Tuesday, December 31, 2013

GE reason at work

According to almost every measure the number of Atheists in the US is increasing dramatically. The current state of Atheism has been achieved through the advance of mundane concepts like reality and sanity. Atheism has advanced, and will undoubtedly continue to advance, through the intrinsic instability of the religious system of delusion. There are three extrinsic events that could significantly destabilize the social construct of religiosity. I have decided to name these the three epiphanies, and I’ve talked about them in the past.

They are:

  1. The Cloning of a human being
  2. The singularity of an AI with human intelligence.
  3. Definitive contact with extraterrestrial intelligence.

The number of people who self-identify as not religious is increasing, while the number of people identifying as religious is decreasing. Between 2005 and 2012 the religiosity index for the USA decreased from 73% to 60%; in another decade religiosity may be a minority opinion in the US. The number of strong (self identifying) Atheists has not increased at a rate equaling that of those leaving religion. People lose faith, but they do not necessarily replace it with strong Atheism.

I have had the pleasure of “de-converting” a couple folks to strong Atheism; at least there are a couple folks who jokingly self identify as my “converts”. They have unanimously described their deconversion as a moment of little, almost no, significance; they cannot even attribute a specific moment to that point where their Faith was completely gone. They had been pleasantly free of Theism for quite a while, and then accidentally noticed that they were. They describe an overwhelming sense of “so what”. One expressed annoyance at it not being more of a great epiphany.

Converting to any Theistic religion is bound to be more exciting as one is actually discovering something so new that has literally never existed before their personal discovery of it. Unfortunately, as is the case with delusions, realizing something exists does not mean it actually does exist. Since Theistic god(s) do not exist the moments leading up to their discovery are not contaminated by hints of them.

Imagine, on the other hand, finally coming to believe in gravity. Like it or not you have been dealing with gravity before you were born. Gravity exists whether you believe in it or not. Coming to believe would be more of a succumbing to the mounting evidence, and gradually neglecting to maintain the delusional infrastructure needed to maintain a non-belief in gravity.

Each of the three great epiphanies (I think I will call them the “great” epiphanies for dramatic effect) would be something new. They are not equal in the magnitude of their impact, or in how clear it might be that they have been realized.

Certainly meeting a normal person who was conceived by cloning is very clear evidence of Great epiphany 1 having been realized. However, it is likely that religions’ would simply soft-pedal their previously intense focus of human reproductive mechanics to “accept” the reality of a clone.

Religious apologists have been moving the goal posts to avoid dealing with the realization of GE2. When AIs passed initial implementations of the Turing test new ones were devised that were more realistic. Philosophers rang in with obfuscation like the language abstraction layer in John Searle’s Chinese Room.

Realization of GE3 probably requires that we tease meaning out of some incredibly distant staticy radio broadcast. How much context is needed to understand the meaning in a broadcast signal. Imagine trying to decipher the meaning behind some randomly intercepted Pop song from Earth. Imagine trying to decipher the meaning in a few lines of the song “MacArthur Park”?

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain

I don't think that I can take it
'Cause it took so long to bake it
And I'll never have that recipe again, oh noooooo

"MacArthur Park" was written by Jimmy Webb and Adrian Drover

The GEs may still be waiting in the wings, but reason plods on.



Monday, December 23, 2013

Gay Marriages in Utah

So Utah has been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This came a surprise to more people than just me.

My current favorite of the complaints about Judge Shelby’s ruling is that it was made “Before Christmas”. I like this because the only part of the year that is not before Christmas is that week between Christmas and New Years when almost nothing gets done.

Several counties are refusing to issue marriage licenses. Tooele county is issuing licenses, but there has not been the rush of same-sex couple applicants that some other counties have seen. I was told that Box Elder County posted two sheriffs at the county office in case anyone should come and try to apply for a license; nobody did. They may have gotten confused about what the term “shotgun wedding” referred to.

I thought I had enough of weddings after my ex told me that she married her “new” man less than half a dozen weeks after our divorce was final. Then friends I knew as safely single by Utah legal statute leaked photos of themselves kissing outside some county clerk’s office. They look so happy I want to start using the term “gay marriage” again. It sounds happier than the naked word "marriage" does to me.

