Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to school 2014

Back to school cookies tradition continues: 
Vanilla sandwich cookies for Maiya
Peanut butter for Ben
Brownies for Cora 
Popcorn cookies for Ella 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Questioning Mormonism?

Shout out to anyone in the Dallas Fort Worth area, join us on Facebook or meetup at DAMIT "Dallas area Mormons in transition" 

We are having some fantastic Family home evenings and enrichment nights ;) please spread the word to anyone who could use the local support. 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Questions atheists can't truly answer... Ok I'll bite.

Some Questions Atheist Cannot Truly and Honestly REALLY Answer! Which leads to some interesting conclusions…

from here

1.       How Did You Become an Atheist?
 In the very unsettling process of leaving the religion I was raised in and the subsequent sadness I set out to learn logical fallacies, biases and the method to determining truth not based on feelings. It lead me to skepticism and I applied it to all religions the same way I did to my own.
2.       What happens when we die?
I can hope that a lot of things happen but the only credible evidence there is, is that the matter that is "us" becomes some other part of nature.  
3.       What if you’re wrong? And there is a Heaven? And there is a HELL!
I would hope "they" or him or her would judge me based on my actions and not my beliefs. Infinite reward or punishment for finite actions is illogical. If that is how the afterlife works it is not worth my mental energy and I will do what I do anyway and enjoy the time I have.

 “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

4.       Without God, where do you get your morality from?
 The same place you do. Most religious folks I know do not consult their sacred text for every moral decision. Morality to me is a combination of treating others the way I want to be treated. Avoiding harm to others and myself and animals and nature. And asking myself if what I do is something EVERYONE else did, would this world be better or worse off?
5.       If there is no God, can we do what we want? Are we free to murder and rape? While good deeds are unrewarded?

Even if there is a god you can do what you want. Believers and non believers murder and rape. Fair secular justice is all we can aim for. Christian believers think those people are worthy of forgiveness solely for believing in Jesus.
 6.       If there is no god, how does your life have any meaning?
 It has meaning because I give it meaning. I feel meaning and love and accomplishment and enjoy the experiences therein.
7.       Where did the universe come from?
 We don't know. But believing god only moves that back one square. Where does god come from?
We learn more about the Big Bang and the Cosmos everyday. I am open to learning more about all of that. Religion? not so much.
8.       What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?
Bias, delusion, groupthink, confusion, motivated reasoning, false memories, etc. This does not further the religious person's cause because for every person who has had a personal experience justifying their belief there is probably someone else who also had an experience that directly contradicts that. Mormonism (modern prophet) Islam (no prophets after Mohammad) Can not both be true. But both sides have miracles as their claim.

"Miracles are culturally accepted false beliefs."
9.       What’s your view of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
Not relevant to the issue.

Dawkins is an expert on evolutionary biology. I learned a lot from the "Selfish Gene"
Hitchens - profound speaker especially in debate format.

Harris- fascinating information from his perspective on neurology. His book "Free Will" made me a more compassionate person.
10.   If there is no God, then why does every society have a religion?

We have evolved to patternistic thinking. We look for patterns even when they don't exist, our existential fears are comforted by the notion of a god so we look for notions of a deity to self soothe. Culturally we have also done this to solidify the group. It is pervasive and we indoctrinate our children to it before they even question. Its hard to go against that, so many don't even try, even though I would hazard to guess most harbor doubts.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Strengthen home and family?

A ranty post with all the feels today.

This is a perfect storm of emotions. The final crack of the whip  is still sounding through the air on the excommunication of Kate Kelly from Ordain Women. I listened to this podcast this morning and while I did not have a visceral reaction to her excommunication other than "how very very stupid of the church to do that" I was overcome with emotion listening to others describe the emotional violent nature of the church to women and questioners.

Then I am entangled in my own career/motherhood/'what the hell am I anymore' angst. I started last fall making personal goals to return to work and Occupational Therapy specifically. That led to continuing education, shadowing hours and crossing my t's and dotting my i's. I was done with national certification and Texas had received everything needed to process my state license. I reached out through networking for job prospects and got a JOB!! I was floored. Things were looking up. They were so excited for me to start I was calling the OT board daily and on Monday of last week a slightly confused but kind gentleman gave me my license number over the phone. I was so excited!! And set to start working.

