Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Birthday, Birthday

In my mind, the holiday season begins during the first week of October. Three months of fun are initiated by my birthday. Soon thereafter, we have Melanie’s and my wedding anniversary, Creegan’s birthday, Halloween, and all of the obvious holidays that follow thereafter. The partying doesn’t stop until the new year. It’s the most exciting time of the year, if you ask hyperbole and me.

I’ve already blogged about my birthday, and I’ll need to blog about Halloween in just a couple of days. Even so, there are celebrations to report. As an adult, I’ve found it easier to celebrate my birthday in fits and starts. This year has been no different. Or, at least, I’ve used my birthday as an excuse to do fun things now and again over the last few weeks. Some of the fun has been legitimately birthday-oriented. Melanie’s and my good friends took me out for a post de facto birthday dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant, for example. They said it was for my birthday, and since they paid for my meal, I suppose they get to decide whether it was an official birthday activity or not. They said it was, so that’s that. But I also used my birthday as an excuse to go on a date with Melanie nearly two weeks after my birthday. Sure, Melanie and I go on dates from time to time, but this is the first time (since having kids?!) that Melanie and I have hired a babysitter and gone on a date that involved both a movie and dinner. That’s indulgent for us, and using my birthday as an excuse somehow helped to make it a reality. (If you’re interested, we saw Carrie, which was kind of lame, and went to Outback Steakhouse.) I also picked up the latest Pearl Jam album, released the week after my birthday, and justified doing so on the basis that I had been born. Can’t fault my logic there, can you?

Over the last few days, the focus has shifted to Creegan as we’ve celebrated his birthday. A couple of days before he hit the big 3-point-0, he received a package from his maternal grandparents. With Melanie’s and my consent, he opened it forthwith (assuming it’s possible for children born in the 21st-century to do things “forthwith”). On Creegan’s actual birthday, I had to teach in the morning, which postponed the family-size celebrations by a few hours. I brought home Donut Kingdom donuts (which Creegan frequently requests) and we ate them for lunch along with some scrambled eggs (another of Creegan’s favorites). We then headed to the Tallahassee Automobile Museum. If you don’t know, Creegan is obsessed with cars. He’s tapered off a bit recently, but he used to spend a good chunk of his day, every day, lining up the dozens upon dozens of toy cars that he owns. Melanie thought he would enjoy the car museum, which we once visited about five months before Creegan was born. When we entered the museum on this visit, Creegan bellowed, “So much cars! All lined up!” He was excited. According to their website, the museum’s “collection is always growing and changing; it’s never the same experience twice!” It’s not like I memorized everything they had 3.5 years ago, but I’d say it was pretty darn close to the same experience. The standout difference was that they did not have the model train exhibit, so in our case they actually had less on display than they did 3.5 years ago. Just sayin’.

Birthday package from Grandma and Grandpa.

Creegan fell in love with Green Eggs and Ham while in Utah this summer.  Grandma remembered and sent him his own copy.

Grandma and Grandpa also sent a new batch of cars.  Creegan quickly lined them up.  His face is a little goofy in this picture, but he's being very silly for the camera.  This is proof of his happiness because he almost always gets mad if you take his picture.

Donut, eggs, and diet root beer.  Can you even imagine a better birthday lunch?  Notice that Creegan's donut is turned upside-down.  He purposely does that to avoid the frosting.  Weirdo!

Creegan chose a 2003 Corvette as the car in front of which he wanted us to take a photo at the car museum.

To pose with Melanie, Creegan chose a 1934 school bus.  He then refused to pose for the picture and instead insisted on goofing around with Peter.  Oh wait, that's exactly what happened in the above photo, although the result there was a tad more heartwarming.

Just outside the car museum.  Creegan responded very enthusiastically to this star-spangled truck.  He was over it by the time I took this photo.

