Showing posts with label discrimination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label discrimination. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Postcomment for Jake Abhau: - A Mormon Dad of a Gay Teen

While I was reading  this post, my mind flooded with ideas for a comment I might leave – but there were too many thoughts racing through my mind that my fingers couldn’t keep up with what I thought I wanted to say – so while trying to condense my comment (so that it did not come out to be longer than the Jake’s post) I made errors with spelling and smooth transitions.  My comment sounded disjointed and stupid – to me anyway. 

Perhaps not all of it sounded unpolished and sloppy.  My thoughts were flying faster than I could get the words out. When I reread through the first comment that I left, I realize I should have just stopped at the second paragraph. I copied the first two paragraphs and deleted my original comment and tried again – with just the two paragraphs and a link for my brother’s blog. I’d like to share my ideas and hope that they are valid and helpful.  But I don’t want to sound preachy.

Some of the thoughts that went through my mind were words I had already written in such posts found here, here and here among several others.  I had also thought about the lesson given in Relief Society, several of Corey’s posts, and a talk I had given in Sacrament meeting.

The lesson in Relief Society was chapter 15 of Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow in which we learn that sometimes things don’t go as we had planned but that we need to make the best of it and realize that perhaps that was part of the plan all along – that Pres. Snow was destined to be in Malta rather than India, that we ourselves may have another mission that doesn’t seem compatible with what we’ve been taught all of our lives.

Corey had been taught to go on a mission, get married in the temple, honor his priesthood, etc. etc.  But that isn’t the path he chose for himself – nevertheless believed it was expected.  And then God allowed for Corey and Joh to cross paths.  Corey is now on a mission through his blog.  He has a strong testimony of the Church gospel.  But he also values gay awareness. 

My belief is that his calling right now is to assist in bridging that gap between the LDS Church and the LGBT community.  But his records had to be removed from the Church in order to get the following that he did (and continues to get) And I think he has done an amazing job – though that was not his intent.  Corey is a happy and complete person – neither of which existed before he came out – before he found Joh.

I gave a talk in Church.  The subject I had been given was on forgiveness.  I didn’t want to come right out and say, “Corey, I’ve been assigned a talk.  Allow me to be your proxy; you write the talk and I will give it.” Though that is what I wanted to do.  I emailed the three paragraphs which I had been given and told him that I needed to make a talk out of it and was looking for his ideas – which he shared.  But not a complete talk’s worth.

Ironically about half of my talk came from some of the posts that he had created about a friend who had been sent to prison.  So unbeknownst to him, I actually did make most of it his talk rather than my own.  Just because he’s been excommunicated doesn’t mean his relationship with God is over.  Quite the contrary.  It has gotten stronger.

We don’t always understand why we’ve been given certain trials.  We don’t often understand why God would give a commandment (“Thou shalt not kill” for example) that we accept and imbed into our brains and strongly agree with and then tells someone (Nephi, for example) “Kill Laban” and we’re like “What?”

There are some people who I believe have been chosen – yes “chosen” to marry outside of their faith or not serve a mission or leave the Church to build strength in either their own character or become an example for others to follow.  I truly believe that. 

I do have a testimony of this church gospel.  I do.  But I have strayed from the strict teachings I grew up with and have ventured outside the box into a world where I want to understand others – what their viewpoints are.  And I’m seeing the flaws of men – mankind who are church goers – some are Pharisees, some try their hardest to fit into the perfect Mormon mold, and others explore.  There are some mighty strong members who have strayed and returned – and then there are others (like my brother) who remain strong but cannot return – at least for the time being.

I think so many of us feel discrimination at one time or another.  And yet Jesus did not or does not discriminate.  So why is it we may feel that when we are attending His Church?  Because there is still leadership run by imperfect men.  None of us is perfect.  We're not expected to be perfect in this earth life - just to stay on the path that will lead to perfection. God isn't going to discriminate because Jordan is gay - just as he will not discriminate against my bother. It's his mission. You can see it in his blog.

I hope that Jake does not give up on the Church.  But I do understand where he is coming from.  The Church teaches values.  It builds foundation. But it is hard to live the concept of “Families are Forever” and then have imperfect leaders tell us that unless we repent of the unrepentable that we can’t be together forever.  We have to have hope and faith and realize that God’s love and perfection is so much mightier than any man’s.

