Basketball for the Very Young

My six-year old boys are on a basketball team. The Sandy City Parks and Recreation department has christened the team the Suns, after the Phoenix Suns, which sent one of the twins into a paroxysm of rage.

“I want to be the BYU Cougars!” he shrieked, yet they’re still the Suns. The universe is a harsh, unforgiving place.

In order to accommodate six-year old basketball players, the standards have to be lowered by about four feet, but that’s still not low enough to overcome the 80% Principle: Approximately 80% of all shots only get about 80% of the way to the actual basket. Of remaining shots that are high enough to go in, about 80% of them don’t.

I think when they start playing competitive games, they could win with a score of 2-0.

The highlight of practices is watching them learn to dribble. One of the boys dribbles two or three times, stops, takes three or four steps, and then obligatorily dribbles a few more times before flailing the ball futilely into the ether. My other boy dribbles too hard, and pretty soon the ball is bouncing two feet above his head, and he’s straining to reach the top of it and get it back under control. Both he and the ball proceed in what is vaguely the same direction, but usually the ball gets there long before he does.

If you think there’s a problem with the fact that no one calls traveling in the NBA, you should see what happens in these VERY minor leagues. I don’t know why they actually learn dribbling, because it seems to be optional. And double dribbling is quite an accomplishment in a game where quadruple or quintuple dribbling are the norm. In a scrimmage, one kid ripped the ball away from another kid and started tearing down the court with his hand outstretched like a linebacker who had just recovered a fumble.

Even the most basic rules come into question. “What do we do after someone makes a basket?” the coach asked. Nobody knew the right answer. “Who’s ever seen a basketball game on TV?” Lots of hands went up. “On TV, what do they do with the ball after they score a basket?” My son was the first to answer. “They kick it!” he said.

Note to self: Watch more basketball with my son on TV.

It’s a lot of fun to watch my boys expand their horizons, especially since I wasn’t much of an athlete myself back in the day. (The preceding sentence demonstrates my considerable talent for understatement.) The sad thing is that, at 6’4”, I might have been a decent ballplayer if I’d applied myself. My two sons are below the 50th percentile in height – it’s their 5’2” mother’s influence, I’m afraid. Their spirit is willing, but their flesh is too short.

They’d probably be pretty good at chess, though. That is, until they start kicking things.

Moist Blog: The First 100 Years

OK, first 100 posts. Close enough.

This is Post #101.

I should have made a big deal about post #100, but I’m focusing on this one because it’s the beginning of the next 100. (Also, I didn’t notice that the last one was #100 until today, but that’s a less dramatic reason, so I’m improvising.)

Although this blog began in late August, Google Analytics has only been tracking visitors since September 15. However, that’s been long enough to get a good sense of who’s visiting this blog from where and how often. (As for why, that’s between you and your therapist.)

Over the past 89 days, this blog has been visited 4,318 times – an average of about 48 unique visits per day. That’s a different statistic from the much higher number “hits,” which is recorded every time anyone – including me – visits a web page. Visits are recorded when a unique IP address spends any time on the site, and Analytics discounts any of my own visits when I’m logged into Google. That means that 48 times per day, on average, one of you pulls up my blog to see what nonsense I’ve written recently. The stats say you view between two and three pages every visit and spend about six and a half minutes here.

Those are six and a half minutes you can never have back again.

For those of you who think all these visits came from my immediate family and/or Foodleking, who is essentially the same thing, think again. Only 17.5% of the total visits come from my home state of Utah, and the percentages are even lower for my parent’s/siblings’/Foodleking’s home states – California (11%), Arizona (10%), and Virginia (3%). So a solid majority of you readers are people I’ve never met.

Case in point: Apparently, I’m a big hit in Massachusetts, which is just below Utah in terms of site visits. I’ve never been to Massachusetts, and while I do have relatives there, I doubt they would read this blog without medicating themselves heavily first. I’ve got readers in Ohio, Idaho, Wisconsin, and a healthy contingent from the Chicago Ridge area in Illinois. (Hi, Languatron!) In fact, I’ve had visits from every state in the union and the District of Columbia, except, inexplicably, the state of North Dakota, where I’m pretty sure they don’t have the Internet yet. (Don’t get all offended – I know you’re not in North Dakota, so let it go.)

