Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Gospel According to Homer Simpson

I love the Simpsons! When I was a TBM, I found the show very inappropriate and sacriligious, but now I love it. Despite being crude, it tackles some serious philosophical and ethical issues with witty satire (as does South Park).

Anyway, since "losing my religion" I have espeicially enjoyed the religious humor of the Simpsons. I find this article on the Simpson's view of religion with plenty of quotes that made me laugh out loud. Here is the link. Enjoy!

"Dear God, this is Marge Simpson. If you stop this hurricane and save our family, we will be forever grateful and recommend you to all of our friends."

Or a nuclear meltdown, begun at Homer's workplace.

"Dear Lord," Marge prays, "if you spare this town from becoming a smoking hole in the ground, I'll try to be a better Christian. I don't know what I can do. Ummm . . . oh, the next time there's a canned-food drive, I'll give the poor something they actually like, instead of old lima beans and pumpkin mix."

For more religion on The Simpsons content, look here.

Oh, yeah. My wife and I always like Bart Simpson's blessing on the food: "Dear God, We paid for this food ourselves, so thanks for nothing."

Much Ado About Nothing

After leaving the Church and theism, my priorities and values have changed somewhat. I mean I still value honesty and kindness and such, but much that I used to respect is no longer important to me such as I looked negatively upon less than valiant church attendence, watching R-rated movies, and shopping on the Sabbath. I can't believe how much I fussed over things that I now believe don't matter.

Personally, I would have absolutely no problem with my young kids cussing if I lived a society where everyone is cool with it. The only reason I don't think it is a good idea for my young children to cuss is due to the negative reaction other adults would give. Some people might advise, "Screw what other people think, live your life the way you are comfortable". But, I have found that there are numerous advantages to socially fitting in, and small concessions are worth the pay off. Although I still feel that those who have a problem with cussing are raising much ado about nothing, I respect their right to value what they value.

So, what do you think people fuss over that you consider not that important? What do you think people blow out of proportion or over-emphasize? How have your priorities or values changed since leaving the church? What do people consider a sin or inappropriate that you don't think is a big deal?

It might be helpful to think about what you feel is most important. If you think it is most important to please god, then it might follow that you wouldn't want to offend him through crass humour or by working on Sunday, etc. However, if you think it is most important to enjoy life and your relationships, things like laughing at Family Guy or working on Sunday won't necessarily be all that important in the big picture.

What follows was a guy named peter_mary's response to my post and it described so well my wife's and my position about premarital sex and alcohol that I just have to include it here:

This list probably doesn't qualify as "much ado about NOTHING," but it most definately demonstrates the continental shifting of my thinking with regards to things the church REALLY pounds it's members over. The reality is though, it has made me a MUCH better parent of teenagers, I find I can enjoy their adolescence and young adulthood so much more fully because I am not worried about their eternal salvation being at risk every single day of their foolish, inexperienced young lives.

1) I am not concerned whether or not my unmarried children are sexually active in the context of a committed but unmarried relationship. I AM concerned about WHY they might be sexually active. We talked at length as they were older teens and young adults about the importance of respecting the boundaries of boyfriends and girlfriends, respecting their "good names" and not manipulating anyone for hedonistic gratification. We were clear on the reasons why sex too early is a bad idea, and why casual sex is a really bad idea (for young, stupid kids...lots of adults manage this just fine, and I have no opinion on it). So now, instead of telling them we expect them to be chaste until marriage, we tell them that we expect no grandchildren until they're married. So far, they've done a very good job of managing those boundaries on their own, and they have relieved me from worrying about them being cast into the pits of hell for committing a sin "second only to murder" in severity.