Two days later someone else called to take my license away.

In Texas you can only procure a license one of two ways by endorsement (meaning you are currently licensed in another state) or by having recently taken the examination. The person who gave me my number over the phone was not supposed to have done that. I am back to square one it seems. I have passed on the job for now. I have also spent several days sulking. Which hasn't made for a fun summer for the kids.

I think its made all these frustrations bubble to the surface that I usually keep tamped down with moderate success. So I need to talk again ...

YES AGAIN about the emotions I've been working through leaving religion behind.

Many people who come in contact with the sticky problems of truth claims in the church decide to stay for reasons besides the traditional testimony reasons. The community, the culture, avoidance of ruined relationships, etc. I get that, I do. But the one I don't get anymore even though for a brief time period I said it myself: "I'm staying for the sake of my children"

I want to sit and chat (sincerely) with every church member staying for their kids.  I'm not bullshitting at all I'd talk to them all if I could.

The church is preparing kids for a world that doesn't exist really. Girls will grow up with no limitations anywhere besides the church for having a vagina instead of a penis. Personal Progress that seems more about preparing them for "home and family" than higher education and upward mobility in the world is not really preparation.

No one with friends and colleagues that are LGBT and can get to know them can continue to respect the church's position. Each time in history where the church meets up to social causes the church has been wrong and takes far too long to come around.

So here I sit.

I LOVE MY KIDS to freaking bits. They are hands down the best thing I got from being a Mormon woman. I was sort of self righteous about my open womb for Jesus on this very blog (I leave that up for humility's sake)
But now I am struggling to return to work. The license department tsk-tsking me that I didn't maintain my license. Saying "I prayed about it and felt I shouldn't" doesn't mean shit to them.
We gave over $70,000 to the church yet we have no retirement and STILL will be paying our own student loans when our children start college.
With six kids, our groceries rival our mortgage and our kids are only going to camp this year because of generous donations from the freethought community. Activities/extracurricular things for six are not really an option. I am floored by what our gas costs will be to go see family in a week - why? BECAUSE WE HAVE TO DRIVE A BUS.

The church prepared me for what I feel like now is a untenable situation that is not conducive to mental well being.

I filled two grocery carts to the brim today, I couldn't be overly concerned with organic or even healthy because it was more like "how can we make this money work for 3 meals a day for 8". Ella daydreamed outloud about being a lawyer and I thought to myself a few years ago I would have made some statement about balancing that with motherhood and today thought SCREW THAT.

instead said "that is an absolutely valid plan Ella." There is nothing stopping you.

I'm not raising my kids under any organization that thinks they know what god wants you to do and that depends on your genitalia.

My path is a bit set for me now, we will figure it out. I'll keep making phone calls and making the decisions that get me to a career of some type. I have skills man, and damn it people like me.
We will have a happy loud home with bologna sandwiches instead of organic smoothies. I'm so grateful that Kyle works so hard for his family. Others have it much harder than us.

We will do great. But my girls won't be doing personal progress that indoctrinates them into what it means to be a "daughter of heavenly father" They will get to make their own goals. I'm not doing that for them. And I'm sure as hell not letting a church do it for them either.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My Book of Mormon

Still an admitted podcast addict here, the line up changes over time and I move with the topics that interest me. I have slowly moved away from Mormon podcasts. Except when this one came across my field of view the idea made me laugh. An non-believer completely unfamiliar with the LDS church is reading the Book of Mormon, cover to cover stopping to add his impressions along the way.

So many cling to it (I did) giving it merit that if read with any degree of critical thinking is not really merited. At its core the Book of Mormon is racist. Native Americans are dark because of a curse.

Ancient Isrealites came across the ocean and had epic battles of thousands to millions of  people with steel swords. Oh and horses, and elephants.... I don't know that it can be held up at all without severe cherry picking.

With some twitter exchanges with David and a few emails later, I was interviewed.

I think I deserve a cookie for condensing my 'story' into under 2 minutes.

My Book of Mormon Podcast, Episode 16 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Benjamin at this moment.