However, U.S. traffic only accounts for 91% of my site visit totals. 3.5% of all visits come from the UK; 3.25% from Canada, and then a scattered handful of visits from Australia, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Switzerland, India, Spain, France, Turkey, The Phillipines, New Zealand, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, The Sudan, The Czech Republic, Finland, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Thailand, Poland, Israel, China, Gibraltar, Denmark, and Hungary.

I can only assume that most people stumble across this blog by mistake.

This site received the most visits – 110 – on Wednesday, October 24 right after I put up A Very Manly Post, which was actually pretty stupid. The site had its smallest day – 19 visits – on Saturday, October 6, right after my Aargh! Languatron Invades Real Life! post, which I thought was better than it was. Most people visit the main page when they come, but the five pages that have gotten the most accumulated hits over time are, from most to least:

The Lost Art of the Crank Call
Preserving a Teacher’s Right to Suck
Languatron’s Book: A Review
Holiday Euphemisms
The Best Movies You’ve Never Seen

A Very Manly Post doesn’t show up until number 11. And, to spite Nigel Tufnel, my list doesn’t go to 11. But my total posts now go to 101.

I’ll keep going if you will. In fact, I’ll probably keep going even if you won’t. Someday, North Dakota is going to get the Internet, and I need to be ready for them.

Our Christmas Letter

Finished Christmas cards today. We’re sending out a picture along with a form letter that gives everyone the update as to what’s going on. Many readers of this blog will be receiving said letter within the next couple of days. But for those of you who won’t, because I don’t know your name or address, here’s an expurgated version suitable for public consumption. (The names have been changed to protect the flatulent.)

_________________

December 2007

Dear Friends,

We invite you to review the photo that came with this letter. Behind the wheel of the train you’ll find Mrs. Cornell, without whom this family would get absolutely nowhere. She somehow juggles the responsibilities of full-time motherhood with per diem work as a physical therapist, service as a Sunday School teacher, and all the responsibilities of coordinating the elementary school book fair. She sleeps occasionally, but not often.

Directly above her on the roof of the train is Cornelius, a six-year-old Reflections Award-winning author for his magnum opus Worm Man II: Fox Man Returns, in which superhero Worm Man befriends longtime nemesis Fox Man and both jump on a trampoline together. Cornelius enjoys soccer, basketball, and losing teeth.

Just to the left is Cornelius’ elder-brother-by-two-minutes Corbin, who, while still in first grade, has already begun preparations to play quarterback for Brigham Young University beginning in 2022. He’s convinced that his red blankie will survive the intervening decades, but the prognosis is not good. Corbin likes his waffles hot and his hair spiky.

Next to Corbin on the ground, you’ll find Stallion, who now has a job renting vacation condos on the island of Kauai. He lost the goatee, though, because it was starting to itch.

Stallion is holding his two-year-old son Stalliondo, who no longer sleeps in a crib and has taken to crawling into bed with Mom and Dad so he can kick them in the head. His vocabulary continues to grow, as do his feet.

At the front of the train is eldest daughter Cleta, the world’s only ten-year-old teenager. She is an accomplished pianist, a voracious reader, and a surprisingly experienced babysitter with diaper-changing skills of girls twice her age. She also knows everything there is to know about American history and/or Calvin and Hobbes.

Next to Cleta is eight-year-old Chloe, a fine pianist in her own right, as well as an artist, writer, photographer, soccer player, and American Girl Doll enthusiast. Last spring, she appeared in a ballet production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, wherein she danced divinely and tried – and failed – to resist the temptation to wave at her parents.

Hope all is well with you – we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Christmas Music

Three FM radio stations – 106.5, 100.3, and 97.5 –  have been playing Christmas music in the Salt Lake City market since the day after Halloween. Both major Salt Lake newspapers have been filled with letters to the editor screeching “It’s too soon! It’s too soon!” To those secular Scrooges, I say “bah, humbug.” 

