Monday, December 23, 2013

My Duck Dynasty Rant....

Although I am certainly unafraid to voice my opinions about issues on the social media sites from time to time, I usually like to keep my mouth closed when it comes to politics or the disparagement of other groups or people, but this whole Duck Dynasty business has been bugging me, and it's not for the reasons you might think.  

I realize some of you will disagree with me on this topic as well, and I’m completely okay with that.  In fact, my parents were always ones to befriend people who had differing viewpoints from theirs, it allowed them to see the world differently and not have such a narrow viewpoint of the world around them.  So if you think I’m wrong, that is okay.  I think that’s partly what bugs me about Phil Robertson.  I admire the guy and his family for their openness regarding their christian faith.  More people need to be like that when it comes to that, however I have to disagree with his comments as someone who professes a belief in Jesus Christ as well for a couple of reasons.

First of all, A & E has every right to suspend their employee (because that’s what he is) for making comments like that.  Think about this for a minute, if someone you worked with made homophobic or racist remarks at your job, in social media, or in any public arena, you better believe that person would likely run the risk of losing his/her job.  He represents the A & E television network every time he speaks to the media whether he likes it or not.  They aren’t a rotary club, and they have a reputation to uphold.  People are running to his defense as if he was standing up for his religion, and his rights to the first amendment were being infringed upon.  The first amendment was for protection against the government, not the Arts & Entertainment Television Network.  

Secondly, and most importantly, whether or not you view homosexual behavior as a sin, there is absolutely nothing christian in what he said. How does comparing gay and lesbian individuals to sexual deviants and saying blacks were happier under Jim Crow Laws standing up for one’s religion (seriously?  how would you really know not being black yourself?)?  Christ’s gospel was never about disparaging others and judging them and condemning them to hell for not practicing your standards.  This is the farthest from Christianity possible!  When asked by a judgmental lawyer, who was attempting to condemn Jesus to hell for not practicing lawyer’s interpretation of the gospel, asked “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?  He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?”  Christ responded “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”  He then went on to give the parable of the Good Samaritan, a story about a jewish man who was beaten and left for dead on the way to Jericho.  Several people walked by him and did nothing.  Samaritans, who were neighbors of the Jews and hated by them, so much so that they (the Jews) would travel around the Samaritans’ city rather than through it play the most important part of the story.  A Samaritan man treats this injured and robbed Jew, puts him on his donkey, takes him to an inn, pays for his recovery and everything he needs.  Christ then asked the lawyer to “go and do thou likewise.” (Luke 10)

If we as those who profess to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and live accordingly wish to live His gospel, we need to love our neighbors as ourselves.  Just because we decide to love people we may not agree with on everything doesn’t mean we’re implicitly accepting of their choices. Nor does it mean we're judging them with a fake smile and lip service either. Ask any good parent out there with children who are addicted to drugs or on some other path to self destruction whether they love their children less for their choices or path in life, and you know they still love their children unconditionally.  Most of the time, these people need to feel accepted for who they are and know they are truly loved by those around them no matter what.  That’s the teachings of Jesus Christ.

However, we need to let this whole “gays are not born being gay” attitude that in some way justifies people’s rejection of them.  It’s not healthy.  It’s like saying blacks are dark skinned because their ancestors were cursed by God.  Neither of these perceptions are true.  I feel that one major reason God makes everyone different to give us a greater capacity to love and to understand others.  We are not better than others because we think, believe, act or look a certain way.  It’s easy to make such blanket statements about people we never associate with.  What would Phil Robertson say if one of his children were gay?  Would he still have that same viewpoint?  I sincerely hope not.

To summarize, we’re better than this.  Christianity isn’t holding people accountable to the teachings of the Bible who don’t profess a belief in it.  Be a neighbor to your friends regardless of whether they pray to the same God or not, are attracted to the opposite sex or not, or have different skin color or not.  If you truly love God, love your neighbor.  I’m done.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mormons, They Get No Respect! This Mormon's Perspective on Media's Coverage of LDS Church

Mormons, They Get No Respect!