I don’t think anyone with a smidgen of sensitivity will ever use the term “gay divorce” except to produce an ironic mood.

The complaints that I dislike most are ones I’ve heard more of: that the country is decaying, that moral have dissolved, that somehow the ability to get married is more destructive than the decision to prevent same-sex couples from legally getting married. These complaints are just getting old. The stupid in them is rancid.

To all my friends and acquaintances who have recently gotten married I would like you to know that, despite my hard-won cynicism, I wish you all the joy in the world.



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Polly Wants a Cracker


Last week the LDS Church published an essay attempting to put a new face on their racist past by obfuscating the history surrounding their policy forbidding people with dark skin tones from receiving the same rights as conferred upon 8-year-old boys. This week LDS.org confronts another skeleton in the Mormon history closet: polygamy.

An essay has just gone up on LDS.org (the official channel for proclamations from the LDS church) entitled Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah. In it reasons are given for the polygamy:

“The Book of Mormon identifies one reason for God to command it: to increase the number of children born in the gospel covenant in order to “raise up seed unto [the Lord]” (Jacob 2:30). Plural marriage did result in the birth of large numbers of children within faithful Latter-day Saint homes. It also shaped 19th-century Mormon society in other ways: marriage became available to virtually all who desired it; per-capita inequality of wealth was diminished as economically disadvantaged women married into more financially stable households; and ethnic intermarriages were increased, which helped to unite a diverse immigrant population Plural marriage also helped create and strengthen a sense of cohesion and group identification among Latter-day Saints. Church members came to see themselves as a “peculiar people,” covenant-bound to carry out the commands of God despite outside opposition, willing to endure ostracism for their principles.” -- Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah from LDS.org December 2013

Interesting amongst these reasons for plural marriage is the notion that “marriage became available to virtually all who desired it”. In the western territories at the time that the Mormons were openly practicing polygamy men outnumbered women more than 2 to 1. Polygamy, as a numbers game, reduces the available wives even further. It is hard to pretzel up a logic that would have polygamy actually contributing to the availability of marriage options for over 30% of the population.

Much is made of the denouncement of polygamy after a revelation by the prophet Wilford Woodruff in 1890. It is a fairly strong denouncement, and it is canonized into the Mormon scripture as declaration 1 of the doctrines and covenants. Here are the first couple paragraphs of the holy revelation:

Press dispatches having been sent for political purposes, from Salt Lake City, which have been widely published, to the effect that the Utah Commission, in their recent report to the Secretary of the Interior, allege that plural marriages are still being solemnized and that forty or more such marriages have been contracted in Utah since last June or during the past year, also that in public discourses the leaders of the Church have taught, encouraged and urged the continuance of the practice of polygamy—

I, therefore, as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby, in the most solemn manner, declare that these charges are false. We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice, and I deny that either forty or any other number of plural marriages have during that period been solemnized in our Temples or in any other place in the Territory. Official Declaration 1 given by prophet Wilford Woodruff October 6, 1890

The recent official essay makes it clear that much of what Wilfred had to declare was a lie. It also makes it clear that he knew it was a lie. According to the new historical essay: “Only the Church President held the keys authorizing the performance of new plural marriages.” That would mean that only plural marriages authorized by Wilford would have been recognized as genuine plural marriages. The essay goes on to reveal that:

“a small number of plural marriages were performed within the United States during those years.” [1890-1904] “In 1904, the Church strictly prohibited new plural marriages. Today, any person who practices plural marriage cannot become or remain a member of the Church.” -- “Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah” from LDS.org December 2013

The LDS church considers plural marriage sacred. It devotes an entire section of its doctrines and covenants to the rules governing it. Ampongst these is the admonition that only one person (the high prophet aka first president of the first presidency) of the church:

“And verily I say unto you, that the aconditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, boaths, cvows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and dsealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is eanointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by frevelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this gpower (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this hpower in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the ikeys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.” – Doctrines and Covenants 132:9

The new LDS.org essay does not expound on Wilford’s lies. Instead they suggest that the declaration is simply one of advice. Like a gentile suggestion that was not really made law until everyone who was anyone stopped doing it… at least in the US. The last sentence in the declaration does use the word advice, but the context of the declaration makes it clear that it was much more than gentle advice.

