Thoughts about the Aurora Shooting

I wrote most of the following the morning after the shooting, in the hopes that it would be published elsewhere. It will not be, so I post it here, even though the thoughts may not be as pertinent as they would have been had they been expressed in a more timely fashion.

____________

The entire country is in mourning as a result of the horrific movie theater shooting in Colorado. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. This nightmarish event has renewed calls for stricter gun control laws, and it’s easy to see why. It would be wonderful if there were a law on the books that could have prevented the tragic, senseless loss of twelve lives and prevented so many needless injuries.

In practical terms, it’s hard to imagine what such a law would look like.

Consider that the shooter already committed the most heinous and violent crime imaginable, unencumbered by any consideration of legal or moral restraints. Given the fact that he was more than willing to ignore the legions of existing laws designed to prevent what he did, what new piece of legislation could have possibly provided the constraints necessary to keep him in check? It’s unlikely that someone monstrous enough to open fire in a crowded theater would have scrapped his plans to do so because his firearm was unregistered.

Some therefore argue that registering guns isn’t enough, and that such weapons should simply be outlawed altogether. After all, you can’t shoot a gun if you can’t get a gun. That’s a well-intentioned premise, but in practical terms, it just doesn’t work.

In 1997, the United Kingdom banned all handguns for private citizens. Within four years of the ban, the rate of handgun violence more than doubled. Contrast that with what happened on this side of the Atlantic after the Supreme Court struck down gun control laws in both Chicago and Washington, D.C. DC’s mayor predicted that the repeal of gun bans would “only lead to more handgun violence,” while Chicago’s mayor Richard Daley suggested that the repeal would lead us “back to the Old West, [where] you have a gun and I have a gun and we’ll settle it in the streets.”

That’s not what happened at all.

In the first six months of 2011, gun violence fell 14% from the previous year, compared to a 6% drop in the other four most populous cities.  Since the 2008 decision restored gun ownership rights to DC residents, the murder rate has fallen by 34%, and assaults with guns have fallen by 37%.

It’s hard to argue with those kind of results.

Regardless of how well-intentioned gun control proponents are, the reality is that, for the most part, more expansive gun laws are only effective with people who are willing to follow the law in the first place.  That group does not include murderers who prey on innocents and show no respect for the value of human life.

_____________

One additional thought:

Much has been made of the fact that this monster purchased his guns legally. Yes, he did. So what? Are we to believe, then, that if these guns had been illegal, he wouldn’t have been able to get them? If that’s true, then where did he get all of the illegal explosives and chemicals that were used to booby-trap his apartment and blow up first responders? Big 5? Making guns illegal doesn’t make them disappear.

More on this tomorrow.

The Dark Knight Rises

So the Cornells went and saw The Dark Knight Rises last night. The theater was half empty at a 7:40 showing, which I think is directly attributable to the tragedy in Colorado where a loonbat murdered total strangers in cold blood. I have written my thoughts about that and will publish them here if they’re not published elsewhere. There is, however, the possibility of them being published elsewhere, so I don’t want to step on that. I’ll post a link to them when it appears.

So what about the movie?

Well, it passed Mrs. Cornell’s wristwatch test. She judges how much she likes a movie by how frequently she looks at her watch before the end. As we left the theater, she triumphantly announced that she didn’t look at it once during the entire two-hour-and-forty-six-minute running time. Part of that was likely due to the fact that she thinks Christian Bale is pretty hot.

I didn’t look at my watch either, mainly because I don’t have a watch. I thought the movie was unnecessarily lengthy, but I was engaged in it throughout, and I was generally entertained. The plot of the film borrows heavily from the 1986 Frank Miller comic The Dark Knight Returns as well as the Bane-centric Knightfall storyline from the mid-1990s. I enjoyed being geek enough to recognize that, and I’m also thrilled that director Christopher Nolan took my advice on how to craft a sequel to The Dark Knight. If you’ve forgotten that advice, I reproduce it here for “See-I-Told-You-So” purposes.

“So the question is, who is the villain for the next film going to be? Batman’s rogue’s gallery is massive, but none of the villains in it can hold a candle to the Joker, especially after Ledger’s tragic star turn. So who will it be? … If it were up to me, I’d go with Bane, the guy who break’s Batman’s back in the comics… he could fit quite well into this version of Batman’s real world milieu.”