There I was, sitting with my wife on a Thursday evening as NBC’s Rock Center began to air.  Tonight it was a special edition on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon Church as it’s commonly referred to by outsiders.  I’ve been a lifelong member.  I rarely miss church services on Sundays, I attend the nearby Mormon temple several times a year and rode a bicycle on the streets of southern California as a missionary in the 1990’s.  I usually appreciate attempts by the media to share information about who we are, however it rarely is met with any level of optimism.  

Television and news media portrayals of Mormons are usually received with disappointment by active members.  Whether it’s HBO’s ‘Big Love’ or Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon” or with aforementioned NBC news program, Mormons feel misrepresented and no one seems to care that they are.  Mormons feel like the Rodney Dangerfield of religion, ‘they get no respect.’  Often it’s the inaccuracies in statements where a little more research by a journalist could have made all the difference. Some of these perpetual mistakes include the association of modern polygamists with the mainstream church, the overemphasis on extemporaneous matters in the church’s history such as the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the extra attention critics or ex-members receive as they put words into our collective Mormon mouths on television about an organization they are clearly hostile towards. Or, as in the case of “The Book of Mormon” musical, an obvious cheap stab at a church who rarely fights back publicly.  Could you imagine a musical of this nature based on Jews or Muslims called “The Torah” or “The Quran?”

It’s almost humorous as a member to see the a ratings hungry media treat an interview with Mormon family of 8 in Salt Lake City like an exclusive pass to do an interview inside a North Korean prison camp.  We’re not quarantined into monasteries, we do watch television and we don’t all live in Utah.  We’re businessmen and women, nurses and doctors, financial planners and veterinarians, we’re scientists and professional athletes, Republicans and even Democrats in your own community.  You probably work with some and don’t even know it.  You’ve probably had a drink with someone who used to be.  

We feel as Mormons our every action and word is under a microscope on some level, let alone without the presence of a camera and television audience.  Even official public relations representatives of the church give uncomfortable vanilla answers about controversial issues, strewn with lingo that only a Mormon in Sunday School would understand when answering questions about the church’s policy on blacks not becoming priests until 1978.  My mother, a lifelong member who grew up in Los Angeles in the 1960’s and early 70’s was introduced by a friend of hers in college to another friend by saying “This is Jeanne...she's a Mormon. Don't ask her about it, because she'll tell you."  It would even be hard for a seasoned comedian to come onto a stage after that introduction.  Maybe that’s why Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is so evasive about his faith with the media.

So what needs to change?  If I were a member of the media, I would do a number of things.
  1. Study your subject matter from the source.  Have an open mind and reserve your own personal judgment when doing it.  I’m sure it’s nice to get the juicy interview with the angry ex-mormon or “scholarly” outsider, but rarely are such perspectives objective or completely factual.  We don’t expect you to evangelize Mormonism for us, but don’t paint us with a broad brush of ignorance and bigotry from the mouth of antagonists either.
  2. Attend the nearest church service in your area (you don’t need to travel to Utah to do this).  You won’t be required to do anything but to sit quietly and listen.  You might have several people introduce themselves to you, but they won’t drug you and toss to into a baptismal font against your will, nor will they do that to your deceased ancestors.  Everybody but maybe small children are there because they want to be.  No brainwashing tactics are used.  You will also find it the topics the media seem to focus on so heavily are rarely discussed during a service.  For example, you won’t find a Sunday School lesson on polygamy, homosexuality or what is “wrong” with other churches.  You will also find that Mormons are very informed about their own faith and aren’t as robotic and perfect as you might think.
  3. Read excerpts from The Book of Mormon.  I promise your face won’t melt a la ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ nor will your head sprout devil horns. Mormons don’t proclaim to replace existing beliefs but rather “bring with you all that you have of good and truth which you have received from whatever source, and come and let us see if we may add to it.”  The previous statement from former church President Gordon B. Hinckley would be considered blasphemous to many evangelical opponents.  However, you will find The Book of Mormon rich with Christian teachings, that, for this Mormon, enhance what is already taught in the Old and New Testaments.
  4. Attend a Mormon Temple open house.  There are over 100 operating temples across the world, and nearly a temple in every state.  Prior to the dedication of a new temple, they are available to the public and free tours are given.  You might have to travel to see one.
  5. Interview members that live somewhere outside of Utah.  You certainly wouldn’t go to Vatican City every time to interview a Catholic would you?  You might find that the majority of Mormons who live farther from the heartbeat of Salt Lake City have a different perspective about living as a Mormon.  You might also learn how diverse we really are.

