Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Song

I love this song. I felt like singing it today. Comment on your thoughts on it.

Whenever I hear the song of a bird
Or look at the blue, blue sky,
Whenever I feel the rain on my face
Or the wind as it rushes by,
Whenever I touch a velvet rose
Or walk by a lilac tree,
I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world
Heavenly Father created for me.

He gave me my eyes that I might see
The color of butterfly wings.
He gave me my ears that I might hear
The magical sound of things.
He gave me my life, my mind, my heart:
I thank him reverently
For all his creations, of which I'm a part.
Yes, I know Heavenly Father loves me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Degree Crisis

So every about three days I have this crisis. I ask myself, what am I going to major in? What do I want to do when I graduate? Blah, blah, blah. And then I look at my schedule for the semester. I didn't realize how many "useless" classes I am taking. Maybe useless isn't the term, but maybe not required or not essential to my progression towards graduation. So I am debating several issues at hand here. I have so many things that I would like to study but not nearly enough time. If I do well in my Hum 261 class, which I am loving, by the way, I will most likely do American Studies. But there's a part of me that still wants to do Communications, Spanish, and Non-Profit Management. I love them all so much. Here are some of my current life aspirations.

1. Professor of American Humanities- With emphasis on New England religious culture.
2. Social Worker- Advocacy for Deaf and Spanish speaking people.
3. Journalist- Who doesn't want to edit the opinion page or be an editorial writer for a major newspaper?
4. Publisher- I would love to go into... yep, you got it... Mormon publishing or some form of publishing. I guess under this title would also be bookseller.
5. Lawyer- Despite what I always say, this has always been in the back of my mind. I would, of course, however, not EVER work for a firm. I would prefer to do public defense.
6. A writer- Fiction, non-fiction, whatever.

It's one of those crisis times where I don't know what to do. Luckily I will have two years to think about it. Or avoid thinking about it. I don't know what's best.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Julie Through the Glass

I am a big fan of this Mormon Ad. Whenever Youtube isn't blocked, I look it up. I think it teaches a lesson I learned best from reading a book I initially loathed: Beloved. It teaches us to love ourselves. As we come to love ourselves, we will love others better.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Trying To Be Like Jesus

Today was a good day. I enjoyed it, despite being sick. I had my normal Monday schedule, which is hard, but delightful. I need to get better fast. I have to go to SLC to get my mission papers done soon. In fact, I need to make an appointment to get that done asap. I am anxious. Really quite anxious. I know where I want to go-Argentina anyone?- but something in the back of my mind says God may have other plans. I frankly don't care where I go. In fact, I would love to go to some places others would not like. The South would be wonderful for me. I have a deep love for the Evangelical people, who I think are some of the greatest people on Earth. I would also love to serve an ASL mission. I love the Deaf now more than ever and I want to be able to share the Gospel with them quite a bit. But no matter where I go, I will serve dilligently and pray for strength. So we will see. Any guesses anyone?

On The R.M.'s soundtrack there's a recording of I'm Trying To Be Like Jesus that I like a lot. It's a bit more jazzy than the version we are used to, but I still really enjoy it. I listen to it at least two times a day. I guess that's my life motto right? Trying to be like Jesus. What a task! How can I lift the beggar, give endless service, comfort, love the unlovable, and teach the Gospel, all while trying to figure out who I am and what I will become? It's an exhausting task that seems to never end. It's not just a once a day thing; it's a continous commitment. But I still try. Why?

I think since coming to BYU, I have learned the meaning of truly trying to become like Jesus. I have learned that I must stand up for what I know to be right, but I must be ready and worthy to offer comfort. But I am in no way perfect. I try a lot. I repent when I falter, calling upon my Heavenly Father to help me. But, I guess the reason I try is because I love Jesus. For all my life, Jesus seemed so distant, like words on a page or pictures in a book, until I really fully partook of His atonement in my life. It changed me and still changes me. I can honestly say that I am a different person today than I was on January 26th, 2008 or January 26th,2004. I think as I realized my divine commitment to service. My divine commitment to love. My life goes on. I sin, I falter and I contiune to feast upon the words of Christ, my Redeemer who loves me. Not really because I am lovable, but because I am trying to be more like Him. And that's a happy thought.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sacred Day and Tender Mercies

I am the kind of person that often finds issues with particular facets of my Church meetings. Don't get me wrong, I really do love the Church and going to it. The Sacrament, the ultimate purpose of our worship, is very holy and I love the peace, comfort, and power that it brings to me. I view it as a kind of Pre-Endowment- the best temple prep we can have- as it reminds us of our eternal destiny, purpose, and our power through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And isn't that exactly what the temple is about? Power through Christ to live up to divine commitments? Anyway, I digress (as usual).

