Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Please, Not Again

Asher Brown’s family has invited everyone to attend the memorial service which will be held from 10am to 2pm this Saturday at Lakewood Forest Drive in Houston. The dress code is light. Shorts, flip flops, T-shirts are allowed and encouraged, which is “just the way 13 year old Asher would have wanted it.
       Asher Brown's newly worn-out tennis shoes are sitting in the living room of his Cypress-area home while his student progress report — filled with straight A's — sit next to them on the on the coffee table.
       The eighth-grader killed himself last week. He shot himself in the head after enduring what his mother and stepfather say was constant harassment from four other students at Hamilton Middle School in the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District.
       Brown, his family said, was "bullied to death" — picked on for his small size, his religion and because he did not wear designer clothes and shoes. Kids also accused him of being gay, some of them performing mock gay acts on him in his physical education class, his mother and stepfather said.  The 13-year-old's parents said they had complained about the bullying to Hamilton Middle School officials during the past 18 months, but claimed their concerns fell on deaf ears.
       David and Amy Truong said they made several visits to the school to complain about the harassment, and Amy Truong said she made numerous phone calls to the school that were never returned.
       School district spokeswoman Kelli Durham, whose husband Alan Durham is a Hamilton assistant principal, said no students, school employees or the boy's parents ever reported that he was being bullied. That statement infuriated the Truongs, who accused the school district of protecting the bullies and their parents.
       "That's absolutely inaccurate — it's completely false," Amy Truong said. "I did not hallucinate phone calls to counselors and assistant principals. We have no reason to make this up. … It's like they're calling us liars." David Truong said, "We want justice. The people here need to be held responsible and to be stopped. It did happen. There are witnesses everywhere."
       Numerous comments from parents and students on the Web site of KRIV-TV Channel 26, which also reported a story about Brown's death, stated that the boy had been bullied by classmates for several years and claimed Cy-Fair ISD does nothing to stop such harassment.
       Durham said the school counselor and an assistant principal received an e-mail from Amy Truong earlier this month, asking them to keep an eye on her son, but Durham said it was because of ongoing concerns at home and not about bullying.
       Brown was found dead on the floor of his stepfather's closet at the family's home in the 11700 block of Cypresswood about 4:30 p.m. Thursday. He used his stepfather's 9 mm Beretta, stored on one of the closet's shelves, to kill himself. He left no note. David Truong found the teen's body when he arrived home from work.  On the morning of his death, the teen told his stepfather he was gay, but Truong said he was fine with the disclosure. "We didn't condemn," he said.
        His parents said Brown had been called names and endured harassment from other students since he joined Cy-Fair ISD two years ago. As a result, he stuck with a small group of friends who suffered similar harassment from other students, his parents said.
       His most recent humiliation occurred the day before his suicide, when another student tripped Brown as he walked down a flight of stairs at the school, his parents said.
       When Brown hit the stairway landing and went to retrieve his book bag, the other student kicked his books everywhere and kicked Brown down the remaining flight of stairs, the Truongs said.Durham said that incident was investigated, but turned up no witnesses or video footage to corroborate the couple's claims.
       The Truongs say they just want the harassment to stop so other students do not suffer like their son did and so another family does not have to endure such a tragedy.
       "Our son is just the extreme case of what happens when (someone is) just relentless," Amy Truong said.
       People can make monetary contributions to Asher Brown’s family by mailing them to Pulse Missions, P.O. Box 570063, Houston, TX77257-0063, or on his uncle, Jonnathan Truong’s web site

       Anyone in the Houston area, Mormon, gay, Mormon and gay - please find a way to pay your respects.  May of us are trying to be out and about in order to put a stop to this type of behavior and this line of thinking; that people are somehow disposable. 
       We feel for Asher, his family and all who are being abused.  May your guardian angels step up.  May we be the guardian angels.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pure Intent

A recent blog post recently attached alleged excerpts from a talk given by Elder Marlin Jensen. I will re-post without further introduction.

(Published by John Dehlin at Mormon Matters, a report of a special conference & stake conference by Linda Schweidel) 

Oakland Stake, September 19
... there was a “by invitation only” meeting with the visiting seventy, Marlin Jensen, about reactions to Prop. 8.... at which non‑gay Mormons, gay Mormons, gay former Mormons, and non‑Mormon gays can all get together and try to understand one another.

... the GA who’s coming to speak has the opportunity to find out if there are any issue of “particular interest” ... who were affected/disaffected by Prop 8. ... and then every other person who got up was eloquent, articulate, and right on point.

 ... Marlin Jensen sat there and listened. He’d that he appreciated the opportunity [to] come listen and promised to take what he learned “back to the Brethren.” ... after everybody got up, and told of the suffering that Prop 8 had caused – the division, heartache, anger, frustration and pain – and when the last guy who spoke told him that the Mormon church owed the gay community an apology, he stood and said, “To the [extent that] it’s within my power to apologize, I want to tell you that I am sorry. I am very sorry.” People were audibly weeping. ... It was very, very powerful. It felt very healing.