Or, in a more 21st Century vernacular, “Up yours.”
Granted, Halloween is too soon for seasonal Wal-Mart ads, but it’s never too soon to hear Christmas carols. When I was an actor in the Playmill Theatre in 1993, we had Christmas in Yellowstone on the 25th of August, in commemoration of a year when the Old Faithful Inn was snowed in right there at the end of the summer. We drank hot cider, exchanged gifts, and sang “Silent Night.” When I ran my own theatre in Jackson Hole, we did the same thing every year. It was good stuff. And it was the music that made all the difference.
Christmas music never gets old.
Of the three radio stations who play Christmas music, I try to avoid 106.5, because even though I have yet to hear them spin a single Kwanzaa tune, they insist on using the phrase “Have a happy holiday” as an insipid jingle. Not even the despised “Happy Holidays,” which could, theoretically, include New Year’s. Nope. Just “Have a happy holiday.” 
Which holiday, guys? Festivus? Would it friggin’ KILL you to say the word “Christmas?”
100.3 says Happy Holidays, too, but, to their credit, they always refer to themselves as “your Christmas music station.” The genericism of Happy Holidays gets offset by using the word Christmas in close proximity. Somewhat.
97.5 is the only station that uses the words “Merry Christmas” in all of their promotions, which is why I press their button on my radio first.  I think more and more businesses have noticed that there are financial consequences attached to treating the word “Christmas” like a sign of leprosy. In Target the other day, the “Happy Holidays” banner was right next to the “Merry Christmas” banner. In previous years, “Happy Holidays” stood alone. 
I think the backlash against the anti-Christmas PC Nazis is finally starting to kick in, and that’s a good thing. 
Christmas is all about tradition, and those traditions are reinforced by timeless music. That’s why very new Christmas songs survive from year to year, although “Mary, Did You Know?” and “Breath of Heaven” seem to be hanging in there. They’re not “Silent Night” or “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” though. (Every time I hear “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” I think of a beautiful, Dickensian English village coated in lightly falling snow,with a lamplight burning on the end of a deserted street.  This image is not geographically, meteorologically or theologically sound, but it’s dang Christmasy.)
Singers would do well to remember that when they sing Christmas tunes, the song is the star, not them. Hearing Celine Dione butcher “O Holy Night” with self-important bombast  makes me want to drop a bowling ball on my head. Donny Osmond’s “poppy” Christmas album is equally wretched – no one really wants to Donny do a techno version of “Angels We Have Heard On High,” do they? I think that’s why Harry Connick, Jr.’s first Christmas album is so beloved – he sings it straight, and it’s filled with traditional arrangements that would have been right at home alongside Nat King Cole, AKA the Honorary Voice of Christmas. (Connick’s second album, where he pushes the jazz elements too far, is forgettable at best and, more often than not, just plain unlistenable.)
It’s hard to make any hard and fast rules about good Christmas music, though. Mannheim Steamroller is always great precisely because they break with tradition. They play with different tempos, styles, and arrangements, but you always know they respect the songs, so you’re willing to go along for the ride. Whereas the Mormon Tabernacle Choir approaches every song with such a sterile reverence that listening to them becomes really dull really fast. 
Everyone has their own favorites, I suppose. For me, I’ll always have a soft spot for Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town,” because, even though it’s probably crap,  it makes me feel 16 again.  Also, I hate “My Grown-Up Christmas Wish,” because it sounds like it was written by the Democratic National Committee. Yet I love John Lennon’s “Happy Christmas (War Is Over)” for reasons I can’t explain. I mean, it’s a political carol co-sung by Yoko, so I should loathe it, but I don’t. Whereas Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmas Time” sounds like a tire commercial. 
And what’s up with Wham!’s “Last Christmas?” Why do stations keep playing it? 
“Last Christmas, I gave you my heart
But the very next day, you gave it away.”
To who? The Salvation Army? Goodwill? Deseret Industries? What is this crap?
The best modern Christmas song, hands down, is Spinal Tap’s “Christmas with the Devil.”
The elves are dressed in leather and the angels are in chains (Christmas with the Devil)
The sugar plums are rancid and the stockings are in flames (Christmas with the Devil) 
There’s a demon in my belly and a gremlin in my brain
There’s someone up the chimney hole and Satan is his name
106.5 hasn’t played this once. And don’t tell me it’s because it’s offensive. After all, they play Wham!’s “Last Christmas” every fifteen minutes. 

