Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Case for Abstinence–Part 1

I am not one to be placated to or one that easily accepts simple answers for challenging problems.  I suspect that is what brought me to consider this topic a bit….well and that abstinence creates misery and I am in a bit of misery right now.  In order to endure self-inflicted misery, in which sexual abstinence most assuredly is, there must be some future gain that can justify our current deprivation.  I have given this topic a bit of thought and I think I have reached a justification that is a bit more than what we have heretofore heard.  I will try to express this here.  This is a thought, and while the premise can be fairly simple it is the journey to that premise that is of value to me.  There is always a bit of a challenge for me in translating thought into words, so please excuse any confusion that I may cause, however rest assured I will do my best.

I find it somewhat miraculous that still today, despite societal pressures, the predominant message from most religious corners is abstinence from sex between a man and a woman outside of the bonds of matrimony.  Unfortunately we have also heard the same justifications for abstinence as our ancestors have for as long as scriptures were recorded; God commands us to be chaste, we don’t want to get diseases (though this reason may be a bit more modern), and of course we certainly want to avoid having children before we are in a position to be responsible for them. Unlike those of much earlier generations we have the ability to curtail many of these ills and still enjoy an occasional frolic in the hay.  Science has done wonders with contraception and the almighty condom is a barrier to the most nasty of bugs, provided we use them.  Since I am a religious man the only case for abstinence that I struggle with is that God commands us to be chaste.  Unfortunately many religions don’t enforce a chastity doctrine and therefore they deprive their members of the blessings that come with abstinence.

I know that God operates on a set of rules.  There has not been one rule that God has commanded us that has not been for our benefit.  What then is the benefit?  For this post I do not plan to use the traditional justifications for abstinence, but instead focus on our human nature.  Writing this is also for my benefit since I am no expert in abstinence…though I am making a good go of it.

Let me begin by stressing that God didn’t make a commandment not to fornicate.  Yes, there are a great many religious leaders who try to claim that it is rolled into one of the 10 commandment, specifically the one about adultery, but that is a bit of a stretch.  Yes, God wants us to be chaste and that is clearly written in the bible, but that requirement didn’t make it into the 10 commandments.  Consider this fact for a moment and I ask you to do so only so that you may not judge others or yourselves too harshly.  I suspect that the reason God left that out of those stone tables was because at many points in history those who were in violation of that text have been exposed to heinous punishments by the zealots who found themselves in power.  For these zealots it is much easier to rule on the adherence to the law instead of exercising mercy.  If God wanted the human race to prevail there would have to be some leniency on the topic.

Why then this law?  The reasons thus far have focused on all on the physical self; diseases and pregnancy, but have thus far failed to examine the psychological and spiritual justifications for abstinence.  I believe that it is here where our answer lies and it is here where we will derive the most benefit, especially from those who are predisposed to seeking intimacy.

In our examination let us start with the man.  I am a man and so I tend to have a little bit more experience in this area than with the female side.  I will begin by stating that most men want sex, it is part of us.  We are programmed that way to one degree or another.  We wanted sex from puberty until whenever we have erectile dysfunctional issues…and even then Viagra has allowed us to keep the love in our relationship so to speak.  If you do not believe me, consider that billions of dollars in our society are focused on men having sex and feeding that innate carnal desire.  Movies are geard toward this, magazines at the checkout counter, drugs, and all the various forms of pornography.  Keep in mind that there is a spectrum here; some men have a high sex drive, while others are a bit more moderate to perhaps not even wanting it at all.  By and large, however, the man’s desire for sex drives much of what we think of normal in our society.  In our younger years it motivates us to look better, to be smarter, to achieve more so that we can eventually impress the opposite sex.  The only reason to get the hot car is to get the hot babe!  Some men have this motivation built in, and that is fine, but others need a motivator…and that motivator is the beautiful girl sitting in front of you in 5th period Social Studies.  We treat our spouses to a nice evening so that we can have sex.  In the extremes, especially in deprivation through normal social avenues, it causes us to engage in less savory endeavors such as prostitution or pornography.  Kingdoms have fallen because of a man’s desire to have sex with a particular women.

