Thursday, April 29, 2010

Arizona's Immigration Law

I have mixed feelings, most of which are negative, about this new immigration law that Arizona has recently passed. While I understand the need to curtail illegal immigration, there's just a lot about this new law that rubs me wrong. In spite of the fact that many Arizona government officials deny that it will lead to racial profiling, I believe it will, and I think Hispanics, in particular, will be targeted. There may be illegals from other countries wandering around Arizona, but it will be dark-skinned people that will be singled out, and to me, that's not much different than Nazis stopping or detaining people simply because they suspect they're Jewish.

Now don't get me wrong. People who are here illegally shouldn't be here illegally and should go through proper legal channels to become citizens. I just think this law is the wrong way to go about halting illegal immigration. I also think we sometimes to make blanket judgments about illegal immigrants. True, many of them come into our country and take advantage of our system and bleed our resources without contributing much. But others are very hard-working and have only come to America in search of a better life than the one they left behind in some of the difficult countries they have come from. Many are supporting families and suffer abuse by our own citizens who take advantage of their illegal status. Many live in fear of being deported back to terrible places and are afraid to call the police or go to the hospital for fear of being found out. Many have tried to wade through the slog of bureaucracy to obtain legal status only to fail. And I'm sorry, but I think there is greater prejudice against illegal immigrants from Mexico or Muslim-based countries than there is toward illegals from some European countries, for example.

Yes, illegal immigration is a serious problem, and yes, something does need to be done about it, but there are a lot of issues involved, and there are human beings involved, and I'm not sure turning Arizona into a police state is the right answer. An informal poll says the majority of Utahns would be in favor of such a law as well. It just bothers me. It also bothers me that the same people who are against universal health care because of too much government interference are completely on board with any immigration reform, regardless of how much government is involved, so long as "those people" get out of our country.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ethical Question

You're walking out of your apartment in the late afternoon on your way to work when you notice another car in your complex with its headlights on. You look around. There's no one in sight. You don't know who the car belongs to. As you look at the car, you notice that the driver's door is unlocked. Question: do you invade the owner's car without permission to turn off his or her headlights or do you respect the person's property even though there is the risk that his or her battery will die?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Stake Conference

I attended a really good stake conference today. Actually, I missed the first hour because I forgot it was stake conference, but what I did catch was pretty terrific. When I came in, the primary was singing a really nice arrangement of "I Feel My Savior's Love" combined with a song I wasn't familiar with called "I Know My Savior Love's Me." I quite enjoyed it.

A sister bore her testimony, we sang "Because I Have Been Given Much," and then the rest of the time was given to the visiting general authority, Elder Christopher B. Munday. I found him utterly charming, funny, and yet his message was very spiritual. I wish all talks could be as delightful as his was.

He first told a story of how he was a stake president one, and the visiting general authority had told them to be strict about their time. In doing so, there turned out to be some extra time. The visiting authority then pointed out a man way in the back to Elder Munday and said he wanted that man to bear his testimony. Elder Munday told the authority that was not the right guy, but the authority insisted. Elder Munday then went on to explain that when he was six years old he had gone to his first church meeting at an LDS branch, and this man had been a branch leader there. Elder Munday witnessed this man at this first meeting proclaim that he was never coming back to the church because of something someone had done to offend him.

In later years, Elder Munday was this man's branch president, bishop, and stake president and over the years he tried to reach out to this man. The man didn't want to have anything to do with the church and some of his family members became inactive as well. Elder Munday said that on this occasions when he would try to visit the man, he would turn out his lights and pretend he wasn't home.

This particular Sunday of the stake conference, he had dropped off his active daughter, but couldn't get out of the parking area because two cars had inadvertently pinned him in. His gas tank was almost at empty and it was a particularly cold day (this was in England). Rather than wait in the cold car he decided to, in his words, "burn with the Mormons" in the church house.

When asked by this visiting authority to get the man to bear his testimony, Elder Munday dumbfoundedly asked how the authority would go about getting that to happen. The authority replied, "Go out there and get him." Elder Munday walked to the very back of the room, which was filled with about 1,000 people and asked the man, who was dressed in jeans and old sweater and was unshaven and had his arms folded, to bear his testimony. The man refused. Elder Munday started back to the stand. He had only walked two or three feet when the authority motioned to him to bring him up. Elder Munday physically pulled the man out of his chair and escorted him to the stand.