2) I am not concerned if my underaged children "try" alcohol (and they know they won't be in trouble if they tell me after the fact). I don't worry that they will be on the slippery slope to impending doom. Instead, we talk about the importance of sober living, keeping (and valuing) clarity of thought, and the various risks that people have to be willing to accept if they introduce alcohol into their lives. Furthermore, I remind them that the LAW prohibits the legal consumption of alcohol until they are 21 years old, and I expect them to be law abiding citizens. In that same vein, however, we allowed our 18 year old to try whiskey, wine and Guinness when we took him to Scotland because a) he was legal there, and b) we encouraged him to join us in participating in the cultural nuances of Scotland. He handled it brilliantly, and returned to his tee-totaling self upon his return to the land where legal drinking is 21. (None of the members of my family express any real interest in alcohol, but not for moral reasons...)

Both of those issues caused me no end of anxiety as the parent of young teenagers, and I am an infinitely better parent for having let that go of all that "ado".

How I like my alcohol

I love margaritas, strawberry daiquiris, mojitos and hurricanes. I can't stand beer, at least none that I've tried, but I am getting to the point I don't even want to try beer anymore. I think why waste money on another beer that I'll taste then throw out, when I can spend that same money on some other form of alcohol that I either know I love or am likely to love. I do like wine coolers which are actually flavored beer, but don't taste like beer.

I love wines of all sorts. I started out with the sweet wines, such as white Zinfandel, then progressed to the dry wines (not sweet). I like both white and red wines, but I'd suggest starting with a white wine if you are new to wines. I also found that I really enjoyed mead, which is a wine made from honey. One can drink mead cold, in which it is very similar a white wine in taste and viscosity. Mead is often sold with a packet of spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, etc). One can heat up mead over the stove and pour in the spices and drink it out of a mug like they did in Europe during the middle ages.

My Advice for Those Looking for Marriage Counseling

Occasionally, I hear of couples having marriage problems due to differing religious beliefs.

While working on my MA in Psychology, I specialized in couples therapy. I suggest finding a therapist who practices Integrative Behavioral Couples Therapy (IBCT). Research shows that it is the most effective couples therapy out there.

You may also want to look into getting a copy of the companion self-help book Reconcilable Differences written by the developers of IBCT, Jacobson and Christiansen.

Allegations Abt Joseph Smith Encouraging Abortions for His Plural Wives

I am sure the TBM's who read this post are going to accuse me of spreading anti-Mormon rumors/lies about the beloved Prophet. This will be especially the case because most if not all of my sources are statements from those disaffected with Joseph or the Church. I acknowledge the possibility that the allegations are untrue. I don't believe either of us can declare definitively whether these allegations are false or true, but no doubt some TBM's will speak as though they KNOW that these allegations are false, which of course they can't know that.

So, why post these quotes? Because people deserve the opportunity to investigate for themselves and make up their own minds about it. The more I research things, the more I trust the word of the disaffected Mormons more than the Church Leadership.

Mrs. [Sarah Pratt].: "You hear often that Joseph had no polygamous offspring. The reason of this is very simple. Abortion was practiced on a large scale in Nauvoo. Dr. John C. Bennett, the evil genius of Joseph, brought this abomination into a scientific system. He showed to my husband and me the instruments with which he used to * operate for Joseph. ' There was a house in Nauvoo, 'right across the flat,' about a mile and a-half from the town, a kind of hospital. They sent the women there, when they showed signs of celestial consequences. Abortion was practiced regularly in this house."

Mrs. H.: "Many little bodies of new-born children floated down the Mississippi..."

May 21, 1886, I had a fresh interview with Mrs. Sarah M. Pratt, who had the kindness to give me the following testimony additional to the information given by her in our interviews in the spring of 1885. "I want you to have all my statements correct in your book," said the noble lady, "and put my name to them; I want the truth, the full truth, to be known, and bear the responsibility of it...

"Joseph Smith, the son of the prophet, and president of the re-organized Mormon church, paid me a visit, and I had a long talk with him. I saw that he was not inclined to believe the truth about his father, so I said to him: 'You pretend to have revelations from the Lord. Why don't you ask the Lord to tell you what kind of a man your father really was?' He answered: 'If my father had so many connections with women, where is the progeny?' I said to him: 'Your father had mostly intercourse with married women, and as to single ones, Dr. Bennett was always on hand, when anything happened...'