- Stallion Cornell, 2008

I eagerly await my royalty check.

Actually, this Bane was markedly different from the comics’ Bane, who frequently removed his goofy mask. In the comics, the mask was not used to administer painkillers, but rather to inject Bane with the steroidish drug called Venom, which gave Bane ridiculously huge muscles and super strength. I would have liked to see that Bane instead of this one, as the mask was an unnecessary distraction, especially because of the strange, electronic-y voice. The rumor is that oodles of people complained that Bane was impossible to understand in the previews, so they amped up his voice to 11 in the final mix. Bad move. It’s too loud; it’s too artificial, and, ultimately, it’s unnecessary. (Also, how does the guy eat?)

I was, however, pleasantly surprised by how well Ann Hathaway represents herself in this movie. I thought she was a poor casting choice at first – too cute and quirky to play the sultry Selina Kyle. It was surprising to watch as she projected genuine menace along with more sex appeal than I thought she was capable of producing.

And Joseph Gordon-Leavitt was remarkable in this thing. I went into this spoiler-free, so I kept leaning over to my daughter Chloe and saying, “I’m pretty sure he’s going to end up as Robin.” And I was right. I am a friggin’ genius. Be amazed.

So did I like it? Yes. As much as The Dark Knight? No. It’s bigger than that film was, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. The scope of this one was so huge that the more personal bits – Alfred’s tearful laments, for example – seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Lucius Fox also didn’t have much to do, and I kept wondering why Matthew Modine, as a sort of nebbishy, corruptish cop, was getting so much screen time. The size of the thing also enlarged the size of the plot holes, which didn’t bother me as much at the time as they do now.

So here are my top seven nitpicks. I will not skimp on revealing plot points, so avoid the numbered parts of this post if you care about that sort of thing:

1. What the Sam Hill is the “Dent Act?” What law could possibly end all crime in a large metropolitan city for eight years? And wouldn’t such an act have to be passed on a state or federal level rather than by a municipality?

2. How does Catwoman “kidnap” that congressman and keep him from phoning anybody as to his whereabouts? He seems to be going along for the ride willingly, yet he also seems too addled to do anything about it. Why? Is she drugging him? If so, why is he still “madly in love”with her after he escapes?

3. Bruce avoids Miranda Tate for months, if not years. He then has a single awkward encounter with her at a cocktail party, and then he invites her to see his magical fusion generator in a very businesslike, non-romantic setting. And then, suddenly, they’re in bed together…? Excuse me? Isn’t this the guy who has been a hermit for eight years pining over his lost love? How does he break out of that with a girl he seems to barely know?

4. Wayne Manor was rebuilt after burning to the ground in Batman Begins. Apparently, none of the original art burned down, though. But if Batman went into hiding directly after Harvey Dent died, why is there all that Batman fooferah in the Batcave? The manor wasn’t finished in The Dark Knight, so why would it now include extensive Bat-themed paraphernalia if, while he was building it, he knew he wasn’t going to be Batman anymore?

5. Billionaire Bruce Wayne appears again after eight years of seclusion. At precisely the same moment, Batman reemerges, too, using equipment that clearly costs a whole lot of money. How stupid are these people in Gotham that they don’t connect the dots? Jim Gordon, I’m looking at in your direction.

5. Bruce Wayne limps and has no cartilage in his knees – but some magic leg brace fixes that. Does he have that brace when Bane sends him to the pit prison? Doubtful. So how does he walk at the end of the film? Bane also smashes his vertebrae so badly that they’re sticking out of his back, but he doesn’t damage his spinal cord and paralyze him. Really?

6. No one can get on or off the island of Gotham or else Bane will blow the whole thing up. They can try to walk out on the frozen ice, but that always cracks and kills the people who attempt it. But after Bruce Wayne escapes his prison in an unnamed foreign country, he manages to not only catch some flight back to Gotham, or someplace near Gotham, but he then casually walks up to Catwoman in a deserted alley. Did he stroll over to the island on the ice? Seriously, how the %^&% did he get there?