“And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.” – Official Declaration 1 given by prophet Wilford Woodruff October 6, 1890

I should point out that it was not until Loving v Virginia in 1967 that the law of the land (in significant parts of the US) more clearly forbade the marriage of people with different skin tones.

Secrecy and obfuscation have always been a part of the LDS history of polygamy. Joseph Smith received his revelation that he could “marry” multiple women, and he obeyed by “marrying” dozens; some for only one night. He only shared this revelation with a few special confidants. Then, nine years and several denials after the revelation, the institution of polygamy was revealed to the general Mormon population.

“The doctrine which Orson Pratt discoursed upon this morning was the subject of a revelation anterior to the death of Joseph Smith. It is in opposition to what is received by a small minority of the world; but our people have for many years believed it, though it may not have been practiced by the elders. The original of this revelation has been burnt. William Clayton wrote it down from the Prophet's mouth; it found its way into the hands of Bishop Whitney [father of Smith's 16th wife Sarah Ann Whitney], who obtained Joseph Smith's permission to copy it. Sister Emma burnt the original. I mention this to you because such of you as are aware of the revelation, suppose that it no longer exists. I prophesy to you that the principle of polygamy will make its way, and will triumph over the prejudices and all the priestcraft of the day; it will be embraced by the most intelligent parts of the world as one of the best doctrines ever proclaimed to any people. You have no reason whatever to be uneasy; there is no occasion for your fearing that a vile mob will come hither to trample underfoot the sacred liberty which, by the Constitution of our country, is guaranteed to us. It has been a long time publicly known, and in fact was known during his life, that Joseph had more than one wife. A Senator, a member of Congress, was well aware of it, and was not the less our friend for all that; so much so, as to say that were this principle not adopted by the United States, we would live to see human life reduced to a maximum of thirty years. He said openly that Joseph had hit upon the best plan for re-invigorating men, and assuring a long life to them; and, also, that the Mormons are very good and very virtuous. We could not have proclaimed this principle a few years ago; everything must abide its time, but I am now ready to proclaim it. This revelation has been in my possession for many years, and who knew it? No one, except those whose business it was to know it. I have a patent lock to my writing-desk, and nothing gets out of it that ought not to get out of it. Without the doctrine which this revelation makes known to us, no one could raise himself high enough to become a god.” – Brigham Young 1850

There has been substantive speculation that Joseph Smith had originally envisioned polygamy as including “marriages” between white men and women with darker skin tones. The dark-skinned people are often called “lamanites” in reference to Mormon scripture. This original polygamy revelation occurred ten years before the one reproduced in the Doctrines and Covenants (132). This means two decades of divinely-inspired polygamous activity may have passed before the general Mormon population was brought in on the practice.

“Verily I say unto you that the wisdom of man in his fallen state, knoweth not the purposes and the privileges of my holy priesthood. but ye shall know when ye receive a fulness by reason of the anointing: For it is my will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity may become white, delightsome and Just, for even now their females are more virtuous than the gentiles.” -- The revelation by Jesus Christ to Joseph Smith of 17 July 1831 as related by W.W. Phelps to Brigham Young.

So polygamy occurred for 20 years prior to admitting that it occurred, and then went on for 14 year after the practice was soundly denounced. The story of polygamy is more than simply a string of multiple wives tales, but a history of outright lies by the authorities of the church. In order to really answer the important questions about plural marriage in the LDS church the facts and reasons behind the lies need to be addressed.

I recommend addressing them in a kind and gentle way. Violence and anger is counter productive. These lying prophets were most likely doing what they could to create a system that they believed in. We do not need the system any longer. If you are a member of the Mormon Church take a moment to gently write down your resignation letter, and leave it. If you were a member of the church, or will soon be one, do not let anger at the LDS Church consume you.