In the evening on Creegan’s birthday, our besties came over to help us celebrate. We had pizza, cake, and ice cream. Creegan chose the cake and the ice cream. Everyone seemed to have a very good time. Sadly, Melanie and I were not able to give Creegan his presents because FedEx had not yet delivered them. We had ordered a few things from Amazon and were given a “guaranteed” delivery date of no later than Creegan’s birthday, but nope. It didn’t happen. The presents didn’t arrive until the next day. On the bright side, with an early birthday package from his grandparents and belated birthday presents from his parents, Creegan’s birthday fun extended over several days. What a lucky kid!

Creegan deftly shoves one of three candles into his cake.

Eddie's and Peter's best friend, who somehow eats cake and ice cream without getting it all over her face.  Either she's having a lot less fun eating, or Melanie and I have utterly failed when it comes to teaching our kids polite eating habits.

The belated birthday presents arrive.

According to Melanie, Creegan informs her at least once a day that he is Sonic (the Hedgehog).  Hence, the Sonic doll.

Taking a philosophical approach to solving the jigsaw puzzle.

Creegan dancing around with a trio of belated birthday balloons.

And that brings us up to speed, with the exception of various Halloween-centered activities that have already taken place. I’ll write about those when I write about Halloween proper, which should happen soon. Until then….

Friday, October 25, 2013


As far as I’m aware, I’ve never somnambulated. Lately, however, I frequently feel as if I am in something of a stupor. Even as I write this, I’m on the verge of sleep. My eyes are heavy, and I’m very, very tired. I’d probably be asleep in no time if I were to lie down and close my eyes. Lucky you, I’m putting my blog above the basic biological need for rest. I’m cool like that.

So, what’s the cause of my lethargy? Lack of sleep, plain and simple. For at least three weeks now, I’ve rarely gotten more than 6 hours of sleep at night. Often, I’m much closer to 5 hours. Last week, I went several days in a row where I was topping out at 5 hours of sleep. I’m actually rather impressed that I’ve managed so well. But these last couple of days, I’m feeling it. I sit down to watch something with Melanie, and I’m lucky to go 20 minutes without dozing off. Even sitting on the toilet, I begin to lose consciousness.

To be clear, I’m not trying to complain. I could—theoretically—go to bed earlier than I do. But it’s not like I’m being totally frivolous with my time. I’m not staying up until 1 or 2 a.m. to party. And I’m not getting up at 7 a.m. because it’s fun. There’s just a lot to do, and our kids’ sleep schedule has been messed up ever since we went to Utah in the summer. It’s rare that all of our children are asleep by 10 p.m. Often, putting the kids to bed can take until 10:30 or 11 p.m.! Whether I’m putting the kids to bed myself (which happens two or three times a week) or I’m doing school-related work while Melanie puts the kids to bed, I don’t have any substantial free time in my day until the kiddos are down. That’s just the way it works. By that time of day, I’m desperate to relax. I need to do something to unwind. The thought of going straight to bed is very unappealing. If all I did was work and sleep, I’d be miserable. And so, I usually end up kicking back (at 11 p.m. or later!) with a movie or some TV shows. But even if I spend only an hour in front of the tube, by the time I do all of the other get-ready-for-bed-and-for-the-next-day things, it’s easily 1 a.m. And down the spiral I go.

On the bright side, exhaustion may reach a point where I give up on downtime and even abandon my schoolwork because I simply can’t take it anymore. I assume sleep will become my number one priority soon enough, once my body is incapable of pressing forward without some serious zzz’s. Until then, I’lkk oeep pllugign awy….k,,,,,,////////

Friday, October 11, 2013

Ben the Birthday Boy

I celebrated my birthday this week. A little bit, anyway. Despite the fun I had on my actual birthday, it doesn’t feel like I really had a birthday. It was so much more low-key than it usually is. That’s okay. The celebrating isn’t done. I plan to go out to dinner tonight with some friends, and we’re using my birthday as the excuse. I don’t even know where we’re going, but we’ll see.