Monday, February 11, 2013

To Be or Not To Be Beyond the Walls

This year the Church created a new format for teaching the youth.  Our theme for the month of February is on the Plan of Salvation.  The website and brochure give guidelines and suggestions, but it is up to the instructor of seminary, Young Men’s, Young Women’s or Sunday School to allow him or herself to be guided by the Spirit to come up with meaningful lessons that will make an impact on the youth.  It beats the same outline and manual that we shared with the adults last year (and I suppose every year prior)

Last week I introduced self worth and service as part of the plan and had a tremendous amount of examples – including relating the ideas that have been shared in the video “Man’s Search forHappiness” (Didn't the Church put out a more updated version?)

The lesson itself seemed to go okay but I also seemed to lose my train of thought rather early in the lesson. I ended quite early and asked for a closing prayer.  But as it was so early, I asked the class to remain seated and allowed my overly quiet class to talk about whatever was on their minds.

I’ve been putting more thought and preparation into my lesson for next week – which thus far seems to be taking me in the direction of the three kingdoms – though I haven’t really felt inspiration so much as incomplete thoughts.

I’m not discouraged particularly, but I feel myself delving deeper into places where I don’t necessarily want to be – or would like to share with the class rather.  For example, I have read some opinions given on object lessons discussed in this site  as well as some others. Actually, I have been somewhat intrigued by some of my searches, but it’s not where I want to take the class.

I remember a fireside that had been hyped up with advertisement of going to Hawaii or some other destination.  All the advertisements were geared to our moment of “travel” – only the fireside had been presented to the adults about a month or two before the youth were given the opportunity.

Mom had come home from the adult fireside.  She had enjoyed the presentation and had enthusiastically shared with me that which had taken place.  It sounded (to me) like a really good fireside. And I remember wishing I could have gone – not realizing that I would be at a future date.

When I had gone to the youth fireside one or two months later, I’d forgotten about the fireside mom had shared with me.
First the group was taken to the passageway that is nestled between the chapel and the cultural hall.   The chairs had been set up similar to how they appear in a commercial airline. We had been given plane tickets in small official looking folders. As we boarded the plane, we were given leis as I recall. I don’t recall there having been a specific flight number.  I just recall the destination.  I thought it would result in a luau.  But no . . .

The flight attendant demonstrated safety devises as the pilot made announcements over the intercom.  The flight was underway.  We listened to Hawaiian music.  And then our plane crashed.  It was then that I realized what was in store.  I don’t know if it would have developed a different impression if I hadn’t already known what was going to happen.  But I had already experienced this crashed flight and results through mom.

We were told that everybody aboard had died upon impact and that there were no survivors.  Our guide showed us around taking us from one kingdom to the next explaining why we were there and who the candidates were (are) for each kingdom.

We were taken to two other rooms before entering the chapel to see all of our leaders dressed in white and were told that we had made it to the highest kingdom.  I don’t remember how I felt right then.  But I did walk away from the object lesson almost as impressed as my mom had been.  I thought it well done. Well illustrated.  There were many of us who did.  It hadn’t occurred to me that there were some that had been freaked out by the object lesson or uncomfortable or turned off or other emotions that were quite opposite from the ones I had felt.

I was to attend at least two more similar firesides. Both in the mission field.  The first was after I had been in the field for a month.  I was part of a tripanionship (three sister missionaries serving a one unit) and we portrayed the flight attendance and arranged for participants to learn their parts.

Brother Croft did an outstanding job as the pilot.  Our flight number: 307.  There was no divider between the cultural hall and chapel.  We used the stage as our airplane.  We passed out hand-made tickets in homemade folders and passed out leis (I believe)

Bro. Croft recorded music and provided great sound effects for the crash.  He had also given us eerie sounds to be played while the participants were led passed a dark room representing outer darkness – which not all firesides provided. We were told who would be sent to outer darkness and fortunately nobody in the group qualified.

 A lot of non-Mormons had been invited to the fireside and attended.  Upon seeing the bishop and his family on the stand in the chapel – which represented the highest kingdom – many laughed.  Many said: “No way.”  Too many saw a flawed family and wouldn’t accept the symbolism. 

