Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Some Good News

The last post is kind of heavy, so I feel like I need to balance it with some good news:

1) Pinetree got a response to his letter to BYU and will probably get a meeting with someone in the administration. Well played, my friend
2) Pinetree and I are gonna run a half marathon in Vegas. We might go with a group and see the circus. Today I felt like driving into the desert. Vegas is in the desert.
3) I kind of got offered a promotion at work. I'm not sure I want it or that they'd even give it to me, but the fact that they are even considering me shows at least that they don't hate me.
4) My ward is really cool. Some girls in my ward invited me to dinner after institute yesterday.
5) Those same girls in my ward invited me on a cruise that goes to Florida, Yucatan, and Belize. I got the week off work, now I just need to convince my roommate to go with cause I can't afford to go alone. He's almost convinced.
6) Speaking of roommates, I have three. I am slowly moving into the new house of my old roommate. He's amazingly cool and his new house is equally cool. It's big and brand spanking new. We have a 62" TV, granite counters, and a dog. I have a walk-in closet (Latinstud would say "walking closet"), and a beautiful room. ATP helped me decorate the room. He should major in interior design.
7) Speaking of ATP, he's helping me redo my wardrobe to go with the new house. I've discovered the miracle that is Guess jeans and a new Sunday get-up from Express for Men. He also made me buy my first ever cologne--Chemistry by Clinique. Maybe I'll wear it someday. So thanks ATP.
8) And speaking more of ATP, he introduced me to Costa Vida which is now approximately 1/7 of all my food intake. The rest is V8 (I know, gross), peanut butter granola bars, Dole Fruit Juice, and Campbell's Select Taco soup.
9) Somehow on that diet, I've managed to get a disgusting little belly. I'm gonna work on getting rid of that.
10) I'm at my old apartment right now cause my new place doesn't have internet yet. It smells like cigarettes here. My new place smells better. We're getting the internet tomorrow. Yay.

The Lost Son

"But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him."

There’s a feeling that I’m experiencing now. Unfortunately I’ve felt it before and I’ll probably feel it again. This feeling is a good feeling. It’s the stuff leading up to it that I hate. I really can’t explain the stuff that’s got me feeling like this so I’ll just use this scriptural analogy and maybe that will help:

If I were part of Lehi’s vision, I would be one of the people in the mist of darkness. Having once been confidently progressing along the rod, in a moment of weakness, I abandoned its path and sprinted foolhardily down slippery slopes, through bog and briars in search of some great and spacious building.
I was never stupid enough to believe the building could offer satisfaction like the fruit from the tree, but I thought for a minute that the building was closer, easier, and would be enough. It doesn’t take long after leaving the path along the iron rod to realize that the spacious building is an unreachable, empty illusion. There are a couple hellish moments where I realize that I am utterly alone. It’s cold, wet, and I feel so foolish. I feel like I just got ripped off by a con artist or like I just wrecked a new car--just entirely wasted. For a time I crouch there, trying pathetically to warm myself. The laughter and shouts from the spacious building echo in my harrowed mind. Those moments are the worst. It’s the moment where I feel totally helpless; out of reach of any goal.
It wouldn’t take long in that place until I’d start looking for ways to end my life. Fortunately, the memories of the iron rod are fresh in my memory and, having hit bottom, I eventually come to my senses, let go of my pride, and look up. The tree is hopelessly far away and steep, muddy slopes, rivers, and briars now separate me from it. Still, just looking at it gives me some direction. That glimpse is enough for me to set my course. The way toward the tree looks hellish, but I try to remember that it’s hell that I’m leaving and heaven that I’m chasing. Slowly, agonizingly, I crawl toward it.
Everything changes in that moment when I set my gaze upward and begin my journey home. It doesn’t take long for me to see angels rushing to my rescue. The arm of the High Priest of Good Things to Come reaches out to me and He gladly, lovingly offers to take my hand and lead me. When I’m tired, he will give me rest. He will light a path and direct me step by step back through the muddy streams and up the slippery slopes, back to the path. I am filled with hope. If I stay with Him (why would I leave?), He will see me through until I have tasted the fruit of the tree. There I will recognize my childhood home and feel my Father’s loving embrace and realize it was well worth the journey.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Soulforce II