On my actual birthday, the celebrations were as follows. Presents in the mid-morning, lunch at a restaurant, and then a movie date with Melanie. The same friends with whom I’m going to dinner tonight offered to babysit Eddie, Peter, and Creegan so Melanie and I could go on a birthday date. That was pretty cool of them. We went to see Gravity, which was very good. Although I didn’t walk away feeling like I personally love the movie and want to own it, it was an excellent film. It may be the best 2013 movie I’ve seen, although I haven’t seen a tremendous amount of films that were actually released during this year. We’ll see if it holds up as one of the best after a couple more months.

As for my presents, I got several. The first present I opened was a joke. I knew it was going to be a joke because my boys told me as much. They could barely contain their excitement at watching me open a gift that I was undoubtedly going to find hilarious. Perhaps this story is best told in pictures. I’ll post photos below, although I warn you that they aren’t of the greatest quality.

Holding up the first present I am to open.

This is going to be hilarious!

Punch line!

Aside from the gag gift (which was a clearance item we will legitimately pass onto someone else), I received: the latest John Mayer CD (Paradise Valley); a CD called Immortal, which features Michael Jackson music as remixed for the Cirque de Soleil show of the same name; two seasons of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia; a twin-pack of Home Alone and Home Alone 2 on DVD; three books; and a new alarm clock. The new alarm clock is especially exciting for reasons outlined here. One of the coolest things about this new alarm clock is that it automatically sets itself. You can change the time zone if needs be, but otherwise it sets itself. Isn’t that amazing? Melanie says this appears to be a standard feature on alarm clocks nowadays. Welcome to the future! Sure enough, the second I plugged in the alarm clock, it said the correct time. Pretty snazzy.

And that’s pretty much all there is to say. I’ll conclude with a few pictures. Here you go:

Two of my three books. The one on your left is a detective book whose story involves “every variety of pleasure, enticement, seduction, and delusion known to man.” The book on your right is all about improving your spirituality. Like any honest individual, I’m attracted both to sin and to salvation.

Creegan was purposely avoiding the camera, but you can see him peeking through just under Eddie’s armpit.

One more for the road.

The end.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

A Response to D. Kelly Ogden’s “Women and the Priesthood”

I’m not sure where I stand on the issue of women being ordained to the priesthood in the LDS Church. As free-thinking as I consider myself to be, I am hesitant to proclaim that women should in fact be ordained. I say that even though I can think of no rational explanation for why they shouldn’t. On an intellectual level, I can support the notion of ordaining women. If it were to happen, I would be excited and celebrate. But I don’t have any idea what God thinks about the issue. It isn’t clear to me that He wants it either way. Rationally, I don’t know why He wouldn’t want women to be ordained. But I don’t feel like God has told me personally that He wants things to change. And so, I don’t push for that. However, I am more than willing to push for the leaders of the LDS Church to give the issue serious consideration and petition the Lord themselves, as is their responsibility.