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Coffee Broken


“How could this have happened when everything was normal?” – Joan Didion from The year of magical thinking

Some years ago the local paper in Tooele ran a tiny article they had purchased from the AP newswire. Little more than a stock update it informed the reader that the price of stock in Starbucks Coffee company had fallen. The reasons for the stock price movement were uninteresting enough to have been long ago forgotten; the tiny article, little more than a couple paragraphs, was not interesting for what it said. Instead it was interesting for what it was about. The local paper had never before –in my fallible memory at least- published articles about particular stocks, and one has to drive over 30 miles from Tooele to get to a Starbucks. Soon, however, there will apparently be a Starbucks in Tooele!



Hosanna Hosanna Hallelujah!!

This will actually be the only sit-down coffee establishment in Tooele. I plan on sitting down there at a two-chair table and drinking coffee. My plans –shadowy images really- involve the attentions of the individual in the other chair. Telling slightly leading jokes till her eyes twinkle with unintended laughter.

There are those who would have me (and you) boycott Starbucks. They have organized a campaign called DumpStarbucks.com. “They” in this case include the National Organization for Marriage. I’m sure the LDS Church would also encourage its members to boycott Starbucks, but that might be due more to the fact that Starbucks has been known to sell coffee, and not to a January 2012 announcement that Starbucks would enthusiastically recognize marriage equality.

I’m sure that the DumpStarbucks.com movement could have garnered more Mormon support if it did not propose helping its participants “find alternative coffee shops”.

Interestingly the DumpStarbucks.com activity promotes itself as a defender of atheists, millions of atheists.

“In taking these actions, Starbucks has declared a culture war on all people of faith (and millions of others) who believe that the institution of marriage as one man and one woman is worth preserving.” -- DumpStarbucks.com

This statement does imply through the use of simple comparative statistics that many, maybe even most, atheists oppose same-sex marriage; there are not enough atheists in America to have millions do anything without it being a large percentage of the whole. It also implies, though somewhat more tenuously, that opposing same-sex marriage is more important that converting people to the gospel.



Friday, December 13, 2013

HR 3133

 A bill introduced before congress on the 19th of September, but never voted on, is regaining traction.  A similar bill is now being introduced into the senate.  It is important for us as it blatantly frames a set of rights based on participation in a religion. 

[Congressional Bills 113th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 3133 Introduced in House (IH)]

113th CONGRESS
1st Session



To prevent adverse treatment of any person on the basis of views held with respect to marriage.


--------------------------------

In this case the right is to "act", as long as it is in response to polygamy, same-sex marriage, or premarital sex.  Interesting as that is the idea that protection only comes if the individual shows that they are doing so for religious reasons. 

SEC. 3. PROTECTION OF THE FREE EXERCISE OF RELIGIOUS BELIEFS.

(a) In General.--The Federal Government shall not take an adverse action against a person, on the basis that such person acts in accordance with a religious belief that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or that sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.


I don't know exactly why the bill got forgotten towards the end of September, but I suspect that it had something to do with the government shutdown that occurred a little over a week after the bill was introduced.  Bolstering this guess is the fact that one of my senators -Mike Lee of Utah- is actively introducing the new senate version.  Mike was also actively promoting the government shutdown, and a guy can only do so many things at once.

There are so many things wrong with this bill that I don't expect it to ever pass congress, and if it did I doubt it would get a presidential signature.  It may, however, be used as a platform on which anti-atheist as well as anti-homosexual speeches may be introduced into the congressional record.  Who would want to do this?

Well... Michelle Bachmann is one of the co-sponsors.   I'm going to miss her a little. 

Also amongst the house bill's 91 cosponsors are three out of the four Utah congressmen:
Mr. Chaffetz
Mr. Stewart 
Mr. Bishop
The Bill's sponsor (Raúl Rafael Labrador R-ID) is a BYU graduate who served an LDS mission in Santiago Chile.

The other LDS co-sponsor is
Mr. Salmon (R-Ariz)
So it appears as if over half of the voting LDS members of the house are co-sponsors named in the house bill.  The new Senate bill is supposedly, according to the introducing Senator Mike Lee, sponsored by senators Vitter, Rubio, Roberts, Hatch, Coburn, Blunt, Inhofe, Wicker, Risch, Cochran and Graham.  So there is unanimous support for this new bill from Utah's senators. 





Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Survival

Most atheists will find themselves placating a loved-one’s spiritual insistence by stating that, while you may not believe what they believe literally, you can understand their beliefs as some kind of metaphor. For the metaphorically adept this can be done with any kind of spiritual belief system, even highly awkward ones like the gods of the Abrahamic theologies. Sometimes an unlikely amalgam of metaphors must be forged as the internal inconsistencies of many faith-based systems do not lend themselves to cogent systems.

In order to avoid the appearance of patronizing your spiritual loved one it is important to have a metaphor whose applicability you actually subscribe to. This can create additional problems as your understanding of the metaphor can be far greater than a spiritualist’s understanding of their own belief.

Many spiritualists maintain that a major characteristic of the focus of their faith is its intrinsic unknowability. They will sometimes try and use metaphors to explain this. The metaphor of the blind men and the elephant is popular. Thus you might find yourself describing metaphors to accommodate a spiritualist loved one’s belief system that they only understand through the use of metaphors.

The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learned from others; it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an eye for resemblance.
 -Aristotle, De Poetica, 322 B.C.

The reason one wants to accommodate the spiritualist loved one’s belief as a metaphor is that explaining the substance of a theology as a metaphor can be literally true. I can view Gaia as a metaphor for the interaction of ecosystems to create a planet wide interconnected web with diverse actions that are easily anthropomorphized. I can view chi as a heuristic for impressive neural activities, and I have done so in this very blog.

The Abrahamic gods are more difficult; especially when some well-meaning relative is holding onto your arm while exclaiming that he has personally spoken with Jesus who said to him in English that you would come unto him in repentance and be saved. I once offered to get an evangelical family member a cup of coffee when they added that they would not rest until they saw me on my knees before the lord.

It is hard in the confrontationally proselytizing cases to state that the belief is some metaphor for an actual complex physical reality, and that it might be useful as such. In such cases I want to use the word “symptom”, as in: “your belief in an invisible god that talks directly to you is a symptom of your psychiatric malady”.

Please remember that the winter holidays are a time of accommodation and joy. Avoid the use of the word “symptom” accept in cases of food poisoning, and then be careful not to single out Aunt Bee’s turkey as the causative agent of those symptoms.

When I am both thinking clearly and confronted by a stubbornly literal spiritualist I punt.

“I can understand and believe many spiritual concepts when I view them as metaphors”

If theirs is to nonsensical to be understood after concentrated ninja-like metaphor skills do not volunteer this information.

“Metaphors are such an important way for people to both understand, and communicate their understanding, of the world.”

At this point, if you can provide compelling examples of metaphors you have effectively changed the subject. The problem is that really good metaphors are hard to come by. You can use some dusty old metaphor you read in some book, but the best way to get a good metaphor is to hunt them down yourself.



Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cain's Race

Just recently the LDS church has officially released a testament concerning race problems in their official policy; called “Race and the priesthood” the testament was put up on LDS.org which is the official outlet for all things Mormon. This message was preceded by a new digital edition of the Mormon scriptures which was put up on LDS.org in March of this year. Amongst the substantive changes was an introduction to Official Declaration 2 in the Doctrines and Covenants (prophet Kimball’s revelation that people with dark skin tones could receive the priesthood). I should remind readers that “priesthood” in the Mormon Church is a designation given to most eight-year-old boy children of church members.

“Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice. Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter this practice and prayerfully sought guidance.” – D&C digital 2013

The idea that there were no clear insights into the origins of the practice suggests that the Church historians were not aware of Prophet Brigham Young’s 1852 speech to the joint session of Utah’s legislature. The December 2013 communication does casually reference Young’s “two speeches delivered before the Utah territorial legislature in January and February 1852”. Brigham was fairly specific.

