Tuesday, August 25, 2015

No Fun at Home? Just kill him!

A freshman at Duke recently posted a concern on his Facebook account. Brian Grasso, who plans on studying Global Health, recently saw a graphic novel on his syllabus and decided to refuse the assignment.
Better on Broadway... apparently.

It's not just that he decided not to read the book and refuse the assignment, but that he decided to post his reasoning - which turned his decision into into a national discussion.

"I don’t believe my position will limit my exposure to essential lessons in history, philosophy or literature," he states. " I assume that having to view graphic images of sex for a class will be rare. If it does happen, I will avoid any titillating content and encourage like-minded students to do the same. And I believe professors should warn me about such material, not because I might consider them offensive or discomforting, but because I consider it immoral."

Grasso claims that the issue is not homosexuality or any LGBT issue. He states that in his research over the graphic novel he found that it contained pornography. He decided to take a stand on moral grounds without an eye to any political standing.

"I recognize, of course," he states, "that Christians on campus and throughout the country have an important responsibility, too. We need to learn how to dialogue across differences. Over the past couple of days, I have received many encouraging messages from a new friend, who considers herself bisexual and a Buddhist. She and I became friends after she saw my Facebook post. Instead of criticizing me, she asked me to explain my beliefs. I, in turn, asked her to explain the Buddhist perspective on sexuality. This is how diversity is supposed to work. We each shared our perspective, and walked away from the conversation with a deeper understanding and compassion for each other. That is what college is really about."

He says nothing of the negative comments that follow his essay in the Washington Post - and they are plenty. He gets called gay and stupid. He is told to go find a quiet conservative college. He is labeled as a homophobe and a bigot.

One comment caught my eye:

"I've never met Brian Grasso, but based on what little I do know (his picture and these paragraphs), I can tell that he's flaming."

I am appalled, and unfortunately am not surprised that I am appalled. Is it not possible anymore for anyone to decent or disagree with the norm without being skewered?  It's not just his opinion that is being questioned, but his right to it.  His very being is called into question.

Another comment made suggested that the public should check to see if his email is on the Ashley Madison list. These comments are along the same lines of established and intellectual retorts as "Oh, yeah!"  and "I know you are, but what am I?"

Sometimes I am embarrassed for humanity in general. This is one of those times.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

New announcement -- old policy

Yesterday it was announced that women in the LDS church will now be permanently included in leadership councils normally reserved for priesthood leaders in Mormon land -- read, men.

So, how big of a deal is this change?  Not a big deal -- if you are a TBM. In order for this to be a big deal, those in the church would need to recognize, or believe (Admit? Own up to?) the claim that women have not been privy to such councils before.

They have. This isn't a change in the practical doings of the LDS church.  It is a subtle rewording and clarification of church policy (not doctrine -- there is a difference). For some, it is huge, it's affirmation and acknowledgement in a world where words count a great deal.

For others it's kind of like finally admitting that Tim Conway is a regular cast member of the Carol Burnett Show after three years of "special guest staring".  I never understood why Carol was having Tim sign her autograph book at the end of another show - again.

Please. He was there every week.  The only thing that changed was the title on his door and possibly his paycheck.

Women can have permanent seats on the council.  Good.  There was a place for them before.  Good as well.  They have always had a place locally.  Ward councils include leaders from the women and the young women and the primary.

The times, they are a changing.  Or are they?

Here is an interesting quote on he subject:

"But we can’t tell the story of women’s expanding leadership two ways. We can’t insist that women have always been empowered while also declaring that their new roles are wholly groundbreaking. In fact, when we try to do that we remove the very reason that yesterday’s policy announcement made history: It’s major because we have not involved women in leadership enough in the past.  -- Jana Riess

Most people don't understand this issue; that there is a learning curve when humans are involved.  Yes, the LDS church is the Lord's church. However he teaches correct principals and lets us govern ourselves. Mortal men, and an increasing number of women it would seem, who are attempting to govern themselves with heavenly direction. But it is still self, voluntary government. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Talents for a mile

My wife thinks that she was born with very little talent.  She is not a dancer, or a wiz with hair styles.  She is not a fashion icon.  She rolls her eyes and looks at the floor when the parable of the talents is read or discussed.

She thinks people look at her and make the same judgment call.

Wall Flower
She is severely underestimated. However, my wife can walk into a room and know the needs of others – both emotionally and spiritually.

When she teaches or coaches, what she is really doing is teaching life skills and self esteem. She plans it that way. She believes that how a person does anything is how they do everything and brings this approach to all she does.

She serves others by grabbing a shovel or a scouring pad -- not by saying, “If I can do anything, call me”.

She goes to every activity our children have, including practices. When people leave her they don’t necessarily remember her, but they feel better about themselves and are motivated to do better, be better, and have better. These are a few of her non-talent talents.

The reason I mention this is that there are others in the Church who, like my wife, wonder how they can make a contribution with what talents and abilities the Lord has allowed them. Some have talents that can be seen from a mile.  Some do not.

We are very focused on families and family life in the LDS Church.  Many members with SGA -- read, gay --  or those single, divorced, or in situations outside of traditional families wonder if there is a place for them. Often their answer is not obvious. But with direction from the Spirit, we can use our gifts to create a new place for us and all those we love.

We are all of critical importance regardless of sexual attraction, marital status or reproductive capability.  Each of us is a child of our Heavenly Father. We are honored to know each other, to associate with each other, to serve and be served by each other.  Our talents bless others and we are blessed by the talents of others -- all of which can come from unusual places.