Friday, August 31, 2007

Q for the Eunuchs

"One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones
out of stumbling blocks."

-- Jack Penn

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Q for image

"The world is a great mirror.

It reflects back to you

what you are.”

-- Thomas Dreier

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Poem: At a Window

At a Window

Give me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love,
A voice to speak to me in the day end,
A hand to touch me in the dark room
Breaking the long loneliness.
In the dusk of day-shapes
Blurring the sunset,
One little wandering, western star
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow.
Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.

Carl Sandburg

Monday, August 27, 2007

Better Out Than In

My wife had a Cockney grandmother whose favorite saying, whenever she'd pass a fart was, "Better out than in!" Ah yes, this is certainly true, in both the real and analogous senses.

I had a really nice Saturday afternoon with my son-in-law. We painted my adult daughter's office in the morning, had lunch and did some odd jobs together around the house, then hung out for an hour or so in the pool. My wife had gone shopping with my daughter, which allowed time for just the two of us. So I asked him, "Did I do the right thing, in telling you two of my orientation, and sharing my blog, or has it been too much information to handle?" He said, "Absolutely a good thing. Speaking as her husband, this has been so good for my wife, to put things together and sort out some of her family questions from the past. Changing some of her assumptions has caused her to adopt a new paradigm for viewing the family and herself. We now have greater understanding and such respect for you and the Moho's in the bloggosphere."

My daughter has felt somewhat disenfranchised at times from mainstream Mormonism, because of her passionate feminist viewpoints, and so to see what some gay LDS people are dealing with in terms of sacrifice and faith has been expanding for her. She has been a reader of Feminist Mormon Housewives and the like, but the Mohosphere is new territory, one that she didn't realize existed. Some things come full circle: it was her blog-reading that piqued my curiosity in blogging and initiated my search for greater meaning through writing and sharing. And my coming out to them has helped her to better understand her emotional and attitudinal roots, and has given her a greater respect for both her parents and their individual struggles. This was my principal hope in sharing when I was faced with the "Shall I tell them?" moment. In a word, I'm glad I took the risk and opened up when I had the opportunity.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Q for the old

is a gift of nature,

is a work of art."

-- Helen M. Carrall

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Testimony and the Trial of Faith

A few days ago I was moved to reflection on my testimony in a post by Beck, "Can ye feel so now?" wherein he stated,

But "good" and "righteous" and "right" don't feel as "good" and "righteous" and "right" as they once did. Such words have lost their power and meaning. Why? What has changed?...Why can't my world be black-and-white clear and exact again as it once was? Will I ever have the unquestioning faith that I once had?
Or I might add, where is that straight rod of iron which leads to the Tree of Life? And if I find it, will I hold onto it?

Why should we care? Because a key tenet of our faith is latching onto truth, God's Truth, not man's truth. I wouldn't want to believe in something that maybe is true, or go through a bunch of denial only to find out it really didn't matter.

Relative truth, or the "Spirit of the Law" is so much more difficult to define and comprehend than the standard answers we hear in Primary, Sunday School and most Sacrament Meeting talks. Maybe I will regain surety of knowledge when I'm kneeling at the feet of Jesus, washing the dust off with my tears. But for this life, I have chosen to step off into the vast unknown space of hope, realizing that sure knowledge comes by trial and faith, and if I'm persistent, by revelation. I do this because the perfect mold of Black & White Mormonism doesn't really fit for me. The generic faith answers don't square with the scope of my experience. And yet I know God lives, I have felt His love, and the Spirit has confirmed the validity of the Gospel in my life.

One of my poems I published early on in my blog, Prairie Wind, speaks to the struggle we have in finding and keeping the Spirit alive in our daily walk, because we shut ourselves in and don't embrace the Spirit. I labored over this poem for a couple dark years, and couldn't get it finished until I moved out of the frozen prairies of Minnesota into the light and warmth of the Arizona sun! (No offence, JG-W!) My point is, we don't usually get our answers at the first asking, and we sometimes have to move on to new perspectives to realize truth and understanding in our mortal rear-view mirror.

The fact is, we change. We experience new vistas, new sin, new doubts, and new truth as we traverse through life. I chose to answer the angst in my poem with a veiled reference to the Savior's admonition to become as little children in seeking the Kingdom of God. But even this is not an easy answer to the doubts and fears that plague us, it is simply a guide. In our quest for conviction Beck asks the thorny question of whether our religious experience at church will ever again feel "right." I don't know. What matters to me is that I must feel right with God.

