Monday, October 23, 2006

When magical people unite ...

Well, it may have been the best, or at least second best, weekend of the year. Actually, for the last several years. And it was with some of the same people as the other greatest weekend. What a wonderful time we had in our little alpine village!

It’s been about 5 weeks since the EG conference, which is that other great weekend. Sam and I were visited by Smurf, AtP, Jerman, Carrot and Tito. What a blast we had! Since they were coming to visit, Maurice (Sam’s father), who happens to be our Stake President, asked Smurf, AtP, and Jerman to address our ward and stake leaders in a stake leadership meeting, called specially for the occasion.

Jerman is up first. He shocks the audience. Yup, we’re really talking about this issue, and it’s serious.
AtP is up next. The crowd is now in awe! This is amazing and spiritual stuff. Yes, spiritual.
The Smurfster bats clean-up and hits a homerun. Amazing.

Just to sum up, it was truly wonderful. Our Maurice actually started out the meeting saying we were going to talk about this, explaining that our stake never waits for issues to come to us, we go out and meet them head on. The meeting ended with a fantastic Q & A session. My RS President was in tears. She told the next morning that she hadn’t felt the Spirit that strong in a few years. And that she went home and wrote on her journal for an hour and a half! The last few days, I’ve inquired of others that were there of their opinions. It’s unanimous – a big win. Now we all need to follow-up in wards.

So the rest of the weekend was actually FUN, not so serious. We laughed and played. Carrot is the most amazing magical person to come along since Samantha. In fact, the queen has dubbed her a Lady in the royal court of the queerosphere. Let her henceforth be known as Lady Carrot (LC for short). LC totally rocks. Someone ought to do something about her before some straight guy hauls her off to a mortal place.

Tito fit right in. What a “guy”! He almost reminds me of Tommy Monson, with a great memory, full of wonderful stories. And he is such a great sport. After being up well passed midnight, he let us wake him up at 6:00 am to go eat breakfast at a Denny’s-like place. David came too. (Tito was staying at David’s house.) There’s nothing like sherbet and lemon-lime soda floats.

The rest of us actually stayed up most all night at our house. Once in while, one or two of us would nod off for 15-30 minutes. I woke up as they were making plans to go eat. What good timing! Like I always say, the only thing better than food is MORE food.

Apparently there are thieves in our group. Lady Carrot bogarted Smurf’s favorite childhood book from the Momma Smurf’s house. The Smurf himself (yourself?) has “collected” games from us and LC. But we get the last laugh. It appears that Smurf has left a sock in our bathroom! We shall hold it hostage, at least until we meet again and exchange other properties. (That kind of sounds like Monopoly.)

It has now been about 6 days since I started drafting this post. I discovered my own slippers where missing as my favorite guests had departed my home. I thought perhaps it was an act of endearment that one of these amazing people might have claimed them as a momento. Alas, they showed up yesterday morning.

It seems like it has already been many weeks since they left, even though it’s only been a week. I spent the first couple days almost crying because I missed them. (I’m a freak.) I must be deprived. It’s now 1:10 am and I am remembering fondly staying up all night last Sunday! We gotta do this again!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Few of My Pet Peeves

Isn't interesting that in Harry Potter books the annoying poltergeist is named 'Peeves', as in pet peeves? I'm sure JKR did this intentionally.

So here is one of mine. "Fewer vs. Less." Okay, at the store, the express lane sign should read "15 Items or Fewer" not "...Less." You cannot have "less items", but you can have "fewer items." And in everyday conversation, people use the "less" when they should use the word "fewer." It's not that difficult to figure out. When you are talking about a plural noun, particularly one that would end in an 's' when it is plural, you use the word "fewer" to refer to a dimished quantity, not "less." Pretty simple. Now do it right!

Here is another pet peeve. Where I work, people are always expecting others to things for them, or expecting others to get some task done. I am a "DO IT!" kind of person. If you really want it done, do it yourself. If you are not willing to do it, and it is something you can do yourself, then shut up! If it can be done by you, and it's not MY special responsibility, than maybe it SHOULD be done by you. Talking about it all the time does not get done. Shut up and do it. Fish or cut bait. Whining about it makes you sound ignorant and incompetent.

Okay, here is another, but it's one that sometimes drives others crazy. I don't like broken things. I fix 'em. If it's broken, fix, chuck it, replace it. But don't leave it broken. When I started my current job, we had a company vehicle that had the driver's door handle broken off. The new handle had been purchased weeks earlier, but not installed. "WHAT??!??!? Just fix it." (See previous paragraph.) I said nothing. I just fixed it. All around me, people are coping with sub-standard stuff and they don't have to. I see people playing pool on a table where the pockets drop the balls on the floor. That will be fixed soon, by me. If it's broken, fix it. If you can't fix it, get rid of it.

