The World at Large


This was originally a comment on a post over at Mormon Stories.

By now you’ve probably heard of a new Anti-Mormon DVD about to be released. Just in time (as apparently is usual) for General Conference. It’s called “The Search For Truth” and is packaged to resemble Church videos. You can find the Foundation for Apologetics and Research’s response to it here.

The purpose of this video, the disingenuous nature of the distribution (the “fake” LDS packaging, the leaving of it on cars parked on private property and the leaving of it on doors like junk mail) deeply offend and anger me. If I find one (doubtful because, thankfully, Canada seems to have a smaller, less vociferous population of antis) I think I shall take great pleasure in smashing it.

You are welcome to discuss your religion with me. You are welcome to discuss my religion with me. You are not welcome to sneak around like a thief and leave your ugly thoughts of what you <i>think</i> I believe lying around, disguised as something coming from a source I would trust.

If you’re not Mormon or you’ve left the church that’s your choice and your path. Please allow me the same freedom you seek for yourself, to believe as I feel directed by God.

And at least have the strength of character to do what you feel you have to do up front. I have more respect for the guy who dressed up like a devil (red face paint, pitchfork and all) and stood outside the Hill Cumorah Pageant than I do those who seek to tear down the faith of others but evidently cannot stand up for their own.

Recently (er, a couple weeks ago… *innocently whistles*) this arrived in my mailbox. At first I wasn’t sure what to do with it but then I thought that new writers need all the support they can get. So in an effort to do my part supporting LDS writers, I’m going to share this with you. :)

Hello!

My first book, “Secrets in Zarahemla,” will be on bookstore shelves this week. In honor of my debut novel, I am offering several contests on my website, www.sariahswilson.com.

I’m contacting you in hopes of spreading the word about my book and to give you the chance to participate in one of the giveaways, the “Secrets in Zarahemla Tell A Friend Contest.” I am hoping that you will tell your blog readers about this giveaway. The direct link to this contest is:

http://www.sariahswilson.com/contestinfo.asp?id=1

One reader can enter to win a free copy of “Secrets in Zarahemla” and a $50 gift card of their choosing. They will need to enter the name of your blog in the “who referred” them box.

The blogger/blog site that drives the most entrants to the contest will win their own $50 gift certificate and a free copy of my book.

The contest lasts until February 28, 2007.

Thanks so much!
Sariah S. Wilson

Recently sextuplets were born to a family in Vancouver. Little is known about the family other than that they are devout Jehovah’s Witnesses. Last week the state seized three of the four surviving infants to give them transfusions because it is against the tenets of the JWs and the parents had refused. The parents and their doctors were pursuing alternative methods of treatment. The responses in the editorial pages have been vile.

“Perpetuating the myths”

Michael Rai-Lewis (Imposing Religion — Feb 2) writes that parents should not be allowed to impose their religion on infants, who are not capable of choosing anything. When carried to its logical conclusion this is an idea that no religion could ever permit.

Imagine if parents were prevented from imposing religion on their children until they could make an informed choice for themselves — say, at 14 or 16 years old. The children would reject such ludicrous fairytales, the same way children outgrow Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.

No, we won’t be seeing this any time soon. The mythmakers simply could not allow it. The duty of parents to brainwash their children is sacrosant in every religion for a very good reason.

My response, which I hope the paper will print:

If choice is what bothers Michael Rai-Lewis (Feb 2) and Christpoher Price (Feb 3), then I wonder how they can condone the state forcing transfusions on those infants. They could not make an informed decision; how does the state have more right than their parents to make decisions for them? These are not parents who have neglected or abused their children in any way; these are parents who have fought every step of the way for these children’s lives. “Selected terminations” and DNRs were recommended by doctors; if not for these parent’s choices, those children’s fates would not even be up for debate. What about those choices? Should the state, which forced a decision on those children in order to save their lives, have forced a decision on them to end their lives?

In the end, it is the parent’s job, even duty, to make decisions for and on behalf of their children. Mr. Price appears to advocate not teaching our children anything until they can understand and make the decisions for themselves. When taken to its logical conclusion, this is an idea that no parent and no society period can permit. Don’t teach your children how to eat healthfully? What three-year old would choose whole grains and vegetables over a cupcake and chips? This is a choice a parent must make. For that matter, what about global warming? If we were to wait to act upon it until everyone completely understood it and was able to make what those who advocate such a choice feel would be “quality” decisions, then we would be waiting a long time indeed. Say, for everyone on the planet to get a Ph.D in environmental studies.

So what Mr. Price’s comment comes down to is “don’t allow parents to teach their children anything I disagree with.” Should I then advocate that people like him should not be allowed to teach their children their brand of athiesm? Afterall, I disagree with it. And if my children are too young to be taught my values and the basis upon which I make them, then so are his.

I am disappointed with the Globe and Mail for printing the nastiness and ignorance I have seen these last few days. Canada prides itself on its openeness and tolerance but apparently that doesn’t extend very far.