I will take the societal dependency on the man’s libido a step further by stating that if it were not for the hope of readily available sex after matrimony many of us men would curtail the ritual altogether.  Marriage is a contract that generally benefits the woman.  What is the payoff of agreeing to take care of another person for the rest of your life?  To take on the responsibility of children?  Of course any woman reading this will immediately exclaim that men get married because they want to be with the person you love.  Yes, many men (including myself) are also interested in sharing my life with someone who has a similar mental aptitude, having someone to do things with, and someone who can make me a better person…a companion.  But consider that all of those functions work well outside of matrimony and without the responsibility that are incurred with marriage.  I would dare say that for most men sharing the mind and spirit is not enough of a motivator for matrimony.  It is only the intimacy which must be curtailed outside of marriage, and thus it is the promise of intimacy which tips the cards in favor of the man wanting to spend his life with a woman, to take on the burdens of matrimony.   Thus the very institution of marriage is dependent upon the man or woman receiving sex guilt free after matrimony so that they can share their lives together.

Today I see many people who have found a certain happiness in being in a relationship for long periods of time outside of marriage.  They exist in a “friends with benefits” arrangement or live together for many years as a couple without any desire for matrimony.  Marriage to them is an outdated construct that bears significant risk to either party in the event of a divorce.  While religious leaders would decry such action, there is a certain benefit to this arrangement; without any exit barriers to the relationship both parties must continuously put effort into the relationship in order to keep it alive.  If one becomes lazy in the relationship then it is quite easy for them to be replaced.  Oh if only people who were married felt the same way in their relationship, but all too often people tend to get lazy and rely on the contract to keep their marriage together instead of working to please each other in the relationship.

In summary, in order for the practice of marriage to exist there must be a motivator.  That motivator is to allow men and women to exercise their carnal desires only within the constructs of a matrimonial contract.  I know that this didn’t sound much like an argument for abstinence in this post, but I felt that understanding this groundwork is necessary.  I will elaborate more in my next.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Divorce Finality: Part 1

There is no joy in terminating a marriage, even one which love failed years ago and the expectation of finality has been anticipated during months of a long separation. The loss of what once was and what could have been is a burden that all must endure who travel this unfortunate path. Of course the joys of a long lasting marriage probably never could have been because one party, or both, was unwilling to yield their pride to allow true happiness to flourish. However, no matter what happens in the future or what joy may come the realization of that holistic family where the joys of parenthood are shared equitably between both parents is forever lost. New joys will come, but they will be different. The future will have challenges. The simplicity and innocence of one’s first marriage can never return.
The statistic of divorce is somewhat misleading because it is more than 25% of American’s choose this path, an equivalent 25% of the population have this decision imposed upon them, and the remaining 50% maintain their marriage. I am of the camp where divorce was imposed upon me. The mediation settlement was last month in which my former spouse and I reached an accord. My frustration was mixed; one was towards my former spouse for some of her actions during the divorce and the other was towards my attorney. In regards to my attorney, before the mediation my ex submitted a proposal for settlement. After review I thought the amount was a bit high, however I forwarded the proposal to my attorney for assessment. He agreed and sent back a quick calculation of what he thought it should be. At the mediation our mediator, who was a former Judge and Commissioner, exclaimed that my ex’s initial offer was fair. My attorney instantly agreed, but it was too late and the amount I will need to pay exceeds my ex’s original proposal. My attorney’s poor counsel will cost me an extra $200 per month for 3.5 years in addition to the thousands for legal costs during the mediation. Thanks buddy!
The finality of the divorce: Rebuilding
In the end I do feel that the initial decision to get an attorney was a faulty one. Something that could have been mediated peacefully was turned into something quite ugly. To be sure I will need to live on about 50% of my income. With this I will need to pay down our joint debts, find an establishment in which to reside, provide for some level of interaction with my children, establish new relationships, and provide for my various living expenses. This will be a challenge to be sure, one which will place me in very modest living conditions. But I see this to be healthy. I will bind myself to the law of fiscal discipline. I am debating on whether I should consider pay tithing in the future. The lessons of frugality that I will learn during these next 3.5 years while I pay for spousal maintenance will be with me for the rest of my life. My patterns and habits will change and I will need to learn to enjoy life on significantly less than I earn. I will also need to have faith that I will not have too many unexpected expenses. Likewise, mentally, I cannot lose the ambition which brought me to this point in my life. I seek to regain the financial losses that I incurred. Within the next 3.5 years if I can learn to live frugally, pay off all debt, and increase my income so that my monthly take home is what it was prior to the divorce then I will be in a wonderful financial position at the end of such time. This, therefore, is an opportunity to have an incentive to do more without having too much stress…such as being out of employment.
In contrast, my ex will avoid such discomfort in her life. She is living with her parents which is helpful and alleviates her from many of the responsibilities which she ardently tried to avoid while we were married. While the help is wonderful the downside is the very help that they offer. It is a two edged sword. Parents are in such difficult positions; on the one had they want to help their children succeed by offering help to get them on their feet, yet on the other sometimes the help the children need is the opportunity to struggle. So, my ex-wife has the help that she wants and plans on going to college during this next 3.5 years. Her parents will watch my children as needed when she goes to class or when she goes on a date. Her parents will continue to purchase groceries for everyone living in their household and my ex will not compensate them adequately for their expenses. At the end of the day, however, she will have learned to spend money freely because her survival does not depend on her fiscal responsibility, but instead that of her parents. Likewise, she will not have learned to work and be responsible in the home. She will drive her car into the ground and immediately purchase a new or quite newer vehicle that she really does not have the money to afford. At the end of the day when spousal maintenance ends she will still be living at her parents and she will not have learned responsibility. Her focus during our marriage was one of enjoying life. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying life, it needs to be in balance with responsibility. One who values responsibility too much finds it difficult to enjoy life, yet those who enjoy life too early eventually find themselves drunk with it and in despair. We must maintain balance.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A resumption of dating

