This.

Digging around on the internet, looking at other LDS democrat postings, I was reminded of Mormonsandgays.org, a website created by church leadership, which, I thought had been removed following the Nov. 2015 handbook change. One of my gay LDS friends had been featured on that site, and I wondered if it was still there.

I punched in the old URL, and was immediately taken to LDS.org. I was relieved to see that it had not been removed from the internet, but assimilated into the church’s official website. Mormons and Gays has become Mormon and Gay, and church leadership has lovingly taken the site and welcomed it just as I wish we could lovingly welcome LGBT members and investigators into our congregations.

In response to my post from two days ago, I found this:

It says everything I hope families and leaders of LGBTQ members will hear regarding  Savannah’s situation and others like hers.

For Savannah’s sake, and the sake of those experiencing discrimination in their wards and stakes, please share liberally.

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Happy Banned Books Week!

On Friday, I received an email invitation to participate in a marathon reading of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl followed by a round-table discussion about the poem, censorship, and book-banning.  This reading is being presented by DePaul’s University Center for Writing-based Learning. I am excited about the prospect. Not because I want to participate in the reading, but because I see an opportunity to explain how I can maintain my personal and religious standards while actively opposing censorship and advocating free speech.

Personally and ethically I find the poem demoralizing and debasing, but its existence is important. The poem is scathing and vital evidence of  social maladies existing and unaddressed in the American psyche.  It presents an opportunity for dialogue regarding respectful vs. self-destructive opposition to political control and injustice. Howl is worthwhile on other levels as well, but especially as a previously nonexistent form of self-expression–a new way to look at poetry.  I don’t see much use for it in the classroom however–except in the social sciences. Would I teach it in my own classroom? No, but I reserve the right to make that decision for myself, and I would not discourage others from reading it.

I think too, of another document at the conservative end of the spectrum: Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Last I knew, the book was illegal in Germany. I wonder if the Germans are hoping that if they refuse to allow it, the reality of Hitler’s deception will disappear?  But I have read Mein Kampf; don’t like it, and intend to buy my own copy of it. I find it interesting, aberrant, and useful for many of the same reasons I reject Howl; and I want to keep a copy as a way to keep evidence of the truth alive. The Holocaust was real, and without understanding the mentality which supported it, we run the risk of allowing it to happen again; or worse, becoming perpetrators too.  Denying a problem doesn’t make it go away.

Banned Books week couldn’t have come at a better time, either.  Just two weeks ago, we watched as a Florida pastor threatened to burn the Quran in protest of a planned Muslim center of worship near Ground Zero of the former World Trade Center. Whenever books are burned, it is done to send a message.  The  message I always get is this: I am ignorant and afraid of people who are different from me. I don’t think that is the message Pastor Jones meant to convey, and I believe that once he could see the Christian outrage in response to his intolerance, he changed his mind, despite the fact that he claimed his mission to be “accomplished.” Accomplished how? Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t that Islāmic center still going up? Simply put, censorship only serves to magnify ignorance.

In honor of Banned Books Week 2010, here are my own banned book lists: Continue reading

Are They Serious???

Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: National Archives

I ran across this poster while I was researching the public schools issue. While it is very obviously promoting a white male, Christian ideology, I am going to ignore the racist and sexist concerns, and go to the larger, more pervasive problem– the idea that this nation was founded for Christians by Christians. I grew up in this ideology, even though it was only subversively taught through the examples I saw around me, as those whom I was expected to look up to loudly lamented “what is this country coming to?” It happens all the time in highly conservative cultures, especially small-town America.

The very idea that a country, which values freedom from oppression above all, would be founded for the sake of Christianity is absurd. We have all been taught that the  first settlers came to the New World in an effort to escape religious oppression. Assuming that is true, why would those same people want to establish a new oppressive society when they just left one? This poster makes the assumption that this is exactly what the first settlers did. Have the authors of this poster read the constitution? Do they teach it?

The purpose of our constitution for the colonies was to provide a foundation for which individuals could remain free to make reasonable choices within an organizational structure providing for that freedom. The constitution is the work of 55 men, including Thomas Jefferson. Many of these men, including Jefferson, subscribed to Deism; which is not Christianity.

Deism is a religious and philosophical belief that a supreme being created the universe, and that this (and religious truth in general) can be determined using reason and observation of the natural world alone, without a need for either faith or organized religion. (Wikipedia)

Continue reading