Monday, December 31, 2007


Many times I have received letters from missionaries who were discouraged because a Church leader had promised that if they would pray and set a monthly goal for baptisms and then sacrifice and work hard and follow the Spirit, they would be able to call down the powers of Heaven to help them achieve their goals. Those writing me said that they worked long hours, fasted and prayed and did everything they could and at the end of the month they fell short of their goals. Some had no baptisms that month. They questioned their faith and their righteousness. “Please help me to know what’s wrong with me?” one pled. I wrote that there was probably nothing wrong with them, except that they believed that their righteousness could manipulate events.

Some LDS struggling with guilt about SGA have been told that if they were spiritual and worthy enough that God would make them “normal”. They tried to live fully righteous and in tune, received blessings, etc. and their attractions didn’t change. They then began to question if God loved them. They began to wonder if they could be loved by a Perfect Diety. I know that feeling well.

Believing that I can call down the powers of Heaven by my righteousness is to believe in magic. Magic is the supposed knowledge of the right formulas and procedures to tap supernatural powers to bring to pass what we want. I believe in miracles, but I don’t believe in magic. Righteousness and faith do not call down God’s power to your will. They give us power to do His will on His timetable. Jesus said, “If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.” (Moroni 7:33)

I have seen miracles. I have been an instrument in God’s hands to heal people. He has spoken through me, addressing things that only He and the individual knew about. I didn’t do these things. I was privileged to be part of the miracle. Yet there have been other times when I wanted a miracle. I pled for the miracle. I tried to be worthy to be an instrument in the miracle. But it didn’t happen. I asked, “Why, Why! Certainly God would want this to happen! I don’t understand.” When I am finally open to that Still Small Voice, it whispers, “You don’t need to understand. Don’t let what you don’t know get in the way of what you do know. You know that God loves you. He knows what He is doing. Be at peace.”

“Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things.” (Alma 32:21) God works within eternal laws which He will not violate or He would “cease to be God” (Alma 42:12). I am certain that faithful Lehi prayed that Laman and Lemuel would change. They didn’t. Was there something wrong with his faith? No. Can our faith and prayers affect the lives of others. Yes, but they do not take away free agency or violate eternal principles. Jesus pled that His cup of agony be removed and then submitted to His Father’s will.

Paul said, “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2Cor. 12:7-10) Did he struggle with SGA? I don’t know. But he learned to live with his handicap. I am learning to live with mine.

We don’t control God’s power, but when it is His will, it can flow through us. We do have power to listen for His guidance and submit to His will whether guidance comes or not. Many times we receive no witness until after the trial of our faith. (Ether 12:6) There is so much that I don’t understand, but occasionally His peace does flow into me bringing the “joy that surpasseth all understanding.” Then I know that no matter how hard it seems, it is worth it.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Well, the curtain terrorists are back. I wrote in a previous blog about my weakness with my wandering eyes in the locker room of the gym and how relieved I was when they finally put up curtains. Well, the curtain terrorists shredded them. The management has put them back up many times and gradually they all get shredded and torn down. Why do they tear they down? My only guess is that some are more committed to a study of the male anatomy than they are to individual privacy. If they don’t want privacy they could leave their curtains open. Most choose the privacy option, so the few force their wants on the rest. Some may say, “Well our government is spying on us and won’t allow us privacy, why should we expect it in our gyms?” Well, both are wrong! (I hope that the CIA is reading this.)

I hear on the radio preachers ranting about forcing businesses to use Christmas in their advertisement instead of saying “Happy Holidays”. They call for a boycott of those stores who don’t commercialize Christ. What’s the big deal? “Well, people are taking Christ out of Christmas!” I say, “Hurray!!” Let us worship Christ in our hearts and in our homes and in our churches. Let the Jews worship their God and celebrate Hanukkah and the Muslims celebrate Eid, etc. etc. Must we cram the commercial Christmas down everybody’s throat?

And so what that the school administrators cannot promote prayers in the schools! Prayer is a personal thing. I would not want to be forced to be part of a Muslim or Hindu or Evangelical Christian prayer or a sanitized prayer designed by the government. Some people are more concerned about forcing us to be a “Christian” nation than to be true Christians and tolerating people of other beliefs or no belief.

These same people try to control our school curricula and force us to teach creationism instead of evolution. These same people want a religious test for the presidency of the United States. I think that it is unfortunate that Mitt Romney is bending over backwards to try to please them. In my school Jewish groups are attacking professors for criticizing Israel for the terrible way they are treating the Palestinians. They want to silence these scholars. They say that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism. That’s like saying that any criticism of Utah state leaders is anti-Mormonism. The thought police are on the march.

So many people criticize the Muslims. All of my many Muslim friends are tolerant, kind individuals. They are far more compassionate than some of the Latter-day Saints and Evangelical Christians I know. (I also know many compassionate LDS and Evangelicals.) Muslims are good Americans, but the right-wing radicals can’t scare people about communism any more and so they are creating the Muslims as fear objects through lies and distortions.

