A Letter I Recently Received

This letter is neither an encomium of Stallion Cornell nor a panegyric to his ventures. Instead, it is a fact-filled reportage intended to convince you that when one succeeds in eking out a kernel of content from Stallion’s linguistic games and complex exegeses, it usually turns out to be either banal or blatantly false. And that’s why I feel compelled to say something about unsavory, ugly layabouts. I am deliberately using colorful language in this letter. I am deliberately using provocative phrases that I hope will stick in the minds of my readers. I do ensure, however, that my words are always appropriate and accurate and clearly explain how Stallion maintains that we ought to worship maledicent mental defectives as folk heroes. This is hardly the case. Rather, there is growing evidence that says, to the contrary, that we need to look beyond the most immediate and visible problems with him. We need to look at what is behind these problems and understand that I no longer believe that trends like family breakdown, promiscuity, and violence are random events. Not only are they explicitly glorified and promoted by Stallion’s negligent asseverations, but he is wallowing in the sty of phallocentrism. Am I being too harsh for writing that? Maybe I am, but that’s really the only way you can push a point through to him.

Stallion’s a pretty good liar most of the time. However, he tells so many lies, he’s bound to trip himself up someday. Does Stallion have trouble living with himself, knowing that he is determined to put as little thought as possible into solving the undeniable problems that our society is still facing with regard to classism? You know the answer, don’t you? You probably also know that he is not only immoral, but amoral. He is known for walking into crowded rooms and telling everyone there that a plausible excuse is a satisfactory substitute for performance. Try, if you can, to concoct a statement better calculated to show how uncompromising Stallion is. You can’t do it. Not only that, but he says that human beings should be appraised by the number of things and the amount of money they possess instead of by their internal value and achievements. Hey, Stallion, how about telling us the truth for once?

Although Stallion wants to brand me as dastardly, if we fail to make this world a kinder, gentler place, then we have no one to blame but ourselves. In that respect, we can say that you should be sure to let me know your ideas about how to deal with him. I, hardheaded cynic that I am, am eager to listen to your ideas and I honestly hope that I can grasp their essentials, evaluate their potential, look for flaws, provide suggestions, absorb feedback, suggest improvements, and then put the ideas into effect. Only then can we refute Stallion’s arguments line by line and claim by claim.

Stallion would sooner get a lobotomy than face our problems realistically, get to the root of our problems, and be determined to solve them. To top that off, his “I’m right and you’re wrong” attitude is blasphemous because it leaves no room for compromise. I have always been an independent thinker. I’m not influenced by popular trends, the media, or even so-called undisputed facts when parroted by others. Maybe that streak of independence is what first enabled me to see that if you looked up “lewd” in the dictionary, you’d probably see Stallion’s picture. I have absolutely no idea why Stallion makes such a big fuss over paternalism. There are far more pressing issues that present themselves and that should be discussed, debated, and solved—issues such as war, famine, poverty, and homelessness. There is also the lesser issue that Stallion will probably throw another hissy fit if we don’t let him twist our entire societal valuation of love and relationships beyond all insanity. At least putting up with another Stallion Cornell hissy fit is easier than convincing Stallion’s votaries that the biggest supporters of Stallion’s virulent zingers are obtrusive, stultiloquent gaberlunzies and despicable grizzlers. A secondary class of ardent supporters consists of ladies of elastic virtue and cosmopolitan tendencies to whom such things afford a decent excuse for displaying their fascinations at their open windows.

Stallion loves the truth only as long as it doesn’t conflict with his editorials. Please re-read and memorize that sentence if you still believe that Stallion has the mandate of Heaven to judge people based solely on hearsay. The truth hurts, doesn’t it, Stallion? His Praetorian Guard is a snake pit populated by semi-intelligible recidivists, contemptible fault-finders, and the most dour ignoramuses you’ll ever see. But the problems with his exegeses don’t end there. Finally, no letter about Stallion Cornell would be complete without mention of some of the entirely deranged schemes that he supports. Although there are a plenitude of examples from which to choose, the most deranged would have to be his proposal to impede the free flow of information. That’s the sort of thing that keeps me up at night.

______

This letter was written in under ten seconds by this online complaint generator. It’s far more fun than it has any right to be.