7. WARNING: BIG ENDING SPOILER. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.SERIOUSLY. THIS CONCERNS THE CLIMAX OF THE FILM

So Talia Al Ghul hated her father until Batman killed him. So she wants revenge on Batman for killing her father that she hated…? Hunh? And Bane is willing to go along with all of this because… why, exactly? Once you discover that Talia is the driving force behind everything we’ve seen, you start to wonder why Bane is invested in any of this at all. Plus Bruce gets a knife in the gut, but it doesn’t seem to slow him down much, even as he swims miles back to shore in his Batman outfit after bailing out before the nuclear blast. Pardon me?

END SPOILERS

Although it’s not the end of the nitpicks. For instance, Bruce spends a lot of time in his Batman suit talking to people who know who he is under the mask. So why does he have to use his goofy Batman gravelly voice when he talks to them? That voice has always annoyed me. Not like Bane’s voice, mind you, but it’s annoying.

All things considered, I went away pleased, as I can’t really imagine how they could have wrapped things up in a more satisfying way. I was, however, disappointed by the lackluster Man of Steel teaser, though. Who wants to see a Superman movie where a bearded Clark Kent spends his time on an Alaskan fishing boat?

The Order of the Arrow FAQ

My anti-Order of the Arrow screeds are attracting attention again, which always brings a smile to my face. The fact that my rantings exposing the secret society of pimply adolescent faux Indians in loincloths are listed as the highest ranked hit on certain O of A Google searches is the greatest possible revenge for my scarred adolescence that I could ever possibly have imagined when I was futilely trying to boil an egg in a Dixie cup to keep from starving during my Order of the Arrow “ordeal.” I figure the misleading title of this post ought to bump up my Google rankings for even more OA information inquiries.

Today’s bit of bile comes courtesy of “your a wuss,” which surprises me, because I didn’t think anyone knew about my a wuss. Bask in his Baden Powell-inspired wisdom:

This is about the most ridiculous post I’ve ever read in my entire life! I’m am Eagle Scout, Brotherhood Member, and currently an Assistant Scoutmaster. I have been a Boy Scout since Aug 8, 1992. I could go on for days talking about how much of a wuss you are but I’ll make it short and sweet. The Order of the Arrow is a selection of the most elite scouters and campers and if this is the story or your Ordeal then apparently you were chosen by mistake. For you weren’t even worthy to have seen and heard the things you did..you learned absolutely nothing apparently you don’t even understand what being a Boy Scout even is. I’m sorry for whatever Scoutmaster had to deal with your pink panty whiny tail. I feel terribly sorry for whatever Klan leader had you on that ordeal. Shame on all you ppl who put down Scouts and the Order! I bet Baden Powell would completely
over

I bet he would completely over, too.

With only one exception, every defender of the Order of the Arrow that has taken me to task for my subversive perspective on their quaint little club has resorted to childish insults, most of which include the subtle – and often not so subtle – bashing of gay folks. How else to interpret “your a wuss” and his loathing of my “pink panty whiny tail?” Now that I think about it, what is he doing looking at my tail in the first place? Methinks the homophobe doth protest too much.

But, yes, there was one exception, and here it is – a comment from a guy named Randy Cone, who expressed his reasonable defense thusly:

It’s quite possible to make elementary school sound like a bizarre form of torture as well, if you word it just right. Just because you don’t agree with the beliefs of an organization doesn’t mean you need to make it out to be an evil group. I’m sure you’d be just as resentful if someone targeted something you believed in.

Indeed I would, as regular readers of this blog can confirm. And while I appreciate the reasonable tone of the criticism, I think it misses the point entirely.

The problem is not that I “don’t agree with the beliefs” of the Order of the Arrow. Other than their unnatural loincloth fetish, their beliefs remain a mystery to me. For all I know, they believe that the evil emperor Xenu corrals dolphins with unicorn horns in honor of the Cosmic Feast of the Rainbow Sherbet.

And you know what? I’m so unbelievably cool with that.

Believe what you want. I don’t care what you think; I care what you do. So my problem is not with what the organization believes; it is with how the organization behaves. And, regardless of its supposedly noble and honorable pedigree, history, and reading materials, it behaves badly.

Very badly.

Randy Cone compares my take on the O of the A with a warped recounting of the tortures of Elementary School. Not that my grade school experience was all sunshine and lollipops, but that frame of reference doesn’t really help his argument.