Weird Hymns

I wore my Christmas tie to church today.

It’s an innocuous little black number with miniature Santas all over it, but it was more than enough to embarrass my ten-year-old daughter, who prematurely entered a teenage state of mind a decade or so early.

“It’s not even December yet!” she huffed. “Why do you have to be such a geek?”

“’Tis the season to be jolly!” I geeked back. “Don we now our gay apparel!”

“It’s gay, all right,” she said. (I walked right into that one.)

I don’t want to have my rugged masculinity called back into question, but it’s slightly sad that the word “gay” has now lost its original, nonsexual meaning entirely. Nobody has the guts to change the words to “Deck the Halls,” but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has purged all usage of the word from its hymns and children’s songs. Hymn 276, “When the Rosy Light of Morning,” used to contain this line:

  • “Fresh from slumber we awaken;
 Sunshine makes the heart so gay. 

The New, Orwellian hymnbooks now read:

  • “Fresh from slumber we awaken;
 Sunshine chases clouds away. 

It could be worse, though. And it was. Growing up, we were all taught to sing a ditty called “When Grandpa Comes” that went something like this:

  • “It’s always fun when Grandpa comes; when Grandpa comes, I’m gay!

Now my kids sing “When Grandpa Comes” every Father’s Day in Sacrament Meeting with this minor but significant revision:

  • “It’s always fun when Grandpa comes; when Grandpa comes, hooray!

Hooray, indeed.

It’s not just intimations of latent homosexuality and pedophilia that have prompted the Church correlation department to revamp the hymnal over the years. For decades, the stoic anthem “How Firm A Foundation” included this couplet:

  • “What more can He say than to you He hath said/ You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?”

Nothing wrong with that, right? Except that the song required you to sing the first phrase of the second line three times in a row, and the meter made it sound like everyone in the congregation was saying “YooHoo unto Jesus.” Now I think Jesus probably appreciated being YooHoo’d – why wouldn’t he? – but the unintentional giggles proved too much for the folks at Church Headquarters, who altered the words thusly:

  • “What more can He say than to you He hath said/Who unto the Savior for refuge have fled?”

It’s new, but can you really say it’s improved? I swear that every time this hymn is sung, there are some stubborn YooHooers unto Jesus who refuse to go quietly into that good night.

The hymns that are really fun are the fire-and-brimstone tunes that have been softened for politically correct reasons. The cheery paean to drudgery called “Have I Done Any Good In The World Today?” once told us that:

  • “Only he who does something is worthy to live/The world has no use for the drone.”

Probably to prevent an onslaught of drone euthanasia, the words were transformed into something less Draconian:

  • “Only he who does something helps others to live/To God each good work will be known.”

Not quite as threatening, but it lets you know that God is still watching, so all us drones aren’t really off the hook.

If I had my way, some of the weird old hymns from yesteryear would be pulled out of mothballs to freak out the youth of today. If you want an example, look no further than “Though In The Outward Church Below:”

Though in the outward church below

The wheat and tares together grow;
Jesus ere long will weed the crop,
And pluck the tares, in anger, up.
Will it relieve their horrors there,
To recollect their stations here?
How much they heard, how much they knew,
How long amongst the wheat they grew!
No! This will aggravate their case!
They perished under means of grace;
To them the word of life and faith,
Became an instrument of death.


Bet you didn’t know the word of life and faith could become an instrument of death, didja? I, for one, can’t wait for the weeding!

I suppose it’s inevitable that a lot of this quirkiness falls by the wayside as the Church continues to roll forth. We offend less people as the hymns get blander, but we lose something indefinable in the process. I plan to stay faithful regardless, but you know that “If You Could Hie To Kolob” isn’t going to make it to the next edition, don’t you?