“Now I tell you what I know; when the mark was put upon Cain, Abels children was in all probability young; the Lord told Cain that he should not receive the blessings of the preisthood nor his see, until the last of the posterity of Able had received the preisthood, until the redemtion of the earth. If there never was a prophet, or apostle of Jesus Christ spoke it before, I tell you, this people that are commonly called negroes are the children of old Cain. I know they are, I know that they cannot bear rule in the preisthood, for the curse on them was to remain upon the, until the resedue of the posterity of Michal and his wife receive the blessings, the seed of Cain would have received had they not been cursed; and hold the keys of the preisthood, until the times of the restitution shall come, and the curse be wiped off from the earth, and from michals seed. Then Cain's seed will be had in rememberance, and the time come when that curse should be wiped off.” -- Brigham Young to the Joint Session of the Legislature in Salt Lake City, February 5th, 1852.

The December 2013 communication on race does mention, in one sentence, the origins Brigham espouses at length, but they do not attribute them to Brigham.

“The curse of Cain was often put forward as justification for the priesthood and temple restrictions.” – “Race and the Priesthood” from LDS.org December 2013

The communication suggests that Brigham Young prophesized that people of dark skin tones would be given the priesthood “one day”. Referencing the terms of acceptance into the priesthood for blacks young places the bar higher than the recent communication suggests:

“Church leaders pondered promises made by prophets such as Brigham Young that black members would one day receive priesthood and temple blessings.” -- “Race and the Priesthood” from LDS.org December 2013

“Let this Church which is called the kingdom of God on the earth; we will sommons the first presidency, the twelve, the high counsel, the Bishoprick, and all the elders of Isreal, suppose we summons them to apear here, and here declare that it is right to mingle our seed, with the black race of Cain, that they shall come in with with us and be pertakers with us of all the blessings God has given to us. On that very day, and hour we should do so, the preisthood is taken from this Church and kingdom and God leaves us to our fate.” -- Brigham Young to the Joint Session of the Legislature in Salt Lake City, February 5th, 1852.

By 1978 conferring the priesthood was not as synonymous with being employable in Utah as it had been during the 126 years priesthood was denied to blacks. The world had begun catching up with the LDS church, and the segregation was not profitable enough to maintain the official segregationist policy. In early June Spencer decided to open the priesthood to blacks, and about four months later he revealed to the Mormons of the world this revelation.

On September 30, 1978, at the 148th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the following was presented by President N. Eldon Tanner, First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church:

“He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color. Priesthood leaders are instructed to follow the policy of carefully interviewing all candidates for ordination to either the Aaronic or the Melchizedek Priesthood to insure that they meet the established standards for worthiness.” -- Spencer W. Kimball June 8, 1978

Spencer may have been interpreting Young’s warning that the priesthood would be taken from the Mormons when they accepted blacks as a specific warning about interbreeding. Kimball famously, and repeatedly, warned against the mixing of races.

“When one considers marriage, it should be an unselfish thing, but there is not much selflessness when two people of different races plan marriage. They must be thinking selfishly of themselves. They certainly are not considering the problems that will beset each other and that will beset their children.” -- Spencer W. Kimball

“We are unanimous, all of the Brethren, in feeling and recommending that Indians marry Indians, and Mexicans marry Mexicans; the Chinese marry Chinese and the Japanese marry Japanese; that the Caucasians marry the Caucasians, and the Arabs marry Arabs.” -- Spencer W. Kimball

“We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred), and above all, the same religious background, without question.” (Spencer W. Kimball, “Marriage and Divorce,” in 1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1977], p. 144)

But these warnings of what sounds like enhanced inconvenience does not capture Brigham Young’s attitude towards interbreeding. He suggested that one should kill people who slept with members of different races.

“In the preisthood I will tell you what it will do. Where the children of God to mingle there seed with the seed of Cain it would not only bring the curse of being deprived of the power of the preisthood upon themselves but the entail it upon their children after them, and they cannot get rid of it. If a man in an ungaurded moment should commit such a transgression, if he would walk up and say cut off my head, and kill man woman and child it would do a great deal towards atoneing for the sin. Would this be to curse them? no it would be a blessing to them. -it would do them good that they might be saved with their Bren. A man would shuder should they here us take about killing folk, but it is one of the greatest blessings to some to kill them, allthough the true principles of it are not understood.” -- Ms d 1234, Box 48, folder 3, dated Feb. 5, 1852, located in the LDS Church Historical Department, Salt Lake City, Utah

I, for one, am glad that the Church is softening its stance on race relations. I would prefer that they did not obfuscate history in doing so, but when your leaders speak directly to god it is hard to discount what they have said in the past unless you can make it magically disappear.