Consider…

What would happen if my second grade teacher banished me to sleep unprotected in the woods in subfreezing temperatures? Wouldn’t the Federal Government swoop in and close any school down that was forcing its student body to dig ditches for fourteen hours in silence, feeding them nothing but a carrot and a gumdrop? If any teacher had smacked me in the back of the head for opening my eyes while being dragged on a rope line to a cryptic rendezvous with Iron Eyes Cody, how long would it take the ACLU to file the lawsuit?

Tell me again why I’m supposed to treat the Order of the Arrow with respect?

I know some disagree, and some have had positive experiences with these guys, and that’s all kinds of nifty. Better them than me. For my part, I refuse to honor any organization that ritualizes bullying, inculcates authoritarianism, and institutionally rewards cruelty.

But that’s just my own personal pink panty whiny tail talking.

Hitler Cornell

For a brief, shining moment circa 1993, the name “Stallion Cornell” was in popular parlance at the University of Southern California School of Theatre, which severely irked a real-life theatre school professor with the surname Cornell, who thought I had chosen the name to make fun of him.

I hadn’t, but I often wish I had.

During my senior year, “The Other Cornell,” as I like to think of him, taught a class on directing that explained to actors who had spent almost four years in an intensive conservatory-style classroom setting how to use terms like “stage left” and “stage right.” One of his exercises involved putting a group of actors on stage and then using flash cards to direct them how to go. Should they go stage left? Stage right? Maybe “upstage?” Or “center stage?” So many pointless options.

And then…

“Go stage right!” he would read from his flash card.

Bam! Sure enough, the students on stage would then amble toward their right. That’s how it works. Because “stage right,” you see, is to the right of the person standing on the stage, although it would seem like left to the audience, which is looking at the action head on. It can be a very, very tricky business unless you, you know, think about it for a microsecond. Still, it was good that we were finally learning such things, as we had only been involved in a few dozen productions and about a zillion rehearsals and classes where the basics of theatrical rights and lefts were as rudimentary as which shoe goes on which foot. (The rule is “left shoe; left foot,” regardless of where you are standing on the stage.)

It wasn’t until after I graduated that I got a chance to really see these skills in action. My friend Ed and I returned to USC’s Bing Theatre in 1994 to watch their production of Cabaret, directed by none other than The Other Cornell. As we watched, people were unfailingly going left and right all over the place. Those flash cards really seemed to pay off.

If you’ve not seen Cabaret, a few plot points are necessary for you to appreciate the stupidity of what Ed and I experienced as we watched The Other Cornell’s uniquely boneheaded interpretation thereof. The story follows an idealistic American writer ensconced in Berlin during the early 1930s as the Nazis are rising to power. At one point, a collection of fresh faced youngsters come center stage and sing a pleasant little tune about deer and sunny meadows and birds and bees called “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” which becomes chilling when you discover that these seemingly nice kids are actually the Hitler Youth, and the tomorrow they’re dreaming about is one where the world is under the jackboot of the Third Reich.

Here’s the movie version, which is, indeed, genuinely disturbing.

In “The Other Cornell’s” version, the song was performed in front of a slideshow of Hitler snapshots and photos of Nazi atrocities. There’s the concentration camps. There are the book burnings. And then… there’s Ronald Reagan!

Ed and I looked at each other, bewildered. We were both thinking precisely the same thing – what’s Reagan doing up there?

Oh, look! Now it’s Clarence Thomas!

I think this is when we both burst out laughing. Really? Reagan and Thomas rounded up six million people and slaughtered them because of their race? Isn’t that, I don’t know, kind of ridiculous?

The juxtaposition of Hitlerian horrors with modern-day mainstream conservatives continued unabated until the end of the song, as did our plentiful guffaws. This was a problem, because we were on the second row, and our friends were on stage, and they could see us all too clearly. “I know I was out of tune,” one girl snapped at us after the show, “but you didn’t need to laugh in my face.” We tried to explain that she was perfectly in tune and that her performance was marvelous – it was the director’s clumsy attempt at irony that had us busting a gut.

I thought of this when a friend of mine posted a wise captioned picture on Facebook. (I know, right? A Facebook meme that’s actually wise? What are the odds?) I share it here for your perusal.

Amen. And I say that regardless of whether your politics are stage left or stage right.

So, to sum up: The Other Cornell had really weird cheek implants.

Olympic Big Macs, Moon Ransoms, & Chess Rice

Three stories with a single moral. Let us begin.