It has been more than a year since my soon-to-be ex left.  It has been some time since I posted on here last.  After the breakup in April of someone I was dating I took a haitus from blogging and from dating.  I was sufficiantly distracted by work and taking a climbing class and was content doing so.  I do care about others and I think the breakup affected me as well.  I do care about people, but there was also a realization that I am somewhat alone and not ready to date until my marital situation has changed.  One could argue that we are never truly alone, we just need to seek out others who are in similar situations.  This is true, but I feel in a sort of "no-mans-land".  I feel that I am somewhat unique in this world, whether that is a good thing or not and if I truly am can certainly questioned, but that is the order of things right now.  By and large it is a good thing because it gives me an opportunity to see who I am and where I want to be.

To explain this notion of isolation a bit more I will say that I am forbidden from dating within my church until my divorce is final.  This means that I am forbidden from dating those who have a similar appreciation for moral character, or that have a similar value for family upbringing, or that are able to find the joy in faith in God and how that permeates into the world around us.  Yes, there are many of other faiths who have similar characteristics, however I am Mormon and sometimes other faiths don't conincide well.  More importantly, however, I shouldn't be serious about dating until my probation during this separation has past.

However, one of the things that has been on my mind since the beginning of this separation has been the notion that I may not want to marry someone of my faith.  In previous posts I have mentioned about the Black and White Mind and the MBS model.  I will use these concepts to explain my rationale.  Most Mormon women whom I have met are quite cheeful and happy, positive attributes to be sure, however they lack a certain understanding of the world around us.  They fail to see the world in the color that it is and tend to view the world in a more black and white perspective.  I fought against that view for most of my marriage.  While I do enjoy debating this concept with others it has no place in a marriage, we need to both see the world for what it is; value and strive to adhere to the law, while showing grace towards ourselves and those around us.

