Friday, March 30, 2012

Is the LDS Church a Cult?

The short answer:  No

I know many of my good friends would disagree with me, but I don't think that the church (in its current form) lives up to the brainwashed compound stockpiling weapons, mass suicide sort of image that "cult" carries with it.  In most respects, the behavior of the church is no more nefarious than any (other?) Christian denomination.  Church members are entitled to their own opinions, and can even criticize church leaders a little bit (not super-publicly, mind you) without being punished.  The authority figures aren't even that charismatic. (some will disagree with this, and I ask them... have you SEEN General Conference?!  It's about as emotionally rousing as a bunch of old paper bags blowing around the parking lot.)
That being said, I think the early church was definitely a cult of the most bright-kool-aid colored variety.  Charismatic central figure?  Check.  Strange and erratic church doctrine and mandates?  Check.  Blowing up stuff they didn't like?  Check.
No real mass suicides that I know of, but that might be because Joe Smith died young.

Is the LDS Church a cult?

The long answer:  Yes.

Frankly, I think that the basic attributes of a cult are shared by all organized sects, Christian or otherwise.  The same we-are-special us-vs-them mentality, the strange obsession with running the lives of others, the willingness to, nay, obsession with denying rational inquiry and appeal to facts in favor of embracing implausible truth-claims...
Most people stay in because they are already in, frankly.

So, when other religions call the LDS Church a cult, I say they are wrong to do so.  Or at least it's a case of the pot calling the kettle black.  But frankly, a cult is nothing more than a religious organization, and the negative connotation of the word comes from, well, the crazy things fundamentalists of all persuasions do in the name of their beliefs.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Dear God,

I'm still upset with you for creating me without my permission, but I suppose I should let bygones be bygones.

Anyway, I thought I'd let you know that I like what you've done with the universe in general; it's a very pretty and interesting place in most regards.

That being said, I wish you'd tell your followers to stop being dicks.  I mean, lots of them are nice people, but lots of others do mean things in your name.  Can't you publicly express your disapproval or something?  A press release or something?  I mean, the McDonald's corporation would do it in your circumstances, and I'd think that your public image would be a little more important than theirs.

Anyway, the human condition still sucks and I still don't buy your excuses trying to shove the blame off on free will or Satan or any of that.  Also, Jesus has been "about to come back" for a couple thousand years now, and lots of folks are starting to doubt your priorities.  It's all fine and good for you to want to screw up the U.S. educational system through due political process, but if you can't get your kid out the door on time you might want to focus on such immediate concerns first.

All in all, it's getting more and more difficult for anyone to believe what you say, what with the broken promises and constant flip-flopping, not to mention your constant refusal to comment through any means other than various nutjobs who make mutually-exclusive claims.  I know you're master of the universe and everything, but that doesn't mean you can completely neglect PR.

A Concerned Citizen of the Universe

P.S.  I'm still willing to believe in you if you decide to answer any of all those prayers, but the answer had better be distinguishable from placebo, wishful thinking, or coincidence.  My standards really aren't that high, I'm only insisting on credible confirmation, not a magic backwoods light-show or angel Moroni in a towel or anything.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

To The Lies

Promises of Hope = Lies and Fiction

Remember in "It's a Wonderful Life," how when Mr. Smalltowny Stewart is about to chuck himself over a bridge because Mr. Nasty Wheelchair has finally beat him, but then Mr. Incompetent Angel stops him (well, kind of)?
He is then shown how much different things would be without him (mostly everyone would by whores or librarians, apparently).  Then, he goes home to find that all his troubles have magically gone away and he's richer than rich and Nasty McWheelchair will die alone and unfulfilled after all!!  Hooray!

The point is, the movie promises that when things are at their lowest, wait a moment before hurling yourself into the river: things are sure to get better any moment.
This. Is. A. Lie.

Things might be about to get very much worse.  In fact, things could never get better again.  There is no promise in reality that all bad things will get better that is not a lie.

So to all the inspiring stories out there, the promises that it's darkest just before dawn, that things have to get better: go fuck yourselves, you damned pack of lies.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ambien ismessing with me now

I havvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv noticed something,.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
The tastk at hand
Forgive me, for I keep flying in and out a world where the baby's been,=,
terare voices and derectives everywhere.   I ignore the desk ninja with somethinf like satisdfaction

(Note from Dave's wife:  Dave took a break from writing this post to tell me how lucid he was, but that his feet are part of a national crime syndicate)

Okay, he're ss teh deal,.  I took an Ambien to help me sleep.  At my most lucide periods I can a little loopy, but aware of my surroundings .  I get the feel that different aspcetrcs of myself split off and take on new porblesmna nd rtoubles.