Like me, D. Kelly Ogden isn’t advocating for female ordination. Unlike me, he is staunchly opposed to it. He wrote an article for Meridian Magazine, which is not an official church publication but which caters to devout Mormons. The article, titled “Women and the Priesthood,” is quite the read. In my estimation, it is seriously flawed. I encourage you to read it so as to understand what I am responding to. Because I see so many problems in the article, I think the simplest way to respond is to provide quotations and then give my own commentary. Despite my liberal use of quotations, it is only fair that you read Ogden’s article in its entirety so as to understand the context of these quotations. That being said, let’s begin.
“While pondering about the statements and efforts of this sister [Kate Kelly, co-founder of Ordain Women], and other like-minded persons, some impressions came pouring into my head and my heart.”
Nothing said here is controversial, but I admit that I am bothered by this. Mormons will recognize the pattern to which Ogden is alluding. Pondering leads to revelation, often spoken of in terms of “impressions” that speak both to the head and to the heart. This is a theme repeated in LDS scripture, and Ogden plays upon it here (I suspect) to lend credence to his remarks. There may be a place for this, but I find it sly and manipulative in an article that otherwise pretends to rational argumentation.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s Church, and … He is in charge of how it is organized.”
So far as I am aware, most (if not all) of those Mormons who support the Ordain Women movement agree that the LDS Church is the Lord’s Church. They also agree that the Lord structured the Church more or less as it stands today. But there is a difference between what offices exist in the Church, what the duties of those various offices are, and how those offices relate to each other (on the one hand), and who is allowed to serve in those offices (on the other hand). It was once supposed that black men were not allowed to serve in certain priesthood offices. It was later decided that they could, and the Church has officially shrugged its shoulders as to why blacks were really denied priesthood opportunities in the past.1  To deny women the priesthood on the basis that God’s will must be manifest in how things are currently done is seriously flawed thinking. An official, doctrinal proclamation against the acceptability of women holding priesthood offices is needed if we are even to begin the discussion of whether or not it is God’s will.
“The Lord asks for our loyalty to Him and to His appointed leaders.”
The notion of following Church leaders is one of the most abused in Mormon culture. I ask quite sincerely: in what sense are we supposed to be loyal to the leaders of the Church? The only reason we have for heeding the words of Church leaders is to be loyal to the Lord. That is the goal. The goal is not to be loyal to the Church leaders themselves. This may seem a picky distinction, but it’s an incredibly important one. Consider the situation in which an appointed leader is acting contrary to God’s will. (Don’t think it happens? We’ll come back to that!) Should we do what that leader is telling us to do? If we trust that our loyalty is to the Lord and only to the Lord, then we can answer this question in the negative. If we think we owe loyalty both to the Lord and to His appointed leaders, then perhaps we should answer in the affirmative. Which is correct? The only time it is acceptable to be loyal to a church leader is when you’re not really being loyal to the leader at all. You’re simply being loyal to God. The church leader isn’t part of the equation, except as a messenger.
“I believe [the Lord] when He says, regarding His revealed instructions, ‘Whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same’ (Doctrine and Covenants 1:38).”
This verse is often cited as evidence that we shouldn’t question our leaders or suppose they are capable of error. There are a few problems here. One, the context of this verse casts doubt on the standard interpretation. In this verse, the Lord is speaking about the Doctrine and Covenants itself. He says that the promises it contains will all be fulfilled, “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” What exactly this means may be up for debate, but it most certainly doesn’t mean that anything uttered by a Church leader automatically reflects the will of God. Two, even if we take the more traditional interpretation of this verse, a person is only a servant of God if that person is truly doing God’s will. If the person isn’t doing God’s will, that person is not a servant of God. “Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:24). So, when a leader speaks, we can only take it as “the voice” of the Lord if what’s being said really is inspired of the Lord. And that’s not guaranteed. (Again, we’ll come back to this.) Three, it could be argued that if we’re doing things right, we are all servants of the Lord. If Kate Kelly is doing things right, then she is a servant of the Lord. And so, even if we fall back on the standard interpretation of D&C 1:38, it’s quite possible that Kate Kelly’s voice is the Lord’s voice on the issue of female ordination.
“Each presiding prophet, who holds all priesthood keys, may speak for God on any subject, and, as for each member of the Church, the Lord says: ‘thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments . . . for his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith’ (D&C 21:4-5).”
Generalizing the lessons taught in the scriptures can be a good and useful thing to do. But it can also be dangerous if you go overboard. If we try to generalize from the story of Nephi being commanded to slay Laban to the idea that all prophets should kill those who threaten the Lord’s Church, we are making a serious mistake. D&C 21 is specifically about Joseph Smith. It’s not about the office of President of the Church in general. This is made clear even in the scripture headings: “1–3, Joseph Smith is called to be a seer, translator, prophet, apostle, and elder; 4–8, His word will guide the cause of Zion; 9–12, The Saints will believe his words as he speaks by the Comforter.” At best, D&C 21 commits us to be loyal to the teachings and revelations of Joseph Smith. It most certainly does not commit us to follow blindly every President of the Church from Joseph Smith to today. And even if it did, we would have to ask once again if any President of the Church has officially declared that women cannot and will not ever be ordained to the priesthood. I’m not aware that any of them have. On the contrary, Gordon B. Hinckley, in an interview given during his time as Church President, said that female ordination was a genuine possibility. More on that in a moment.