My church leaders speak often of principals we should adhere to and how we should live our lives.  Good council to be sure, however needs to be taken in balance and with current circumstances.  There is a lot of pressure to live a certain way, which isn't a bad thing if understood and balanced.  On the financial side they speak of having sufficiently large families, the woman staying at home, paying tithing, fulfilling church callings, and giving additional funds to the needy.  These are important things that every family should strive for.  No one in their right mind would argue against the merits of mothers staying at home.  Most people on this earth love money, for with it we can obtain or do many things that make us happy.  This love, however, can be cancerous and consume the soul if not placed in check.  Therefore tithing and giving to others helps keep the love of money from exceeding our love of family or ourselves, so this is a good thing as well.  Fulfilling our church callings elevates who we are by giving us the opportunity to serve.  The problem, however, is in balance.  We should not give money if we are going in debt doing so, nor should we serve church callings if our family suffers.  While we shouldn't spend money on things we do not need, we do want to spend time with our family and not be too far out of alignment with society that we feel poor.  It is balance that we must seek.  Many women of my faith are very devout, they love God and the joy that is brought by living the law, and hope for the promises of etermal companionship that are givin if they are faithful.  Rightfully so, they give their time and resources to the church, as do the men.  So, while these women (and men) are happy, cheeful, and love the law they begin to see the world through a black and white lense.  Why should someone else be happier than they when they live to the letter of the law?  Likewise I have seen, and fear, a sense of entitlement for love and affection because of their adherence to the law.  For most in the church it is not the understanding that is of value, but simply adhering to the law.  Their life is the law and their love is the church which has nurtured them through the years.  Likewise, many, if not most by my observation, have neglected their Mind and Body in this love of the church and thus their lives are out of balance.  They often choose to follow the words that resonate most with them and neglect the others; hence the strain at a gnat and swallow the elephant metaphore.  For these women I have no attraction to nor will I find myself in a serious relationship with and they exist in abundance.

I do know that I am being stereotypical.  There are those in my faith who keep their lives in balance between Mind, Body, and Spirit and who see the world for what it is, instead of how they want it to be.  Who love the law, but see the weeknesses of man (and women) and afford grace towards themselves and others.  Who have self-confidence, yet maintain a state of humility and a constant desire to improve in all areas.  Yes, someone is out there to be sure, however I have yet to see them in the church.  But, I have not been afforded the opportunity to play the single scene either, so my view is small.

The problem with dating outside of the church is that I am a member of the church and a good guy for the most part.  All of the women I have dated are looking for someone who has less values than I have.  They are looking for someone who drinks and has sex fairly early in a relationship, sometimes even the first date.  Someone who is willing to go in and out of relationships as needs and desires change.  I do not fit into this scene very well, even though I may want to.  I do drink on occasion now to make my date feel comfortable.  Drinking an occasional beer hasn't been a horrible thing since I acquired a taste before I became religious.  The problem is with who I am; I am a nice guy who positively contributes to society.  I love kids, family, serving others, the outdoors, and the arts.  I work out regularly and am educated.  I stay away from drinking (up until recently), pornography, television, coffee, or sodas with caffein.  I cook and enjoy wholesome food.  I am, by most accounts, a wholesome person all the way through.  I am a Boy Scout for lack of a better definition.  The women who I am finding myself attracted to outside of the church are somewhat sceptical of who I am.  There is an apprehention which I think is due to the fact that there is relatively little wrong with me in the general sense.  I have a hypothesis for this; I am self-sufficent in a great many ways and my psychological well-being is generally one of those.  Many women, however, are hard wired to be nurturers.  They often want something to heal and fix, such as the men in their lives, and in so doing they tend to fall in love with them.  They work hard in all areas of their life to make the man happy to feel loved.  However, after years have passed, they realize that the man they wanted to fix is unfixable, and often the situation is worse.  The effort they put into the relationship has not yielded any returns.  They want a better man, someone who will love them and is worthy of their love, but to have that love they need another project, another man they can nurture and elevate.  One, perhaps, that is not so far lost, but one that needs their help nonetheless; to overcome some mental state of misery.  Their affirmation of love is derived from being needed; perhaps from simply cooking meals on a daily basis, to keeping the house tidy, to perhaps even ironing the mans shirts on a weekly basis.  In one way or another the successful relationships that I have seen in my life there was that daily affirmation of need by the man.  Even my father, who showed very litte emotion, was dependent upon my step mother for ironing his shirts, cooking his meals, and sending him off to work sometimes at 2AM with a lunchpale in his hands.  Even while she was a school teacher during their marriage this ritual took place.  She felt needed.  They were married for 25 years before he passed away.  My ex's parents; she cooks and keeps the house tidy.  She was the primary bread winner before their retirement, though he worked in the reserves.  He watches television mostly while she does a lions share of the work.  He does mow the lawn and fix the house or car, but mostly he watches television.  They are of the same faith as I.  The husband needs the wife.  My grandfather had the same relationship and my uncle.  All of these had successful marriages in which they were both happy.