The last time I attended the fireside was later the following summer.  I had served in the area for only a month and only knew a handful of members. I was with a companion who had a hard time getting along with any of her former companions.  It was actually a tough area for me.

The ads that were created to hype up the fireside were not for a flight to Hawaii.  We would be taking a train to the Orients.  As soon as we were seated, I figured out that the train would crash. But before the train went underway, each table (yes, we were seated at tables that had been set in two rows) we were given board games to play.  And I was actually so wrapped up in the game that I forgot about what was about to take place – until the lights went out and we were pronounced dead.

When we entered the chapel which was supposed to represent the highest kingdom, I started to cry.  I didn’t know many that were on the stage.  I was with a companion I wasn’t getting along with.  None of my family was there.  Just a bunch of strangers.  It did not represent Celestial glory – or if it did, it was not where I wanted to be.

          As I have gone through my research, I have also come across thissite  We made a mistake – we offended someone – apparently lots of someones.  We created an irreverence when we were trying to illustrate something good and wholesome.  That is what we were trying to do?

          People make mistakes.  Members make mistakes.  Doctrines are misinterpreted.  Things get misconceived.  It’s not that we are trying to be deceptive or opinionated.  That’s why it is so important to pray.  We need to learn for ourselves if something is right or if it has been misrepresented – if it’s our own lack of understanding or if it is the instructors . . . God is never wrong.  It is best to ask him than to take word for it.  It is best that we communicate with God and learn for ourselves what he expects of us individually and receive our own personal revelations.

          There had been one more fireside/activity that I remember from college – although not in detail – nor can I find an activity suggestion that is similar.

          Back in 1981-1982, the ratio (at was then Ricks College) was approximately 3 ½ girls to every guy.  The ward and family home evening activities provided more drastic – being about 5-6 girls to every guy.  There were two Relief Societies, but only one priesthood.  The statistics were pretty much the same throughout my life.

          At this activity, each of us were given four yellow tickets (actually, I don’t remember the exact colors nor do I know if they’re symbolic in any way, but that’s not pertinent to how I personally felt by the end of the night)

          We were given a choice of activities in which to choose from.  We could purchase a healthy drink or a more worldly one (of course worldliness at Rick’s college couldn’t have been more powerful than extra sweetened lemonade or perhaps orange soda pop) I would guess to represent the word of wisdom. 
          There was a fortune teller or a scripture booth (I’m just guessing about the scripture booth; I forgot the fortune teller’s equivalent).  There was also a room which represented a chapel for civil marriages or a room which represented temple marriage.  I forget what two situations represented the last choice that we were given.

          I hadn’t connected the dots back then, but I suppose the tickets that each of us were given represented time – and the markers would tell the “angels at the gate” just how we spent that time.

          I couldn’t get a pretend recommend to marry in the pretend temple because of the ratio thing.  I had made two wise choices, but realizing I would not be able to use a yellow ticket for temple marriage, I made a poor choice (knowing full well that it was the wrong choice) and went to the fortune teller – because what the hey.  I wasn’t going to find a partner to get married either civilly or eternally.

          Besides, Lucy was playing the fortune teller.  She had dropped by our apartment earlier that week to see if any of us had a flashy skirt which she could use.  Lucy was talented and funny.  I knew she would make a great fortune teller.

          Each time we made a choice, we were to turn in a yellow ticket and were given another color. 
          When the activities were completed, we passed through a door and would give our four tickets to one who “stood at the gate” and were ushered to our destination.  I had one yellow ticket, one orange and two blue. 

I ended up in the “Terrestrial” section along with more than half the ward.  As I recall there were only two couples (only four people) that had made it to the Celestial glory (the highest kingdom within the LDS Church) and only a few loners had been led to the Telestial (the lowest kingdom) section.  And I remember thinking to myself (even then) “This isn’t fair.  It’s not my fault that I’m still single.  It isn’t most of our faults.  We just happen to outnumber the guys.”