Thanksgiving ’07: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

THE GOOD:

The turkey.

The rest of the feast was great, too, but the turkey was exquisite. It was magnificent. It was scrumtralescent.

How good was it? There are no words.

For the past three years, we’ve been given fresh turkeys by one of my clients. How fresh? Well, our turkey was alive and gobbling on Tuesday afternoon. It went into our oven about thirty-six hours after its timely demise. It was slow-cooked to perfection and served up hot. I can honestly say that I have never had a better turkey. I’d be willing to bet that you have never had a better turkey. Call it poultry hubris, but my turkey was the flat-out best ever hatched.

I’m not kidding. My turkey made your turkey look like a child pornographer.

(Did you catch the two Will Ferrell references? Doesn’t matter if you did – my turkey still rocked.)

THE BAD:

Netflix sent us the first disc of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles on the day before Thanksgiving. I tried watching it with my kids in the afternoon, and I was stunned at how stupefyingly boring it was.

After about twenty minutes of tedious narration and mind-numbing exposition, it became clear that we were watching the equivalent of a third-grade educational filmstrip/travelogue, only with better production values. No wonder this show never caught on. It couldn’t be less Indiana Jonesy if it tried.

“Is something going to happen?” asked one of my twins.

“I don’t think so,” I answered. We turned it off and watched Ratatouille again instead. I fell asleep. (All that tryptophan, you know.)

THE UGLY:

We had Thanksgiving at our house with my wife’s parents and two of her siblings and their families. The first rule when dealing with my in-laws is never talk about politics. Ever. My mother-in-law is a Democrat, but only because most Mormons are Republicans. My father-in-law is a genuine independent, except he thinks Dick Cheney is too evil to burn in the regular hell and deserves a special, extra-crispy hell fueled by Halliburton oil and the charbroiled bones of all the Iraqis he’s slaughtered. (My wife was a Democrat when she married me. Now she’s a registered Republican. I consider that to be my greatest single victory in our thirteen years of marriage.)

Anyway, when my sister-in-law announced that she hates Hillary Clinton, all bets were off. To her credit, my mother-in-law wisely left the room at that point, whereas my normally mild-mannered father-in-law started to spit fire and insist that Bush should be impeached because he lied us into war that has killed half a million Iraqis. Both of these statements are provably untrue, but I bit my tongue until he started wailing on Cheney.

“Dick Cheney is even worse,” he said, “because he committed treason when he outed a covert CIA agent because she’d proven his war was based on a lie.”

I didn’t raise my voice, but there is absolutely nothing in this statement that even slightly resembles reality. To refute this nonsense, I proceeded to recount the timeline of the whole Joe Wilson debacle, and he walked out of the room. The rest of my family told me to drop it, which I did eventually, but it still bugs the crap out of me. Everyone kept saying “it’s just his opinion,” which made me even madder. When people say things like “9/11 was an inside job” or “the holocaust didn’t happen,” yes, they’re expressing their opinions, but their opinions are based on bad facts. When someone says “2+2=37,” you can just write it off as their opinion, but it might not be a bad idea to persuade them their “opinion” is WRONG! WRONG, I TELL YOU!

Now I’m getting all hot and bothered again.

Just for my own edification, here are the basic, fundamental facts. I won’t review how conventional wisdom got lost along the way. Just consider these three:

  1. Valerie Plame, the CIA agent in question, was not a covert agent when her identity was revealed. Revealing her name was not “treason” or any other crime. Patrick Fitzgerald, the Democrat-approved prosecutor who was looking for any evidence that could have nailed Cheney, Bush, Karl Rove, or any significant administration official to the wall, was forced to concede that revealing Plame’s status did not constitute a violation of the law.

  2. The person who identified Valerie Plame as a CIA agent to Robert Novak in the column that started the whole brouhaha was a man named Richard Armitage, a Clinton holdover in the state department who was opposed to the Iraq war from the outset.
  3. Scooter Libby, Cheney’s former Chief of Staff and the only person prosecuted for anything in all this mess, was convicted of perjury – NOT for revealing Plame’s identity, as is widely believed. He lied to a grand jury about whether he had learned Plame’s status from his boss or from Tim Russert of NBC News.