The man, unhappy to be there, said simply, "I would like to say I know the church is true, but I cannot," and then left. Elder Munday looked at the authority as if to say, "I told you so," and was surprised to see the authority beaming. The authority leaned over and said, "Wasn't that wonderful?"

The meeting soon ended, and as Elder Munday headed toward his office, he saw the man charging toward him. The man grabbed him by his tie and said, "Was it you?!" Munday responded, "No, it was the authority." The man saw the general authority, rushed toward him, grabbed him by the tie and angrily repeated the same question, "Was it you?!" The authority said, "No, it was the spirit." The man stopped short and said he wanted to talk to Brother Munday and the visiting authority in Elder Munday's office.

As then men sat in Elder Munday's office, the man cried and said, "Why didn't somebody pull me out of my chair 22 years ago?" and with tears in his eyes said, "I've always known the church was true."

The man and many members of his family eventually went to the temple together. It had been 23 years since this man had stepped in the temple. At their temple recommend meeting, the man's wife looked happier than he had ever seen her. He asked the man if he felt worthy to attend the temple. The man replied, "I do. I feel clean, and I feel so happy." The man, his wife, and several family members were able to attend the temple together. The next day the man, who was 72, died of a heart attack.

Elder Munday's point was that he was glad that the authority had been spiritually perceptive enough to notice this one man out of a crowd of a thousand and know that it was time for that man to come back. What I got out of was how much God loves his children; how eager he is to bring us closer to him; and how he knows our hearts so much better than anybody else can. It helped me remember that how we see each other is not how God sees us; how we need to put judgment away and let God work through us to help his children, even the ones we feel are past help.

Elder Munday also told the story of how President Hinckley had called him as a Stake President and how he wanted to meet his family. Elder Munday said his boys especially were very rambunctious and he and his wife were afraid of the negative impression his sons might make on the prophet. Sure enough, as they were driving to have dinner with the prophet, the sons (one in particular) began to fight. Elder Munday said he often let his sons settle disputes by boxing each other. He said you would never find that in a family home evening manual, nor was it doctrine, nor did he recommend it, but that it seemed to work for his kids.

When the family arrived, President Hinckley said to each of the first two boys, "I can tell you are good boys," and then to the third (the troublemaker in the family), he said, "I can tell you are a good boy...when you are asleep." Elder Munday said, tongue in cheek, that he knew right then President Hickley was a true prophet.

He also shared stories about his own doubts when he was a missionary and his struggles with the French language as well as counsel he gave to his own son when he was having doubts about his abilities to be a good missionary. He also talked about how he knows there are times when it feels like God has abandoned us, but that He's always there, and I really felt that what he was saying was very true.

He also shared a story about a missionary that served under him when he was a Mission President. The missionary’s dad had abandoned him when he was eight months old. He had a great distrust of men, in general, and didn’t want to be on a mission. He was a very big guy and at first wouldn’t get out of bed. Elder Munday told his companion to physically pull him out of bed. The companion asked Elder Munday if he was aware of the missionary’s size and worried he might retaliate and hurt him. Elder Munday said the Lord would protect him.

The missionary met with Elder Munday and told him he wanted to go home and had arranged his own airfare to do so. Elder Munday stood between him and the door and promised that if he left he would continue running away the rest of his life without getting anywhere, but that if he stayed, he promised it would change his life for the better. He hugged the missionary, who it was later discovered, had never allowed anyone to hug him before. At first, he resisted, but then he gave into it. He eventually decided to stay and became (and still is) a great leader in the church and is currently a bishop.

Anyway, Elder Munday’s talk was delivered with a lot of humor, some slight self-deprecation, a lot of humility, and I found him so down-to-earth and accessible. And yet, what he had to say was enormously moving to me. And his British accent was so delightful to listen to. It was an absolutely fantastic talk.

The meeting closed with an absolutely lovely arrangement of one of my very favorite hymns, "Our Savior's Love." I just felt really good as I left and felt like the Spirit had been strong with me today.