Stake conference was good too. [Stake President Criddle] talked about “extending the tent” and including everyone ... He asked should we go to dinner with couples of the same gender, and love them and accept them? “OF COURSE WE SHOULD!”

I am excited to make this mention and I am pleased that there are conversations happening between factions.  I love the brethren, and I feel that they love us.  To think that, because of political differences that they are "out to get us" or anyone else is a mistake that at times appears to border on paranoia. 

Interesting to not is that Elder Jensen did not apologize for options or politics.  He graciously and sincerely apologized for any harm done. 

I know that I could benefit from backing off, or backing down and saying I am sorry for hurt feelings or misconceptions or for making anyone feel "Less-Than" or unimportant.  I am taking this as seriously as I take any conference talk.

Conference weekend approaches.  I encourage anyone who has ties to the church to listen to the General authorities with the intent to forgive and be forgiven. 

Something marvelous may happen. Without or within.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Whaa Hoo!

I must apologize.  I wrote a lovely essay to post, and I am going to sit on it - mostly because I am unable to sit.  I feel joyful today.  Its not that anything monumental is happening or going to happen (knock on wood), but that I just feel good with out upping my doses of caffeine.  I am grateful for friends, and family and wife especially.  I am grateful for talents the lord blessed me with - and I have a lot.  Where I may not have folks I can speak with directly about my SGA -ness, I have a bunch of people to whom I can blog and learn from both.  My life is pretty good.  Pass the potatoes.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Clear Lines And The Men Who Make Them

Men who are SGAttracted are to keep the law of chastity.

Men who are OSAttracted are to keep the law of chastity. (I am not thrilled with the designations SGA or OSA, but they are becoming more universal than I thought they ever would, and they seem to serve a purpose other than irritating those SGAed and OSAed)

I was recently asked what I did as a sexual release, to satisfy my urges as a man for a man while I was married and trying to maintain a temple recommend. I will answer this blog-a-locicly because I am hearing it asked more and more frequently. My experience as a brother, son, husband and a father all lead me to the same answer - which has been in the past difficult for me to stand on write with and talk about.

But first, I must mention Cows.

I used to think it was just Mormons who needed to know where the fences were – like cattle in Idaho or enlightened northern areas of Utah. Cows, when turned into a new pasture first check for food. Then they walk the line like an old country song. They are checking out the boundaries. It is not just Mormons. It is not just people of religion.

I am seeing this more and more with people about sex. What’s the rule, where is the boundary, how far can I go. Why can't I go further. Why can't I utilize that pasture over there? While this truly progressive thinking is key to breaking culture barriers and emotional limits - a thing of desire in so many realms, I am seeing its opposite effect in the world of serious relationships and marriage. Many who have evolved to this mindset become as vapid as my bovine friends.

While cows are kept safe this way - keeps them from wandering into roads or into unsafe situations where the owner cannot protect them, humans who circle the emotional relationship fields in search of an out make themselves miserable and are continually discontented. Many then sit and spend the day wondering how to cross the line.

What seems like a few inches can mean all the world - when you are a cow.

I recently had a discussion with my Sunday school class about where the line was for sex – what they can do before having to go to the bishop to confess. I can’t tell you how warped that train of thought is, and yet I ride that same train ALL THE TIME! Yes to French kissing, no to oral sex, yes to over the sweater or over the bra, but no to under. Yes to friction, but no to penetration. Where is the line?

Well folks, the line was back about two pastures back - next to the sign that said, if you are a mindless cow, please reconsider this path. If what you are doing with either Bob or Sue regardless of their gender is for sexual satisfaction, then the line has been crossed. Of course, if a temple recommend is not what you are after, your goals may be different.

So, what do I do as an outlet to keep my temple recommend? As far as sex goes outside my marriage, I don’t. I don’t have something on the side to keep me satisfied while my wife waits for me at home.
I cannot choose to have both feet firmly planted on either side of the line, a country mans straddle as it were, even though public opinion increasingly leans in that favor. The lifestyles of the rich and famous says to Do what feels best. There is no reason for marriage today except for public opinion, or to have the appearance of piety.

Which is pretty lame - even if there is a movie, music or sports star headlining the act.

So, you want to be married, and to have a temple recommend and to know where the line is of getting it on the side. Sounds like you are asking the wrong questions. Better ones would be, why am I married? Why do I go to the temple? Why am I looking for a line or a break in the fence? What is it I really want?

Tougher questions, but ones that will mean more in the long run.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How Universal?

Todays tidbit appeared briefly in today’s BYU Daily Universe. I neither think it was an accident, nor do I believe it was meant to be subversive. I believe this essay was well intended, and that at least one editor believed it to be also. It has since been removed. Here is a Mirrored Copy

Viewpoint: Defending Proposition 8 — It’s time to admit the reasons
Tue, 09/07/2010 – 00:35

Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the recent United States District Court case that overturned Proposition 8, highlighted a disturbing inconsistency in the pro-Prop 8 camp.

The arguments put forth so aggressively by the Protect Marriage coalition and by LDS church leaders at all levels of church organization during the campaign were noticeably absent from the proceedings of the trial. This discrepancy between the arguments in favor of Proposition 8 presented to voters and the arguments presented in court shows that at some point, proponents of Prop 8 stopped believing in their purported rational and non-religious arguments for the amendment1.