Story One of Three:

I lived in Los Angeles during the 1984 Summer Olympics. Those were heady, halcyon days, mainly because of all the free food we were getting at McDonalds.

Allow me to explain.

McDonalds was running an Olympic-themed promotion offering free food based on how many medals the U.S. athletes won. Unfortunately for them, and quite fortunately for me, they set up that promotion before the USSR decided to boycott the ’84 games and deprive our guys of their most serious competion, which meant that the Americans were winning everything in sight. All of those medals added up to a whole lot of complimentary Big Macs.

I ate well while McDonalds lost a fortune. (Plus my friend James worked at McDonalds and gave me a bunch of free food, but that wasn’t the primary cause of McDonalds’ overall financial woes.)

I offer this experience as an object lesson for Washington DC – and for the partisan voters who are rearranging our nation’s gold medal deck chairs on a 1984 McDonalds Titanic. (I dig tortured mixed metaphors, especially if they have a doomed luxury liner/fast food theme.)

Story Two:

In the first Austin Powers movie, Dr. Evil is frozen for three decades and unthawed in a world where his ransom of “one MILLION dollars” is greeted with ridicule, due to, you know, inflation and such. He then adjusts his demands to “One hundred BILLION dollars.” Nice work if you can get it.

That figure becomes a problem in the second movie, though, when Dr. Evil time travels in order to return the Sixties, but he fails to return to the Sixties-appropriate ransom figure. He asks the 1960s presidential cabinet led by unlikely POTUS Tim Robbins for “One hundred BILLION dollars” or else he’ll blow up the moon. Everyone in the White House bursts out laughing, because that amount of money simply doesn’t exist in the entire world.

Story Three – The Final Chapter:

It’s an old fable, and I don’t want to rewrite it, because I found a fine math geek who already rewrote it, and I can just cut and paste what he said.

The story goes that the ruler or India was so pleased with one of his palace wise men, who had invented the game of chess, that he offered this wise man a reward of his own choosing.

The wise man, who was also a wise mathematician, told his Master that he would like just one grain of rice on the first square of the chess board, double that number of grains of rice on the second square, and so on: double the number of grains of rice on each of the next 62 squares on the chess board.

This seemed to the ruler to be a modest request, so he called for his servants to bring the rice. How surprised he was to find that the rice quickly covered the chess board, then filled the palace! Let’s stop here, and see just how many grains of rice this is.

The number of grains of rice on the last square can be written as “2 to the 63th power”, which looks like this:

263

;

Which can be written as approximately: 18,446,744,070,000,000,000 (I can’t write this more accurately as I have only 10 spaces on my TI-34 calculator!)

A grain of rice is approximately .2 inches long. Converting .2 inches to feet (divide by 12 inches to a foot) and then dividing that number by 5,280 feet in one mile, we get the length of the grains of rice, placed end-to-end, to be approximately 60,000,000,000,000 miles. How far is that? Alpha Centauri, the nearest star, is located 25,000,000,000,000 miles from Earth. Placed end to end, these grains of rice would reach farther than from the Earth, across space to the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, and back to Earth again!

And now the single moral:

The United States has made financial promises that are not quite as impossible to keep as the chessboard rice payments, but they’re as silly as Dr. Evil’s moon ransom. Like McDonalds, we have tied a huge chunk of our spending to forces outside our control. Congress does not decide how much money they’re going to spend on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid – and, now, our newest entitlement, Obamacare. These programs are driven by demographics, not decisions, and the demographic data is almost as disastrous as my forced alliteration.

Put it this way. The amount of money Congress can decide whether to spend or not spend is only 37% of federal spending. 63% of federal spending is mandatory – it’s McDonalds gold medal money. You get that money not because Congress decides every year to give it to you – you get it if you’re a certain age or have medical conditions. So when President Obama stood in front of Greek columns in 2008 and promised to go through the budget “line by line” to get rid of “wasteful spending,” he was only talking about 37% of the budget. (He was also full of gas about that, too, but I’m trying not to be partisan.)

Those are scary numbers. Well, here are some scarier numbers.