Monday, December 9, 2013

AH AAH AAAH AAAAH

A good portion of the same-sex marriage kurfluffle, and to me the most interesting part, hides behind curtains of feigned cordiality. Individual believers may be allowed to build bridges over cesspools of sin to loved ones who are sinners, but the ship of authority cannot be so easily steered. Competing scriptures, opinions, and delusion conglomerated into reefs lurking in the waters of human love that have become so dangerous for religions to navigate these days. A fog of half uttered and partially dismissed opinion serves to cover the navigation hazards on most days. However, a court battle requires that clear standards be raised to proclaim the content of each antagonist’s intention. The arguments lay bare what is so often muddied.

Every once in a while some future god from the Mormon church exposes The Church's secret position. Boyd K Packer is often amongst the indiscrete of the LDS Church’s most holy authority. The wondrous internet has testified as witness to the editing of his words in the archival versions of his official speeches. Upon his death, and he is getting on in years, he will become a god on his own planet. One must wonder if his words will be presented to his devoted alien masses after this divine re-incarnation in their original or edited form.

This is a section of a speech by Boyd given at the October 2010 LDS general conference:

We teach the standard of moral conduct that will protect us from Satan’s many substitutes and counterfeits for marriage. We must understand that any persuasion to enter into any relationship that is not in harmony with the principles of the gospel must be wrong. From The Book of Mormon we learn that “wickedness never was happiness.”

Some suppose that they were preset, and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, he is our Father.

Paul promised, “God will not suffer you to be tempted above what ye are able, but will, with the temptation, also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (paraphrased I Cor 10:13)

You can if you will, break the habits, and conquer the addiction, and come away from that which is not worthy of any member of the Church. As Alma cautioned, we must watch and pray continually. Isaiah warned of them that call evil good and good evil. That put darkness for light and light for darkness. That put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

Here is the transcript version originally archived at LDS.org:

We teach a standard of moral conduct that will protect us from Satan’s many substitutes or counterfeits for marriage. We must understand that any persuasion to enter into any relationship that is not in harmony with the principles of the gospel must be wrong. From the Book of Mormon we learn that “wickedness never was happiness.”

Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Remember, God is our Heavenly Father.

Paul promised that “God … will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” You can, if you will, break the habits and conquer an addiction and come away from that which is not worthy of any member of the Church. As Alma cautioned, we must “watch and pray continually.”

Isaiah warned, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

Other church’s are not as aggressive at polishing the words of their authorities. Most other Churches do not claim that their authorities will be gods on distant planets either.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby began hearing arguments last Wednesday in a challenge to Utah’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as requiring two –and only two- sets of dissimilar genders for groups wishing to experience it. Four lawyers will be crafting the arguments in favor of the constitutional amendment. Three of the four are currently employed by BYU university, and the fourth is a Catholic employed by Southern Utah University.

Bryce J. Christensen is the catholic lawyer, and he has provided hints about what the arguments may be constructed from in a two-part essay he published in “Crisis Magazine – A Voice For The Faithful Catholic Laity” on January 1st and 2nd of this year entitled “How Same-Sex Marriage Suffocates Freedom”.

He does not use what I consider to be the best argument against same sex marriage, and that is “that the institution of marriage should simply be abandoned instead of trying to shore it up with the suffering of thousands of same sex couples”. I concede that I’m a little jaded by personal experience, and in no way present that argument as a basis for policy.

One might correctly guess that Bryce is not supportive of the idea of same-sex marriage simply by the title of his new-year’s essays, and dismiss them. However, Bryce’s freedom essays contain interesting bits worthy of examination.