Apple doesnt'' need to put teens inside the new ipad to make ti sell.  honesry, giant theme partk shows are mnot so interesting to me.

We all
honor, defience, romance, curiousity

My room i s a ltiie gradjewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwbetter publish now before I lose it agaiin

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Orson Scott Card - Fallen Author

There was a time when I couldn't get enough of Orson Scott Card's writing.  I read "Ender's Game" in middle school and loved it, and read it a few more times as a teen and was fascinated by the things I'd missed the first time around.  It was a masterpiece.  I especially used to like his short fiction: it was raw and rough hard sci-fi.  He had a talent for capturing the darkest elements of human nature and the struggle we each must personally make against them.

Through the years, though, I found I tired of Card.  His new books were increasingly bland, predictable, and repetitive.  I eventually gave up entirely, since if I really wanted cheap pulp-fiction sci-fi, I could find better examples elsewhere.

Fast-forward a few years.  I learn that Card is involved with the National Organization for Marriage, an organization I have never liked much because of its dishonest anti-gay rhetoric.  Even before I lost all faith in the LDS church, I always had issues with the church's political stance on gay marriage... I was okay with religious organizations dictating moral standards for their members, but for society as a whole...?

More recently, I had the misfortune of happening across this little bowl of tripe.  Card's essay about "the hypocrites of homosexuality" is nothing we haven't all heard before.  My main objections to his reasoning are his insistence that the laws of god as purveyed by the "prophets" is unchanging (when LDS church dogma has in fact evolved rapidly for the last couple of centuries), his "I'm the victim here" condemnation of his own critics, and his sleight-of-hand transition from condemning the idea that the church should accept homosexuality to condemnation of all legal recognition of rights for gays.

The first is self-explanatory: sure, the will of the prophets can't be contradicted, except when later prophets overturn "God's word" entirely.  To suggest that the church never changes its mind in response to the moral progress of society as a whole is to ignore entirely the church's historical stance on race, gender, and sexual orientation.  Or should we still kill anyone who marries across ethnic boundaries?

Card's defiant defense against his "satanic" critics is laughable.  At the end of the article, he notes that just as he predicted, he had been unfairly labeled for his upright and honest writing as "homophobic" and other related terms.  While it is true that Card never directly advocates violence or hatred toward gays, he consistently refers to their feelings in a way that dismisses them as selfish or unnatural.  He even advocates kindness toward individuals, but outright animosity toward gays as a group.  Poor Orson!  How dare those mean old gays and their brainwashed friends attack him for his honest portrayal of their sinful lifestyle?

Finally, Card pulls a funny little trick when he transitions without warning from defending a church's right not to condone homosexual behavior (which I grudgingly accept) to insisting that government ought to condemn the same.  He makes the argument that government ought to defend its citizens against such offenses as murder, and the same goes for gay marriage!  I think the difference is obvious, but if it isn't, I'll point out that gay marriage does not hurt those who don't approve of it as long as they don't engage in it.  You can babble all you want about churches losing their tax-exempt status if they refuse to perform such nuptials and such, but frankly I am an advocate of removing tax-exempt status for churches entirely (treat them like non-profits or something for all I care, it's just silly to give them special privileges just because they have "church" in their names).  The bottom line?  The LDS church need never condone gay marriage as far as I am concerned, but has no right acting as a political entity trying to ban the same at a state of federal level.  The individuals in the church are free to vote as their conscience dictates, of course, and if they choose to vote for intolerance, that is their decision.  That's what we have courts for -- to prevent the "moral" majority from needlessly oppressing minorities.

How did Card go from the masterpiece of Ender's Game to the pile of steaming poo that constitutes this essay?  I wish I knew...  How do authors so fall from grace?
One theory (purely speculative) springs to mind.  I remember my father telling my young self that he suspected Card of having strong homosexual feelings himself, and of struggling with said feelings because of his LDS faith.  This was simply based on my father's assessment of Card's writings.
If this was true, it all begins to make sense.  Card's lifelong struggle and self-hatred due to his hidden homosexual tendencies have finally manifested themselves in his old age as hatred toward all thing to do with homosexuality.  We all attack most vehemently what we hate most about ourselves.  In addition, he seeks to "redeem" himself from his earlier, darker (and brilliant) writings by writing increasingly-conformist books filled with more and more tiresome apologetic viewpoints designed to ameliorate his inner Brigham Young.  The tortured young author has become the self-righteous old puppet of his religion's ideology.  And now he rides on the wave of fame (and maybe shame?) of his earlier self in order to disseminate his uncreative ideas about how other people's sexuality should be treated.

Mourn with me a moment, brothers and sisters, for the passing of a great author, not into a noble death, but into shameful triviality.