Benjamin (or fine.. Ben) at this moment has all grades above an 85, he is well liked by his teachers and I am complemented often on what a good kid he is. Next year: HIGH SCHOOL!! He got his very own computer for his birthday and tomorrow morning he reports to his very first job. Here you can start working at 14.
I can't believe how fast this is going. We are so proud of him. He wrote this acrostic for his leadership class and his teacher sent me an email saying how impressed he was by it:

E ... Embrace Challenges with the strength and courage of a bull.
A... Accept punishments and accusations with firm responsibility.
G... "Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul." Henry Ward Beecher
L... Lie if you want to be lied to, if not speak with truth and honesty.
E...Every elder you see has gone through what you have so treat them with respect.

L...Learning to stand and tolerate insults is like learning to act as an adult.
E...Everyone can sacrifice time or money but only when you give something you love does it count.
A..."As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." John F. Kennedy
D... Drawing up the composure to not attack someone or do anything foolish is the ultimate tool.
E...Empathy is not about forgiving someone but understanding them.
R...Realizing when you have done something wrong and stood by your mistake is integrity.
S...Serving someone is not loyalty, but believing and staying by them is.
H...Having a good attitude is the key to having a good life.
I...I would stand and persevere anything for family and good friends.
P...Preparation is the key to success.

What does Eagle Leadership mean to me? To me eagle leadership means to be yourself while being the best you can be to get people to appreciate you and live a good life.

-Benjamin, May 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Life in Words, Part Twelve: Gender roles

My mom's story continues, this is one of my favorite stories of my Me-maw lighting her brother on fire, The memoirs began here, last installment here

when Janie was born, so was her chore list

The relationship between my grandmother and her mother had a very  profound impact on her interactions with her daughters.  My grandmother’s birth was seen as the birth of household help for Lizzie.  That is not to say that she did not love her daughter, but in the early part of the 1900s, gender roles were very strictly defined.  If Lizzie had had only sons, she would have had many beds to make and meals to cook.  Sons would not have been seen as a help for their mother unless it was doing physical labor such as bringing in wood, or carrying heavy burdens.  They would not cook and they would not have made beds, washed clothes, or ironed.  It just was not done.  But when Janie was born, so was her chore list. 

She would seethe with anger

  She often told of cooking when she had to stand on a stool to do so.  That act of standing on the stool at the stove was seen differently by me and my grandmother.  She saw it as a child being forced to do something before she had the maturity to do it.  She often told of making beds.  And it was NOT the bed making we know today of slipping on a fitted sheet, then snapping open a flat sheet so it could float down to cover the bed.  It was anything but a happy activity.  The mattresses were made of feathers and any depression upon the bed meant that the making of it had to be restarted.  Janie would complain about fighting to make the beds in the time frame her mother expected – no, demanded.  The only problem with this time frame was that it occurred when her brothers, or “the boys” as she called them, were out hunting.  They would then come home from the hunt, or from their morning masculine chores, and do what came naturally – they flopped down on their beds.  The feather beds.  The beds that their slim sister had fought to make perfect enough to avoid her mother’s wrath.  She would seethe with anger.  

blazingly clear

This went on for a few years until the time came when the man courting her, my future grandfather, heard her complaints about bed making.  He merely thought of a way to possibly  change the behavior of her brothers, by suggesting she take a cigarette paper, slipping it between a brother’s toes, and setting fire to it.  Sounds good in theory and would probably even work in practice.  If the brother in question, Audrey, weren’t such a sound sleeper.   So my grandmother, being a young 15 year old who had never been out of 20 mile radius, and in the absence of her suitor, made a decision without thinking it through to its inevitable consequences.  She took newspapers, wrapped them around her brother’s foot, tied them on, and then set the match to her innovation.  Yes, it woke him up.  His screams also woke the other brothers up.    While it made for a funny story years later, he ended up in a hospital, which was indicative of a serious injury in the 1920s.   Later, I chose to believe that it wasn’t as serious as it was described because as is the case in most stories passed down through the generations, the acts become bigger, the results more astounding, and the aftereffects more unsettling.  But there were no permanent injuries that I am aware of and yes, my grandmother’s true feelings about bedmaking became blazingly clear!