As members of the church, I admit we need to grow thicker skin as a whole.  Not everyone has to agree with us or like us.  But not everyone should oppose us either.  In my experience, when I’ve answered honestly about my faith I’ve rarely been ridiculed or persecuted, even by associates who are clearly antagonistic toward Mormonism.  As a Mormon, If I truly live and practice what I believe, I have nothing to hide, even if outsiders and media pundits disagree with me.  I don’t expect the media’s perception of my faith to change in order to sway others to my church.  I just feel we deserve a little more respect than Rodney Dangerfield.

Monday, April 23, 2012

I Must Be Doing Something Right...

Today was a typical monday. Well, not exactly typical. It's really not every Monday that I have to carry my son kicking and screaming into school. And I'm not exaggerating, either. And I'm not talking about my 3 year-old. Caleb was literally screaming, "Put me down! I don't want to go to school!"  All while fighting his hardest to get out of my grasp.  So that was the start of my day.

Anyway, once I got him in the school, the principal took over, I left, and eventually, Caleb happily went to class. That's not really the point of this story, it's just  illustrates how stubborn and emotional Caleb can be sometimes.

After school, I opened Caleb's backpack to get out his lunch box and homework, etc, and there was an invitation in it. I let Caleb open it up. It was a birthday party invitation to Monkey Bizness, and Bryce was also invited. (Bryce was so excited because Caleb just went to a party on saturday at Skate City, and he had to stay home.)

As I was reading the details, I saw the dreaded date: Sunday.  I can't tell you how many times my kids have had to miss parties because they were held on Sunday. I felt so bad for them, but I said, "Uh oh, the party is on a Sunday." I was prepared for a meltdown, especially after this morning, but all I got was, "Huh. Okay."  That was it! Bryce reacted the same way! I'm positive I would have gotten a worse reaction if I told my kids kids we were out of fruit snacks!

At the time I was more relieved than anything else, but as I thought about it later, I felt so grateful to have such sweet, (sometimes) obedient children. What a blessing for them to know and understand that we keep the Sabbath day holy by not participating in everyday activities.  I am so proud of both of them. I know I can't take all the credit, but it does make me feel good to know that occasionally, I must be doing something right.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Baby Steps

I'm going to start blogging again. It's only been forever (a year!) since I posted, and a LOT has happened. I'm not going til be able to catch up, so I'm not going to stress myself out.  I'll just start by sharing something that made me smile today.

I love that when I'm patting Darcy's back to burp her, her chubby little cheeks jiggle! She is so cute!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Imagination Movers!

We took the boys to see Disney's Imagination Movers last's actually a kid show that I like to watch with them. It's way cute. The boys were so excited, and Caleb's excitement lasted through the whole show. Bryce, true to form, got bored halfway through and just wanted me to buy him some food. I was pleased with the show and we all had a fun time!
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011


First blog (by me) of the year...
First day of really great weather...
First loose tooth!

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Shameless Self Promotion

Jon-Michael here.  I've started my own music oriented blog.  If you are interested, you can get to it below:

Feel free to check it out and tell all your friends!