          I understood the activity and understood the concept that was being taught, but it felt like discrimination.  I had tried to get into the temple, but was robbed of that privilege because I had no partner – no guy partner.  And it had to be a guy.  It didn’t seem to matter much if I loved him or not – just so long as I “had done the right thing”

          I felt discriminated because I was single.  I felt discriminated because it wasn’t my fault.  I felt like I had been judged unfairly.  I was not happy with the results.  And as I looked around, those I felt closest to had all ended up in the same kingdom as I.  And I thought, “If this experiment really is accurate of the results to come, I don’t even want the Celestial Kingdom.  It looks lonely” (as there were a number of empty chairs)

          It didn’t occur to me then that my baby brother would grow up and be asked to leave the Church – well, not him personally – but that his records would be removed.  It didn’t occur to me that one day the Church would discriminate against him and his partner and deny them the blessings that actually so many of us are denied – because of civil marriage or feminism or acting upon same sex attraction or even black members for many years or for exploring beyond the walls. It doesn't appeal to me to live in a kingdom that discriminates.

          I do have more thoughts on the subject of going beyond the walls, but will have to save it for another post as my thoughts are not really in a well written order.  Perhaps this is not either.  How great there is to have an editing tool.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Doogie Howser in Hunter Orange

DoogieHowser ran from September of 1989 to March of 1993.  I have actually never seen an episode.  I remembered seeing previews for it.  But the entire concept of this teenage doctor was just so bizarre – I couldn’t imagine spending time watching it.  I’m quite surprised it was actually on for four seasons.

          I have been a consumer in several stores throughout my life.  The older I get, the younger the clerks become.  Too often I will encounter those who seem clueless, who seem to have no sense of direction with customer relations, who look at me as though I’ve sprouted horns or am talking in a foreign tongue.  I refer to those kids as “fetuses”

          There have been a few, however, that just “look” younger than they are, but speak with such maturity and sophistication that they sound much older than they look. (I think Neil Patrick Harris looked way younger than fourteen when the show started) It is the male population of these wise that I have nicknamed “Doogie Howser”.

          There is a handful of Doogie Howsers in my ward.  I guess they seem so much younger to me because the average age in the ward is above 70 – and those that I dub as Doogie Howsers are all in their 20’s – though this one in particular appears to be younger than any of my boys but as we’ve lived in the ward for three years – and he has lived here with his wife in all that time, I know that he’s older than my youngest two and probably my eldest.

          Wade’s worn his hunter orange cardigan to Church a couple of times.  One can’t help but notice as it is truly bright.  The last time he had worn it while blessing the sacrament I was reminded of a situation that Corey related to me – he was told that he would not be able to participate in blessing the sacrament as he was wearing a purple shirt.  Really?

          I understand steering away from casual wear – out of respect to our Creator – at the same time we don’t KNOW the reasons that people wear (or don’t wear) what they do.  Corey happens to like the color purple – and he looked nice in his non-traditional Sunday suit.  He wanted his own identity – his individual worth.  But nobody had asked if that was the case . . .

          Maybe all his white shirts had been damaged in the washing machine when it broke down.  Maybe the purple shirt was the only one that fit.  We don’t know.  Wade may be wearing his orange cardigan for whoever bought it.  It’s definitely an attention getter, and he teaches Jack – our only young men aged youth.  Maybe Jack listens better when he has that sweater glaring at him.  Or maybe he can’t find his suit jacket and the cardigan is warm.

          In my last ward there was a persnickety Pharisee who harped on the dress code almost every week.  I think she was offended that there had been a few show up in jeans or more casual wear and wouldn’t even make an effort to dress another way.  Wouldn’t it be more important to Jesus to have his children show up than stay away due to a strict dress code?

          I’m not bothered by it – but I know some people are.  Another example is a counselor to the bishop came dressed in jeans.  It’s all he had.  His wife had passed away that week and no one had picked his suit up at the cleaners.  He was conducting.  With emotion, he announced his own wife’s upcoming funeral.

          I don’t normally wear panty hose – even to the temple.  My legs chafe.  I’m certain that God understands.  He is, after all, the one that gave me my overly sensitive skin.

          I know some people get lazy.  Some become wrapped up in their own thoughts that they forget why others are dressed up. But I know the Savior would still welcome them with a smile.  He would even allow them to bless and pass the sacrament knowing their worth and worthiness lies on the inside and not outward appearance.