That 63% of federal spending that’s the McDonalds gold medal money? In 2011, we paid out $2.194 trillion dollars to meet our commitments. Problem is, we only took in $2.174 trillion dollars in tax receipts. So 101% of our spending was already done before anyone went through any budget, line by line or otherwise. (Except the Democrats in the Senate have refused to produce a budget for three years. Partisan parenthetical concluded.)

So go ahead. Cut all the waste out of government. Hell, cut all of government. Abolish every cabinet department; wipe out OSHA and the EPA, burn down the national parks, mothball the IRS and every other three-letter agency. After that, cut defense spending, too. Cut it the bone. Then cut it out altogether. Shut down the government completely; sell the White House to Donald Trump, and peddle all of our nukes on eBay.

You will still have a budget deficit.

That budget deficit will continue to grow with each passing year as the population ages and the demographics keep doubling the rice on the chess squares.

Sure, you can raise taxes, which will provide some additional revenue – but not nearly enough. The Congressional Budget Office projects that, with current demographic trends, by 2038 there will not be enough money in the world to meet the financial obligations we will have. When your expenditures hit 100 billion in 1967 dollars, your civilization essentially collapses, regardless of the party of guy in the White House.

What is Barack Obama doing about this? Touting a brand new unsustainable entitlement. So what is Mitt Romney doing about this? Not a damn thing.

I don’t care what your political stripes are. The math is undeniable. You can either demand that Washington take real action to reform these programs while they still can, or you can bury your head in the rice, blow up the moon, and enjoy your Big Mac.

Pros and Cons of the Unicorn Club

Anderson Cooper’s much-ballyhooed announcement today reminded me of this blog post that has been making the rounds in the past few weeks. Titled “Club Unicorn,” it is the story of a gay Mormon man who has been happily married to a woman for ten years, having produced three lovely daughters by means of a “healthy and robust sex life.” The name “Club Unicorn” is a reference to the fact that gay men happily married to women are like unicorns – remarkably rare and probably mythical.

Less popular, but probably far more typical, is this story – gay Mormon man marries a woman; their sex life stinks, and both sink into depression and despair before divorcing as the gay Mormon dude leaves the church forever.

Since this blog is only popular when I discuss either Mitt Romney removing wasps nests and/or gay stuff, I feel I’ve been neglecting my duty to throw in my two cents.

I’ll begin, however, by throwing in Carlfred Broderick’s two cents.

Dr. Broderick, who passed away in 1999, was a fixture of the University of Southern California Sociology Department, as well as being an accomplished leader in the LDS Church. He was brilliant, insightful, and remarkably funny. Rumor is that Johnny Carson had him on the Tonight Show a number of times back in the day to chuckle about psychosocial sorts of things, but YouTube has no record of it, so we can’t be sure.

His book My Parents Married on a Dare is now out of print, but it includes an essay that has provided the greatest and clearest explanation of why bad things happen to good people that I’ve ever read. (You can read Broderick and skip the Book of Job.) His counsel is almost ineffably wise, and he sums it up thusly:

The gospel of Jesus Christ is not insurance against pain. It is resource in event of pain, and when that pain comes (and it will come because we came here on earth to have pain among other things), when it comes, rejoice that you have resource to deal with your pain.

That’s not my central point. But it’s such a good point that I couldn’t mention Dr. Broderick and deprive you of that wonderful gem.

But today, it’s Dr. Broderick’s insights into homosexuality that I want to use to kick off the conversation. In his book, he writes:

I think that I am as knowledgeable about the condition we call homosexuality as any heterosexual in the Church. My life has brought me into close association with many fine people whom, fortunately, I had the privilege of knowing well before I knew of their sexual orientation. My professional activities have led me to be a student of the research on this condition. As a priesthood leader and as a therapist I have worked with many people over the years as they have struggled with difficulties they face in resolving the tensions between the homosexual lifestyle and the gospel path.

I wish Dr. Broderick were still with us, as I’d love to get his thoughts on both the Unicorn Club, as well as those who strive to and fail to join.

He continues:

No one knows what determines that one individual will be drawn toward members of his own sex and another to the opposite sex. There is beginning to be some evidence that there may be a biochemical factor. Perhaps certain life experiences make the opposite sex seem more dangerous and less attractive to some than to others. Whatever the origins, I have never met a homosexual who remembered choosing to be so oriented. Each experiences it as an unbidden affliction.