 

Friends of mine are in the process of divorcing. I find it very sad, especially in light of my parents’ impending divorce. I know there are many factors that go into such a drastic decision. For the most part, I tend to think that a dose (a heavy dose) of charity is what’s needed to fix the problems. (Believe me, I know it’s not an instant cure.)

But how much is too much? My friends were married in the temple. Something has happened that has changed one of them drastically. Beliefs have changed or been lost. Personality has changed to the point where the other spouse says that their spouse is a completely different person.

The person you married made certain promises but now has become another person, one who doesn’t care about those promises. Does that mean the marriage is nullified?

I’ve been listening to the radio a lot lately.  The radio (usually) has more variety than the collection of songs I have on my computer and I enjoy the chatter of the djs.  Every now and again when they come back from (or head off on) a commercial break, the announce makes some comment about how 99.9 mix is a “standard” radio station.

Oh, don’t I wish.  I wish there were such a thing as a radio station with standards.  Ideally such a station would screen all new releases.  It could even have a contest (like 99.9 does) where the listeners get to choose which songs get added to the playlist and which get dumped.  I think there’s a need — and maybe even a desire — for such a thing because the airwaves are getting dirtier and dirtier.  If I hear Justin Timberlake’s asinine, oversexed song one more time, I think I WILL whip him as he so kindly offers to allow me to “if he misbehaves.”  IF he misbehaves?  He misbehaves just by singing that pathetic excuse for a song.  Boasting to the world that every girl you see — even the one already with someone — will “burn it up for you” is bad enough but then, in the same song, claiming that “no on else makes you feel this way…”  Words fail me.  What’s even sadder is I didn’t have to look up those lyrics– they play the song about five times a day.

Then there’s Pink’s latest offering.  I rather enjoyed “Stupid Girls.”  It was funny and smart.  There’s nothing redeeming about “It’s Just You And Your Hand Tonight.”

I know there are songs that some people love and some that get on other’s nerves.  I find “Lips Of An Angel” to be pretty stupid but find nothing objectionable about it.  That is part of why I listen to the radio after all, to hear songs outside of my usual favorites.  I like variety and I like the chance to find new favorites.

I just wish for a radio station that weeded out the offesive, gratuitous, stupid over sexual songs.

I’ve seen it suggested that in places like Europe, especially the more socialist countries, where the state is seen as the protector, people don’t feel as much of a need for religion.  While statistics would seem to bear that out it’s still not something I can understand.  The state can provide a certain level of physical protection like employment insurance and health care.  These are both good things. I’m all for people who have lost their jobs still being able to eat and have a roof over their heads and not having to worry how you’re going to pay for it as you or your loved one is rushed to the emergency room.  However physical protection is not all that is needed. 

One of the FMH-ers recently posted on the joys of life and contrasted them with the attitude that this world is a vale of tears.  I have to disagree with her.  There are many things right with my life; there are many blessings I have or look forward to experiencing.  I try to be truly grateful for them but there are other things in my life that, while they are exceedingly minor compared to what others bear, bring me to my knees weeping and screaming.  In so many ways, I want off.  I feel like I’ve had it with this world, its inhabitants and the imperfections of both.  (Readers can relax; I believe suicide would be a sin and anyway I could never intentionally inflict that kind of pain on my family.)

The above brings me to my point: while the state may be able to protect my body it can do nothing for my soul.  Even putting aside for the moment the issues of human nature, sin and eternal progression, the state can neither protect me from nor offer me comfort for the slings and arrows that flesh is heir to.  I truly hate to think of what my life would be like without the gospel.  Nothing could replace it for me; how can those people in Europe NOT notice this hole in their lives?  What do they turn to to help them bear their emotional burdens?

Recently I read an interview with Hugh Laurie, the man who plays House in the show of the same name.  One of the things he said about the part interested me.  He said he was initially unsure the show would survive because Americans like their heros to be good and wholesome, the kind of person you can root for.  Given House’s (now famous) irascibility, Laurie just didn’t think people would like him (meaning House).  However, “House” is a hit; people love it so much there are now several clones on their way to the airwaves.  For example there is “Shark” about a jerky lawyer who always wins.

I hope very much that these clones fail.  I do enjoy “House;” even though if I were ever to meet House himself in person I’d want to throttle him right quick I enjoy him as a character on a TV show.  However I think there is one very important aspect to “House” that isn’t recognized by those behind “Shark.”  No, House isn’t your typical hero.  He’s a jerk who knows he’s a jerk and doesn’t care.  “Tact” is a foriegn word to him.  “Courtesy” is something other people bother with.  It’s not that his competence excuses him either.  Those around him hate his behaviour to the point that in a recent episode one of the doctors learning under him flatly stated that if House had lost his edge then he would quit because “there’s no point putting up with House’s torture if there’s no upside.”

However, in the end House is saving lives.  He’s no sentimentalist; he doesn’t particularly care for the patient but he does care about their life and even their quality of life.  I think that that goal, along with the audience’s own frustrations with people around them and with bureaucracy, is what allows people to enjoy House even in his snarkier moments.