My Sunday today was not particularly happy. I loved the music in sacrament meeting, but didn't particularly enjoy the talks. They didn't do anything for me today. I read the Doctrine and Covenants, however, which may take over the Old Testament as my favorite book of scripture, during the entire meeting. Then I went to Priesthood, which was okay, but not really too great. Same lesson in Sunday School with less than dynamic teachers, who have strong, genuine testimonies but don't know how to express them at times.

Anyway, I wasn't feeling spiritually enthused until I had the most sacred event I have had in years. I won't go into details, but I exercised my Melchizedek Priesthood for the first time. And oh boy. It was intense. I can't wait to use it more and more in the future. I always want to be worthy to use it now because it is just so cool to use it. And frankly, I felt like in a way, I could have made a difference through my actions. And I hope to do that more often. To extend comfort to God's children is my greatest goal in life.

And it reminds me of why I will stay in the Church, why I will serve in my calling, and, most importantly, why I will serve a mission. The Priesthood is the connection to our past, present, and future. It reminds me of the old days of the Church that I sometimes long for. It reminds me of the nature of our use of the Priesthood to bless the lives of others in our everyday lives. And it reminds me of the glorious future we will have. I love the Priesthood more today than ever.

I needed the words I spake to another just as much as they needed them. I think that's how God teaches us. When we help others, without any selfish intent, He inspires and brings us help. Tender mercies- which are often not blessings, but rather, a moment of understanding. I pray for those everyday.

I encourage you, my gentle readers, to ponder on your spiritual experiences. Write them down. Ponder on them. When times get tough, look back on that and remember, those things which were tender mercies from God.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Spring Creek Books

Let me preface this post. After working at Seagull Book for almost two years I have come to see all the crazy Mormon product out there. I hope to return to this realm after my mission. Although I have seen a lot of crazy things, none can really compare to Spring Creek Books. They have everything from The Great Gathering to A Prophet in Palmyra. In their somewhat crazy, but amusing way, they are a nice addition to the market.

Lately I have noticed that they have not been publishing much. Surely something to do with the economy I imagined. I mean, Signature decided to stop publishing this year, and so it didn't seem too unusual. But Spring Creek is clearly struggling. They stopped distributing their own books last year and decided to go with Brigham Distributing (bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad move in my mind- Granite Publishing and Distributing would have given them much better access to the market in my opinion). Also, Spring Creek is not accepting manuscripts right now. They didn't publish anything during Fall 2008- which is a nail in the coffin. Like every good LDS publisher knows, you save your cream of the crop for Fall. Often the success or failure of a book is based on the timing of its release, usually coffee table books and higher quality or pulp fiction a.k.a. Anita Stansfield do well in the Fall. So I knew Spring Creek was in trouble when I didn't see any new Spring Creek books come through towards the end of my tenior at Seagull. I have been half heartedly monitoring their site for several months, always wondering why they haven't published. Now it looks like, from all signs, unless there is some sort of miracle, they will go belly up.

Spring Creek made some stragetic errors. They used cheap covers, published some things that probably shouldn't have been published (We Lived in Heaven is just creepy, this one's pretty odd too right?, and this one too) But they also published some things that were real hits among the Mormon population (15 Secrets to a Happy Home, Leaning on Prayer, The Lost Sheep-two personal favorites, The Power of Your Patriarchal Blessing, Staying in Tune) but these couldn't account for other things that I mentioned above and other things like The Celestial City. I think Spring Creeks main problem is among their more palatable things, they didn't have anything that would really make them any money. Granite benefits a lot from its distrubtion of popular items, as does Sounds of Zion. But Springcreek would only publish paperbacks of a certain type. They shot themsleves in the foot. But I digress.

