Monday, January 28, 2008

Brotherly Love

I came out to my younger brother, Lee, last weekend and it was an ideal experience.
This is how the conversation started:

Draco: “So, Lee- there’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about…”

Lee: “Draco- I already know. I’m not stupid.”

Draco: “Oh.”

You see, Lee had already found out about me back in high school- and lately he’s been asking my mom questions and I knew that he was suspicious of me again. His reaction was the best!

Lee: “Draco, you’re my brother and I’ll love you no matter what. Your happiness means a lot to me and I’m glad that you’re doing what makes you happy.”

And Lee almost never tells me that he loves me! During the course of the conversation he said it like 5 times! We talked for about an hour just laughing and being normal. I feel so lucky! Now I only have to worry about my youngest brother, Scott. I think he’ll be fine, though. He also knows from when I was in high school. I’ve asked my mom to talk to him about me before I do to give him some time to get re-used to the idea.

So that’s that- by far the easiest coming-out talk that I’ve ever had. I wish everyone would react the way that Lee did.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gordon B. Hinckley

-In loving memory of one of my greatest heroes-

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

No One Mourns the Wicked

As most of you probably have heard, Heath Ledger was found dead yesterday in his New York apartment. Authorities suspect drug overdose. The actor was only 28 and has a 2-year-old daughter. I asked my roommate if he had heard the news and he had. He said that most people that he's talked to about it think that it was punishment from God for having been in Brokeback Mountain. I'm so glad that we're such a loving and compassionate people.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Lyrical Pause

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear,
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes,
how do you measure,
measure a year?
In daylights,
in sunsets,
in midnights and cups of coffee?
In inches,
in miles and laughter and strife?
In five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes,
how do you measure,
a year in the life?

How about love,
how about love,
how about love?
Measure in love-
seasons of love,
seasons of love!

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes,
Five hundred twenty five thousand journeys to plan,
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes,
how do you measure the life of a woman or a man?

In truths that she learned,
or tears that he cried,
in bridges he burned or the way that she died?
Its time now to sing out though the story never ends,
let's celebrate remember a year in the life of friends!

Remember the love!
Remember the love!
Remember the love!
Measure in love-
Oh you got to you got to remember the love!
You know that love is a gift from up above!
Share love, give love, spread love!
Measure, measure your life in love.

Seasons of love,
Seasons of love,
Measure you life, measure your life in love...

Monday, January 14, 2008

Oh Say What is Truth?

I had another thought provoking conversation with Luisa recently about the nature of religious truths. We pondered and laughed and I think Luisa even cried a little, and in the end we were both a bit dizzy- you can only philosophize so much before your brain starts aching- but we were able to talk out some interesting ideas. Here is some of what we discussed:

There is a difference between truth and Truth. The first refers to that which a group or an individual person may believe to be veridical, and the second with a capital-T indicates actuality- ideas that are True for all people. The first big question is: How can a person know that some religious truth (Mormonism for example) is Truth? How can we know for sure for sure for sure that the LDS faith is True and that all other faiths may be true, but not True? The answer is that you can’t know for sure (see my previous post “Do you know what I know?). Well if I can’t know for sure, does it matter what religious position I take? I think it does. I think every person should choose that religion which, as William James explains, offers the most “live and momentous” option. That is, each person chooses to have faith in those beliefs which he feels are most probable and spiritual and those which will have the best impact on his life. In LDS theology, this would lead everyone to be a Mormon; but is it really the case that Mormonism is the best religious option for everyone? I don’t think it is. I have met many people who just can’t believe in Mormon doctrine. It doesn’t make sense to them, it doesn’t ring true for them, and some are even repulsed by some of our tenets, even after prayer and honest inquiry. My mother is a perfect example. She has prayed about her faith and sincerely feels that God has told her not to join the LDS church. And I don’t think she’s been deceived at all. I think she would feel out of place in our church and that it would not make her happy. The methodical Mormon way of life and worship, as beneficial and happy as it may be for some people, is not the kind of worship and religion that feels right and rings true to her or to BILLIONS of other people.

So here we are, a human race with countless different ideas about religious truth- all searching for absolute Truth and some claiming that their religion already represents absolute Truth. Millions of people pray to their God and testify to having received their own answer about which doctrines are right and which are wrong, and the answers they receive conflict with the answers that others receive. So who is right? Where is capital-T Truth among the tens of thousands of little-t truths? Maybe- just maybe- it doesn’t matter. Maybe the real Truth is that God is the source of all our varying creeds and doctrines. But God is only one God! He can’t give two opposing revelations! Well maybe God is a lot more open-minded than we are. Maybe he knows us so well that he has inspired thousands of religious ideas to accommodate for our varying personalities- so that we can choose those religious tenets that will best help us to worship, to come to know him, and to learn to love. Isn’t that what the Bible says? “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (Galatians 5:14). So maybe finding ultimate religious Truth contained in only one religion is not terribly important because it doesn’t exist. Perhaps our task in life is instead to take faith in that which best helps us to become loving and compassionate people. Maybe it doesn’t matter if you’re gay, if you believe in a non-anthropomorphic deity, or if you pray through the Virgin Mary. We all claim different truths, but perhaps the only real religious Truth that we can really be sure of in this life is the necessity of learning to love and be loved.

Now if you’re a Mormon you probably disagree with me. But just stop and really think about it for a minute- why do you disagree with me? Is it because Mormonism has already made up your mind for you about it? Is it because you have proof that I am wrong? I think that all too often, we Mormons stop thinking for ourselves. Once we have our testimony that the church is true we get to stop asking a lot of questions. We call it faith but the rest of the world calls it indoctrination- believing dogmatically, blindly and with bias. If only we all could doubt for just a moment- open our mind and question things. Are we afraid to be wrong? Are we afraid of change? Are we afraid of being misled? We pick the last of the three questions, but how do we know we haven’t already been misled?

I think the LDS church is wonderful. For so many people it is the balm for religious aching. And I think some people need to feel that security of feeling like they have found the great absolute Truth. But isn’t it possible that God’s plan is more extensive than we believe it to be? When I began my religious quest almost 5 years ago, the first promise I made was to my mother; I promised her that I would never stop searching for Truth (or maybe it was just little-t truth- she didn’t specify). I think I found quite a bit of it in the LDS church, but I don’t think I have found what is wholly true for me nor what is a fullness of Truth with a capital T.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

"Come be how you want to"

I used to be sure that if I started zooming around on a broomstick- if I started disobeying gravity- that I would surely lose all those special spiritual feelings that we talk about so much in the church. But the last two weeks have offered the most spiritual and tender feelings that I have felt in over a year. Of course there’s no proper way to describe it- serenity mixed with joy, resolve and enlightenment is the best I can do. With all the extra time I had on my hands over the break, I had plenty to spare for self-reflecting, praying, deep meditation, and for reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull. At the advice of a good friend’s father, I went back to the beginning- searching for the most basic spiritual answers: Who is God? What is his character? How do I feel the Holy Spirit? What is my purpose? And I got answers! -answers that I believe wholeheartedly to be divinely inspired truths. Maybe one day I will share them. I will say that I am sure that God is leading me along and that He has great plans for me. It all flies in the face of conformity. Some people- well a lot of people- are going to tell me I’m letting go of the rod and following forbidden paths into the fog. I wish you could see me smiling; just beyond the mist, away from the rod, the river and the building, there’s a whole world to be explored with more than just one lonely tree.