God, Man, and Philosophy

It’s become popular in conservative circles to cite Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged as a proper response to the current Obama unpleasantness. For those of you unfamiliar with this seminal novel, it’s the story of what happens when all the productive people of the world stop working. (It’s actually far goofier than that. The productive people all leave and live on an island run by a magic engine that’s pretty much cold fusion without all the scientific muss.) I’m passingly familiar with the works of Ayn Rand, having read The Fountainhead back in college of my own free will and choice. I tried to read Atlas Shrugged three or four years ago, and I slogged about halfway through before skimming the rest. Believe me, it doesn’t take long to get her point.

And her point, near as I can tell, is simply this: achievement is its own reward, and it should be celebrated, not punished.

That’s a point I heartily agree with, and she makes an airtight case on that score. But that’s not her only point. Just as militantly, she argues that there is no God, and that a human being’s intrinsic value can be measured solely by what they produce.

That’s where it all falls apart for me.

Despite her belligerent godlessness, Rand is often seen as a philosophical hero among the conservative movement. What’s ironic is that she’s not very far off from the views of Peter Singer, an atheistic left-wing “ethicist” who sees man as little more than a precocious mammal, and that it is no more immoral to kill a human being who is inconvenient to himself or others than it is to put down a horse with a broken leg.

“Killing a disabled infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person,” Singer has opined on more than one occasion. “Very often it is not wrong at all.”

Rand never openly addresses this kind of depravity in her books, which are relentlessly didactic and maddeningly devoid of even a whiff of humor. But what would happen if The Fountainhead’s Howard Rourke were hit in the head by a steel beam at a construction site, leaving him severely disabled? He would no longer be the brilliant architect who produces masterworks – he’d produce nothing and be a burden on those around him. A horse with a broken leg? An architect with a broken head? It make no difference. Put him down.

Or what about when he gets old and feeble? Put him out to pasture? Starve him to death? Throw him out in the snow? The possibilities are endless – and endlessly monstrous.

My point, to counter both Rand and Singer, is that it is impossible to morally defend a human life’s inherent value without a belief in God.

To illustrate, I bring in another philosopher, one perhaps not as credentialed as Singer or Rand, but one who provides the proper perspective. I quote talk show host Dennis Prager from page 77 of his book Think a Second Time:

It was mealtime on a flight somewhere over the United States: I noticed that both the middle-aged woman next to me and I had ordered special meals. I had a kosher meal, she a vegetarian one.

“Are you a vegetarian?” I asked the woman.

“Yes,” she responded.

“Why?”

“Because we have no right to kill animals. After all, who are we to claim that we are no valuable than animals?”

I vividly recall my thoughts. When she said that we have no right to kill animals, I felt a certain sympathy for her and her position. After all, I thought, her I am eating a kosher meal, and I have always understood kashrut to be Judaism’s compromise with vegetarianism.

But when she delivered the second part of her explanation, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. In fact, I was so certain that she was engaging in hyperbole that I said, “I certainly understand your opposition to killing animals, but you can’t really mean what you said about people not being more valuable than animals. After all, if an animal and a person were both drowning, which would you save first?”

I was sure I had posed a rhetorical question. So, when I received no response from the woman, I asked her if she had heard me. “Yes,” she responded, “I’m thinking.”

Prager poses a form of this question to high school students all across the country: “If your dog and a person you didn’t know were drowning, which would you first try to save?” He maintains that over the course of 15 years, no more than a third of the students ever voted to first save the person.

Prager sums up the problem thusly:

With the breakdown of religion, the belief that human beings are created in the image of God is no longer taught. From where, then, does the belief in human sanctity derive? What nonreligious reason could be offered for regarding people as more valuable than animals?

So that’s why I get nervous when Rand becomes a hero of conservatives. I admire her commitment to capitalism, but without God, she’s little more than Peter Singer in drag.

Meetings

I’m writing this knowing that I have a big meeting in fifteen minutes. Here’s the reason I’m never going to go very far.

I hate meetings.

I don’t mind meeting with people when there’s something to talk about – I just hate “meetings.” Where people sit around a table and have an agenda. Where someone always “calls in” and everyone has to speak up so the speakerphone can hear it. And when that person is asked to comment, he or she has to take the phone off mute and say “what?” And then the whole meeting stops as you catch them up on what’s just been said. And the meetings last at least an hour longer than you thought, or at least an hour longer than it needed to go, even if it was only supposed to last an hour.