To be honest, this is a shame. The small or unique LDS publishers just can't make it. Parables, Signature, Spring Creek, Granite, they all struggle to find their place in the market. I feel like with the purchase of Seagull and Covenant, the new Deseret Book put themsleves in a position where other publishers basically lost a chance at ever seeing their books on the shelves. I am no business man but I think I have some sugggestions to improve market conditions for small publishers.

1. I would like to see Cedar Fort branch out to strengthen itself as their new position as the only major independent publisher and maybe take up some distribution of smaller publishers.
2. I would like Cedar Fort to start publishing the kind of fiction that Parables publishes.
3. Small publishers need to ban together to get their books on the shelves. If they have one major distributor that carries a lot of titles they have a way. Brigham is too weak, Granite is slightly stronger. I think the market is so saturated that one distributor needs to rise up to rule them all. I am not for a monopoly but frankly, the Mormon market is quite market. You have to have strong access to Seagull and Deseret shelves to ever hope to make it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

But We Went on Our Way Rejoicing-101st Post

I love Spencer W. Kimball. He will always have a very tender place in my heart. He was very progressive for the Church with increasing focus on missionary work , temple building, The Miracle of Forgiveness and perhaps the most important thing to me, the extending of the priesthood to all worthy males and forever changing the role of blacks in the Church.

When Jane Elizabeth Manning came to Zion, she came for the Gospel. After converting in Connecticut, she walked to Nauvoo with her family. She said about this "Our feet cracked open and bled until you could see the whole prints of our feet with blood on the ground." Her feet literally bled so she could meet Joseph Smith. So she could be with the Saints. When she came with the Saints to Utah, what many people believed to be Zion, her troubles and sorrows were truly not through. She was denied the endowment and was allowed to be sealed to Joseph Smith as a servant. Her temple blessings were later revoked and then reinstated. What did she do when she was unjustly judged? She remained faithful in the Church and served faithfully throughout her life. I weep every time I think of the struggles of the blacks in the LDS church. In fact, I am weeping as I write this post. I feel deeply touched by the Spirit of the Lord.

And yet until 1978, the priesthood was not extended to the blacks. I don't know why. I don't intend to focus on that. And I don't want any debate about it. President Kimball did the right thing and was guided by God to end a policy that, frankly, I don't know actually was established by God. But that's not really the point of this post. I want to focus on Sister Manning's example.

I think when we look at our daily life, we often see the problems in the little things- the time when we didn't do as well on that test as we had hoped,when we wake up late, feel lonely- and often we develop a pessimistic attitude that our lives are ever so difficult. Imagine if you will, a day in the shoes of Sister Manning. Imagine walking until your feet bled until you are so weary, ready to give up, but you still press on because of your belief in Jesus Christ. Imagine being denied blessings for an unknown reason. But in the end she said this: "But we went on our way rejoicing, singing hymns, and thanking God for his infinite goodness and mercy to us." When we ponder our lives, are we going on our way, rejoicing, singing hymns, and thanking God for his infinite goodness and mercy to us? I hope and pray that we are.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Gospel of Jesus Christ- 100th Post

I initially thought I would write Everlasting Burnings, but now is not the time. I may come back to that in the future as I have time to evaluate and so on. But to commemorate my 100th post, I decided to do something a bit different. I want to talk about my history with becoming a missionary. So basically, I guess I want to tell my conversion story.

I grew up in a very Mormon area in Salt Lake. I didn't really know much else outside of Mormonism or my community's cultural outlook. The youngest of seven siblings, I saw my siblings as they served missions, left the Church, experienced personal and familial difficulties, and prayed for relief. I didn't really know how I fit into my family. I felt somewhat lost as to my purpose. I remember hearing my mother say that they had prayed for a long time for me. I couldn't imagine why anyone would really want me. I didn't feel particularly special or particularly important. I didn't feel talented or needed, in reality. I remember as a child my desire to serve a mission seemed distant, at best, although I always said I would serve in China.

