  Do I need to wash it out to get some of the bad luck dirt out?  What do I do, being proactive, to further my team to greatness.  I am willing to bear some of the responsibility.  There is no need to get down on Bronco or any of the coaching staff for these losses.  I am a faithful latter day saint.  I pay ten percent of my income to the church in tithes.  Let me be the one to take the brunt, let me offer myself when the questions come from the unfeeling press.

It was my fault the offence couldn't get its collective head out of the hole.  The blame is mine that the true freshman Quarterback is drooling on the ball so that it slips out of the hands of capable receivers.

So put up my photo on the wall next to Lavell and Gary and Bronco and toss the darts at me.  If I has done what I know to do from my gospel doctrine class I would have had enough faith to move mountains or at least to move the ball on a third down and two.  My faith could have redirected rivers, called down the heavens or added some stick to a few passes for JJ De.

WTF?:  Where's The Faith?  Where was the faith of so many of the righteous brethren and cistern of the state.  How do we learn from our mistakes so that these poor men who weigh over 250 pounds and eat bison for breakfast wont starve emotional and spiritually and remember the training of their forefathers and the smack talk of their fore mothers and girlfriends.

How do I become a proactive peace of the solution instead of the beaten down old man who wears his BYU Football tie to priesthood session but has to sit in the back where it's dark and everyone is on their Ipads.  How to I drag myself out of bed to rise and shout for a team that got beat by...Utah State - there, I've said it!

Maybe I should Join the Catholics as an honorary leprechaun. I love me my Lucky Charms, and I can pretend that genuflecting is just a cheer. At least it doesn't seem to matter when their school looses. - mostly due to what I think is a healthy sense of self, but may also because they get silly snookered after the games.  We'll just call Cosmo "Lucky" and make him carry around a pot of gold.

Go BYIrish!