I remember working for the pseudonymically-labeled Myron Felgewater, who used to cram the day with meetings, including meetings on how to make our meetings more productive. When he asked for input on how to make that happen, I suggested fewer meetings, which didn’t go over well.

Where I come from, it takes a damn good meeting to be better than no meeting at all.

Which, of course, leads me to believe that I’m probably in the wrong church. Mormons meet. A lot. It’s gotten better with time, from what I hear. It used to be that you’d go to three hours of meetings in the morning and then come back for a two-hour Sacrament Meeting at night. When I was about twelve, the Church came back with their new, improved “block schedule,” which combined most of the massive meetings into a single, three-hour block.

Yes, you read that right. Three hours. Every Sunday.

This was one of the main reasons Glenn Beck was initially reticient about investigating the Church. “If your God can’t get it all done in an hour like everybody else,” he reportedly said, “ then I’m not interested.”

Of course, now that I’m no longer in a bishopric, three hours is nothing. I used to get up at 5:30 AM to get to my first 6:00 AM Bishopric meeting, and then do nothing but go through a series of meetings – Correlation, Welfare, Priesthood Executive Committee – until the three-hour regular meeting block started. And then there were stewardship meetings and temple recommend interviews and whatever else meetings after the block. I didn’t get home until four o’clock on a regular Sunday, and I wasn’t at that meetinghouse half the time the Bishop was.

For the Bishopric, sitting up on the stand is the only time Sunday is actually a day of rest.

I always fell asleep sitting up on the stand. Always. In full view of the entire congregation. It got so bad that one family had a running bet – not whether or not I would fall asleep, but whether I would do it before or after the bottom of the hour.

I tried not to. Honestly, I did. But when you’ve been up since 5:30 and been meeting all day, and you’re finally not being asked to do anything but listen, it’s hard to get the body geared up enough to stay alert. Once the snooze instinct hits, you have no recourse. You can, of course, tighten your sphincter, which gives you about three seconds of alertness, but there’s not much else.

I bring this up because our family attended the dedicatory services for the new Draper, Utah temple. The dedicatory prayer was beautiful; the Hosanna Shout was inspiring, and hearing the choir sing “The Spirit of God” was certainly a highlight.

So why did the whole thing have to last an hour and a half?

We got THREE choir songs, about FOUR different speakers, and an event that could have been about thirty minutes long and felt entirely complete was elongated to three times its natural length. Why?

I hope this doesn’t make me look faithless. I love the Church; I love the Gospel; I love, adore, and worship the Savior.

And I really, really hate meetings.

Why?

Why is there snow on the ground this year on March 24? Why? Dear Thor, why?!!

I just spent two hours folding clothes. We have a dishwasher, why not a clothesfolder?

Why does Barack Obama keep promising to do very, very scary things? Why does America want him to do these things? Why do I want to run and hide every time he opens his mouth?

Why can’t I eat whatever I want with no waistlinic or gastric consequences?

Why do people email me or call me on weekends?

Why does my cat wait until I’ve just fallen asleep before meowing very, very loudly in my ear? Why does he insist on going outside when there’s snow, and then meow loudly until I let him back in, only to meow to go back out? Why is this cat still alive?

Why hasn’t JK Rowling broken down and started writing a new novel that takes place in the Harry Potter Universe when you know, sooner or later, that’s she’s going to do exactly that?

Why does Languatron still think I’m Glen A. Larson?

Why do I not have a Green Lantern-style power ring that can mine the mountains of Utah for a rare gem that will make me a gazillionaire?

Why does Glenn Beck keep pushing a 30-year-old John Birch Society book up to the top of the Amazon bestseller lists? Why does anyone listen to the John Birch Society? Why do people feel compelled to believe that the Federal Reserve is secretly run by six gnomes that live in the caves of Mt. Baden Powell?

Why haven’t the Boy Scouts of America been targeted as a terrorist organization?

Why do I keep getting older without any warning?

Why do things cost money, forcing me to actually earn money to pay for them?

Why must floors always be swept and dishes always be done?

Why do mornings always arrive earlier than the sun does?

Why am I not asleep?

The end. Good night. (That answers the last one. Sort of.)

Final Thoughts about Galactica In Name Only

It’s over.

I’ve tried to anticipate what I would write for a final review that would be a worthy capstone to four seasons of reviews. I even tried my hand at a few ideas over the past few weeks that might let me go out in a blaze of snarky glory. None of them worked, and nothing I can say at this point will be entirely adequate, much like the final episode itself.