I was a precocious, rude, weepy, and somewhat annoying youth, but always tried to remember the teachings of Jesus. I didn't read scriptures like I should until I was 17. I fell into the follies of youth at a young age until many spiritual experiences prompted me to change my life. I abandoned a life where I was very unhappy for a life where I felt happy. Most would quote social pressure or societal expectations, but I don't really think that was the case. It was the Spirit that brought me back. The Spirit testified of an everlasting Gospel, simple, as presented in 3rd Nephi 27- the atonement of Jesus Christ, baptism, repentance, enduring to the end, resurrection, judgment, and eternal life. All else is dependent upon this. So when I face myself with theological quandaries- such as Adam-God, the Church's position on Proposition 8, blacks and the priesthood- I have learned that if it is not pertaining to Christ's Gospel, it is an irrelevant. Is it still difficult? Yes. Is it relevant to my salvation? No. What is relevant to my salvation is my obedience to the Gospel.

So now, here I am, 19 and finishing up my papers for a mission. I often wonder why I am serving a mission. I have discovered that I am not serving a mission because it is the social/societal "norm". I am not serving because I am particularly talented. I am serving because I love people. I love the Gospel. The Gospel is found within the framework of a Church. A human Church that is trying to connect with the Divine. I may disagree with some Church stances, but that does not change the basic framework of the Gospel. The Church administers the Gospel and I am going on a mission to proclaim a Gospel message of peace and love. I call people to Christ.

It is going to be hard. I am somewhat naive hoping for easy days. But I know it will be hard. I am praying for understanding as to where I go. I have some indications from the Spirit, but only time will truly tell. I am prepared, however, to share the Gospel.

I am ready to tell people about a carpenter in Galilee who was more than just an ordinary man. I am prepared to tell them about how he suffered in a garden and on a cross that He might draw all men to Him through His everlasting mercy. And to tell the world of the friend we find in Him. He will succor us in our most challenging moments and smile with us as we experience exquisite joy. This I know.

And that's the best news of all.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

99th Post

So looking back at my blog, it is fun to see how I have progressed this year. From better study habits, somewhat, to more liberal political views, to an ever increasing understanding of my baptismal covenants and the covenants I will shortly be making in the temple. I am eager for the temple, as most 19-year old Mormon guys are. I think that it will give me a new perspective on my baptismal covenants, which I take very seriously. Or at least I hope and pray I do.

I am pondering my 100th post- Everlasting Burnings. I may not blog for a bit and try to write that everyday and get it up to par. Or I may write a new narrative on my Prop 8 experience. Since I am more set in my ways about it and have come to perceive it quite differently than when the Church first announced it in June of 2008, that would be a great narrative. I would probably call it November 2, 2008, which is, of course, my birthday. I remember when our stake president came into our elder's quorum and asked for a group prayer for Prop 8. I did not like this. At all. I thought it was very inappropriate and entirely unnecessary. I didn't really talk about it on my birthday blog, but here's the link, to refresh your memory.

But I don't have much else to say. School is going well. Spanish got cancelled today due to some family issue with Prof Alvord. I am now practicing some ASL and taking it easy before class at 4. So all is well.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Day of Particular Joy

I had lunch with my good friend Rachel today. We haven't seen each other enough lately. It makes me sad that I have been so busy that I can't even begin to have time for many social interactions. In fact, today I better start on two papers, finish reading a book, read for ASL, read for Spanish Ling, and practice. I rarely have time for anything now.

Today was a good day though. Joseph Smith, Classifiers, Faith, and Puritans all make SeagullJaap happy. And then I met with his peer mentor and determined that I might like to be an FA advisor in the future. I think it would be great. I have really enjoyed FA so far. I would recommend it to any would-be BYU students. Although, make sure you get a good envelope.

Anyway, joy. Papers but joy.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

No Man Knows My History

Lately I have been accused of being in the wrong Church for my views on various things. This isn't the first time. A lot of people have this idea that you got to either take it or not take it. I don't agree with this. Let me illustrate why.

Let's say that a young Japanese woman from Hawaii who moved to Utah who saw racial inequalities in the doctrine of valiance and skin color left the Church. Many people would have said to her, lump it or leave it. To many members at the time, that was just accepted doctrine- that white skin represented superiority. Do you know who our Church would have lost?-Chieko Okazaki. Ultimately she elected not to leave the Church, but imagine if someone told her very strongly that she had been told lump it or leave it? Who are we choosing to alienate today? Are we alienating members by telling them to leave it or lump it? Who are we alienating? Who have we alienated already? Now clearly we can't please everyone in everything, that's not the purpose of the Church. But if we tell people that we must think exactly alike in everything, who are we forcing into submission? Just because they believe differently doesn't mean their claims are any less valid than yours are. Just because I view things differently doesn't mean that I should leave the Church or that I am in the wrong Church. Just because I view x, y, and z slightly differently doesn't mean that I am not entitled to that right.