          I am grateful for those who are willing to embrace others just because they are there. For those who don’t pass judgment.  For those who accept.

Monday, February 27, 2012

We All Feel Excluded at Times

I had read Corey’s beautiful testimony which he posted on his blog.  Still not allowed to share it in Church – which is really too bad.  It is so powerful and does give insight into acceptance.

There were some comments made by a few whose names I hadn’t recognized.  They’d been following Corey’s blog for quite some time but had never made comment until Corey once again mentioned that he might stop blogging.
I had told him time and time again that he needed to continue – or needs to rather.  It’s not just my selfish desire to read his eloquent words – he has been making a difference for over six years now.  Followers have seen him struggle and grow and give advice – though he doesn’t mean it that way.  His words just come out so naturally that a reader can’t help but feel some sense of awe.
Until Corey’s blog had been pointed out to me – I hadn’t done much research on homosexuality – or same sex attraction rather.  Just because one has SSA does not mean that he or she may act upon it – hard as it may be.  You either remain celibate and true to your church or true to yourself at the expense of membership.  It’s hard.  It’s like you’ve been told to multiply and replenish the earth but you’ve also been told NOT to eat the apple.

There have been many who have become angry or hurt by the decisions of the church.  Recently I posted a comment on the website Mormons for Marriages.  My thought was that if missionaries teach an unwed heterosexual couple the gospel and have them commit to baptism, they expect the couple will get married first.  But what do they expect of a homosexual couple? Would they even bother teaching them?

Corey could have taken a tremendously different path than he did.  Between the time he graduated from high school and from the two year college he attended, Corey grew into a very bitter person.  I had little contact with the prick that he had become. It wasn’t because he thought he was a homosexual that put a strain on our relationship – it was just that he would invite Satan – or Satan seemed to hang around his life and I wasn’t thrilled to see his presence crossing over into my own life – denying the fact that with my failing relationship with Corey, he already had. 

Satan had interfered with the pretty awesome relationship that Corey and I had once had.  But because we were already at odds with one another when he announced his coming out – I realized then that I just didn’t care.  Somewhere between high school and his college graduation, I had stopped caring about Corey.  The Corey I had known had disappeared and a very dark and ugly personality had taken over.

Corey is the first to admit just how dark and ugly his life was.  He had been fighting a losing battle practically his entire life.  The Church had said, “You need to behave this way.  You need to think that way.  You need to repent if you are not in the Mormon Box” – okay – it wasn’t taught entirely with those exact words – but that is the message that was conveyed.  Still is at times.

We are taught to stay in the Mormon lines and yet there is a Mormonad – a youth poster – with a picture of a single daisy amongst several roses in a vase.  The caption reads: Dare to be Different.  Really?  Sometimes I feel chastised for some of the different emotions that I feel.  And it’s not just me.  It’s every feminist.  It’s everyone who has had feelings and desires toward a person who is not of the same faith that we are.  It’s every person who has experienced what many may call “failed” marriages.  It’s the person who lost custody because his or her spouse had a “smoother” attorney.

From what I understand (I don’t have hard evidence to back this up, so I could be wrong) there was a high suicide rate among the women in the Church in the 60s, unable to live up to all the expectations outlined for them.  For years and years those from a black race could join the Church, but could NOT hold the priesthood.  It appeared that they had been told, “You can join the Church but never reap all the benefits that we have to offer”

Those who have married a spouse who is not a member of the Church or have a spouse who is inactive or recently divorced may feel excluded with activities or topics of eternal marriage.  Even single people who have been looking for straight partners may not always be comfortable with the subject of eternal families and how we need to search for an eternal mate and blah, blah, blah . . . as if they’re not already searching. 

So many meeting will start with, “of course we want to include our single brothers and sisters . . .” when what they are really doing is just adding salt to the wounds that seem to become deeper with each “enduring” meeting.

I went from “single” resentment to a “budget” hang-up.  I understand the need of balancing a checkbook and prioritizing and doing without.  I get it.  Sitting through the umpteenth meeting with my given financial situation doesn’t change the economy or Roland’s greedy ex.  We’ve been behind with attorney fees (have actually lost attorneys) taxes and so forth.  We don’t even have anything tangible to show for where our money went.  It’s a problem.  Rubbing my nose in it isn’t going to change the situation.  It’s only going to make me hostile and feel more resentment.