After writing this I think, perhaps, I am missing the boat here.  I need to learn a thing or two.  My desire for perfection and self-sufficiency would prevent the opportunity for someone to realize their inner desire to serve and establish that love.  Perhaps my desire for a wholesome relationship should supercede my desire for perfection, for is there such a thing?  Perhaps I am seeking someone who wants to serve me instead of a desire for being self-sufficient, for in such relationships there is dependency.  Or perhaps I am completely jaded by being with someone who was entirely stubborn and prided herself on refusing to even iron a shirt.

I try fairly hard to keep my life in balance; this has been ingrained within me at some point in my life.  For me to be happy in a relationship, and for my future companion to be happy, a similar balance in life must be appreciated.  There must be a care about physical appearance and health (which is a balancing act in itself), who is successful in their career, who has a love of learning and is curious about the world we live in, who enjoys outdoor activities, who is not consumed by religion, but loves at least a moral code of conduct if not God, who loves and serves their children (if they have them) and family.  I find myself distinctly attracted to women who have struggled in their lives, have overcome, and are confident in who they are.  A diamond in the rough so to speak.  Or, if I can paraphrase from a line in the movie Mulan; the flower which blooms in adversity is rarest and most beautiful.  Perhaps Mormonism is not the place where I belong to find this, perhaps it is.  My journey ahead is long, however when I do find someone who meets this criteria will I be prepared to take advantage of it?  Will I have fallen so far in my quest that I will no longer be worthy of such a person?  Or will someone find me emotionally desireable because I have fallen and am able to recover from that miserable state that consumes so many of us?

That is it for now.  I have written much in this post.  It has given my more to ponder and write in future posts.  I truly enjoy my children.  I am grateful for my 11yo son right now who is mowing the lawn while I finish this and prepare information for my lawyer.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

An extended visit with my kids

This post is less about understanding the world around me and more about my personal struggles, if they are not one in the same.  I had the opportunity to look after my kids for a week or so.  In fact I just finished dropping them off at their mothers.  Their mother went on a cruise to Mexico with some of her guy and girl friends from High School.  Living in the same town you grew up in has some can still retain all of those friends.  The interesting thing is that she just mentioned that she was going with some of her girlfriends, I didn't hear about the guy friends until I was talking to someone today at church.  It certainly doesn't bother me though, which I find somewhat odd.  I really have no jealousy at all in the matter.  It just seems somewhat bizarre after 15 years of marriage that I wouldn't be jealous.  Probably a good thing really.  I find the charade somewhat amusing though.  Anyway, she asked if I could watch the kids for a week while she enjoys this vacation.  I arrange to telecommute that week and life is good.  So during that time we did the following:

1) My oldest daughter is a bit behind in math, so I plug her into Linux TuxMath...Linux has some awesome education games.  I saw dramatic improvement during her tenure here.
2) I have my oldest son and daughter take showers every morning.  My oldest son I think will make a habit of it at her mothers.
3) I think teeth brushing will become more of a habit for all of them...I hope.  I have been pushing this for a long time.
4) I finally got my oldest son a new pair of shoes.  The other ones lasted for more than a year, so I suspect that these will as well.

My soon-to-be-ex-wife, however, is incapable of doing many of these things of personal hygiene or school.  For her, life if a beach...or volleyball court, whichever you prefer.  Life is fun and games and there is little responsibility that she maintains.  When I describe her to people I call her a princess.  During her whole life she has not had to take care of herself.  She didn't hold a job in high school.  Her parents paid for most of her way in college, so she didn't have to work.   She worked at the UW in a temporary position for a few years, but she didn't have to pay any bills or learn what it was like to live on ones own.  She had no responsibility except for herself, and even that was somewhat questionable.  No wonder she sees life as a beach.  Our marriage only reinforced that mentality since I worked and she stayed home.