In this respect, I can empathize with our friend Mr. Moore’s plight.

Yet the episode itself, as a standalone, worked quite well in places. The second hour of the three kicked all sorts of tushy, what with the explosions and the blood-smeared centurionsand the old school Cylons and space dogfights and all the popcorn SciFi coolness you could muster. I had a great time. And seeing Earth, our Earth, was pretty fun. I have no idea, though, why Hera mattered at all. Suddenly she’s “mitochondrial Eve” from which we are all descended? Given that Earth was already populated when Galactica arrived, and that the Colonials scattered all over the globe, how is this even remotely possible?

Like that’s the only question left unanswered.

Still, you have to cut Moore and Co. a little slack. Nothing they could have said or done would have sufficed, even under the best of circumstances. It didn’t help that Moore painted himself into several different corners and then just stomped his way across the floor, hoping that you wouldn’t notice the mess he was making. Why did the Cylons attack every 33 minutes? Because. Why did they operate on Kara in “The Farm” and steal her ovaries? Because. Why was the Final Five’s history and mission so wildly convoluted and inconsistent? Because. Why was their earth nuked? Because. Why did the Cylons bother to nuke humanity in the miniseries in the first place? Because.

Because why? Well, because God did it.

Who would have thought that this would be the heart and soul of the reinvention of the Science Fiction television series: a literary device as old as time – the “Deus Ex Machina,” i.e. the Machine of the Gods. At the end of a Greek myth, Zeus of Poseidon or the God of Quality Footwear would wave his bolt or his trident or his shoe horn and make everything better. Or worse. Or like it never happened.

It’s cheap, it’s sloppy, and it’s the core of the “greatest show on television.”

No wonder so many devotees of this show are in an uproar. The discussion boards have been filled with theories to reconcile the improbability of all of Moore’s arbitrary twists and turns, only to discover that there are no explanations. God did it. God sent his sneering daughter Starbuck to save His Battlestar. God directed His servant Baltar’s hand to point out the ammo dump back in Season 1’s “Hand of God” episode. God sent lots of visions that didn’t make any sense and which were largely irrelevant. God sent a slutty angel in a red cocktail dress to help Baltar masturbate. God wrote “All Along the Watchtower” and taught it Anders, Starbuck’s father, Hera, and Bob Dylan, respectively. Did Jimi Hendrix use the jump coordinates from the song to help him kiss the sky? Maybe Jimi is the name God likes better than God. And, really. who wouldn’t?

Such sophistry.

No one likes to hear “I told you so,” which is too bad, since it’s usually so much fun to say it. Yet I take no joy in seeing this show’s devotees being so colossally duped. Indeed, a reasonable person could have looked at this show and its solid initial premise and its stellar cast – Sackhoff ever the exception – and conclude that something was happening here that was worth their time. Context, however, leads to a different conclusion.

This is a show that, from day one, was built on a foundation of contempt.

You can still see the reflexive disdain for the show’s source material in the comments of those who have followed the show’s hype but not its story. It’s impossible to read an overview of the thing without a ritualistic genuflection to the idea that the original series was hokey and trite and silly and filled with all manner of limburgerian fromage. So even when the new show sucks openly, apologists can take cover behind Dirk Benedict’s dated hairstyle. At least the new show didn’t have Muffit the Daggit! Or casino planets! Or Lords of Kobol!

Oh, wait…

See, the dirty secret is that much of the original show’s basic mythology actually did survive into this new incarnation. And when this show shined – and it did, on occasion, have its moments – it was following in the footsteps of its predecessor. Unfortunately, it always refused to acknowledge that that was what it was doing. Indeed, the producers were embarrassed by where they had come from. They were ever lamenting the fact that they were forced to labor under the leaden weight of the cheesy title “Battlestar Galactica,” which was holding them back.

Can we now collectively admit that this is a provably false assertion?

Consider: the only information people who tuned in to watch the miniseries had was that the show was named “Battlestar Galactica.” That was a name with a history and not-insignificant brand equity. So the miniseries was a ratings smash. Yet when the show went to series, the show lost a third of that original audience.

So who were the people who abandoned this show after the miniseries?