According to Bryce the crafty homosexuals have hidden their anti-liberty agenda from most people through the use of clever slogans like “We All Deserve the Freedom to Marry” . Fortunately for the readers of Crisis Bryce followed the homosexuals to Spain where their evil elitist-fascist intentions were exposed. In Spain the homosexuals had the audacity to say mean things –in writing no less- to the Queen of Spain who has ruled as royal figurehead of Spain since succeeding Generalissimo Franco in 1975. What does the feudal residue of Spain's famous Nazi-inspired fascist dictatorship have to do with American liberty you may ask… actually I caught myself asking the same thing. Apparently the connection lies in the fact that she has the right “to express her opinion like any other citizen.”. Like your homophobic cousin chuck for instance. Can’t you picture Chuck saying something like this:

“If those people [homosexuals] want to live together, dress up as bride and groom and get married they can do so, but that should not be called marriage because it is not.” Queen Sophia of Spain quoted in Pilar Urbano’s book - "La Reina muy de cerca"

The official response by the Queen’s PR group was to say that Pilar Urbano got the quote wrong. Did Pilar get it wrong, or is the Queen of Spain (the monarch queen) the victim of homosexual liberty suffocation? What right do gays have to voice their opinion in such a way as to pressure the queen of Spain to somewhat retract what she was quoted as saying in someone’s unofficial biography of her? Sopia is the QUEEN OF SPAIN, beloved of god, anointed successor to the fascist father of Modern Spain, and, above all else, a citizen of a distant country who has rights like you and me… except different rights in a different country. I think Bryces point is not about how down Sophia’s rights got pushed , but by how far we need to up chuck’s rights. Bryce just wanted to point out how there is a little bit of Queen in all of us, and we need to protect its need to be validated by public approval.

Bryce then pulls out the concept of “anti-anti-homosexual” bullying. In doing so he conjured up Antonin Scalia’s dissent in the famous Lawrence v. Texas case of 2003. The Lawrence v. Texas finding effectively struck down anti-sodomy laws in the states that still had them. Antonin was not amused by this.

“So imbued is the Court with the law profession's anti-anti-homosexual culture, that it is seemingly unaware that the attitudes of that culture are not obviously "mainstream"; that in most States what the Court calls "discrimination" against those who engage in homosexual acts is perfectly legal.” -- Justice Antonin Scalia in his descent to the finding in Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)

I think it is amazing that just 10 years ago homosexuality was illegal, or that the constitutionality of ant-homosexual sodomy laws in some states was affirmed by the SCOTUS in 1986 (Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986)) .

The Lawrence in Lawrence v Texas was a 55 year old (at the time) white Texas medical technologist named “John”. He and 31-year-old African-American Tyron Garner were arrested after a jealous 40-year-old Robert Eubanks tried to break up their flirting by calling up the police and reporting "a black male going crazy with a gun". The police showed up quickly, and found no gun, which –thanks to activist judges- is not illegal in Texas. Tyron was black, but –again thanks to activist judges- that is no longer illegal in Texas.

One of the officers (Joseph Quinn) reported watching Tyron and John engaged in anal sex in the bedroom. Another officer watched the two engaged in oral sex. The other two did not see them engaged in sex, but they were undoubtedly masterminding some nefarious plot for the homosexual agenda. Tyron and John were charged with “Homosexual Conduct” (Chapter 21, Sec. 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code), and Robert was sentenced to 30 days in jail for filing a false police report.

The silliness of the homosexual Texans is not what bothers Bryce. He is terrified of the fact that a culture exists that would not be horrified at their gayness. This anti-anti-homosexual (AAH) group is apparently headed by progressive elites.

“a progressive anti-anti-homosexual elite dramatically diminishes the political liberties of those who wish to affirm an understanding of marriage consistent with reality as affirmed by nature, history, biology, reason, as well as religion.” Bryce J. Christensen “How Same-Sex Marriage Suffocates Freedom (Part II)” January 2nd 2013

Not content with a simple double negative name Bryce is apparently pushing to become an anti-anti-anti-homosexual fighter (AAAH). Perhaps Queen Sophia will knight him?

It would be unimaginable for me to leave Bryce’s bait untouched by refusing to enhance the absurdity surrounding his opinion. I herby suggest the formation of an anti-anti-anti-anti-homosexual (AAAAH) super elite strike force.

Bryce, we uncap our pens in your general direction. We unleash the frothing adjectives to pursue you through metaphorical forests. We look forward to seeing your delusional arguments.