So now she lives at home with her parents and my kids.  Her parents try to escape as much as possible to see friends and siblings and when they are at home they do a lions share of the cooking and laundry.  I would dare say that my soon-to-be-ex doesn't have to cook at all when her mom is in the home.  It is nice.  She gets the joy of parenthood without the responsibility.  I suspect that is where we had many of our issues.  She didn't like to keep the house clean nor take care of her own self personally.  Her car was a disaster 95% of the time.  Her desire was to hang out with her friends...and so that is what she did.  Everything else was secondary to hanging out with her friends.  One could argue that the reason that she hung out with her friends was because she didn't feel accepted by me.  Possibly so, however when her entire job was to take care of the home and raise the kids and she was unable to accomplish that, let alone take care of herself physically, and all the while telling me that I shouldn't care what the house looks like, her car looks like, what she looks like but instead I should love her for who she is I have to question what is it about her that I did love.  I did love her good nature and social skills, however these were things that needed to stay in balance with reality.  Her favorite saying was, "a happy wife is a happy life."  This is true, however I find it difficult to believe that any wife would be truly happy if their husband celebrated their eating bon bon's all day long with their friends.  Maybe I am wrong, but some expectation is necessary for our own personal development.  I do not have high expectations really, at least I don't think so.  Really all I seek is effort, a certain degree of caring to make me happy.  Not a huge degree, and I don't want someone to dote over me, but just some consideration.  I hope that my next wife, if that is in the cards, will be someone who has a higher standard than I.  I certainly wouldn't mind being pushed a bit in certain areas that I am lacking in.  Likewise I would hope that she wouldn't mind being pushed as well in areas that she may be lacking.  Thus we become partners in a quest for a certain degree of perfection.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Breakup - So to Speak

It is difficult to categorically address the nature of man in general, because we are all a bit different (thank God).  However I suspect that we, women included, operate on a scale between adhering to a moral law of conduct and adhering to our own personal desires.   I know I have written much about the law, however I do believe that nature and man operate within certain structures.  I believe that man can find a certain peace within those natural laws.  It is when we live outside of those laws where the danger lies.  However, those laws can be quite strict and some flexibility and allowance for failure must be allowed, for this is how we learn to love the law, to find peace within it.  And we find that those who tend to be elders follow a moral code of conduct because it is the natural order of things.

I was recently in the early stages of a relationship with someone.  By all accounts this person was an ideal companion for me; successful in her career, artistic in many areas, athletic, intelligent, family oriented, loved the outdoors, etc.  The list of similarities seemed almost endless.  However, the one area that we had differences in was within the spiritual side.  Spirituality encompasses quite a bit and it is the most difficult to explain or tackle in a relationship.  After this wonderful experience I have found that it is probably the most important component.  Not that someone needs to belong to the same faith, but that we see faith and virtue in the same perspective.  This person was quite a nice person, however she operated on the notion that people do what they want.  She somewhat rebelled against the rules that governs us.  Unfortunately these rules permeate our lives whether we acknowledge their existence or not.  I felt that I was being pushed into doing what felt good in the relationship instead of what the right thing was.

My understanding of this concept came after dates with a couple of other people.  One in particular had a fairly strong personal compass on the laws of nature.  She too somewhat rebelled against her strict religious upbringing, but realized that danger lies outside of that moral conduct.  The danger lied in her emotional well being.  She realized that once deep intimacy is obtained that there is some kind of emotional connection.  A personal relationship begins to take form and thus the opportunity to be hurt if the other person doesn’t share the same feelings.  So, despite her personal desire for sex, she avoided it for self preservation.  As we violate moral laws we expose ourselves to the possibility of emotional discomfort if relationships do not last.  In religious circles we tend to focus on the physical reasons for not having sex, such as pregnancy and spreading of diseases, but there is emotional safety as well.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) we have a desire for physical intimacy which can often supersede any logical notion of self-preservation.  So there we must find some kind of balance between the "ying" of moral conduct and the "yang" of having some kind of intimicy.

So, back to this person I was dating.  As our time progressed I began to realize the depth the relationship was heading and I suggested that we maintain or establish boundaries in one form or another.  Unfortunately these concepts were not recognized as being valuable to the relationship.  In a couple instances when I attempted to establish boundaries the perception she had was that I was trying to “break up” or limit my relationship with her and thus a heavy degree of emotion ensued.  This wasn’t necessarily the case, it is just that I wanted some boundaries so that we could get to know each other without distraction from sex.

So, with this person, I had to break the relationship off.  If at some time in the future we want to give it a go again, we can do so at a pace that is more to my comfort.