People often say to me, then what's the point of having a Church? The point of the Church is to administer the Gospel. That's why I am going on a mission to preach the gospel of faith, hope, charity, repentance, baptism, judgment according to our works, atonement, and salvation through one Jesus Christ. I desire to bring souls to Christ, forming friendships and finding allies. I don't desire to be lured in by my enemies to fight a "common enemy" that is just counterproductive. What purpose does it serve? People claim we form "friendships" as we alienate. But I really don't think we do.

But I digress. Ultimately, why do I stay in the Church? Because dang it, the Gospel is true. The Church is a flawed institution trying to connect with the divine. And for those who scorn me for staying in the Church, I say, like Joseph Smith, no man knows my history.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My 95th Post- And Saved!

So today marks my 95th post. There have been some days where I have wanted to post twice because I have so much on my mind and I view this as a kind of Rameumpton for me. Although, it might be an anti-rameumpton, as I am a fan of helping the poor, I deny the concept of election (although I do have Puritan envy, even though I would make an awful Puritan- too much laughing and irreverence for their tastes). But I am grateful for my blog, nonetheless, it has encouraged a rich dialogue and sometimes I am surprised by who comes out of the woodwork to hear me rant on some random topic. I plan to do a series on controversial Mormon issues and my opinions- from Adam-God to Zelph (though I doubt I will touch on Zelph, he's not really that interesting, it was merely meant to indicated everything from A to Z)

So lately I have been wanting to see the movie Saved! so badly that I actually went and used a Border's gift card that I got five years ago to buy it. I like the opening that talks about accepting Jesus at such a young age. In my odd way, as I am realizing how complex and multifaceted I really am, I have realized that I have a kind of Evangelical Envy for things like this. Not in the sense of damning people to hell, but rather in their Biblical knowledge, their reliance on grace, and most importantly, the concept of spiritual rebirth through Jesus Christ. Accepting Christ. For years, I claimed to have done this, during my Evangelical Christianity stint, but now when I look back, did I really accept Christ? Was I Saved? What does this mean? What is this salvation they speak of?

Only lately have I come to realize what it really means to accept Christ in my life. While our leaders often teach that being "reborn" is a gradual process, but I ponder the theology of it all. It seems to me that spiritual rebirth is ultimately a matter of perspective. From my fragile, FARMS and FAIR based testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that I finally came to accept my Senior Year, to a feeling of purity that I hadn't felt in my life in the longest time after a period of deep repentance, I realized that perhaps rebirth takes place in one instant and then the rest of our lives are just us trying to remember that rebirth that we have experienced. I think my rebirth can be pinpointed to that point, that testimony meeting in July 2007, where I realized that I must truly accept Christ in my countenance. And I did. I became an infant in Jesus Christ. My evangelical envy seemed somewhat satisfied. I felt Saved!

And now I feel that I am undergoing a new birth, or a new remembrance. After several months of experimenting with FARMS and FAIR, I came to realize how much they whitewash and change history to fit a sanitized view that is comfortable for Church members. And if I were to base my testimony on apologetic, I would end up running in circles trying to defend an imperfect institution. I think now I am realizing how much my testimony is based upon a child-like faith, not a child-like understanding. I gather information for myself and evaluate it carefully. And sometimes the Church doesn't come out in a positive light. But I ultimately accept it. And why is that? Because it's the best thing we have right now. Until we reach Zion, we can't expect the Church to be Zion. And I think that's possibly the most important part of building Zion- accepting our imperfections and coming to rely on God to help us remove the beams in our own eyes and see that the mote in our brother's eye, in Eliza R. Snow's words, is merely a bubble.

When I came to BYU, I saw this attitude of Utah being Zion and Utah being the antithesis of Zion. I tend to this it is somewhere in between, like everyplace else. And now I finally have a few words to say to those who both mock Utah Mormons or envy them for living around so many "good members of the Church". Although it may seem like I have a beam in my eye for criticizing their views, I do it in the purest love. Or at least that's my intent.

