August 2008 Archives

One More Reason to Love Buffy


According to a study discussed in a story published last week in The Telegraph, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is inspiring women to leave conventional organized religion "because they feel the church is not relevant to their lives."


Go figure.

Buffy didn't start this phenomenon--according to the author of the study, Dr Kristin Aune, a sociologist at the University of Derby, it began two decades ago, before Buffy was on the air. One million women, or 50,000 a year, have left their churches over the past 20 years. But Buffy helped show women an attractive alternative to religions that afford them little sense of the egalitarianism they value: wicca. Buffy celebrated female power, connection to the larger world of nature and spirit, and a disdain of hierarchies--all things inimical to traditional western religion. So they're bailing on it.

Write Brain

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With pleasure I announce a friend's new venture: Write Brain Publishing, "a full-service writing and editing company with emphasis on resume writing, cover letter templates, and business cards for everyone’s career continuity and transition needs."

Check it out!

Sponge + Starfish = Scallop?


I've been a little behind in my Spongebob SquarePants viewing.... OK, years behind. I have not managed to keep up with every last episode, though I watch it when I can: at the chiropractor's, the dentist, my sister's house. Recently, while hanging with my nieces and nephews, I saw an interesting episode called Rock-a-bye Bivalve, in which Spongebob and Patrick adopt a parentless baby scallop.

When Patrick and Spongebob first become parents, everything is great. They enjoy spending time with the little scallop, and take it out to play. They're so caught up in the joy of parenthood that they don't even realize how jarring they are to others. Out on a bike with their scallop one day, they pass a mommy and daddy fish pushing a baby fish in a stroller. The fish look at Patrick and Spongebob, and over their heads, in a bubble, in pictograms, you see the confused question, "Square yellow sponge + starfish = scallop?"

God Fought the Law, and the Law Won


I’ve been thinking, ever since I wrote a response to that dreadfully illogical, dishonest, hypocritical document published by the church to explain its opposition to gay marriage, about struggles framed as a battle between the forces of god and the forces of who or whatever.

The thing is, god so often loses.

Several apt examples drawn from Mormon history:

If trends like this continue in the business world (and let's pray they do), eventually the religious world will follow, and realize that you won't be successful in the world at large if you're homophobic.

Church Fears Another Marriage Showdown


In a comment on my recent summary of Sunstone, Chris Bigelow asked me to respond to this document from the COJCOLDS, justifying its attack on gay marriage. So I’ve done just that.

The document begins

Marriage is sacred, ordained of God from before the foundation of the world. After Creating Adam and Eve, the Lord God pronounced them husband and wife, of which Adam said, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Jesus Christ cited Adam’s declaration when he affirmed the divine origins of the marriage covenant: “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh.”

First of all, I must point out that the story of Adam and Eve is a myth, that it begins with existent human institutions and argues backwards to explain their creation.

Given the fact that the church cites as a historical fact a made-up story used to explain the origins of the world, it's hard to take any of their arguments seriously.

It's also hard to respect any of their arguments, given the way they cherry-pick their scriptures: after all, Jesus also said that in the next life, people are neither married nor given in marriage (Matthew 22:30). And he also questioned the primacy of biological family relationships (Mark 3:33).

The document goes on to state, “In 1995, ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World’ declared the following unchanging truths regarding marriage,” before listing a bunch of entirely subjective opinions regarding marriage, as a way to threaten and bully people who advocate for greater equality and justice for all human beings. The Proclamation makes many assumptions and assertions about how this or that must be the case because it supports this or that in the Mormon "Plan of Salvation." However, the plan of salvation is bullshit and has neither basis in fact nor any logic except that of a narcissistic fear of change. It allows human beings the comforting but false belief that the next life will be an extension of this one, and that personalities and relationships will make the transition to the next life intact.

The document further states,

Semi-Precious Sunstone


One reason I like going to Sunstone and functions of its ilk is for the opportunity they provide to dress up. One complaint about Utah Mormons I’ve heard from people I grew up with is that the Utah Saints apparently tend to be far more casual about what actually constitutes “Sunday Best.” I can’t speak to that with any authority, as the only times I ever went to church in Utah were A) when I was at the MTC and B) my second mission president’s homecoming. But I do remember that we had to have NICE clothes for Sunday. It wasn’t enough for guys to wear white shirts and ties; they were expected to wear dress trousers if not suits. Nor was it enough for girls to wear skirts; we wore fancy dresses and heels.

Getting so spiffed up was both a gesture to the specialness of Sunday and a frivolous and vain indulgence in personal adornment, and I LOVED it. This might make me sound shallow, but one loss I genuinely mourned when I left the church was that I no longer had a reason to get really swanked up every week. Not only that, but there was no longer even a reason to buy certain kinds of dresses with the frequency I’d needed them when I had to wear fancy clothes every Sunday. It was a real bummer.

So when I go to Sunstone, I dress up--not exactly in clothes I’d wear to church--not quite that spiffy--but certainly something a little nicer than I’d wear on an average day. And one of the ways I make my outfits special is with jewelry.

I love jewelry, especially big, dramatic jewelry, something that becomes obvious to anyone who knows me at all. And one of the things I love about Sunstone is that it’s not only an opportunity to wear cool jewelry, but a chance to acquire it.



I have a hangover--an intellectual and social hangover. I spent the last three days at Sunstone, and it was the standard mix: really meaningful connections with thoughtful people, new friendships, profound intellectual insights, and a few unpleasant social interactions. As usual, I got asked "So why are you at Sunstone?" in this angry, accusatory tone, as if I have no right to be interested in discussions about one of the primary institutions to shape my life. I think in the future I might photocopy this essay and have it on hand to give people when they ask me that.

There were many discussions of gay marriage, particularly given the church's activism regarding California's Proposition 8. You always hear upsetting stories at Sunstone: tales of religious and emotional abuse, profound spiritual suffering, sheer mind-boggling stupidity. But I was gobsmacked by the tales I heard from a California lawyer who is horrified by the church's homophobia. He said that each ward in California is told how much money it must contribute to the church's campaign to amend California's constitution to ban same-sex marriage. He also said that a member of the high council got up in a meeting and informed the congregation that Satan is behind all the efforts to legitimize homosexual relations, and that he frequently works in some really pernicious ways to get people to embrace things they shouldn't:

1. He creates sympathy among good people for the lives, hopes and unhappiness of others.

In other words, compassion is of the devil.

2. He uses rational thinking and logic to create doubt about God's commandments.

Or, to paraphrase D&C 93:36: "the glory of Satan is intelligence, or in other words, truth and light."

But enough about that. Here are a few of the cool things that happened.


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