That's all for today. Maybe next time I'll have to tell about the "rule of the one place" that Sam and I have. I have vented now. I feel better. But remember to use the word "fewer" more often please.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Question of a Mission

In April of 1986, I attended the Priesthood session of General Conference at the BYU Marriott Center. It holds something like 24,000 people. It was packed! There were people sitting in the stairs, standing in the corridors, just all over the place. There must have been over 25,000.

It was a great meeting, the best I’ve ever been to. There were wonderful, spiritual talks given – amazing. The President Hinckley spoke. (He was a counselor to President Benson at the time.) His talk was the most wonderful I had ever heard, up to that point in my life. His talk was entitled “The Question of a Mission.” I was really touched. I had a friend who didn’t know what to do with his life. He was 19 at the time and just hanging out in Provo, playing around. I knew that Pres. Hinckley would want him to go on a mission. The spirit at that meeting was now VERY intense.

Then President Benson got up to speak. He said, “The Spirit has been here tonight. It has been very strong. Instead of giving the talk I have prepared, I would rather follow that Spirit and speak unto you the words the Lord would have you hear at this time.” Then he bowed his head a little, listening to the Spirit for a minute. Then I heard a voice. “Ezra, I have been helping you prepare this talk over the last few weeks. This is what I want them to hear. Give the talk you have prepared.”

Whoa! I heard that voice. Really? Yeah. Then President Benson raised his head and said, “Never mind. I am going to give the talk I have prepared.” Wow! What’s going on here?!?!? I couldn’t believe it. I actually heard the voice speaking to the prophet. Then he gave the most amazing, wonderful, spiritual talk I have ever heard in my 43 years. It’s called “To the Youth of Noble Birthright.” Look it up and read it. It's incredible!

I have always wondered why I got to hear the voice. That was the 2nd of only 3 times in my life that I have heard it. I now know of at least 3 reasons why I was allowed to hear the voice of the Lord at that time. For one, I needed to know that what he said was really important for me. For another, I needed to know that Heavenly Father prepares us to speak to others, He will help us prepare our talks so that the Spirit will touch others. When the time comes to give the talk, all we have to do is speak the words. He has already done the work with us.

The 3rd thing I learned was that God speaks to his holy prophets, even today. Yes, he does. Simple, but I needed to learn that. It is important to me now. I KNOW it. Who is really running this church? Stupid question.

So 20 years ago, the standard was this – every young man is supposed to serve a mission. If you weren’t ready or worthy, you has better GET ready or worthy. Period. Every young man. Then a few years ago, Elder M. Russell Ballard announced “the raising of bar.” There is now a much higher standard that a person must meet in order to serve a mission. And it was okay if a young man was not able to go. He would be “honorably excused.” And he is right – it’s okay if person does not or cannot serve a mission. No worries, no judgment, no problem.

But what if a young man wants to serve a mission, and has certain issues? How come I see some young men who have these issues who have served missions, while there are others who cannot? Okay, there is the simple question of actions. Has a person simply felt same gender attraction but remained completely faithful? Or have they just denied it so they can do what everyone tells them is right? Or have they just lied about it? And have the others gotten caught? Or been truthful to their bishops? Or just had bishops or stake presidents that believe that SSA and missions don’t mix?

I don’t know. Maybe all of those have happened at one place or another. But here is what this new Bishop has learned. There are feelings and inclinations, and then there are actions. Those actions include fantasizing, viewing pornography, acting on hormonal drives, giving in to temptations. It’s the same for ALL members of the church, not just those dealing with SSA. It doesn’t matter what your temptations are, you can be worthy to serve a mission.

The church has very recently issued a revised version of the Handbook of Instructions, Book 1”, for Bishoprics and Stake Presidencies. No one else gets these books (except general authorities I suppose). It is very clear that it is one’s actions that keep them from being eligible to serve a mission, not their feelings and inclinations. It specifically addresses applicants who have same gender attraction. It says that if a young man has participated in homosexual activity during the last 3 teenage years, he will not normally be considered for a mission. It also says that if the person has shown strong evidence of repentance for period of a few years (at least one year), the stake president can request an exception. It also talks about "acts" that occurred several times or over an extended period of time, showing a pattern or habit, verses just once, or being a visitim, or early age experimetation.

So here is the nutshell – what are your habits? What have you been doing for the last few years? If you can show a pattern of faithfulness and clean living, you can probably serve a mission. But it must be for a period of a considerable amount of time, not just a few months. Here’s another thing. There is an age limit for young men to serve a mission. It’s 25 years old. Not 19. Not 20. Not 22. It’s 25, to start the mission.

This means to me that some of my friends may have more hope than they may have thought. This is a wonderful thing! It may take a few years to get there, but even if a person still doesn’t go on a mission, it couldn’t hurt to make that kind of progress anyway. But you don't have to go when you are 19 or 20.

I was afraid it may not be proper to directly quote the handbook, so I didn’t. But it’s clear that it’s actions that matter, not feelings. If any of you have more questions about this, please feel free to contact me.