Wouldn’t it make sense to assume that a good chunk of them were people who liked “Battlestar Galactica” but recognized that this series bore scant resemblance to its namesake? As the show wore on, the ratings steadily eroded to the point where first run episodes were lower-rated than “Star Trek: Enterprise” reruns. This show should have been cancelled after the second season, yet it endured. Why? Because the network and the producers and the intelligentsia were proud of it. They were proud of the audience they were alienating. The rubes and hicks that couldn’t see how nihilistic gloom was infinitely more sophisticated than the heroic optimism of the original series weren’t wanted here. This show mocked their religion, their politics, their morality, and wallowed in the despair that marks the absence of the things they hold dear.

And then, in the end, God did it.

Suddenly, the tables are turned. The core diehards, the ones who followed Ron off the cliff, who bought into the miasma and the blackness, who somehow believed that all of this was going somewhere that would justify their investment of time, energy and passion – they get told that God did it. They now know what it is to be held in contempt by the show they loved. It’s not surprising that they’re not particularly happy about it.

What’s interesting is that Moore, in his finale, felt it necessary to provide a bunch of irrelevant backstory for characters that have been on display for four television seasons and the better part of six years. Adama’s lie detector test? The strip club? Roslin’s boytoy? Lee and Kara’s sexual near miss? What was the point?

The point, it seems to me, was one last, flailing attempt to give these characters enough weight so you would miss them when they rode off into the sunset. Which, by and large, you won’t. Too many of these folks were mean, nasty, vile people, and it’s kind of nice to be rid of them. The largest exceptions, in my mind, were Roslin and Adama, whose final scenes were, indeed, rather touching. Part of that is the stellar nature of the two actors involved, but these two characters were the only ones that maintained most of their integrity throughout. (Maybe Lee, too, although his denouement was pretty pedestrian.) Are we really going to miss the Tighs or Tori? Anyone else wish Starbuck had been thrown out of the airlock long before she Let There Be Light Rock?

It was laughable to see the Baltar flashbacks, which provided a limp retcon to make Baltar’s genocidal betrayal just a little less venal. I mean, come on. Baltar’s an interesting character, sure, but he’s not a good guy. He’s an amoral, self-serving weasel. And suddenly, he’s the one non-imaginary angel character with the direct conduit to Jimi God? How are we supposed to take that seriously?

The broader answer, of course, is that nobody should take any television seriously. In the immortal words of the Shat – who, I’m thinking, may have actually met Bob Dylan – “for crying out loud, it’s just a TV show!”

Yes, it is. But he disappointment comes from knowing that it didn’t have to be “just a TV show.” Like it or nor, that’s all we’re left with.

Big Love’s Public Intimacy

So I don’t have HBO, but I do have access to YouTube, where I found the most controversial bits of the Big Love episode that depicts pieces of the Mormon temple ceremony.

Watching it was quite an unnerving experience, more so than I had anticipated when I wrote about this earlier.

I just don’t know the appropriate way to discuss this. I take what happens in the temple very seriously, and, like most members of the church, I am not willing to discuss much of it outside the temple. So I’m left with trying to address something intensely personal and sacred to me after it’s been ripped from its context and thrown out into the wide world.

I really don’t know how to describe my reaction in a way that will make any sense to anyone outside my faith.

The word that keeps coming back to me is “intimate.”

It’s not perfect, but it will have to do. The problem is that “intimate” is often used as a euphemism for “sexual,” and what happens in the temple is in no way erotic. Yet there’s an analogy in that word that has some merit to it. Imagine, for instance, if what happened in the intimate moments of your marriage were to be broadcast on national television. It’s not that you’re ashamed or embarrassed by what happens then; it’s that intimate things are not for public consumption. And if the producer of the show kept telling you that what they were showing would be depicted “tastefully” and “with respect,” would that make you feel any better? And even if the depiction were, indeed, “tasteful,” would you feel any less violated?

Maybe that helps.

For the record, I do think it could have been a lot, lot worse. The ceremony was, indeed, depicted as a sacred moment for the characters involved, and there seemed to be very little attempt to amp up the weirdness quotient. I don’t really know if what they showed was weird enough on its own terms, as I have been inured by a lifetime of Mormonism to be able to objectively gauge the perceptions of outsiders. Perhaps I’m being Pollyanna-ish, but I suspect that many looking for Xenu-esque goofery would come away disappointed. I remember when I first went through the temple that I was expecting to learn big, kooky mysteries, like the location of the lost tribes of Israel or the intergalactic coordinates to Kolob. I recall that one of my first reactions was, “This is it? What’s the big deal?” If I were a betting man, I’d think that most people who watched this episode probably had a similar reaction. Maybe that’s just me.