I saw this at work in today's Tribune and it seriously bothered me so much that I called some friends to vent and I had to come home at lunch to post this and vent some more:

"Arrested last time
Gay-rights group plans BYU encore
But the university doesn't want them back, as individuals or a group

By Todd Hollingshead
The Salt Lake Tribune
PROVO - The Soulforce Equality Riders are coming back to Brigham Young University this year, and they are doubling their efforts.
The gay-rights advocacy group - which saw 29 of its members peacefully arrested last year at BYU - plans to return to Provo on March 21-22 and make an additional stop April 16-17 at BYU-Idaho in Rexburg.
The two stops are part of a beefed-up two-month, two-bus nationwide tour during which 56 Soulforce members will visit 34 colleges they allege discriminate against homosexuals.
Last year's Equality Ride featured 19 stops, one bus and 33 riders.
"If at all possible, I don't want to see [arrests] happen again," said former BYU student Matthew Kulisch, who joined Soulforce during last year's visit and is organizing the Provo stop. "It's not something the BYU and Utah communities understand very well."
Kulisch and roommate Emil Pohlig are two of five students who were disciplined by the LDS Church-owned university for their involvement in last year's protests.
Neither was kicked out, but the two friends have since transferred to the University of Utah and will be a part of this year's U.S. tour, which starts March 1.
"We want to get the word out and get more people involved," Pohlig said.
Soulforce Equality Riders were allowed on BYU's campus last year to speak with students individually, but administrators warned they would be escorted away if they attempted to assemble and use the campus as a public forum.
Several Equality Riders let administrators know they intended to break school policies and subsequently were arrested for civil disobedience. BYU administrators said Monday they will not allow a repeat performance.
"[Last year] they made it very clear that their intent was to be arrested," said BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins. "In seeing that, we have let them know they will not be welcomed on our campus as a group or individuals."
Equality Riders also were arrested at Liberty University, Regent University, the Air Force Academy and the U.S. Military Academy during last year's tour. Jenkins said BYU policy prohibits any outside organization from using the private, LDS Church-owned campus as a public forum.
"We have responded to Soulforce as we would to any organization or group that wants to use our campus," Jenkins said. "We don't change our practices to accommodate any particular organization."
Kulisch said Soulforce has some special events planned for the BYU stop. The group already has distributed an e-mail soliciting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender current or former BYU students to air their grievances with the school.
Soulforce plans to create a "list of concerns" about unequal treatment and present it to administrators. They also will submit it as part of an official complaint to be filed with the accreditation office at the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
The group also plans to stage a six-hour march around the edge of the Provo campus with hope of invoking shades of the biblical story of the walls of Jericho.
"We see a disconnect in [LDS] Church doctrine and how that doctrine is put into practice at BYU," said Kulisch, who during last year's visit declared he was gay. "But, in the end, this isn't really about BYU, it's about equality.""

There are a lot of things that bother me about this. I want to have open dialogue about what it means to be gay or same sex attracted. I especially want to see this dialogue happen in the context of the church and BYU. I think there really is a possibility for the church and its institutions like BYU to become safe places for people like us. I'm opposed to Soulforce's methods and focus. Their methods are designed to attract liberal media attention in ways that make great sound bites but perpetuate a false view of reality. Discussion and education need to be a bigger part of their methods. Their focus is on universal acceptance (even approval) of a gay lifestyle. That idea is deeply flawed. It is especially arrogant ofSoulforce to come to BYU in a spirit of total intolerance and disapproval of BYU and the church and accuse us of intolerance and to demand that the church and BYU organizationally approve of man on man and woman on woman action. Last year I really wanted Soulforce to listen to me as a gay Mormon at BYU. They didn't.
I'm sorry that the one group of people willing to put themselves out and get people talking about these issues seem to only make things worse. Maybe this year will be better.
I'll write a coherent post later. For now, check out my thoughts on Soulforce's visit last year, check out: The Error of My Ways