Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Document or Die!

Well, I don't really feel that strongly about this issue, but close. It bothers me when people relate a story that is obviously "out there" and they have no credible evidence for it or don't follow through to, as Paul Harvey would say... "The rest of the story."

This pet peeve of mine started when I was probably 14 years old. There was a rumor going around my school with lots of talk that the Salt Lake temple was going to be closed for 5 years to prepare it for the second coming. I was slightly incredulous, but fairly gullible. My Grandma Dansie worked in the temple so I called her to ask her about it. I wasn't thinking that I had three years to "eat, drink and be merry" and two years to repent. It was more along the lines of..."five years until the second coming!" When I told her she chuckled a little and said that there were no plans to close the temple, and as far as she knew the church would never make such an announcement.

I felt pretty stupid for not disregarding it outright. Not that I felt I should disbelieve everything, but that I should take the bizarre with a grain of salt and wait for more evidence before adhering too strongly. My father told me some sage advice that he received from his father, "Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see." He obviously didn't mean that literally, but as a reminder to be on your guard.

So, I learned my lesson and vowed to always find a documented source for anything out of the ordinary, especially when related to the church (since it is all to easy to say x and reference it with, "I heard a GA say it in some general conference." Marisa came to the same resolution through different experiences.

I remembered this the other day when PBS did their documentary, The Mormons. As Marisa and I talked to some outgoing, educated and faithful members some were surprised that a few of the stories they heard (ie-Mountain Meadow Massacre, etc.) were new to them and a difficult pill for them to swallow. We were surprised that these issues were not alrady common knowledge. We talked about that and remembered that we became aware of these subjects and had come to a resolution on them because of our personal documentation we had done earlier. As we researched one issue, others surfaced. It didn't take too long to come across the major church history awkward issues. With more research, prayer and thought we felt informed and comfortable with the facts.

One that really got Marisa fired up is when the documentary was discussing women's place in the church and said something about Utah being one of the last states to allow women the right to vote. The truth is that Utah gave women the right to vote as a territory when it was not allowed by the country and had to remove that right by order of congress. Regardless of when the right was given the second time, without the "rest of the story" the fragment is incomplete.

So, when around me please explain your reasoning when you share a bizarre piece of information. If not, either be prepared to back it up or don't wonder what I'm thinking when I smile and say, "Wow, that's amazing..."

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Throughout my life I have always enjoyed working out the nitty gritty details on certain philosophical questions that I encounter. This can be beneficial because I often feel fairly comfortable about a certain position that I take (although I am always open to new information). On the other hand, this can also be detrimental because I often have something nagging that results in less sleep.

As I start this blog I will post a bullet list of the reasons why I want to do a thought blog and my personality traits that brought me to this point. They are in no particular order, just via uninterrupted brainstorming:
  • I have always had a journal from when I was very little until now. Once graduate school and children came, the frequency of writing dropped tremendously. Somehow, using a blog as my journal facilitates more frequent entries. Maybe because posts can be made from any computer and are usually short in length.
  • My love of evaluating people, culture, religion and group behaviors lead me to get a minor in sociology.
  • In early high school I developed a strong desire to learn as much about LDS doctrine as possible. This lead me to quickly read Mormon Doctrine, Miracle of Forgiveness, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith*, and a few others that weren't quite as influential.
  • I had a period of weakness with my testimony during my last couple years of college. I have not fully resolved the original issue, but have come to terms with it and can happily say that I am more confident than ever.*
  • As the blog title insinuates, I am very conservative/orthodox with some surprising liberal tendencies. I must state that any liberal tendencies that I might have are NOT the result of naive media influence that I see happening all too often.*
  • I would sometimes post less complete, more diluted posts (of a nature that I want to post here) on my family blog. They always seemed out of place and unlike the other posts they received few to no comments.
  • I like to gather information and make spreadsheets. I would like to post some of these and have people comment on things I may have missed or gotten incorrect.*
  • I most instances I don't mind wearing my thoughts/emotions on my sleeve
  • Posting here is primarily and almost solely for me, not for others. Writing out one's thoughts can be both personally enlightening and cathartic. Enlightening because I have found that as I work out how I want to write something down I figure out better what it is that I think on that topic.
  • I am extremely analytical (which is not the same as judgmental).
  • I enjoy some talk radio and politics. Discussing them and religion can be an easy way to offend others, so writing them on MY blog is much less combative than directing them at a specific person.
  • I like to back up the church. Not because I feel a need to put up a facade for personal doubts, but because it is surprisingly easy on most subjects, and it goes along with paragraph one of this post.
  • Despite my desire to work out details on questions that I have about anything, I hesitate to discuss/ponder or spend too much time on as Joseph said, "the thin branches of the tree" for fear of having them break from underneath me. That being said, I don't ignore them either.
  • I usually take the Happy Medium option. When I have to make a decision on what stance to take I usually think of the two logical extremes and end up somewhere in the middle. Why "look beyond the mark," or "fall short of the mark" when you can hit it dead on?
  • I love to vacuum. What else allows you to be deep in thought and get things clean at the same time? I have spent countless hours vacuuming cars and concrete slurry at two of my teenage jobs.
  • I really enjoy Contemporary Christian music.*
  • Growing up in Utah has made me strive to not fit stereotypical molds. Now that I am out of the insecure years of "youthhood" I don't worry about this as much, but I believe it has greatly influenced the creation of my personality.
  • It still shocks me to hear people talk about how they see me as such a confident person. I had a time in my early childhood where I had very little confidence. I consciously used Alma 38:12 "Use boldness, but not overbearance." and Ether 12:27 "then will I make weak things become strong unto them." to change that.*
  • I married the most perfect woman in the entire world for me and my personality.*
  • One of the greatest ways to offend me would be to call me lazy.
  • I used to have pitiful writing skills. Through a lot of school and a very smart wife I have raised my skill level to mediocre.
  • Last, but not least...I would enjoy some discussion on topics of my choosing so feel free to comment. Hopefully others will join in. I will reply frequently to what others say as well.
* = great story goes along with this item. I will probably do a future post discussing it.