Bennett wanted me to return to him a book I had borrowed from him. It was a so-called doctor-book. I had a rapidly growing little family and wanted to inform myself about certain matters in regard to babies, etc., -- this explains my borrowing that book. While giving Bennett his book, I observed that he held something in the left sleeve of his coat. Bennett smiled and said: 'Oh, a little job for Joseph; one of his women is in trouble.' Saying this. he took the thing out of his left sleeve. It was a pretty long instrument of a kind I had never seen before. It seemed to be of steel and was crooked at one end. I heard afterwards that the operation had been performed; that the woman was very sick, and that Joseph was very much afraid that she might die, but she recovered. (Mormon Portraits I, von Wymetal, Wilhelm, SLC: Tribune Printing & Pub., 1886, page 59-62).


On the seventeenth day of may, 1842, having been made acquainted with some of the conduct of John C. Bennett, which was given in testimony under oath before Alderman G. W. Harris, by several females, who testified that John C. Bennett endeavored to seduce them and accomplished his designs by saying it was right; that it was one of the mysteries of God, which was to be revealed when the people was strong enough in the faith to bear such mysteries -- that it was perfectly right to have illicit intercourse with females, providing no one knew it but themselves, vehemently trying them from day to day, to yield to his passions, bringing witnesses of his own clan to testify that [there] was such revelations and such commandments, and that it was of God; also stating that he would be responsible for their sins, if their was any; and that he would give them medicine to produce abortions, providing they should become pregnant. One of these witnesses, a married woman that he attended upon in his professional capacity, whilst she was sick, stated that he made proposals to her of a similar nature; he told her that he wished her husband was dead, and that if he was dead he would marry her and clear out out with her; he also begged her permission to give him medicine to that effect; he did try to give him medicine, but he would not take it -- on interrogating her what she thought of such teaching, she replied, she was sick at the time, and had to be lifted in and out of her bed like a child. (THE WASP. --- EXTRA. Nauvoo, Illinois, Wednesday, July 27, 1842.)

"Did you ever hear of abortion being practiced in Nauvoo?"

"Yes. There was some talk about Joseph getting no issue from all the women he had intercourse with. Dr. Foster spoke to me about the fact. But I don't remember what was told about abortion. If I heard things of the kind, I didn't believe in them at that time. Joseph was very free in his talk about his women. He told me one day of a certain girl and remarked, that she had given him more pleasure than any girl he had ever enjoyed. I told him it was horrible to talk like this." (Interview with Wm. Law. March. 30, 1887; THE DAILY TRIBUNE: SALT LAKE CITY, SUNDAY MORNING, JULY 31, 1887.)

Could someone explain to me what is meant by the phrase “finding your truth”?

Maybe it is just me, but I cannot comprehend what people are talking about when they say it is important to find your own truth.

You see, for me, there is no such thing as "your truth" and "my truth", there is only the truth and it is the same for all of us no matter what we believe. Because I understand truth to mean the way things really are, and they either are some particular way or they are not.

Either Mt. Rushmore exists or it does not; it cannot exist for me and not exist for you. Now, you might not know it exists, but that doesn't change the reality - that doesn't change the truth. You might perceive it differently or call it by some other name, but it either exists for both of us or it doesn't exist for both of us. There is no my truth and your truth about it; there is only the truth, at least the way I use and understand the word truth. So, others must be using the word differently from me and I want to understand what they mean by it so that I can communicate with them.

Now, some things work for some people and not for others. For instance, praying calms some people down, but doesn't others. Meditation works for some, but not for others. But, I would never call that "their truth". It is everyone's truth that praying works for calming some people down and you might be one of them. So, the reality of the situation is that it works for you. That is the truth, not my truth or your truth.

So, for those of you who think in terms of "my truth" and "your truth", what do you mean?