Case in point: of all the things that constitute party-line rhetoric in Mormon testimony meetings that I find somewhat discomforting, it is the phrase "the only TRUE church." I have great faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ because I have felt repeatedly the gift of forgiveness; I know the Priesthood is real because I have felt and been an instrument of its power; I know we have a prophet who speaks for God because I have felt the Holy Ghost testify to me that this is so. But don't ask me to smugly recite the 'only true and living' phrase because it doesn't fit my personal experience and observation. I have too great a love and respect for people of faith practicing other world religions, and know of God's love for them, to say something that implies for me that God doesn't direct and reveal Himself to them as well. I realize our church teaches people of other faiths can be inspired, but adhering to 'the only true and living church' for me runs the risk of being condescending and doesn't match my personal faith in God's universe, therefore I don't say or believe such things. I cannot imagine God's celestial garden being only red roses, not that they aren't "true," but that the diversity and beauty of His real garden of life is simply so much more wonderful and compelling.

So how does my kind of testimony stack up? Well, I might be accused of 'relativistic morality' or 'buffet line faith.' This assessment certainly hits the fan of rigid dogma as it relates to gay lifestyles, feminism or you name it. I know we can find ourselves outside mainstream Mormonism when we start developing special cases for our situation, especially if our belief system runs counter-current to recorded teachings by apostles or prophets. However, I think a relative faith, taylored by personal revelation can cope. I realize this kind of faith causes some concern to our 'straight' brothers and sisters for our eternal salvation, but this is our problem, not theirs.

How do you think God will judge the peoples of the world's diverse belief systems? I don't think it will be by Mormon theology. I believe He will judge and reward people according to their faith and love, the desire and intent of each individual heart, and as demonstrated by personal observance, just like us.

If I think God will show latitude in judging the diverse peoples of dispensations and cultures, shouldn't I think he would do the same for me, even under the mantle of Mormonhood? If I am willing to venture in my faith where others of the church are cautious, my only constraint is this: I should deeply believe that I am "right" in light of the Holy Ghost guiding my belief, and then I must live my belief with integrity, because that will be the measure by which I will be judged. Otherwise, my self-fashioned religion is only a convenient farce.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Q for friends

"Laughter is the shortest distance between two people."

-- Victor Borge

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Here is my supreme trial in life: consistency of faith and action. This is where I toil and feel most often like I'm coming up short. I'm sure I'm not the only one who struggles with this dilemma, but I take it personally. The crux of my dissatisfaction when I'm on the low end is wondering where the integrity of my heart is. The desire to pray and desire to feast from the scriptures are two crucial actions I have direct control of, yet I often fail to do this with intensity or regularity. For example, lately I've been much more interested in blogging than either praying or studying the scriptures. (Maybe it's because I seem to feel more interaction and feedback from the Spirit doing this than with the other more routine religious activities.)

Almost 2 weeks ago, "L" posted thoughts on a change of heart, which stemmed from the LDS Family Services' Addiction Recovery Manual, Step 6: KEY PRINCIPLE: Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses.

Admittedly, I struggle with the concept of healing, and was feeling a willingness to be exposed at the moment I left this comment in response to L's ideas:

"A Change of Heart...Bobbing up and down, as I tend to do in life, is the hardest thing for me to deal with in my faith. How many times will I make the same stupid mistakes and acknowledge that yet again, my randomness doesn't work or bring me fulfillment? It's hard to pray always, read the scriptures with real intent and maintain fervent belief when my behavior seems all over the board. I'm a perfectionist and I doubt I'll ever be perfectly happy with myself. It's not that I lack love for the Lord or that I don't try hard--I do. But carrying on with faithful desire, realizing that I probably won't measure up in the end to the Lord's standards, based on my prior performance, is the angst I struggle with most."

Now, it is my belief that to admit to sin and weakness is not self-loathing, but a vital step in the process of change and improvement. However, if we are trapped in a cycle of failure and self-condemnation, then we often don't like ourselves very much, and it's hard to have faith in anything. So, how can we overcome feelings of inadequacy, be patient with ourselves, and experience a lasting change of heart? At times it seems so overwhelming.

I think we need to be willing, have faith it will happen and accept the Grace that is already evident in our lives.

I also think the answers are in Steps 7 through 12: humility, seeking forgiveness, restitution and reconciliation, daily accountability, personal revelation and service. This is simply the gospel plan. Our overcoming will probably not be a "poof (!) then gone" experience for us. This doesn't seem to be the typical healing we see in the lives of any saints, SSA or otherwise.

