Monthly Archives: May 2007

I’m Outta Here

I’ve gotten too frustrated with WordPress too many times recently.  Can’t blog when I want to, the pages won’t load, etc.  I’m abck to Blogger. 

My new address is http://typingfool.blogspot.com.  Come visit me there!

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A sister for Amber, a brother for me.

My nephew and his girlfriend got engaged last night.  It was quite the celebration!  We all met at her parents’ house to meet then after they arrived home after the proposal dinner.  We had so much fun!  Candace’s mom and dad are so nice, they had champagne and sparkling apple juice for those of us who don’t imbibe.  I thought that was pretty thoughtful.  Her mom had cheesecake and Tony’s dad’s girlfriend brought some spinach dip and crackers.  It was great.  Amber was so excited… She just kept saying, “Now I have a sister, now I have a sister!”  Candace reminds me of Amber too, I’m sure they’ll become great friends.  Too bad they’re living in Missouri or Kansas or some other godforsaken place.  Tony is a guard at the military part of Ft. Leavenworth, so they don’t live here anymore.  Unfortunately, he’s supposed to be going to Cuba in a couple of months, so they’re trying to decide now if they should get married by a judge before he goes and have a big wedding later.  (Which is a little crazy if you ask me, but they didn’t… lol)

The biggest surprise of the whole evening though, my brother was here.  I was totally dumbfounded.  As a matter of fact, as bad as this sounds, I didn’t recognize him.  Even his voice has changed, but I haven’t seen him for 17 or 18 years.  As I write that, I realize what a really, really long time that is.  I talked to him occasionally, but I made him mad years ago, so we haven’t had much to say to each other since.  It was really good to see him again though.  Once I realized who he was, and got over the shock of the whole thing that is.  I was telling Steve the only person in my family I haven’t seen this weekend was my mom – a streak which we decided to let rest for now.  heh

This was the big weekend.  I turned the big 5-0 yesterday, but my wonderful mother-in-law had a party for me on Sunday.  Both my sisters were there, dad was there, AJ was there, and Candace brought the baby.  Steve’s sister and her husband and daughter were there too, so we had a grand party.  It was hotter than hades though, and – wouldn’t you know it,  mom and Bob’s a/c decided not to work when they turned it on for the first time this year.  No matter though, the breeze was great out on their deck and everybody had a good time anyway.  More about that later.  I’m still speechless from seeing my brother…

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Mugging in Heartland of America Park

 My son got mugged last night.  Thankfully he didn’t get hurt and it only cost him 5 dollars and a little blow to his ego.  He even found his wallet a few blocks away from where it happened with his driver’s license and ID still in it.  That was pretty luck considering the amount of identity theft that goes on today.  He was with a friend and the friend’s girlfriend last night and Matt was walking a bit behind to give them some privacy.  He got his wallet out and was checking to see how much cash he had when a guy came up from behind him, punched him in the face, and knocked him down, grabbing the wallet as Matt fell.  Seriously, I’m just glad he didn’t get hurt more than his wounded pride.  That kid has the worst luck.  It started with his conception and went downhill from there.  (heh)

I’m amazed that Toby can go,  go,  go!  If we take him out of his cart he just about flies around the house.  Tonight he wanted to play with Steve, it was so funny!  Steve would toss a toy and he would race after it and bring it back and then not want to give it back.  None of our other dogs plays quite the same.  He didn’t get tired either.  Steve is looking for ways to modify his cart, it does the job, but there are definitely some things that need to be updated.  Supposedly his old vet made it and it’s made out of PVC pipe.  Durable, but it tends to give too much, a metal one would be so much better.  Those things are cheap though, so Steve is thinking of trying to fabricate one himself.  He works with engineers, you think somebody could come up with a good idea! Toby loves to be outside too.  He literally spends hours just sitting on the deck and gazing at the backyard and all the squirrels and birds.  Maybe when we get a sturdier cart he can actually go out into the yard with the other guys.  I know he would love that!

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Where is the trashcan lid?