Another quite fascinating concept that I am learning is that the whole MBS model makes sense from a logical standpoint, but in reality it may not make much sense at all.  There is a whole concept of “chemistry” which it doesn’t encompass.  “Chemistry” is something that is difficult to quantify and it encompasses so much.  It is the way someone walks, they way they hold their head when they speak, their sense of humor, their smell, or perhaps a smile.  Perhaps the “chemistry” between two people lies in that one of the individuals doesn’t like to smile and the other finds joy in the effort in eliciting that wonderful display of happiness.  Perhaps that “chemistry” lies in some kind of self-discovery.  I find dating incredibly confusing.  The more I try to make sense of it, the more I become confused.  Simply understanding what I want is difficult in itself, but finding someone who meets those criteria is even more difficult.  I suspect that the best course of action, perhaps, is to simply date as many people as possible.  Not to have sex with all of them mind you, but simply date them.  Whomever I am with will change the course of the rest of my life.  They can help bring me closer to finding peace within myself and my God, or distance me further from that.

That is it for now, my bus ride is about to end.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Thoughts on dating

As many people who decry selfishness when seeking a companion all who participate in this ritual are guilty of this crime or, if not, they should be.  I can think of no other ritual that is by it's very nature an exercise in selfishness.  We must forgo the needs of others and focus entirely upon ourselves if we are to find a companion that we will find endearing to the end.  All things are cherished more if there were effort to obtain them.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Black and White mind

In all religions there are zealots. In fact, one could argue, that the more structure exists within a particular faith the more zealots tend to appear. This is understandable since societal acceptance is often not found for the individual and a certain degree of misery must be endured. Peace and comfort is found in the rules and laws found within the faith and therefore they judge themselves based upon those rules and laws, for what else can they use to judge?

My daughter was baptized recently. It was a great experience. My daughter is perhaps the happiest person on the face of this earth. Friends and family showed up, some from out of state. There were were almost even tears of joy at a testimony of how wonderful my daughter is and how much joy she brings to their lives. She brings quite a bit of joy to my life as well. However, at one point during the ceremony the Bishop of her mother's ward said a few words of which one sentence was, "it doesn't matter that we understand the rules, as long as we follow them we will be happy." When I heard that statement I felt like standing up and announcing that he was absolutely incorrect. Why then would we have thousands of pages of doctrine if all we needed was a few sheets of rules? I pondered his statement a bit and came to some varying conclusions that I wish to share.

I have found that not everyone has the capability for deep thought. I think it is possible, however there are those who find great comfort in being told what to believe. I think at certain times in our life, either we are too busy to ponder or we have lost confidence in our own thought, that we may seek the comfort of adhering to the thought of others. For these people the Bishop's premis is correct to a certain point, "follow the rules and you will be happy." For these people, however, they see much of the world through the rules they live by, for how else can we evaluate those around us if all we know are the rules? Hence the lens they see the world is one of black and white. We begin to evaluate people by if they adhere to the rules or if they do not. I, at one point or another, fell into this trap as well. Perhaps not to the same degree as others, but I can recall judging others based on their adherence to the laws I chose to adopt.

I cannot subscribe to the notion that a black and white lens brings true happiness because very few can live within the confines of the law without sin. If sin exists in ones life, then what? Often people hide that sin for fear of being judged according to the way they have judged or because the indoctrination they received created such fear that that any admittance of substandard behavior would surely yield some kind of excommunication. When sins are hidden they often get worse until at some point they can no longer be hidden. Often at this point the offender becomes frustrated with the black and white notion of the law and rebel. It is the same with children who are raised with parents who create a strictly controlled childhood environment. These children often leave home prematurely and have strained relationships with their parents, which is quite similar to those who rebel against the confines of black and white thought. There must exist an equilibrium between the law (control) and grace (acceptance and understanding). True happiness cannot be obtained through simple adherence to the law, for eventually we will fall short and we find that we cannot reconcile ourselves to the law.

I want to also mention that there are those who subconsciously know they fall short of the law, but compensate by minimizing their own faults and being an expert at identifying the faults of others. Their expert ability is derived from their own experiences. They fail to give others the grace they so longingly want, but cannot give because of their own love of the law. Their self-confidence wanes and is replaced by pride. Unfortunately, we often regard these people as the "most faithful" and are deceived into missing the very meaning of Christ's existence. Oh what a tragedy this is! For the meaning of Christ's existence is a path for those who fall short of the law, but we must have the law in order to fall short of it. It is the reconciliation that is of great beauty.