What was very odd to me was how clumsy the show was with things that would have been very easy to get right. For instance, the polygamist lady refers to her upcoming “Love Court,” where she anticipates being excommunicated. She uses the term as if it’s common Mormon jargon, when, to my knowledge, no Mormon has ever used that phrase in any context. It’s also very silly when the matron in the temple comes up to the woman and her family and shoos them out of the temple because their “fifteen minutes are up.” What, do you take a number? Is there somebody sitting in the back of the room with a stopwatch? In real life, you can sit in the temple for hours if you want to. What was the point of that, other than to make Mormons look rude and insensitive?

This is a tempest in a teapot. This, too, shall pass. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was somewhat unsettling.

McCain’s Earmark Madness

The good news is that even though Barack Obama is the President of the United States, John McCain isn’t.

His stupid earmark crusade has now become the central issue of Republican politics, where suddenly earmarks are the only problem, earmarks are the reason we have such huge deficits, earmarks are the mark of the beast, the sign of the devil, the locus of all that is evil in the natural and unnatural world.

Does John McCain even begin to understand what an earmark is? (If you want to stop reading here, I’ll skip ahead and tell you the answer: nope.)

In case, perhaps, there are some out there as ignorant as Beavis McCain, the first thing you need to understand is that earmarks DO NOT ADD ONE DIME OF ADDITIONAL MONEY TO THE FEDERAL BUDGET. Got that? No? Then I will repeat it without capital letters. Earmarks don’t add to the budget. At all. Not a penny. John McCain is either too stubborn or too stupid to understand this. (Probably both.)

Do I have your attention now?

Some context is important here. McCain and Co. are forgetting that the Constitution gives the power of the purse to the Congress, not the president.

Indeed, when the Constitution was first drafted, the Founding Fathers presumed that the most powerful political entity in the country would be the House of Representatives. All spending bills were to originate in the House, with little or no input from the Executive Branch.

Yet today, the balance of power has shifted drastically. Now it’s the White House that submits the budget for Congress to approve with an up-or-down vote. Any budgetary directions that originate with the Congress are labeled “earmarks,” and it has become politically fashionable to view such direction as inherently wasteful or corrupt.

It’s important to examine the underlying premise here.

When the Founders crafted the American experiment, they believed that those closest to the people were those who would spend public money most wisely. If we ignore the voice of Congress by eliminating earmarks, then we give President Obama absolute power to determine how federal money ought to be spent.

That’s unacceptable. And it’s stupid besides.

“But wait, Stallion!” says Beavis. “We shouldn’t be spending money on all these goofy little pet projects! We should cut the budget at the top!”

Well, yes. That’s what he should be saying. But he’s not.

The question in Washington should be “how much money should we spend?” But Beavis skims over that question. The money’s being spent. So who should determine how it’s spent? Beavis answers that question thinking he’s answering the first one. Whether he realizes it or not, he’s giving that power solely to the president. He’s acting as if Obama would actually make his budget smaller if all earmarks were eliminated.

Which he wouldn’t.

So, instead, we end up eating our own over an issue that’s tangential at best to the problems we face, and in doing so, we cede more power and authority to a chief executive who wants to fundamentally restructure the nation’s economy in truly frightening ways.

To quote Homer Simpson, democracy just doesn’t work.

Big Love’s Big Stunt

I have seen precisely one episode of HBO’s signature series “Big Love,” ostensibly written about a polygamous family in Sandy, Utah, with roots in early Mormon doctrine. What I can tell you, from that episode, is that nothing in the show bears even a passing resemblance to Utah, polygamists, or Mormons. Trust me. I live in Sandy; I’ve lived near polygamists, and I’ve been a Mormon all my life. I really think you can take my word on this.

Yet now, for whatever reason, the show is bringing its cameras inside a Mormon temple, something that the executive producers of the show claims “has never been shown on television before.” So now all the really weird crap that goes on in those temples will finally be exposed for all to see! If that won’t bring ratings, nothing will. (I should note, however, that no one’s ever shown a lemur eating a pineapple on television before, either. I think that’s the final taboo.)