I got into my car, and a lovely jazz, a capella version of "There Is A Green Hill Far Away" was playing. It's really been a marvelous Sunday. I think the Lord has been aware that I have been a tad down the last couple of days, and I really felt like He was trying to buoy my spirits and let me know that things are going to be okay. For that I am enormously grateful.

Monday, April 12, 2010


This is a picture of one of our cats. I thought it was so adorable, I just had to share it.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

A World Without Gay

I was pondering recently what our world would be like if the homosexuals or bisexuals who have inhabited it throughout history had never existed. Being from the arts, many of my conclusions come out of that field.

No Rock Hudson/Doris Day movies. Rock was gay.
You like the music of Savage Garden, Queen, Wham!, REM, *NSYNC, Erasure, David Bowie, Melissa Etheridge, Rufus Wainwright, and Green Day? Sorry, Darren Hayes, Freddy Mercury, George Michael, Michael Stipe, Lance Bass, Melissa Etheridge, Rufus Wainwright and Andy Bell are all gay. Billie Joe Armstrong and David Bowie classify themselves as bisexual.
Do you like the plays Our Town, The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Importance of Being Earnest, Breakfast at Tiffanys, Bus Stop, Master Class, and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs? Sorry. Their authors were all gay.
Oh, and by the way, if you like the musicals Wicked, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Hairspray, On the Town, Hello, Dolly, Mame, Anything Goes, Kiss Me, Kate, Pippin, Godspell, Into the Woods, Sweeney Todd, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Sunday in the Park with George, A Chorus Line, Cabaret, Nine, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, The Light in the Piazza, Ragtime, and Miss Saigon (among others), all were either composed, directed, written, choreographed, or produced by homosexuals.
Do you like the songs "Night and Day," "My Funny Valentine," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "La Vida Loca," "West End Girls," "You Do Something to Me," "I've Got You Under My Skin," "You're the Top," "I Love Paris," "The Lady is a Tramp," "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered," "Blue Moon," "Isn't It Romantic?" "Send in the Clowns," "Candle in the Wind," "Crocodile Rock," "I Honestly Love You," "Don't Cry Out Loud," "Adagio for Strings," "Fanfare for the Common Man," "Appalachian Spring," "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?," "Karma Chameleon," "It's My Party," "You Don't Own Me," "At Seventeen," and "I Only Want to Be With You?" All are songs that either include music or lyrics by a gay person or were made famous by someone who was gay.
Do you like the songs of Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, Pocohantas, The Prince of Egypt, and Little Shop of Horrors? Music or lyrics by gay people.
Do you enjoy the ballets The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, and Swan Lake? Too bad. Tchaikovsky was gay.
Do you like the voices of Johnny Mathis, Adam Lambert, and Clay Aiken? Gay.
Did you like the characters of Mike Brady on "The Brady Bunch," Niles and Bulldog on "Frasier," the second Darren on "Bewitched," Sulu on "Star Trek," Mel Cooley on "The Dick Van Dyke Show," Jonathan on "Who's the Boss," David Witherspoon on "Our House," Matthew Cooper on "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," Major Charles Winchester on "M*A*S*H," Darlene on "Roseanne," Lindsay in "Arrested Development," George on "Grey's Anatomy," Miranda on "Sex in the City," President Taylor on "24," Elyse Keaton on "Family Ties," Marcy on "Married with Children," Dr. Kildaire on "Dr. Kildaire," Rickie on "My So-Called Life," Doogie Howser on "Doogie Howser," Barney on "How I Met Your Mother," Jack on "Will and Grace," Matthew on "Newsradio," Richard on "Caroline in the City," Mitchell on "Modern Family," Sue Sylvester on "Glee," George Huang on "Law and Order:SVU," and Monroe on "Too Close for Comfort"? Sorry. All played by confirmed homosexuals or bisexuals. Raymond Burr, who played Perry Mason on "Perry Mason," was reputed to be gay as well.
Did you like Anthony Perkins' portrayal of Norman Bates in Psycho or Farley Granger's portrayal of Guy Haines in Strangers on a Train? How about Ian McKellan as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings or Lily Tomlin as Violet Newstead in 9 to 5? Sal Mineo as Plato in Rebel Without a Cause or Nathan Lane as the voice of Timon in The Lion King? How about David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth in Beauty and the Beast? Denholm Elliott as Marcus in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? Rupert Everett as George in My Best Friend's Wedding? Tommy Kirk as Travis Coates in Old Yeller and Wilby Daniels in The Shaggy Dog? Montgomery Clift in his roles in From Here to Eternity and A Place in the Sun? Kathy Najimy as Sister Mary Patrick in Sister Act? Kelly McGillis' roles in Witness and Top Gun? Tom Hulce as Mozart in Amadeus? All gay.
Do you like writings of Truman Capote, Walt Whitman, Lord Byron, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Noel Coward, Hans Christian Andersen, Langston Hughes, Marcel Proust, Clive Barker, David Sedaris, Arthur Rimbeaud, and Gertrude Stein? Gay.
Do you like the comedy stylings of Rosie O'Donnell, Ellen Degeneres, Margaret Cho, Bruce Vilanche, and Wanda Sykes? How about the Kids in the Hall Hall or Monty Python, both of which would have been incomplete without Scott Thompson and Graham Chapman (both of whom are/were gay).
Do you like the movies The Way We Were, A Room with a View, Remains of the Day, St. Elmo's Fire, The Lost Boys, Romeo and Juliet, The Champ, Good Will Hunting, Milk, Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, School of Rock, Orange County, The Philadelphia Story, My Fair Lady, Adam's Rib, Sister Act, Regarding Henry, The Truman Show, Zoolander, 17 Again, A Walk to Remember, Chicago, Nine, Beetlejuice, and Interview with the Vampire? Produced, directed, or written by homosexuals.
Hey, are you wearing any clothes designed by Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, or Gianni Versace? All gay. And a lot of the high-end fashion designs are by gay people.
Did you like Charles Nelson Reilly on "Match Game" or Rip Taylor on "The Gong Show?" or Paul Lynde on "Hollywood Squares?" Gay.
Have you ever "sweated to the oldies" with Richard Simmons or gotten nutritional advice from Susan Powter? Ever enjoyed the athleticism of Greg Louganis, Billie Jean King, Marina Navratilova, or Dave Kopay. Gay.
Ever gotten financial advice from Suze Orman? Gay.
Do you like the Beatles? Much of their success was due to their manager, Brian Epstein who guessed
Do you enjoy the potical commentary of Rachel Maddow? Do you feel politicians like Barney Frank and Harvey Milk have made important contributions? Gay. Lots of closeted gay politicians out there and lesser-known names who shape the laws of our nation, both good and bad.
Leonardo Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Caravaggio, Socrates, Aristotle, and Alexander the Great are also reputed to be gay by some historians. Think what would have been lost in the world of philosophy and art and world domination if they hadn't existed.
And holy cow! Think of all the actors, dancers, singers, and performers on Broadway we would lose without homosexuals.