Growth for me seems slow, like the dews from heaven. Yet I can look back on my life and realize much progress. But my immediate-gratification self longs for more spirituality, especially the rich spirtual blessings detailed in my Patriarchal Blessing. I ask myself,

"Will I ever achieve these in my lifetime?"

When I'm distracted with self-doubt, bobbing up and down between spirituality and failure, the answer is usually, "No."

When I'm on the upswing, grateful for my many blessings, filled with love for my wife and family and in control of my angst and attractions, the answer is:
"Yes, God willing."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Q for the simple

"I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all."

-- Laura Ingalls Wilder

Monday, August 13, 2007

Q for the Soul

"The Soul is dyed by the color of it’s thoughts.
Think only of those things that are in line with
your principles and can bear the light of day.
The content of your character is your choice.
Day by day, what you do is who you become."


I thought this quote was appropriate to consider, in light of speaking with 'no guile.' A key here is understanding our principles and not being ashamed to own them. And I really like the last line, because I've seen in my own life how I've evolved into the person I am.

Speak No Guile

Last Saturday I went to the Mesa Temple to be with one of my Young Men who was receiving his endowment. However, the temple was packed and I was unable to get into his session, so I decided to do initiatory ordinances instead. It's been a while since I've done this, and after 10 names, the words and meaning impressed upon my mind.

Earlier, in my post on profanity, I posed the question about what words are appropriate in expressing our feelings. I think I got my answer on Saturday: let us 'never speak guile.'

Guile. noun. "insidious cunning in attaining a goal; crafty or artful deception; duplicity. "

Nowhere in the definition of guile is mentioned the type of language or our choice of words in communicating. I believe the Lord is more concerned with personal honesty. Our self-righteous lips may utter no profanity, but if we intend to deceive others with pleasing words, then we have denied the Lord's expectations for us.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Chambered Nautilus

Many thanks to a referral in Bored in Vernal's blog, extolling the beauty of this poem, I have something of value I wish to share:

The Chambered Nautilus

This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sail the unshadowed main,
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.

Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
Before thee lies revealed,
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!

Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year’s dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.

Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap, forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathed horn;
While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!

– Oliver Wendell Holmes

At first glance while reading this poem, it came across to me as nice, but rather random. Why would this poem be considered so special to BiV? As I reread and considered, the poem began to unveil its beauty to me. Such it is with the gospel and with people who turn out to be good friends.

I had a vague image in my mind of the chambered nautilus, so I went and refreshed my memory. It is a curious being that floats and swims in south Asian oceans, and builds a lovely shell of progressively larger chambers through it's lifecycle, forming a nearly perfect equiangular spiral. This humble animal is a magnificent example of our Creator's genius!

The sophisticated beauty of this poem is two-fold: its structure and its deep analogy. If you go back and look at the author's devices in constructing the poem, you'll find that all the stanzas follow a pre-meditated pattern. The stanzas each consist of 7 lines, with a rhyming scheme that goes aabbbcc. Not only do the vowels repeat predictably, but the rhythm also repeats: the number of syllables in each line of each stanza follows the pattern 10, 6, 6, 10, 10, 6, 12.

Why go to all this trouble? First, the poem is meant to be auditory, to be shared. Secondly, it lends a design and exquisiteness to the ideas expressed. When I write a poem, like 'Skinny Dipping,' I have a general idea of what I want to say, but the exercise of making the words fit into a desired structure pushes me to word places and meaning that would never happen if I took the first random thought that came to mind. It is conformance to will that shapes the deeper meaning of the poem, the same as in observing the gospel's demands. And herein lies the creative and inspiring process experienced by poets, as well as Disciples.

The wonderful imagery and metaphor of Holmes' The Chambered Nautilus communicates beautifullly to me that we must move on through life, continually making for ourselves new 'temples' of abode, bigger and better, until one day we join the infinite. This is our doctrine of eternal progression. It inspires me to not short-change or discount my experiences of mortal life, but to learn and grow and plan to build 'more stately mansions' of my soul. The poem also lends the image of sealing off the past, that it is our present where must live; however, the empty chambers of the soul still serve a valuable function to keep us buoyant and moving on in eternity's expanse.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Profanity, would you like that mild, medium or not at all?