That’s all. I’m done. It was a good day otherwise. And the turkey was really good.

Yams

Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving! Shouldn’t you be doing something other than reading blogs?

Allow me to be helpful. Since I know all of you visit this blog for the cooking tips, I provide you with my wife’s yams recipe.
All my life, I hated yams. Then my wife baked up some of these. It just goes to show that enough sugar can make anything palatable.
Here it is:

___________________

5 large yams
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c. milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 c. lt brown sugar
1/3 c. melted butter
1 c. chopped pecans

Bake yams at 350 for 40 minutes. Mix yams w/ butter, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla. Pour into 9 x 9 pan. Put cream in sauce pan. Simmer then add brown sugar. Cook over medium heat to soft ball stage. (on a candy thermometer it will say what temp is soft ball) Remove from heat. Beat in melted butter and pecans. Pour over sweet potatoes. Bake until they’re hot and top bubbles.

If I remember correctly, I usually do 8 or 9 large yams, but I make the same amount of the topping. Then I cook it in a 9 x 13 pan.

Have fun. For anyone else out there who needs a way to disguise dessert as vegetables, this is an awful good way of doing it.

Mrs. Cornell

__________________

Enjoy! Now I’ve gotta go home and hang up more Christmas lights. Yeesh.

Beware Authors of Our Own Lives

The Salt Lake Tribune carried an article today about a rebuttal to a speech given by LDS General Relief Society President Julie B. Beck in the most recent LDS General Conference.

The whole sorry incident just makes me sad.

A recap for those of you who missed it:

In October, Sister Beck gave a speech to the general church membership that began as follows:

There is eternal influence and power in motherhood. In the Book of Mormon we read about 2,000 exemplary young men who were exceedingly valiant, courageous, and strong. “Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him” (Alma 53:21). These faithful young men paid tribute to their mothers. They said, “Our mothers knew it.” (Alma 56:48)

With reference to that final scriptural passage, Beck titled her remarks “Mothers Who Know.” Most of the speech was fairly innocuous, yet it contained the following incendiary passages:

Beck on having children:

Mothers who know desire to bear children. Whereas in many cultures in the world children are “becoming less valued,” in the culture of the gospel we still believe in having children. Prophets, seers, and revelators who were sustained at this conference have declared that “God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.”

Beck on dress and grooming:

Mothers who know honor sacred ordinances and covenants. I have visited sacrament meetings in some of the poorest places on the earth where mothers have dressed with great care in their Sunday best despite walking for miles on dusty streets and using worn-out public transportation. They bring daughters in clean and ironed dresses with hair brushed to perfection; their sons wear white shirts and ties and have missionary haircuts.

On homemaking:

Mothers who know are nurturers… Another word for nurturing is homemaking. Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home. Home is where women have the most power and influence; therefore, Latter-day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world.

Many people were upset by these remarks. To some, this speech places inordinate emphasis on what the unenlightened might call “women’s work,” which feeds a stereotype of Mormon women as second-class citizens, housebound servants to their authoritarian husbands and plentiful children.

I must confess that I heard the talk when it was being given, and I found it unremarkable, although that may be because it came in the middle of several mid-Conference naps. Still, I ‘d like to address the three offending passages in turn.

There was nothing in the “having children” portion that bothered me at all. Implicit in her encouragement to multiply and replenish is the biological and spiritual necessity of a righteous father, too. Although she was speaking primarily to mothers, I fail to see how this statement is demeaning to women. If it is in any way damning, it damns both genders equally.

As for the dress and grooming section, I think Beck’s critics are assigning significance to her words that the context fails to sustain. The people she praises are individual examples of sacrifice and commitment, and that’s all that they are. She’s not insisting that everyone in the church brush their hair to perfection, any more than she’s demanding that each of us walk “for miles on dusty streets” or use “worn-out public transportation.” If you want to extrapolate a universal application for this – i.e. Moms better be sure that all children are in clean, ironed, white clothing and have their hair expertly coiffed at all times – then feel free. Just don’t pretend that’s what Julie Beck said, because she didn’t.