“The Lord’s prophets and apostles in recent years have issued ‘A Proclamation to the World’ that teaches some pointed truths about men and women.”
People love to cite the Proclamation to the World. I myself enjoy much of what is contained in the Proclamation, but it isn’t doctrine. The LDS Church has made it clear what counts as official doctrine, and the Proclamation to the World doesn’t foot the bill. As such, it is not binding upon the members of the Church.2  Funny enough, those who insist that the Proclamation to the World is doctrine are themselves going against the official teachings of the Church.
“‘By divine design … fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.”
Here, Ogden is quoting from the Proclamation to the World. Though I have already rejected the Proclamation as official doctrine, let us entertain the idea presented here. What follows from it? Not much, if we take it seriously. If anything, it seems to imply that women and men really should be treated equally in terms of what responsibilities and roles they undertake. For example, I am a father. According to the Proclamation, it is my job to preside over my family. Also according to the Proclamation, my wife should help me do this. As my partner, she should help me to preside over my family. In what way? In an equal way. She should help preside over my family in a way that is equal to my presiding over the family. In what sense does this suggest that women shouldn’t be ordained to the priesthood???
“‘Why are men ordained to the priesthood offices and not women? . . . When all is said and done, the Lord has not revealed why He has organized His Church as He has.’”
Here, Ogden quotes LDS Apostle M. Russell Ballard. I may be beating a dead horse, but as I’ve already pointed out, organizational structure and who can serve within that structure are two separate issues. Those who petition for the ordination of women are not asking if the LDS Church truly contains the offices that God wants it to contain. They are asking who can serve within those offices. It’s a different question.
“I would surmise that if any persons in the Church have an issue with women not receiving the priesthood by ordination, then they are not attending the temple. And if they are attending the temple, they do not really understand what they are hearing and experiencing there.”
I’m not sure what to say in response to this. It’s a low-blow. It’s also very judgmental. It also seems to miss the point. If women somehow walk away from the temple “endowed with the same [priesthood] power” as men (as Elder Ballard suggests in another quotation from Ogdens article), then why can’t endowed women (i.e. those who have participated in certain temple rites) serve in the same priesthood offices as men? That is the real issue, anyway, so to suggest that in some implicit way LDS women have just as much priesthood authority as LDS men doesn’t help one bit. If anything, it exacerbates the problem, making it even more ridiculous that women should be excluded from certain priesthood offices.
“My wife said to me, ‘As a woman I don’t need a man’s responsibilities, too. It would water down my efforts in my own sphere. I also suspect that some women just might do a better job than some men as priesthood leaders. Then where would that leave those men? The priesthood expects a lot from a man. Let’s not deprive him of that service (which helps him acquire the Christ-like qualities that many women already possess).’”
There are some serious issues here. First off, what makes something “a man’s responsibility” other than our treating it as such? And what happened to women and men being equal partners in their responsibilities, as the Proclamation to the World declared? It’s true that whenever you put effort into one thing, you have less time to devote to other things. But that’s just life! And it’s not as though female ordination will lead to women serving as Relief Society President and bishop at the same time. So I don’t understand the “water down” comment. A woman will invest much more time into being a primary teacher or a Relief Society President than she will into being, say, a counselor in her ward’s Sunday school presidency (a role that currently only men can fill). In what sense, then, does it hinder a woman to open up the possibility of her serving in different roles? Ignoring that question, am I to understand that if a woman is better-suited than a man for a particular priesthood office, that is a reason to disallow her to hold that office!? Should I refuse to serve at Church if I’m confident somebody else could do a worse job than I? Would that be denying someone else the opportunity to serve and to become as Christ-like as I already have the good fortune to be?!? Is that really the argument being presented here????
“It is interesting that Sister Kelly would use the word 'agitating'—that she is 'agitating on the issue' of women being ordained to the priesthood. So, she chooses to be an agitator. By definition, an agitator sows discord and does not seek peace or unity, which is the foundational law of the celestial kingdom (D&C 105:3-5).”
This comment is made in ignorance. Kate Kelly uses the word “agitating” because “agitation” is the very word used by President Gordon B. Hinckley when he spoke about women being ordained to the priesthood. And what did he say? First, he admitted that the day may come when women are ordained to the priesthood. He then explained why the issue hadn’t yet been taken seriously: because no women were agitating for it.3 And there we have our explanation for why Kate Kelly refers to “agitating.” This oversight suggests, to me at least, that Ogden hasn’t researched the Ordain Women movement in as much detail as he implies.