Think not, when you gather to Zion,
Your troubles and trials are through--
That nothing but comfort and pleasure
Are waiting in Zion for you.
No, no; 'tis design'd as a furnace;
All substance, all textures to try --
To consume all the "wood, hay and stubble,"
And the gold from the dross purify.
Think not, when you gather to Zion
That all will be holy and pure --
That deception, and falsehood are banish'd;
And confidence wholly secure.
No, no; for the Lord our Redeemer
Has said that the tares with the wheat
Must grow; until the great day of burning
Shall render the harvest complete.
Think not, when you gather to Zion,
The Saints here have nothing to do
But attend to your personal welfare,
And always be comforting you.
No, the Saints who are faithful are doing
What their hands find to do, with their might;
To accomplish the gath'ring of Israel
They are toiling by day and by night.
Think not, when you gather to Zion,
The prize and the victory won --
Think not that the warfare is ended,
Or the work of salvation is done.
No, no; for the great Prince of Darkness
A tenfold exertion will make'
When he sees you approaching the fountain
Where the truth you may freely partake.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

In Which SeagullJaap Gives Up on Something

So over the past couple of months, I have been pondering and reflective on certain actions that my Church has made- namely its involvement in the Proposition 8 campaign. And in all honesty, I have been somewhat, as John the Revelator says, "lukewarm." I haven't really supported the Church's view but I haven't been exactly too supportive of the LGBT communities' point of view either. I feel like I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. And last night, I finally came to a divine realization of what I need to do. I need to finally take a stand, even if most of my friends disagree with it. Many of my friends call me wishy-washy, a theological impossibility proposer, and all kinds of other things. And perhaps even in this stance, I will seem absurd. To many I will be just another lukewarm individual. But I proclaim, here and now, that I have my own stance- separate from both my Church and the LGBT community.

But I finally came to this realization: I disagree with what the Church did. Immensely. I do not think that Proposition 8 was a divinely inspired mandate from God. I don't see their logic or their rationale for becoming involved. But, this said, I am now ready to renounce all my questioning on it, because, frankly, I am tired of it. I am tired of trying to hash out a logical explanation for why the Church did what it did. So, in this sense, I officially declare here and now that I dissent from my leaders on this issue. When the prophet has spoken, the thinking is not done. As much as I would like to say that I will agree with my leaders on everything 100%, I cannot, I will not. I must stand up for that which I believe to be right. And call me what you may, apostate, a devil-child, a spawn of Satan, deceived by another Spirit, I will stand steadfast in my belief that I dissent.

So what does this mean for my testimony, my faith in the Gospel, my trust for my leaders? I think initially with Proposition 8, I stood by them fast and true, in my transition from a doubter in the fundamental claims of the Church to one who was discovering the miraculous power of the Gospel that we find in the Church. But as I came to evaluate the situation, I became more and more doubtful of our leaders real motivation for this. I had such doubts. And finally, I came to the realization that I did not and that I do not agree- I did not meet eye-to-eye with them on this issue and that I probably never will. I am not saying I support people to participate in gay sex or anything of the sort, but what I am saying is, I have finally realized that to me, I just don't care. The Proposition 8 campaign is irrelevant.

This campaign doesn't change the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints embraces the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just because of this political move, I am not going to leave the Church. I believe the Gospel is true. I believe the Gospel is found in the Church. And I think I finally realized that the more I poke and prod at this particular issue, the more I realize how much I will never understand. My weeks of prayers and communications with God have taught me that perhaps I am not meant to understand right now. God gives me comfort and feelings of joy. And while I have such doubts about the divinity of this call for the Saints to preserve traditional marriage, I will still listen to my leaders and seek for myself the conformation I seek.

And for some, that won't be good enough. Some believe we are asked to walk by a faith, expressing no intellectual thought or prayer in our decisions. I personally think, often, this belittles the God that I know and love so deeply. God asks me to think things out, struggle, and ponder before I ask him for conformation. And perhaps the best part of this is the reason he does this. God doesn't give easy answers but he always gives loving answers. Even if he calls men to repentance or for us to change our ways, it is always through a loving voice. His arm is forever extended.