And now leaders are advising those with same sex attraction NOT to act upon their feelings – to remain unhappy living the gospel.  Oh – they don’t say “Be unhappy” they actually advise the leopard to “change his spots – or remove them rather”  though there are a few that have come to understand that homosexuality is NOT a choice just as being born Hispanic or Asian or any other race is not a choice.  It’s in the genes. 

There are many of those who act upon their feelings to share their lives with one of the same sex – they may feel welcome to attend meetings and even feel the love of their fellow members.  But over time it becomes trite and mundane.  There are still many lessons and talks given that encourage staying within the Mormon lines. 

          I recall the day that Corey told us that he had decided that he would go on a mission.  Blew us away.  Where in the world did that even come from?  Was my brother back and the imposter of the last two years taken a permanent hike?  The transformation that had taken Corey from my beloved brother into the arrogant self-centered jerk he’d become was such a gradual one – so gradual that neither of us even saw it was there in the beginning.  But the transformation from egotistical angry soul was not.  It was like black and white, night and day – nothing gradual about it.  And he put in his papers.

          I think if Corey had remained the imposter slimeball he’d become, it would have led him on a path of destruction.  I would have seen gays in a very unpositive manner as so many people do due to some sleazy and corrupt lifestyles that so many gay people take – although there are just as many straight people who choose to lead the sleazy and corrupt life.  I would have continued believing that homosexuality is wrong. 

          I would have had a Pharisee attitude without researching.  I would have kept my eyes closed because I believed that the Church had told me to.  I wouldn’t have been open and welcoming to a new idea.  Well, new to me. 
I would have forgotten how it feels to be excluded due to culture, life experiences, being single, being poor . . . I suppose there are a great number of people in the Church who feel excluded for one reason or another.

Homosexuality has been around for thousands of years – it’s been only recently that we’ve become more vocal about it.  And yet there are thousands who still close their eyes and refuse to look at gays and lesbians as real people with real feelings.  Some choose to lead reprimanded lifestyles while others are really struggling to find their identity, to be happy, to be accepted.

          Corey came back.  He grew into an even better and more accepting human being. He has touched the lives of so many.  And he’s given me hope.  Given me a new perspective on life.  Homosexuality (or same sex attraction) is not a choice – though acting on one’s desires is.  The gay man can feel every bit as the straight.  He or she can love a partner just as much as a straight man or woman may love a partner.  Feelings are real.  We don’t often choose whether or not we would like to be attracted to someone.  The feelings are there.  They are real.

The Church offers guidelines on how to act and how to dress.  (Would Jesus really be offended to see a Snoopy tie on a deacon or 2nd counselor or chastise a woman for wearing a denim skirt or open toed shoes?) guidelines to be conservative and professional overpowering being casual and appearing uncaring.
Not all members are willing to overlook those who really don’t have the finances of showing up in their idea of “Sunday Best”. For some people the jeans that don’t have holes in them really are their best.  If we were to exclude members based on dress code, our ward would have even less youth than we already have.  And it isn’t because they’re too lazy to dress appropriately.  We just happen to live in a rather financially poor area.

          We need to be happy.  God’s kind of happy.  The Church offers guide lines, but for most of us I think we need to spread our wings.  We need to take the principles that we have learned and continue to soar – but for most of us we need to soar beyond the walls that were created by many members who are trying so hard to live the letter of the law that they are not willing to look at others with the same heart and compassion that God does. 

          God loves us completely.  He knows who we are and what we can accomplish.  He has given us trials to overcome.  He has created paths for us to endure.  God has.  Man hasn’t.  I think sometimes we lose sight of that.  We’re encouraged to pray for ourselves to know what’s right for us.  No one can take away our personal revelation. 

Imperfect members relate these guidelines in various ways.  We are encouraged to pray about the things we learn.  We need to understand and differentiate between the two.  We need to understand God’s will for us versus man’s will for God’s expectations. God is perfect.  His children are not.

There are still some races and cultures who still struggle with acceptance.  When those who have homosexual feelings are better accepted, mankind will look for a new group of people to be afraid of, to pick on, and to exclude. Too bad.