I’m of two or three minds on this issue. On the one hand, I find it offensive, but not in a “Damn you to hell, heathen!” kind of way. Rather, it’s just plain rude. It feels a bit like someone has taken nude pictures of me – or the entire church – and posted them on the Internet. It’s embarrassing whenever anyone violates something private, and most people have the decency to know when they’re crossing the line. This just demonstrates a sort of classless, brutish disdain for my faith that doesn’t sit well with people of good will, no matter what church they go to.

On the other hand, I think it’s ultimately not that big a deal. The mantra in the Church is that what happens in the temple is “sacred, not secret,” and we want everyone in the world to see what happens, just as long as they have the spiritual context to appreciate it. You can debate the particulars of sacred vs. secret all day long, but in the age of the Internet, just about everything is a Google click away. It’s not as if this is the first time this information has seen the light of day. Back in college, I remember hearing excerpts from the temple ceremony on the radio on Walter Martin’s odious “Bible Answer Man” program. Ex-Mormons, Anti-Mormons, and those with more gumption than manners are eager to dish as much dirt as possible. The Church survived them; they’ll survive this without incident.

My third hand, if I had one, says that some good will likely come of this. Too often, we in the church go out of our way to be as inoffensive and generically Protestant as possible. That may minimize opposition, but, at the same time, it doesn’t really advance the cause. I hear and see all kinds of church advertisements filled with nice families and happy, cheery moments, and, yes, many Mormons have nice families with happy, cheery moments, but they don’t have a monopoly on them. I’m kind of tired of selling our church as Presbyterianism with Family Home Evenings on Monday nights.

I know a pollster who’s done a great deal of work for the LDS Church, and he discovered that convert baptisms are always highest in areas where the Church has experienced a great deal of controversy. He focused, for instance, on the firestorm surrounding the attempt to get a steeple placed atop the Mormon temple in Boston. Local newspapers were running all kinds of articles about the evils of Mormons, and, as a result, a good number of decent people approached the Church itself to get their side of the story. (I’d be interested to see if the same things happens, or has happened, in the aftermath of Prop.8 in California.)

So many will watch Big Love, and they’ll be weirded out by something for which they have no proper context, and we Mormons will once again look like circus freaks to the public at large, but a few people of good will will realize there’s probably more to the story. And they’ll seek out those clean-cut guys in white shirts and start asking a few questions. And, at the end of the day, the Church will be a little bit bigger as a result.

As for me, I won’t watch. (But only because I don’t have HBO.)

Daylight Savings Time

I come to announce my opposition to Daylight Savings Time in the strongest possible terms.

I see no valid reason to let it continue. It is fundamentally disruptive of every aspect of life, with only antiquated agrarian benefits to show for it. We no longer need it. It’s completely unnecessary. It’s intrusive, maddening, and worse than worthless.

It is time for it to die.

There’s more to it than just the mere inconvenience of having to reset every clock and rearrange the schedule. Biologically, it wreaks havoc on a family of young children. Infants that used to go to bed at 8:00 now find themselves being put to bed at 7:00, and they don’t understand it. Their bodies refuse to participate. It takes weeks to acclimate young children to the new schedule. Those are weeks where babies wake up an hour earlier or later than their supposed to, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Why? Why is this allowed to continue?

I know that in an agricultural society, extra daylight is a valuable thing. But that society is several generations removed from where we are now. For decades, technology has allowed farmers to normalize their work times regardless of the length of the days. Why do we allow this relic to disrupt our daily lives?

Mrs. Cornell stumbled on research that suggests that heart attacks increase by 6% the day after Daylight Savings Time.

This didn’t affect me as much as it usually does, however, because I stayed home from church with my sick son, who napped while I did. A nap is the closes thing to heaven on earth. I’m not sure if this would work if I tried it every week, but I feel much more in tune with the divine after one long afternoon nap than I usually do after a day of church.

In saying this, though, I know I am out of step with the Psalmist, who wrote “Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty.” He’s got me pegged. I’m quite the sleep lover. And I’d probably be a lot wealthier if I snoozed less. But that being the case, is it so wrong to protect what little sleep I have? There are so many, many sources of stress in our lives. Why do we arbitrarily create more of it?

If anyone has a persuasive argument that this archaic practice ought to continue, I’m willing to hear it. Otherwise, I could be easily persuaded to take another nap.