Yesterday I was definitely feeling edgy. I posted my quote for the day blog, but then later went back to make an additional comment because there was more I wanted to say... the stuff inside that was bugging me. I'm a creative, an innovator trying to make change happen, and at times I feel stifled at work because change is slow.

So, among other things I made this comment: "Just tell me your truth, I'm tired of bullshit." Later I read JGW's insightful comment, which was kind in admonishing the truth of not jumping to conclusions, that things are not always what they seem, and that we can learn from others if we aren't too reactive and learn to keep our mouths shut. (Thank you, John, you're right!) And then I felt a tinge of guilt for using the B word.

My wife gets a little upset with me anytime I let slip out a little mild profanity. There isn't a damn, hell or shit that I can ever say without an immediate rebuke or raised eyebrow! But I like to use these words for a little theatre, to express my feelings with a bit more passion. They have affect for me because I don't use them very often; they draw attention to what I'm trying to say.

Certainly there are various forms and intensities that can be used in expressing profanity. I tend use only the mild forms, like what I grew up with in my non-LDS home. There are more times that I think in such words than when I say them. I do get uncomfortable when I hear the Lord's name used in vain, especially if it's repetitive and intense, the same goes for the F word.

Okay, so the Moho blogs have talked in circles about the Mormon taboos of pornography and masturbation; how about a little profanity? When and where, if at all, does profanity have a place in our lives? We certainly encounter many such words in our daily world, and it's rampant in gay culture. Is it something that we should just accept and live with, or should we try to 'overcome' it? (That was for you, Beck!) And "flip," what about substitute words? Is anything appropriate?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Quotes for the day...

I'm finding it hard to come up with a fresh idea here in the Moho blogosphere. I mean, we have our pet topics. These are invigorated by our sharing individual experiences and insights. But, we don't usually post strategies on things like world hunger, global warming, or even whine about how lousy our current political system is (thank goodness!). Our tastes seem to be more personal and philosophical, which is really fine by me. As things come up in my life, I intend to talk about them, but I don't want to invent drama for myself, and I do want to have ongoing dialogue.

I love a good quote. Nice combinations of words or a singular idea is just what my bobbing mind likes to grab ahold of, and then another one, and another one. . . but I digress. I collect quotes that I tend to harmonize with, to remind me of the good and the true or the poignant.

So, I am going to start posting a quote every other day or so, since I have pages of them. Maybe I'll include an analogous photo, a short commentary or a question thrown out there, and see where it goes. Here's one I have posted in my cubicle at work, as a warning to all who enter:

"The truth is always exciting.
Speak it then.
Life is dull without it."
Pearl S. Buck

Monday, August 6, 2007

Take time to enjoy a sunset.

It's 'Monsoon Season' in Arizona. That means higher humidity and rainstorms in the afternoon and evening. While others complain about the overcast skies and occasional cloudbursts, I watch for the contrasting beauty of cloudy sunsets and marvel at how wonderful a creation the earth and sky are.

I hope you all do the same.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Poem: Cowlick

Oh please, do I have to bring it up again?
Some pesky little things ya just live with.
And long as I can remember, my cowlick
Was always there. Yeah, I didn’t wake up
One morning fightin' off a rough tongue
Caress from some overly passionate cow!
I wasn’t born in a barn, ya know. (But it
Sure would make a sweet storyline, though.)
Nope, I guess I came out the chute that way.

Yup, never asked for damned pointy-up hair,
Right in front, and refusin' to lie down and
Act respectable. Yeah, cowlicks can surely
Be kinda embarrassin' sometimes. I mean,
Bad hairs goin' the wrong direction aren’t
What you want to talk about with nice folks,
Except maybe your Barber. Shucks, I tried
Special haircuts, gels and the like, but it
Always liked to fight back, given a chance.

Now I hoped maybe one day, after a few
Years of trainin', it might somehow conform
To my persistent combing and secret prayers.
Nope, it never happened. My cowlick still
Insists on going its own way, so to say.
Just because everyone else’s hair acts all
Normal like, don’t mean my rebellion hair
Wants to grow anywhere but straight up.
Try as I might, it just likes projectile location.

So what to do? Chop it off? No freakin' way!
Why should a cowlick matter, anyways?
Guess I’ll accept it the way it is and enjoy it.
Actually, to be honest (for once), I’ve grown
Rather fond of my old friend, that cowlick.
Hell, it’s a unique part of me that demands
A little extra attention, but ya know what?
At least I still got a full head of hair, which is
More than some high-minded folks can say.