Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sing Praises to His Name, He Forgets Not His Own

As Whitney and I stuffed our turkey today, we wondered who came up with the idea to fill the cavity of a dead bird with bread crumbs and onions and celery. I mean, it was genius, whoever it was...just doesn't seem like the most obvious of culinary maneuvers....

But a day of thanksgiving? What could be more natural than, as George Washington said Thanksgiving should be, "a day...devoted to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks—for His kind care and protection"?

In 1857, Sarah Josepha Hale, the individual most credited with making Thanksgiving a national holiday, wrote that a national day of Thanksgiving would create a union among all the States and Territories such that "the peoples of the Old World would thus be taught that freedom from man's tyranny brings us nearer to God—that, while rejecting earthly lords, we willingly acknowledge our dependence on the Lord of heaven and earth."

And what a dependence we have. But here's the irony of it all: it is through our reliance on Him that we grow strong. And as we continually demonstrate a willingness to rely on something more than our own arm of flesh, "God, our Maker, doth provide for our wants to be supplied."

Today, I'm thankful. For so much.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Wait a Second...

While chatting on the phone with my mom the other day, we were reflecting on my coming to LA and on the incredible experience it has been, particularly with the recent occurrences surrounding Prop 8. She told me that she had come across a passage in her scripture study that had made her think of me. I asked her where it was. "Amos 4:9, I think," was the response.

I looked it up and read it aloud:

"I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increase, the palmerworm devoured them: yet ye have not returned unto me, saith the Lord. " I don't even know what to say. Thanks, Mom....

She quickly corrected herself. "Oh, wait. What? No...try Micah, not Amos."

"For now shalt thou go forth out of the city, and thou shalt dwell in the field, and thou shalt go even to Babylon: there shalt thou be delivered; there the Lord shall redeem thee from the hand of thine enemies."

Ah. That's better.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


A week ago today, California voted on Prop 8. By a 52% majority, it passed. On Wednesday, the day after Election Day, demonstrators gathered in front of the Los Angeles temple to protest the passage of the Proposition, and specifically identified the efforts of the Mormons as the reason it passed.

I couldn't resist the opportunity to go check it out. It was truly surreal. My friend, Zach, who was in the area, came and met me there. We went and stood right in the middle of the mass to get an up-close-and-personal view of what was happening. At first there were maybe 75-ish people gathered in front of the temple listening to some representative of a gay & lesbian organization give a speech about how unfair this was and how now that Obama was president, he was going to help change this, blah, blah. It was pretty weak, really. Not largely attended and rather quiet. We looked at each other and said, "This is it?" So, we turned to leave.

As we turned and faced east down Santa Monica Boulevard, we saw a mass of people coming our way—filling the four west-bound lanes of the street. An estimated 3,000 of them. They held signs with the most condemnatory language I've ever encountered. (And they say we are full of hate.) They waved gay pride flags. They chanted and screamed rude things about the Mormons and the things we hold most dear. (And they call us bigots.) They posted their signs on the gate to the temple and wrote "Liars" and "Bigots" on the walls. They told us to get out of California because this is their state. (And they say we are intolerant.)

One guy climbed up on the base of the light pole and screamed, "My fellow Americans..." He did the whole "give me liberty or give me death" thing, which kind of offended me to have Patrick Henry's noble declaration used in this context. He continued by proclaiming that this was why our Founding Fathers had created the Constitution, that this was what men have fought and died for—so that the gays could have the right to marry. I could not help but shake my head and say, "No sir, you've got it all wrong." (Luckily, only Zach was close enough to hear me.)

I'm continually shocked by how misconstrued the intents of the framers of the Constitution are by people who clearly do not know their history. They think that the Constitution was created so that the people of this country would be free to do whatever they want—to act on their basest desires, if they feel so driven. This could not be further from the truth!

The Founders advocated freedom of thought and belief, to be sure. But they frequently acknowledged the necessity of religion to influence government and moral ideals to directly shape the structure of our society.