And for some, again, I will seem apostate. And others will attack me. Others will ask how can I consider myself to be a Mormon if I disagree on this issue. A friend of mine often reminds me, that this is my Church just as much as it is yours. So, no matter what you think- I have a firm testimony of the Gospel.

This campaign hurt me. I saw members of the Church behaving in a way that was very unbecoming of the Church. And one the reasons I finally came to the realization that I must ultimately dissent. And here I take my stand. That I disagree with my Church. And that is that.

I love my fellow men and I must, in my way, love them. I want to proclaim the Gospel, or the good news, of Peace and Love, calling men to come unto the ever merciful Lord. And I think I have finally realized that this is the best news of all.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

In Which SeagullJaap Gets Banned from His First Apartment

So, I frequently blog about doubt, right? Of course, many people in my faith tradition reject the role of doubt in their religious tradition. Lately, however, I have come to realize the importance of doubt even among the most faithful and doubt-scorning individuals. Let's discuss.

1. In order to repent there must be a sort of doubt. We must doubt our own strength and exercise a belief in Jesus Christ's atonement. If we have a full faith when we repent, it seems to me that we are not truly repenting. We must doubt our own abilities, the world around us, etc. So in the case of repentance, the twins of doubt and faith must come into play.
2. When it comes to examining the world around us, we must express doubts. We must take preconceived notions and examine them carefully. We cannot, we should not, and we must not take anything at face value. Even in a religious sense, we (apostate alert for some) can't take everything the Apostles and Q12 says as scripture. I often wonder what I would have done in circumstances where the Church got a few things wrong. In my humble opinion, I personally do not think the ban on blacks was God-established. I like to think that if I were a member of the Church at the time, I would have expressed my sincere doubts about that issue. And yet, in today's modern Church, to express doubt on the part of our leaders seems to indicate that I am an apostate, anti-Christ, out to get the members of the Church and in turn cause men to fall into forbidden paths. Hence, I was banned from my first apartment here at BYU. Apparently since I asserted that the prophet does have agency in the way he runs the Church. This particular BYU student could not handle this and when one of my friends from Salt Lake came to stay at his apartment, this child threw a fit, declaring that I could not enter their apartment. I am apparently the BYU boogy-man, out to get your eternal salvation through "heresies." Another time, I was called out for "raising my heel against the Lord's anointed." Apparently to assert any kind of humanity on the part of the brethren is sinful and something I must repent of. I am fascinated by this cultural aspect of our Church. I feel like if no one ever expressed doubt, we wouldn't see positive change in Church policy. Imagine if everyone, including the prophet of God, refused to actually ask God about something, merely accepting tradition. I imagine there are things that our prophets could directly ask God about and would be surprised about the answers they receive.
3. Another thing that is interesting about doubt. If I were to express that I believe x, y, or z in a testimony meeting rather than I know x, y, and z, I would be ridiculed or at least would cause some people to shift in their seats. The purpose of a testimony meeting, I believe, is not to express certainty but to express sincere belief. Of course, I think we all fall into this trap, which is a difficult one to fall out of. And for me, there are certain things that I would say I know, but I feel like we must come to embrace belief as an adequate expression of religiosity. In our culture of certainty, it is difficult to overcome this, but I hope and pray we can.

In other news, I have been doing well. Practicing, getting to bed earlier, staying on top of homework, etc. And now I must depart to read the Book of Mormon and do some other tasks today.

Comment away.

Friday, January 9, 2009

So things are looking better

My week, despite its craziness, has been fun. I have just had a hard time getting into the swing of things. I guess that is what Seagulljaap's Hermit Saturdays are for. This Hermit Saturday I plan to do a lot of reading and a lot of homework, followed by an evening with food and a movie.

I still have to practice. A lot. And write a Lizst report, but I am going to get to it. It will just take me a little bit. I am scared about the recital still, but I have hopes and prayers in my heart that it will go well. My teacher told me to practice an hour a day so that's what I have been doing. Actually, I think if I got on a really good schedule it could be good for my health. It is very relaxing to just sit there and play the piano. In some passages I hit, in others I gently glide and at times I even fly. The joys of the pianoforte.