So we have gay people in the military? What’s the big deal? These same fear-mongers stir up prejudice against gays and immigrants, and Muslims, and Mormons as a means to get support for their causes. And too many of our LDS get sucked into these tactics of hate. (My favorite bumper sticker: “Hate is not a family value.”)

I am tired of the fascist thought police who try to manipulate and intimidate our society for their own purposes. I feel sorry for them. They seem to be very unhappy people.

Well, I got that off my chest.

I wish you all Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Eid Mubarak! Happy Kwanzaa!

Monday, December 10, 2007


I heard on the radio today a Bob Marley song: “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.” It started me thinking of the many voices in my mind that have chained me down. The most insidious ones are those negative recordings that I am not fully conscious of, that repeatedly play in the background of my mind. They are often manifest through my feelings. These feelings influence my behavior.

For instance, my wife says something and I snap back at her. Usually I then justify my response by blaming her. But sometimes, I pause and say to myself: “That was inappropriate. Why did I do that?” “Well, I have felt crappy this afternoon, ever since I listened to ‘This American Life’ on NPR.” There was an episode that reminded me of a stupid, embarrassing thing that I did many years ago. I began reliving that incident with all the feelings of embarrassment and shame and guilt I felt then. Like a nuclear chain-reaction I recalled one related incident after another from other periods of my life, until I felt pretty crappy. I wasn’t snapping at my wife, I was kicking myself for being such an idiot in the past. It took introspection for me to realize this. Usually I would just go on being grumpy and blaming someone else for my feelings. But this time I recognized that I was a slave to those negative voices and started cutting the chains.

“WAIT A MINUTE!” I said in my head. “WHY ARE YOU BEATING UP ON YOURSELF FOR THINGS DONE IN THE PAST!” I recognized that background voices are telling me that I am a stupid, inadequate person because of the past. I could feel my Grandmother’s voice from the past saying, “Bad boy! Bad boy!” Flooded by feelings of shame, I was subconsciously punishing myself. Depression is anger turned on yourself. I turned my anger on the voices: “I AM NOT THE SAME PERSON AS I WAS THEN. THAT’S WAY IN THE PAST!” They speak back, “YES, BUT remember last week when you did such and such. And also remember when you did. . .” (They can always find lots of YES BUTs to throw at me.) I can give up and let them handcuff me and lead me away to depression.

Or I can emancipate myself by saying, “I DON’T HAVE TO LISTEN TO YOU. GET THEE BEHIND ME SATAN. THOSE THINGS ARE PAST. I AM FORGIVING MYSELF. I AM FLUSHING THE TOILET AND WASHING MY HANDS OF THIS STUFF. I AM FORGIVEN BY GOD AND CLEANSED THROUGH HIS SON. DON’T THROW THIS CRAP AT ME AGAIN. I AM NOT GOING TO LISTEN TO YOU ANY MORE!” I then pray to God for peace. I focus on my strengths and the good things that have happened in my life. With the help of God I emancipate myself from these chains. It doesn’t come easily. I have to work at it prayerfully.

But if don’t take the time to recognize the voices, they can enslave me. They become so much a part of my background music that I don’t notice them. Like the frogs in a shallow pot of gradually heating water don’t realize what is happening until it is too late I assume there is nothing wrong and blame someone else. Or I assume that there is nothing I can do. When I am feeling down is when I am most tempted to escape through porn or other addictions. This just enslaves me further.

But there is something positive we all can do. Take, for example, the repentant multitude after King Benjamin's sermon: "And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come.” (Mosiah 4:3) I know of people who have repented and been forgiven by God but still are beating up on themselves because of the past. The negative voices are telling them that their past sins have made them second-class citizens in the Church. They can at first fight those lies with the truth of the powerful cleansing and healing power of the Atonement. And then, they can identify and crowd out the negative voices by dwelling on the good stuff in their lives as Nephi did in 2 Nephi 4:17-35.

Society has infused many of us with self-punitive voices that say that we are “queer” or “fags” or “sinful” because of same-gender attraction. I bet if you listened carefully that each of you would find that those negative recordings are part of your background music. I certainly have them. I recognize them and then refuse to listen to them when they start replaying. I find it hard to erase them, but I can choose what I focus upon. I can focus upon the fact that SGA is not an action. It is a condition. It is not a condition that I chose. I am not evil or sinful. There are lots of things in my life that I didn’t choose and the challenge in life is to make the best of what is. I have many unique positive qualities in my personality because of SGA which I have mentioned in previous blogs. With God’s help it has given me the motivation and the capacity to understand, care and help many people. I focus on my strengths and God’s blessings and crowd offstage the negative satanic lies that would enslave me and drain me of the strength to be a powerful influence for good in the world.

The booklet, God Loveth His Children, says, “God assures His children, including those currently attracted to persons of the same gender, that their righteous desires will eventually be fully satisfied in God’s own way and according to His timing.”(p. 4) The Savior of mankind said, “If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.”(Moroni 7:33) Ultimately all of these negative voices can be erased and we can fully enjoy the Good that we have become through God’s help. In the meantime we strive to increase spiritual emancipation in the world and in our own minds.