Claims that defeat of Prop 8 would force religious organizations to recognize homosexual marriages and perform such marriages in their privately owned facilities, including LDS temples, were never mentioned in court. Similarly, the defense was unable to find a single expert witness willing to testify that state-recognized homosexual marriage would lead to forcing religious adoption agencies to allow homosexual parents to adopt children or that children would be required to learn about homosexual marriage in school.

Four of the proponents’ six expert witnesses who may have been planning on testifying to these points withdrew as witnesses on the first day of the trial. Why did they go and why did no one step up to replace them? Perhaps it is because they knew that their arguments would suffer much the same fate as those of David Blankenhorn and Kenneth Miller, the two expert witnesses who did agree to testify.

Judge Vaughn Walker, who heard the case, spent 11 pages of his 138-page decision meticulously tearing down every argument advanced by Blankenhorn before concluding that his testimony was “unreliable and entitled to essentially no weight.” Miller suffered similar censure after it was shown that he was unfamiliar with even basic sources on the subject in which he sought to testify as an expert.

The court was left with lop sided, persuasive testimony leading to the conclusion that Proposition 8 was not in the interest of the state and was discriminatory against gays and lesbians. Walker’s decision is a must-read for anyone who is yet to be convinced of this opinion. The question remains that if proponents of Prop 8 were both unwilling and unable to support even one rational argument in favor of the amendment in court, why did they seek to present their arguments as rational during the campaign?

It is time for LDS supporters of Prop 8 to be honest about their reasons for supporting the amendment. It’s not about adoption rights, or the first amendment or tradition. These arguments were not found worthy of the standards for finding facts set up by our judicial system. The real reason is that a man who most of us believe is a prophet of God told us to support the amendment. We must accept this explanation, along with all its consequences for good or ill on our own relationship with God and his children here on earth. Maybe then we will stop thoughtlessly spouting reasons that are offensive to gays and lesbians and indefensible to those not of our faith.

First let me say that because a certain defence is presented or not in court has nothing to do with shying away from ones beliefs. It is a court of Law, and lawyers choose how to present themselves and their case to be most successful.

Frankly I am not sure where in the Universe this was printed, editorial section, general info or the sports page. (Later Note: Letter to the Editor) Or even if it made it from the electronic page to the press. I do believe it raises points that should be discussed. Even upon first reading I took this as an affirmation to my belief - that we follow a prophet. Some do it blindly. Some do not.

Assigning mortal reasoning to the Lords timely decision is now and has always been folly. Believing that blacks could not receive the priesthood because they were once the fence-sitters of the preexistence is a not so distant relative of the same type of thinking.

This article in a not-so-round-about way encourages members of the LSD church to stop riding the testimony waggon of their neighbors. It suggests, ever so subtly (not!) that Mormons should develop their own personal testimony of a living prophet, the divinity of the family proclamation and in the atonement of Jesus Christ.

There may be science behind the Lords admonition to protect marriage as defined by the proclamation. I am not the science guy, and do not know it.

But I trust that He knows.

Gathering No Moss

I often ask all of the little Thompsons and one sort of medium/large Thompson to give me fifteen minutes a day assisting with some task. Many times it’s just picking up the mess from grammas denture debacle, or organizing boxes.

The need on this fine morning was the moving of “Gargantuan Boulders” – their description. (They weren’t that big, the pebbles – my description) from the back of the old blue truck to the English-style cottage garden in my front yard.

Currently my English-style cottage garden consists of dirt and petrified Mormon crickets, but I envision it as a lovely and lush green space full of flowers and fauna (except for the path under the tree where the early Mormon pioneers must have buried their nuclear waste – based on the fact that nothing will grow there.) I picture it to be like a lovely Grimm tale – with a real life witch from next door, who comes over frequently to tattle on our wandering, barely carnivores mutt.

When working with my children, I like to take the opportunity to share my insights and life wisdom while they are a captive audience. So, covered in dirt and filthy with crushed concrete dust, I stood, cleared my throat and prepared to spout out some really wise stuff.

My daughter, the annoying one, noticing my spouting stance, beat me to the punch by interrupting with her own life lesion. “Our petty existence,” she preaches, her face streaked with dirt and sarcasm, “is like a pile of rocks.” She says this, her imitation of me way too accurate to be extemporaneous. “We are nothing on our own until we are gathered and cemented into a community with love as the mortar.” The little Thompsons, and one medium Thompson laugh – not because they think it was funny, but because they think that, if sufficiently charmed, I will let them off the “rock moving” hook.

Ok, it was a little funny. But we still have rocks to move.

This brings me to my point, and, yes, I do have one. It is this: Life goes on. It goes on through funny or sad, interesting or boring, cheery or depressing. That is the bad news. The good news is that life goes on - through fistfights with fools, pet rabbits dieing, pc hard drives frying, and cars dropping transmissions on the freeway.

Gargantuan boulders (their description) will be rolling our way or in need of relocation, and we must either step aside, get rolled over, or bounce.

I am becoming an expert in bouncing.