It’s the final passage that is probably the most provocative. Women have to be homemakers? They have to wash clothes and dishes and keep the house clean? Well, yes. Except nowhere do Beck’s remarks preclude men from getting in on the homemaking action, too. I’ll concede that Sister Beck’s language is pretty clumsy here. By addressing the talk solely to mothers, Beck seems to be downplaying the significance of fathers and the necessity of fathers to share the burdens of homemaking. I don’t think that was her intent. I doubt she would be upset if Dad was doing the dishes while Mom was folding clothes, which is usually the way it works in my house.

All this is prelude, however, to my real point.

The “rebuttal” to Beck’s talk is a deeply stupid idea, and not only because the content of the rebuttal itself is deeply stupid.

Of course, the rebuttal’s inherent asininity doesn’t help. It’s insufferably self-righteous, insisting that:

Several ideas within the body of President Beck’s talk conflict with our inspiration and experience. We are authors of our own lives, and this is the story we know to be true. [Emphasis added by me.]

The authors of their own lives then list the several areas of “conflict,” beginning with this one:

Fathers as well as mothers, men as well as women, are called to nurture. Nurturing is not confined to mothering or housekeeping, but is a universal attribute that communicates patience, peacefulness, and care.

Swell, Authors of Our Own Lives (AOOOL). Please show me how this conflicts with anything in Sister Beck’s talk? Show me where she insists that men cannot nurture, or that nurturing is solely defined by housekeeping skill? Where, exactly, does she come out in full force against patience, peacefulness, and care?

This is the problem with the entirety of the Authors of Our Own Lives brief. For the most part, their manifesto attributes to Beck things she didn’t say or even imply in order to whine about how awful the world is for women today. It even ludicrously “reject[s] the glorification of violence in all its forms,” because Beck had the audacity to refer to the 2,000 stripling warriors as “exceedingly valiant, courageous, and strong.” The war story fills the AOOOL with “unutterable sadness” because these warriors were sent to “kill other mothers’ children.” This is a gross misreading of both Julie Beck and the Book of Mormon. It makes me wonder why the AOOOL bother with the church in the first place.

However, the AOOOL cross the line between foolishness and irresponsibility when they demand that, “We reverence the responsibility to choose how, when, and whether we become parents.”

As Julie M. Smith, a blogger at timesandseasons.org wrote:

“I’m all over the “when.”

“How” makes me a little nervous.

But unless the signers understand something different than I do by “whether,” then I think that their statement is not in harmony with the established teachings of the Church. In the context of a temple-married LDS couple, children are not optional.

She’s right. And that’s a hard thing to say. It’s an even harder thing to hear. Surely it makes the AOOOL uncomfortable. But the reality of living as a church member is submitting to the church’s authority. The AOOOL may seem compassionate and enlightened, but in refusing to accept doctrines they don’t like, they’re really no different from the FLDSers who refused to accept the Manifesto or the bigots who ran away after President Kimball’s priesthood revelation in 1978.

If you think a church doesn’t have the right to tell you to have children, then that’s your prerogative. But if your church can be stripped of its authority whenever you don’t like what it says, then what authority does it really have left? And in what respect, then, can you still be termed a member of said church?

Don’t get me wrong. There is plenty of room in the LDS Church for people who struggle, who question, and who disagree occasionally. I know, because I’m one of them. But once you go public and adopt an adversarial position with the Church, your allegiances have shifted. You’re no longer trying to improve your own community from the inside; you’re on the outside looking in, doing battle. Spiritually speaking, that’s a very dangerous place to be.

I don’t think much will come of this, and I’m not calling for the excommunication of the AOOOL or for anyone to be burned at the stake. I just wish everyone would have taken Sister Beck at face value and tried to find the positives instead of putting their names to antagonistic and politically correct nonsense.

If I have to take sides between my Church and the AOOOLies, I’ll take the Church every time.