I bought a new kitchen wastebasket at Wally World on Saturday.  Of course the lid didn’t fit.  I never try these things in the store.  There was a lid in the wastebasket, I assumed it was the lid to the wastebasket.  Silly me.  Anyway, the receipt was on the counter so the next person to go to close to the store could return it and get the right lid – and the wastebasket sat unsued in the kitchen. 

 Yesterday Steve was going to make a trek to the store so he went to grab the lid and/or wastebasket and guess what?  The lid was gone.  Meghan hasn’t seen it.  I haven’t seen it.  Steve hasn’t seen it.  We’re the only 3 people in this house.  Where the heck did the lid go?

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All the news that is news…

We got a new member of the family over the weekend.  Toby came to live with us.  He’s a black and tan smooth 4-year-old male.  He’s paralyzed in his back legs, so he uses a little cart to get around.  He doesn’t have any bowel or bladder control, so we’re getting used to having to do that for him.  He’s the cutest little guy – with a BIG BARK.  But he’s so sweet.  He was dumped a high-kill shelter in Iowa, so Steve and I drove over to get him on Sunday. 

The weather absolutely sucked for about 4 days.  Rain, thunder, rain, more thunder, tornados all around us, more rain, more thunder.  We had over 7″ of rain.  I couldn’t find my camera when we went to Des Moines (drat) but the fields all looked like lakes over there.  Not ponds, lakes.  It’s going to be a while before any planting gets done, I think. 

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I wish I could be as eloquent..

…as Ken Jennings was in this recent post.  But I can’t be.  So, I’ll defer to “Brother” Jennings. 

May 1, 2007

Mormon guy to Internet: shut up and think a minute

southpark.gif

I was outed in The New York Times over the weekend. In the crossword, in fact.

As 52-across, I was (along with 41-across, DONNYOSMOND) part of a mini-theme about famous Mormons. So, yeah, everyone knew I was Mormon anyway (even if everyone didn’t assume that a dorky-looking white guy with a Utah address was Mormon, I mentioned it a couple times on Jeopardy!), but still. My religion is weird enough that it can make me a New York Times crossword theme. Is yours? Nyaah.

For a long time, I sort of felt like Mormons were assimilating pretty well into the fabric of American life. It was hard to get a grasp on this, living overseas and then in Utah, but that was how I saw it, judging from media treatment and private conversations. Being LDS made you a minority and a conversation-starter at dinner, maybe, but it wasn’t going to curl any lips in disgust. It was an interesting oddity, like being a vegan or a hockey fan or something.

But that’s changing. Maybe it’s just the general rudeness of the Internet age, but it seems like knowing sneers and pot-shots at Mormonism are actually becoming a currency of cool now. Did Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven, which puzzlingly portrays the mild-mannered Mormon West as a seething American underbelly of violence and fundamentalism, start this off? Was it the South Park episode? (That’s Mormon founder Joseph Smith at left in the picture above.) Or Big Love?

Mitt Romney’s run for president sure isn’t helping. If Romney somehow gets the nomination, we’ll probably start to see more of this anti-Mormon bigotry from the evangelical right, but right now, Mitt’s taking most of his op-ed heat from the left. But the bashing isn’t generally politically motivated–Mormon political or social views aren’t getting picked at much (which would be fair enough). I guess you did get The New Republic raising the laughable JFK-era boogeyman of a Presidential pawn taking his orders straight from Rome Salt Lake City. (If that’s the concern, hasn’t anyone noticed that the top-ranking Democrat in Washington, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is a devout Mormon?)

But substantive political argument in these hit pieces is rare. Instead, otherwise rational people have straight-facedly taken the position that LDS theology itself is too outlandish to deserve any respect whatsoever. Religious discrimination is wrong, sure, and people should be allowed to believe what they want. Unless you’re Mormon, of course. Eww. They’re just weird.

Take Jacob Weisberg or alcoholic gadfly Christoper Hitchens in Slate, for example. Or this Boston Globe op-ed. Andrew Sullivan declared “Mormon week” on The Daily Dish a few months ago and spent days guffawing over those dopey Mormons.

