Saturday, November 21, 2009

What a Year

This is the first birthday I've ever had which I didn't really look forward to. For some reason, 25 is just scary. (I know, rationally speaking, that's a ridiculous thing to say, but nevertheless...) In any case, thank you to all who sent birthday greetings by media various and sundry! It was lovely to hear from you. A particular thank you goes to my Grandparents for their kind generosity, to my parents and siblings for the new (and needed) clothing (I'm glad you have good taste, Ashlie!), and to Seth and Adam for a delicious lunch at Tucanos, where we positively drowned ourselves in MEAT! My family and friends are far, far better than I deserve (but it would be unwise to let them know that!).

In any case, everything managed to stay pretty low-key, for which I am very grateful, as I continue to ponder my mortality. ;-)

For those of you who have heard and expressed concern, my shoulder is (finally!) feeling much improved. I'll still wear the sling, but I can now remove it for longer and longer durations during the day. (I don't wear it at night, because––being an active sleeper––I would almost certainly garrote myself. It doesn't matter how carefully I make my bed, in the morning the comforter is on the other side of the room, the sheets have been braided into a kind of Jackson Pollack macrame, and I am either wearing the pillow as a turban or I have managed to swallow it.) In any case, if you were devoting any of your knee-time to intercession on my behalf, I thank you, but would now ask you not to worry anymore about it and apply those minutes to Maddox's account.

* * *

Now, as is my habit, I will devote a few moments to religio-political ranting. (I know that this might not meet with universal approbation, but it is my weakness, and not one I have any inclination to give up. What can I say: some chase the dragon*, some pass l'heure verte** with la fée verte***, I blog.)

Today, I would like to address an issue one hears periodically when spending time with Mormons of a political bent. I want to make it clear that I do not take exception to those who may disagree with my beliefs, if only they admit that insofar as our beliefs differ, theirs are wrong. I am really a most accommodating man, willing to extend compromise even to the gates of hell––but no further!

The comment that aroused my ire is just one of myriad extant variations on a truly nauseating theme. This specific comment was posted today on a Deseret News comment thread. (I know. It's true. I should have never even read the thing. As you are all doubtless aware, the comments on DesNews threads tend to be almost––but not quite––as intelligent as the kind of YouTube comment threads attached to videos depicting extra-chromosomal teenage boys igniting their own flatulence, which are themselves only sad imitations of the level of erudition typically found scrawled on or carved into to the stall walls of public restrooms in cities endowed with literacy rates somewhat lower than is characteristic of Tijuana's more impoverished environs.) In any case, the comment in question was as follows:

You really believe the LDS Church has that much influence over the State of California? The constitutionality of prop 8 was decided in the California Supreme Court by non LDS judges. Explain that.

This particular statement is just one example of an increasingly common (but nevertheless queasiness-inducing) phylum of Mormon political sentiment. Whenever someone complains online about the LDS involvement in California's Proposition 8 campaign during the 2008 election, some Mormons' "persecution sensory glands" become activated and they descend, indiscriminately squirting this kind of comment into cyberspace, like a cat urinating on a piece of furniture or a small child.

When identifying such a statement, it is helpful to look for certain typical characteristics: "Mormons were only one small part of a large, diverse coalition"; "Mormons make up less than two percent of California's population"; "Lots of [insert minority ethnicity members here] voted for it. Why don't you attack them?"; "The Church only donated $180,000.00 to a campaign that raised millions"; et cetera. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Vomit.

Let us be quite clear: when evaluating these comments, it does not matter how you or I feel about Proposition 8, or the results of the 2008 election. Love it, loathe it, puree it and smear it all over your body: COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT!

What is relevant is the fact that these comments are dishonest.

The involvement of the LDS Church was the sine qua non of the passage of Prop 8. Yes, I know, "The Church donated only a tiny fraction of the total funds raised..." Give me a break. The majority of the Yes-on-8 money came from LDS members, who donated at the explicit instruction of the Prophet. His encouragement is theologically tantamount to commandment; Prop 8 practically became an article of faith. (There were a number of incidents reported in which members who said they were not comfortable donating/canvassing/putting a sign in their yard lost their temple recommends or were disfellowshipped. As far as I am aware, most of these incidents were later corrected... after the election was over.) Stakes and Wards were assigned dollar-amounts they were required to raise. Local leaders approached many members with specific figures they were asked to contribute (one particularly memorable account recorded that the amount their Stake President requested was exactly ten times what they had already decided to donate); these amounts were calculated by reviewing members' tithing records. Add to this the Church's built-in communication/networking structure, to say nothing of the vast body of free LDS labor used for door-to-door and telephone canvassing.

When the results of the election were reported, many Latter-day Saints celebrated, justly aware of the part they had played. Now, however, many of those same members try to deemphasize the Church's participation, as well as their own. When did the blood that burned red footprints across a continent cool, dilute, and breed cravens?

Saying that "Mormon involvement was just one little part of a multi-faceted coalition" is as disingenuous as saying that "oxygen is just one element among many in breathable air." Such a statement, while technically true, is calculatedly misleading. Though oxygen is not the most plentiful element in the air, it is absolutely indispensable; without it, we inevitably die–—just like Proposition 8 would have, without the LDS Church.

*A euphemism for using opium.
**Five o'clock, when, at the height of its popularity, many Parisians would gather as devotees of la fée verte.
***Absinthe, a potent, anise-flavored spirit (usually light green in color) with allegedly hallucinogenic properties, which led to its ban in the US by 1915. Its psychoactive characteristics (apart from those associated with its high alcohol content––45%-74% ABV) were greatly exaggerated, and its production within the US resumed in 2007.


Shelli said...

Amen, and amen.

Heather said...

Amen, brother, we kicked some serious butt in the election and I am proud we were a majoy part of it.