“Anyone who agitates, protests, or dissents from important doctrine or practice is making demands of Church authorities (and the Lord) and is not being respectful of their plainly stated pronouncements.”
I’m not sure that’s true. A brief glimpse at the D&C reveals that many revelations were received by the prophet because others petitioned him to inquire about something. This pattern also appears regularly in the scriptures. If prophets are spokespeople for the Lord, then it might make a great deal of sense to make demands of them. At the very least, we can have expectations and voice those expectations, and we can have desires and express those desires. So far as I know, nobody in support of Ordain Women is asking that the leaders of the Church ignore God and cater to the whims of the people. They push for female ordination because they believe it ultimately accords with scripture and other teachings of the Church. I suspect that most (if not all) supporters would want (and expect) the leadership to involve God in coming to the decision they hope is eventually reached.
“To enter the house of the Lord, we must be interviewed and recommended, responding positively to a series of questions about our faithfulness in the gospel, our worthiness to enter the holiest place on earth. Included in the interview is a question about whether or not we sustain the president of the Church as the only person on earth who holds all priesthood keys, and whether or not we sustain the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators—accepting their role to lead us, and to reveal the mind and will of the Lord to us in all matters.”
Advocating for female ordination doesn’t mean you don’t accept the roles of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Speaking personally, I accept the roles of the First Presidency the Quorum of the Twelve. But what do these roles involve? In my mind, priesthood offices are defined by their duties and responsibilities. (This is the language used in D&C 107, which describes the various offices of the priesthood.) When I sustain someone as the President of the Church, I accept that the person has an obligation to fulfill the duties associated with that office. It doesn’t mean I think the person will invariably succeed in doing this. The Lord seems to agree that failure is a possibility: “Let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence. He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand” (D&C 107:99-100). Whether or not a person fulfills his priesthood responsibilities is largely up to that person.
“President Spencer W. Kimball declared: ‘No one in this Church will ever go far astray who ties himself securely to the Church Authorities whom the Lord has placed in his Church. This Church will never go astray; the Quorum of the Twelve will never lead you astray; it never has and never will.’”
Never mind that this quotation is taken from a speech given 20+ years before Spencer W. Kimball became President of the Church. The fact is, the statement simply isn’t true, or at least it isn’t true in the way that it is typically understood. Teachings of the LDS Church have been abandoned and even officially repudiated over the years. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have been excommunicated for apostasy, for adultery, etc. Brigham Young has declared many things over the pulpit that have since been rejected by the Church. He even implemented certain teachings into the temple ceremony that a subsequent Church President would declare “false doctrine” that must be “cautioned against.” That Church leaders are infallible in their religious teachings is both a dangerous and an unstable position to hold. I would say it’s doomed for failure, but the fact is it has already failed several times over.
“Don’t ever get ahead of the Brethren. When the word of the Lord is to come to us on any issue—social, political, doctrinal—it will come through His constituted Authorities. God’s house is a house of order. If something needs to be revealed, it will come through the priesthood channels He has set in place. Again, this is the Church of Jesus Christ, and He is in charge.”
I hope Ogden has just been careless in how he’s expressed things, because that first sentence strikes me as downright blasphemous. A consistent theme in the scriptures is that those who seek wisdom can find it via personal revelation. It’s true that it’s not my place to dispense revelation to the Church as a whole. But God can teach me if I earnestly employ His guidance. And it’s quite possible He’ll open my mind to understanding something that a Church leader doesn’t yet understand. This says nothing about my authority over the Church leader. It may be as simple as my asking a question that the Church leader has never thought to ask. Regardless, it seems preposterous to suppose that nobody will be given insights from God unless Thomas S. Monson, the current President of the LDS Church, has already had those insights. If that were true, then why would God “imparteth his words by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also” (Alma 32:3)? Why would “little children … have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and learned” (Alma 32:3)? Why would the Church teach that “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5)? Ogden’s remark discourages the seeking of personal revelation, which is a red flag if ever I saw one. Supposing we ignore that initial sentence, however, there are still problems. Some important qualifications need to be added to what Ogden is saying in order for it to be acceptable. The LDS Church has been structured in such a way that the Lord can address us collectively. Thus, what Ogden’s comment should say is that when the word of the Lord is to come to us collectively, it will come through His constituted authorities. What Ogden should have said is that if something needs to be revealed to us collectively, it will come through the priesthood channels He has set in place. I could agree with those statements. But I absolutely cannot endorse the view that any new information of a religious nature can come to me only through a Church leader. That smacks in the face of pure Mormonism as I understand it.