Today I have American Humanities and the Movie Lab for Civ. I am looking forward to them both. I also plan on baking cookies today with SJ. All will be well in Zion.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

An Additional Prayer

So lately, I had the little thing we call reality crash in on me. I have so much to do and so little time. I am going to have to be more disciplined than ever. No time for willy-nilly lunches or just hanging out for the sake of hanging out.

So here's what I am praying for: that I can get my piano practicing in and get everything done that I need to get done. I am going on a self-imposed Facebook ban to accomplish this. It will be hard, but I need it. I am about to make a to do schedule and I am going to try to stick to it. I am going to map out my homework and get everything done that I need to. And read the D and C and the Book of Mormon.

I am praying for Divine help. Please. Help.

I know I can make it through this, so it really isn't a cry for help- it's just a cry for you to maybe help me somehow. Please.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Prayer

I am praying for my sister. Please pray for her too.

Actual 90th Post

Everlasting Burnings has not seen much work in the past couple of days. I am trying to adjust to school in the best way possible. I am trying to get a better diet and a better schedule to do everything that I need to do. I am a bit concerned about the number of solid credit hours- 18- but I think I can manage. Let me give you a lowdown on my first impressions of my teachers.

9:00 Church History to 1844- Susan Easton Black. I am going to like her. A lot. She seems like the type to not really gloss over things. She is very perky and funny. And I know someone in the class, which is always nice. Everyone else looks a lot older than me.

10:00 ASL 201- Nanette Hix. She is my favorite signer on the hymns and is very animated and kind. I think she will be a good teacher too. She seems to be very patient. I am happy to have her. I am immensely excited to have ASL again. One of SarahJane's roommates is in it too! That's very exciting to know someone in it.

11:00 Rel 122H- Alan Parish. I like Parish so far. He is like a giant Santa Claus but his class seems like it will have substance. The highlighting system will be a change, but I think I can do it. There are lots of people from my old FA and my ward in this class.

12:00 Humanities 261- Carl Sederholm. I am really quite excited about this. Sederholm is funny and really intelligent. Not to mention young and also a distant relation. That made me very happy. I am very excited about this. I almost started to drool. Sadly, I don't really know anyone in the class except one girl in my ward that I don't know that well. But that's 100% acceptable. I plan to learn and to carry on.

Besides that, I went to the bookstore to buy some things for my BOM class. I am going to start reading and marking tonight. I had a Cinnamon roll today with SarahJane. I visited her after my classes. I practiced the piano, took a nap, had FHE. It was snowing a lot today. We had no water. I was upset about that. I really didn't do anything today. As for the rest of the night, I need to read my scriptures and sleep more. Sigh. What a day.

Anyone have anything of interest today?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My 99th Post

I don't have much to say, I need to get to bread soon so I will keep it brief.

Doctrine and Covenants, Oh My Father- Heavenly Mother. Sublime. Sublime.

And Everlasting Burnings is in the works.

Furthermore, why can't I ever win? I am either too liberal or not liberal enough for people's tastes. Sigh. Such is the life of a liberal Mormon.

And this is my 99th post, I think? , for my 100th post I am planning a spectacle.

And now I must go to bread.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

O My Father

I decided to make a few resolutions this year. While I am not sure on all of them, here is what I am sure on

1. Read the Doctrine and Covenants and Book of Mormon

and... that's it. So far. I have intentions of blogging more, reading more books, and studying harder, but besides that, I am just a dreamer.

I have a lot on my mind today, let me put some of the things on my mind.

1. HM- For those of you who know me well, you know what this means. And yes, I clearly am a heretic for thinking about Her. All. The. Time.
2. My piano recital- I have to memorize this beast of a piece that I love but it is a task and a half. I am going to have to work really hard to get it all memorized.
3. My 4.0. How did that happen?
4. Civ class- Too much reading to think about.
5. American Humanities- Drool. Drool. Drool. Drool. Drool.
6. Spanish 329- See the 5 words above.
7. ASL 201- See the 5 words above and multiply that by 212312398012839012.
8. Think not when you gather to Zion- A lesson for Anti-Freeze? (A former friend)
9. Oh my Father- the thought makes reason stare.
10. And oh... my Facebook notes- thinks gays and south americans.

Sigh. What are your resolutions/worries/concerns?