Anyway, just food for thought.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Love vs. Lust

Jeffrey R. Holland said the following in General Conference yesterday afternoon:

"True love endures. But lust? Lust changes as quickly as it can turn a pornographic page. Or glance at yet another potential object for gratification walking by, male or female. True love we are absolutely giddy about, like I am about Sister Holland. We shout it from the housetops, sometimes even in General Conference. But lust? Lust is characterized by shame and stealth and is almost pathologically clandestine. The later and the darker the hour, the better; with a double-bolted door just in case. Love makes us instinctively reach out to God and other people. Lust, on the other hand, is anything but godly and celebrates self-indulgence. Love comes with open hands and open heart. Lust comes only with an open appetite."

Although he seemed to be focusing his talk on adultery and pornography, the preceding quote struck me as very interesting. By his own criteria, it's nice to know that my relationship with Jonah is based on love and not lust. Of course, I already knew that. I'm sure there would be many members of my own faith, including Brother Holland, that might disagree with me simply because my partner is of the same sex, but it is very clear to me that love is what my relationship with Jonah is built on.

Sorry I haven't written lately. Just haven't had much to say. I have been wanting to write about politics and the new health care bill (of which I am a supporter, by the way), but I just haven't felt like getting into it.

One more thing I wanted to say. I'm facing unemployment pretty soon, which is a bit nerve wracking, although I am trying to be optimistic. I'm also trying to be careful with my money. But today an unexpected check for $83.00 came at a time when I need it, so I am thankful the Lord is watching out for me. I feel like things are going to be okay. Let's hope.