Look, I don’t expect opinion writers to write about the LDS church, or any religion not their own, from a believer’s point of view. That wouldn’t make sense. But you don’t get any class points in my book for turning somebody’s sacred beliefs into punchlines just to jazz up your prose. I’m sure we’re going to see more of these things until the Mitt-ster drops out of the race, so here are a few points of advice to the would-be bashers.

  1. After you get off a particularly good zinger at those gullible Mormons, try recasting your sentence so it refers to “those gullible Jews” or “…Catholics” or “…Muslims.” If, Wonkette, you think Mormon temple garments should be called “magic underwear” throughout your post, try substituting “magic beanie” for “yarmulke” or “magic Nilla wafer” for “Communion host” in a similar context and considering whether that’s journalism, or whether that’s even funny anymore. If you’re horrified by the result, it’s because bigotry is bigotry, no matter the target. Mormons are no strangers to religious discrimination–after all, Missouri had its 1838 extermination order against Mormons on the books until 1976. Discrimination against Mormons isn’t any more of a laughing matter than anti-Semitism, anti-Islamic feeling, or any other religious prejudice.
  2. Realize that pretty much all religious belief is fundamentally irrational. Weisberg write that the founding myth of the LDS church–unschooled 19th-century farm boy claims that an angel led him to buried metal plates, which he then translated through miraculous means into a book of scripture–is so a priori stupid that he should be allowed his pot-shots. Sure, he allows, this is no weirder than what lies beneath any other religion–virgin birth, the parting of the Red Sea, Gabriel’s delivery of the Qur’an. “But a few eons makes a big difference,” he says, waving his hands. “The world’s greater religions have had time to splinter, moderate, and turn their myths into metaphor.” So a patina of age is what makes it okay to laugh at Mitt Romney about Joseph Smith, even though you’d never make Muhammad jokes to Keith Ellison? That’s just dopey. I don’t know how many churchgoing Americans Weisberg hangs out with, but let me assure him: most of them are just as sincere about their faiths’ improbable divine origins as Mormons are. Does he think modern Baptists and Catholics and Jews read scripture and think to themselves, “Wow, I’m sure glad my splintered, moderated religion doesn’t believe these nutty metaphorical miracles ever really happened”? I’ve always thought the modern American context of Mormonism’s story is what makes it special and uniquely fascinating. Weisberg et. al. just seem to think it makes it a better punchline.
  3. Finally, do your @#$% research. Pieces like Weisberg’s and Hitchens’ seem to be based on a single viewing of that one South Park and perhaps dim memories of a 1976 undergraduate reading of Fawn Brodie’s No Man Knows My History. So they feel no compunction about calling LDS church founder Joseph Smith a “charlatan” who whipped up Mormonism L. Ron Hubbard-style as a “racket” to gratify his own ego and sexual libertinism. There’s only one problem with this caricature: you’re not going to find too many scholars of Mormonism, believing or not, who buy it anymore. When it comes to Mormon history, Brodie is out; Richard Bushman’s considerably more nuanced Rough Stone Rolling is in. Smith is still an enigma, and you’ll find a broad spectrum of scholars willing to explain his remarkable life with varying shades of piety or cynicism (or, if you’re talking to a Mormon, as a genuine visionary). But it’s certainly not good enough anymore to assume in your very first graf that everyone knows Joseph Smith was just a con man and let’s take it from there. Again, try this out with “Buddha” or “Joan of Arc” or “Muhammad” and see how your piece sounds.

PBS has just aired a thoughtful four-hour Frontline doc on “The Mormons” (check local listings if you missed it; maybe it’ll re-air). Some LDS folks will probably blanch at the series’ straightforward look at polygamy, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and other historical controversies of Mormonism. Nonbelievers might blink at how seriously and respectfully many of the doc’s talking heads treat the LDS church’s surprising origins and evolution. They shouldn’t be surprised. Not every look at a major American religion has to be a clueless five-minute hit piece. Sometimes there’s more to see.

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S…..l…..o……w…..

Oh, and I would post more often if I could get into Word Press more often.  I don’t have the patience to sit around and wait for 5 minutes for the pages to load.  Is it just me or what? 

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