When this was written in 1996, this was still a fairly controversial position for Broderick to take. Most Mormons still relied on Spencer W. Kimball’s The Miracle of Forgiveness as the authoritative voice on the subject. President Kimball, who was not president of the church when the book was written, implies that homosexuality is the product of excessive masturbation, and that “the glorious thing to remember is that it is curable.” Since there was very little evidence to suggest that was the case, Kimball simply insisted that homosexual “perverts” just weren’t trying hard enough.

Therefore to those who say that this practice or any other evil is incurable, I respond: “How can you say the door cannot be opened until your knuckles are bloody, till your head is bruised, till your muscles are sore? It can be done.”

I love and sustain President Kimball, and he accomplished a tremendous amount of good in his life.

I think, however, that he’s wrong here. Very, very wrong.

I think these words have done a great deal of damage to homosexual members with the figuratively bloody knuckles, bruised heads, and sore muscles he describes. They all have spent a whole lot of time wondering why, with all that effort, they remain attracted to people of the same gender. They followed those words with faith and ended up feeling like failures when they couldn’t reach the desired outcome. Those who try to change their orientation in order to stay in the church encounter tremendous frustration and despair, and far too many of them have end up taking their own lives as a result, especially after many church leaders, relying on this counsel, advised them that heterosexual marriage would “cure” them and make them straight.

It didn’t, and it won’t.

That position may make me look faithless to some Latter-Day Saints – how dare I question The Miracle of Forgiveness! – but the fact is that President Kimball’s thesis is not consistent with the current position of the church.

Consider Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s words, which take a decidedly different tone:

[R]ecognize that marriage is not an all-purpose solution. Same-gender attractions run deep, and trying to force a heterosexual relationship is not likely to change them. [Emphasis mine.] We are all thrilled when some who struggle with these feelings are able to marry, raise children, and achieve family happiness. But other attempts have resulted in broken hearts and broken homes.

Thankfully, nobody’s talking about “curing” homosexuals anymore. The member of the Unicorn Club who describes his idyllic marriage never once tries to pretend that he’s no longer gay. He’s still attracted to men, but his love for his wife and children, along with his faith in the gospel, are more important to him than his sexuality, and he’s found a way to make that work.

And, for his part, Dr. Broderick insists that every homosexual can join the Unicorn Club.

Given that premise, it has nevertheless been my observation that those who act on those unbidden feelings lose the Spirit and before they know it are pulled step by step into a world at complete odds with the Kingdom. Those who earnestly seek to conform to the Plan are provided small miracle after small miracle until they are able to experience every blessing of the gospel. I have yet to find an exception to this rule. This puts me at odds with both those who treat men and women with homosexual feelings as though they were voluntary perverts and also with those who insist that there can be no genuine reconciliation between such persons and the highest standards of the Kingdom.

I want to believe this. And I almost do. But I’m not quite there.

I’ve seen the broken hearts and broken homes Elder Holland talked about. It seems my friends are all exceptions to Dr. Broderick’s rule. Furthermore, I’ve seen good people leave the church and embrace their sexuality and live lives far more joyful than they had when they were pounding against President Kimball’s unopenable door.

I think the church has moved in the right direction on this issue, but the current position is somewhat unstable. We’ve gone from “homosexuals are voluntary perverts” to “no one knows what causes homosexuality.” Well, what happens when we do know? What happens when we finally acknowledge, as I think we must, that sexual desire is innate and seldom subject to change? Can we do that and still insist that some people remain celibate or closeted their entire lives?

That’s not a rhetorical question, because the answers are a lot more complicated than advocates on either side care to admit. For example, my church teaches, and I fully believe, that the greatest blessings to be had in this life and in the next are all associated with posterity. Homosexuals, regardless of how wonderful, loving, and committed their relationships may be, are incapable of producing children with each other. We teach that in the resurrection, our bodies will be perfected, so infertile married couples will have the opportunity to create a posterity in the life to come. Basic anatomy offers no such solace to gay couples. Indeed, biology cruelly reserves all the goodies in this life and the next for the straights.

So should all gay people strive to join the Unicorn Club? What happens when, as is frequently the case, it just doesn’t work? Can the LDS Church provide some kind of righteous outlet for homosexual desires and maintain the integrity of its family-based theology?

I offer all these questions and provide no answers, because I have none. If someone can explain it to me, I’d very much appreciate it.