Sunday, March 8, 2015

Echo chamber

Today during Ward Council we learned a ward member recently went inactive in part because they disagree with the church's stance on gay marriage. One council member pointed out that the Lord's standards are the same for homosexuals as for everyone else: sex is permitted only between a man and a woman properly married. If you're not married, no sex whether you are homosexual or heterosexual.

Another person explained how they tried to "help" this person by sending an email that explains that while we love people who expeience "same-sex attraction" the Lord's standards of chastity will never change and homosexuality is considered wrong in God's eyes. It is contrary to the plan of happiness that Heavenly Father has prepared for us. (The "helping" not surprisingly has not translated in increased activity.)

Then a third person chimed in and repeated essentially the same arguments as the first two, though added that sometimes people say they have doubt's because they don't want to give up their sins. I see this now for the echo chamber that it is.

As I reflect on this experience I sorrow because of my own personal lack of spine. If I could get a redo, I hope I would say something like, "If someone expresses a doubt about a particular doctrine, perhaps the best way to persuade them to stay with the church isn't to keep reiterating the doctrine they disagree with. This only reinforces the fact that we think they are wrong. Perhaps instead we should just say, 'There are things I don't agree with, doctrines I don't understand. Keep coming to church to invite the Lord into your life. Keep taking the sacrament to renew the commitments you made at baptism. That's all God asks. Feel free to disagree with points of doctrine if you believe strongly about an issue.'"

The problem is really that last bit. How can you disagree with a doctrine the Church is SO vocal about and stay active? If you made your opinion known vocally every time gay marriage came up in church, you would quickly be labeled the ward apostate.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reasons I love my wife #71,397 (or Mr. Wickham)

Update on my girlfriends post  from last week. This weekend my wife and I watched Death Comes to Pemberly. After, my wife made a joke about loving me even though I'm not Mr. Darcy. Then she said, "I was going to ask if you love me even though I don't look like Elizabeth. But then I realized I should ask if you love me even though I don't look like Mr. Wickham."

Of course I love you because you ARE my Jane.

Mr. Wickham is just pretty to look at.

It's great to have a wife who isn't afraid of my admiring good looking British men.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

My reading resolution

I had a lot of fun with my last post. Besides getting to post pics of pretty boys, it was great fun to just be real. One of the problems with an anonymous blog is the lack of personal details. I may want to share a funny story about my 15 year old son, but hesitate in sharing any real details lest my ward's gossiper recognize and out me. This lack of personal detail can lead to a lack personality.

While I'm not sure I'm ready to come out to my kids or at work, after the last post I realized the type of person reading this blog is less likely to be the ward busybody and more likely to be someone open to a gaymobro married with kids. So if they happen to discover my identity... well that's probably ok. Why not include more personal details?

Here goes:

One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to read more, write more, and watch less. (The only new TV show I've added to my regular watching rotation is The Flash. I admit I enjoy a good superhero story and for a CW show it has surprisingly little soap opera. Plus it doesn't hurt that Grant Gustin is easy on the eyes... and can sing.)

So over the past two months I've read more fiction than I had in the previous 12. I tend to gravitate to young adult fiction. It's because my wife likes YA so she got me started with John Green's An Abundance of Katherines. I also enjoy the first person voice typical of YA fiction. At the end of the day, fiction is all about getting to know a new character. First person often (not always) helps me get inside the character's head.

In an attempt to find books with strong teenage male voices, without even meaning to, I ended up reading back-to-back a couple of gay-themed novels including Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

Before I complain about Aristotle let me first solicit recommendations. What are you reading that you recommend: gay, straight, YA, grown-up, chicklit, whatever? 

Now, after a big ole SPOILER ALERT, on to my complaints:

In Aristotle, Ari (short for the philosopher) meets Dante at the pool one summer day and the boys become fast friends. I loved the first half of the book. The two boys have distinct characters and their friendship reads genuine. I'm a sucker for friendship tales.

I was fine with Dante coming out. That was about as obvious as an electric billboard in Times Square. I appreciated the fact that Ari was OK with this, even though he was not necessarily gay. He did institute a "No kissing" rule though. As a gay teenager who wouldn't want a strong friend willing to stand by you whatever?

(One last spoiler alert. If there is the slightest chance you might read this book, stop reading this post now.)

My biggest issue with the book? In the end, everything revolved around homosexuality. Every subplot somehow tied into it. Besides Dante's outness, there were disowned lesbians and not one but two hate crimes. Then the last chapter had Ari's parents sitting him down and telling him that he was gay. He didn't figure it out for himself. His parents had to give him a beer and break it to him. "Son, given your behaviors x, y, and zed, don't you think you are gay?" And just like that, Ari realizes and embraces his new sexual identity.

I'm all for books that help gay teens see themselves and know that they are OK. And who wouldn't want parents as understanding and compassionate as Ari's? But a book that ties everything together using homosexuality is not healthy. Sure, being gay is going to affect many factors in a teenager's life, but it's not the only thing that happens. Gay teens need to see that life's joys and heartaches are influenced by factors other than one's sexuality.

In my opinion, the book would have been better without Ari's outing. Why not let him just be Dante's fiercest advocate and forever friend? Or just end the book without Ari making up his mind whether he is gay or straight? And if you must have your protagonist realize he's gay, at least spend a few chapters (instead of a few measly pages) with him coming to terms with his sexuality.

In short, it started out with so much potential...