1 See the chapter heading to Official Declaration 2.
2 To be considered official and binding, something must be presented to the Church membership as a whole for a sustaining vote.  For more information, see these two articles:
3 See here: 

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Every Good Boy Does Fine

Guess what I did today? I went to my first piano lesson. That’s right. I’m taking piano lessons! A very good friend of our family teaches piano, and I’m now one of her students. I’m extremely excited about this. In my head, I keep thinking about how this is a much bigger deal than anyone (other than me) probably realizes. If you’re not in my head, you wouldn’t have any idea how often I’m thinking about music and bemoaning the fact that I’m not devoting more of my life to being a musician myself. There’s a very essential (and I think beautiful) part of my soul that is pure musician. I’m shy to admit that because my talent doesn’t come anywhere close to matching my passion. I’m sure many a musician would claim I am undeserving of the title they hold, and I can’t say I blame them. If I were a real musician—and that doesn’t necessarily mean a professional—I would play because, in a very passionate sense, I have to. I wouldn’t be able to resist. I would give my heart and soul to it. I wouldn’t ignore it like I do. And that is probably true. I’m something of a hypocrite to call myself a musician. Sadly, it’s not because it doesn’t gnaw at me somewhere deep down. I’ve just neglected that part of me. So, yes, call me a hypocrite. I’m equally guilty of reckless endangerment to a very core part of my being. That’s the greater tragedy, in my opinion. On those rare occasions when my musician self comes out—when I actually write a song or perform something for someone—I get the tiniest glimpse of what seems to be my real and true self. The people who have never seen that part of me—which includes almost everybody I know—have, in a very real sense, never seen me. It’s heartbreaking to realize how rarely I make a genuine appearance.

Perhaps the above paragraph gives you some indication of why I regard taking piano lessons as (potentially) one of the most important things I’ve done in my adult life. This is getting a ball rolling that I hope will never stop. This could literally impact and influence the rest of my life in a very positive way. That’s a big deal! I feel like I have just taken a significant step toward making my dreams come true. That’s a big deal! When the idea of me taking piano lessons became a reality, I felt like I had just gotten accepted into Harvard or something. It felt like a huge frickin’ deal. Is that clear enough yet? As a believer in God, I felt inclined to drop to my knees and thank Him for anything and everything that’s played into me finding myself in this situation. Nothing I’m saying in this paragraph is hyperbole. This is a big deal!!!

My birthday is coming up next week. I suppose I should view taking piano lessons as a kind of birthday gift. It certainly makes me feel celebratory. I have hope that 35 will be one of the best years of my life. It should be a pivotal year, given that I’ll either graduate or officially flunk out of grad school. Either way, it should inspire some good songwriting.