George Washington: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labour to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens."

John Adams: "Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

Benjamin Franklin: "Virtuous Men ought to league together to strengthen the Interest of Virtue, in the World: and so strengthen themselves in Virtue."

The Founders created a Constitution which would allow all religions to stand on equal footing. But they also created one which would allow the religious-minded to do everything they could to perpetuate the morality of their society.

The outcome of Prop 8, my "tolerant" gay friend, is a perfect example of what the Founding Fathers intended. The vote was put to the people and the outcome was influenced by the "Pillars of human happiness." Barely.

Check out more pictures, taken by a good friend of mine, and get a behind-the-scenes look from the perspective of an LAPD officer. Also, see the Catholics come to our defense.

Monday, November 3, 2008

♂ + ♀ = 8

So, I've been MIA for a while now. And for anyone who doesn't know why, the title of this post says it all. Here in California, we're fighting same-sex marriage. And what a fight it has been. I have been lucky enough to have landed myself right in the epicenter of activity. The bishop of my singles ward has a great deal of experience managing campaigns and, therefore, was called upon to help lead the membership of the Church in the Yes on Prop 8 efforts in cooperation with the Protect Marriage coalition. Because of his direct involvement, we, the members of the Santa Monica 3rd Ward, have become his foot soldiers.

It has been an absolutely incredible experience working with other singles under the direction of our Fearless Leader to preserve the traditional definition of marriage. We received the assignment from the Brethren to mobilize the Young Single Adults throughout California. I have learned so much. And I have truly been amazed as I have seen what I feel is only the beginning of the division that will form among the members of the Church as the world moves farther and farther away from Christ, and as we individually have to make a conscious choice. Do we "blindly" follow the prophet? Or do we consider ourselves more enlightened, more tolerant, more progressive...finding it too uncomfortable and inconvenient to buck the trend being set by the rest of the world? Would we rather remain inconspicuous and not, as an acquaintance of mine said, "make a scene?" I firmly believe this is only the beginning of the "scenes" we will be asked to make as the chasm between where we stand and where the world is headed grows ever wider. (Does Lehi's vision ring any bells?)

It has occurred to me several times over the past many weeks, as supporters of Prop 8 have been called intolerant religious fanatics, that "tolerance" is a dicey ideal to embrace. We would never be "tolerant" of a plague or a deadly disease. We would do everything in our power to protect ourselves from something we knew would so seriously harm us. So why would we not take similar precautions to protect ourselves, our families, our children, our society from something that we have no doubt (and that, in fact, we have been warned) will ultimately lead to ruin?

We are not against gay rights. We are for marriage and family. We are not for taking away any fundamental rights. Homosexuals have all the same rights under domestic partnership as married couples. And, last I checked...getting married isn't a "fundamental" right, anyway. (The opposing side keeps claiming that this is what Prop 8 would do
—take away fundamental rights. Where did this argument come from?) We do not hate gays. We do love our religious freedom and our right to believe that some behaviors have been declared by God as unacceptable. And we feel strongly that as the world demands that homosexuality become a protected class under the law, our religious freedoms are being put more and more at risk.

We have been called upon to hold the line, to maintain a standard, to proclaim that marriage is defined by God as between a man and a woman. No matter how unpopular our position, we must stand our ground. Even if the world refuses to accept a truth, that doesn't change the fact that it is true. Whether you like it or not, Mayor Newsom.

The fight (or at least this round) ends on Tuesday, but my fellow foot soldiers and I have all acknowledged to each other that we know we will be fighting this for the rest of our lives. Fortunately, we are so much more prepared now than we were when this began. Whether we win or lose on Tuesday, we know we have done everything we could do to ensure this passes, just as we were asked. More than that, because of our involvement in this, we are different. And the world will be different as we each carry this experience with us wherever we are called upon to take a stand—for the world will be spared, however obliviously, "for ten's sake."