I don’t think people will appreciate the same attitude from a lawyer.  Especially when, as it said in a review of “Shark,” he’s not always fighting for justice.  The ends don’t justify the means but they do affect perceptions.

The August message for Visiting Teaching is protecting the family.

My VT companion and I just returned from a visit where we spent most of the time encouraging our visitee to call Child Services.

I’m still a bit in shock.

     It is very easy to get the sense that romantic love is the be-all and end-all of existance.  It is, in our society, a reason to get married as well as a reason to get divorced.  In our TV, movies, and songs… everywhere we are surrounded by love.  Alanis Morissettet's latest is a paen to love:

You see everything, you see every part
You see all my light and you love my dark
You dig everything of which I'm ashamed
There's not anything to which you can't relate
And you're still here.

That doesn't sound romantic to me.  It sounds unconditional.  However, romantic love has been moving (probably since the Victorian age) to overshadow unconditional love as the pinnacle.  I felt but never really understood the drive for Same Sex Marriage until I realized how much weight, how much empahsis we put on romantic love.  Listen again to Ms. Morissette's song and you think "Wow, how wonderful that he can love her like that.  I want to be loved like that."  The SSM proponents would have you go on to think "How can I deny someone else their right to find that kind of love, no matter where they find it?"

The truth is, no one is being denied anything.  Some may turn their backs on it; others admitedly struggle with conflicting emotions and needs but nothing has changed.  God and Christ are still there, offering love to all who will come to them.  To expect a human to be able to bear the kinds of burdens we have and to always lift us up is to put an unconscionable strain on them.  They are, after all, exactly as human as we are.  They have their own problems which make it hard or sometimes even impossible for them to help us.  Only God and Jesus can truly love us unconditionally. I love my husband and he is a joy and a strength to me but if something were to happen to him, through God's aid I would be able to take comfort and continue with life.  Nothing could ever help me if I were to lose God.

I have, in effect, experienced this myself.  I have occasionally, in these last two years since the wedding, slacked off on my prayers and scripture reading.  Each time ended in a spiral of depression and self-loathing that nothing my earnest, thoughtful, helpful husband could do or say would affect.  I could understand the things he said, I would want to believe them but I just couldn't.  I would feel stuck, useless, worthless and worst of all, completely unable to be positive.  Any action he suggested would be met with detailed reasons of why I couldn't.  I always ended up having a meltdown.  Then I would remember to pray.  I would read my scriptures again.  I'm no great scripture studier– I tend to read a chapter right before bed– but even that much makes a world of difference.

That world of difference is there waiting for everyone.  God is there through prophets, prayer and the scriptures and He offers us His great, eternal and unconditional love.  Through His love not only can we be redeemed but we can learn to love like He does!  His is the kind of love that not only warms but ennobles.  His love is truly the greatest love of all and He denies Himself to no one who searches for Him with an open heart.

On Monday I went with the missionaries to visit a new convert. I thought they’d said that her grandmother had died recently so imagine my confusion when we entered a… I don’t even know what we’re calling them these days. I suppose it was a retirement home. After the missionaries set me straight (it was her granddaughter that had died) I spent awhile trying to understand why the place made me uncomfortable. It seemed neat enough (if a bit dark where we were) so it was not the fault of the building itself. I was reminded of my discomfiture when my Young Women’s group had visited a nursing home for Christmas and how totally out of water I’d felt when I visited my grandmother in the hospital.  I think “out of water” and “at a loss” are not only good phrases to describe how I felt; they also point to the root of the problem: unfamiliarity.

I don’t think retirement homes are the best idea we’ve ever had. There are advantages and I can understand the human urge to be near “your kind” so to speak but on the whole I think society is being weakened and not only on this end of the spectrum. I am continually amazed by otherwise perfectly competent adults who claim to have no idea how to deal with children. Didn’t they have siblings? Didn’t their friends have siblings? Didn’t they babysit for money as teens? For heaven’s sake, can’t they even remember their own childhoods?

We are becoming unfamiliar with the most basic aspects of mortal life.  We lack coping methods and mechanisms.  What should be natural — like knowing how to hold an infant or how to care for a sick parent — has become unknown and stressful.  I’ve always known I wanted children so I’ve sought chances to be around them and to care for them.  They don’t scare me because they are a known quantity.  Conversely, I’ve hardly ever been around the infirm and elderly and they do scare me.  I don’t know how to act, what to do, what to say (or what not to say)!

There are steps I can take to overcome that weakness.  I can (and plan to, once I have a dependable schedule) volunteer at a nearby hospital.  Unfortunately I don’t live close enough to my grandmother to visit her but I try to call her every week.  As long as I’m alive and capable, neither my parents nor my in-laws are going to live anywhere but home until its medically necessary.

I just can’t help but feel that a society that so divorces itself from the basic aspects of life is shooting itself in the foot.  If I find elderly people daunting and scary now, how will I feel when I become one myself?  It’s not a case of “there but for the grace of God go I.”  We are all destined to go that route someday.  Women who are pregnant search out other moms for support; students canvas family and friends for advice as  they try to choose their path in life; why are we choosing to remain ignorant about this important part of life?

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