Happy Thanksgiving!

We ran a family 5K today, and Corbin, Cornelius, and Cleta each ran it in under a half an hour. I pretty much walked the whole way, as I was pushing Stalliondo in a stroller. Quite cold. But fun. Chloe walked with me, and Stalliondo cried a lot. Still fun.

No freshly killed turkey this year – we’re celebrating here in Utah with Mrs. Cornell’s brothers. We brined the turkey overnight, and it smells good. We’ll be eating in an hour or so.

Watched the Star Trek movie with my twins and fast forwarded past the sex scene with the green chick. They loved it, as did I. I’ve seen it four times now, and I like it more each time.

That is all. I am thankful for a great family and a great life. Happy Thanksgiving.

Ex Nihilo

Given the frenetic pace of my life at the moment, I’m not sure how it was that I ended up watching about twenty minutes of CrossTV, an evangelical Christian television network, which was broadcasting an episode to warn most of the world that they’re going straight to hell. They cited Revelation 21:8, about how all liars will be cast into a lake of fire on Judgment Day. “You can look it up!” the guy said cheerfully. (I haven’t looked it up, but I’ll take his word for it.)

Since all of us, at one time or another, have told a lie, all of us are guilty. The show had a preacher asking people on the street whether they’d ever told a lie, whether they’d ever stolen something, whether they’d ever lusted after anyone in their heart. They read another scripture that implied that if you’re guilty of even the smallest offense, you’re guilty of breaking the whole law. It doesn’t matter if you’re Adolf Hitler or you canned peaches on the Sabbath once – both will earn you the same eternal trip to the lake of fire.

I found this disturbing on many levels, not the least of which was the solution. Say this little ten-second prayer, the guy said, and invite Jesus into your life. Once you do that, the law has no hold on you, and it’s heaven all the way! Isn’t that great? Except if you’re born in outer Borneo and never get a chance to hear about the magic words you have to say, then I hope you enjoy bathing in lava. And someone who’s lived perfectly besides their penchant for Sabbath peach canning can expect an endless lava bath, too, whereas someone who says the little prayer can pretty much go into the Jedi temple and slaughter all the younglings and still be OK, because the prayer is a ticket to a free ride past the pearly gates.

I like to think I’m tolerant and somewhat ecumenical, and I flinch when evangelicals start saying we Mormons don’t believe in the same God or Jesus that they do. I still don’t think that’s entirely true, but when I get close enough to their doctrines to take a look at them, I start to wonder.

Having pondered this over the weekend, I have decided there are three doctrines that are embraced by the sectarian world that I fully reject.

1) Ex Nihilo Creation
2) Static Hell
3) Cheap Grace

I’ll address each in turn. Today, I’ll stick with Ex Nihilo Creation and broach the other subjects later in the week.

The doctrine of Creatio Ex Nihilo, or Creation Out of Nothing, is central to much of the Christian world. As I understand it, the idea is that there was nothing in the universe, or even no universe itself. There was only God. And at one point, God decided He wanted there to be Something instead of Nothing. And so, out of Nothing, he made Something, and voila! Here we are!

This idea is the source of much mischief.

Those who propose it think that any other explanation diminishes God’s omnipotence. Take the Mormon view, for instance. It claims that the elements are eternal, and that intelligence is eternal, too. In some form or another, each of us is a unique, eternal Intelligence, co-existent with God, and God has designed the universe and organized matter and intelligence to create a circumstance by which we can become more like Him. Ex Nihilists insist that the Mormon God, therefore, is not omnipotent, because he can’t create matter or intelligence out of nothing.

It’s because of this tension that there are some very pointless arguments to be had as to what the definition of omnipotence is. The most famous is the question, “Can God create a rock so large that He can’t move it?” Or, in other words, can God do something he can’t do? Answers to questions like these end up serving the same purpose as imponderables like, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” Or “what would happen if everyone on earth flushed their toilet at exactly the same time?” (OK, that second one isn’t very profound. But it’s something to think about!)

I would define omnipotence, therefore, as the capability to do everything that can be done.

Ex Nihilists reject this. They say there is nothing that cannot be done, because God can do everything. OK, fine. Then you have to answer questions that don’t make God look like a very pleasant guy.

For example: You, Mr. Ex Nihilist, you believe God can do anything? Then why didn’t he create a universe free of evil, pain, and suffering? Why did make us capable of sin? Why did he create a circumstance where a great deal of his supreme creations are doomed to spend an eternity in a lake of fire? What’s the point?

The famous literary figure Dr. Pangloss in Voltaire’s Candide concludes that since this is the only world we’ve got, and God is perfect, then this is, by definition, the best of all possible worlds, so stop complaining. The problem, of course, is that this places certain limits on God, too. If this is the best he could do, and even us flawed humans can see there are significant problems, then he isn’t as omnipotent as Ex Nihilists think he is, is he?

Mormons don’t have all the answers about suffering and evil, but they do have a context for it that the rest of the world doesn’t have. What’s happening in this life was colored by what happened in the eternity before it, and it will be mitigated by what happens in the eternity after. Many people use this truth to make rash assumptions about this life’s inequities. Clearly, if I’m stronger, happier, richer, or better looking than you, then I must have been a better guy before I got here, no? Well, no. We don’t know that. Maybe you were too big a wimp to be able to handle the rough life of someone else. We haven’t been given the information, but just knowing that there is more to the story helps us understand why some things don’t seem to gibe with what we ought to expect.

The point is that Ex Nihilo creation makes good squarely responsible for all the rotgut in the universe, and it’s no use saying otherwise. My understanding of a merciful and omnipotent deity doesn’t allow for that kind of nonsense.

Things More Fun To Read Than Glen A. Larson’s Daily Spam

Glen A. Larson (Arthur, Stallion_Cornell, MrPostModernist, Schnorkenschneider) posts alot of daily crap both here on Frakheads and his daily exlax inducing blog. Here are things more fun to read than anything Larson posts on the Internet.

I. Glen A. Larson’s divorce papers from Janet Curtis.

II. Salt Lake City’s zoning laws for Glen A. Larson’s beer belly.

III. Glen A. Larson’s first draft “Manimal” scripts. (They suck just as much as the final shooting scripts did.)

IV. Glen A. Larson’s 500 gallon recipe for Pterodactyl egg pancakes. (Each egg is a half mile in circumference. 50 eggs per 500 gallon serving.) Makes one breakfast serving for Glen A. Larson.

V. Glen A. Larson’s second season proposal for “Battlestar Galactica” that never materialized. (Hint: It sucks worse than the worst “Galactica: 1980” scripts.

VI. Transcripts from every Glen A. Larson convention appearance going back 16 years. (Hint: He says the exact same thing at every convention spanning 15 years……”A Battlestar Galactica” revival is just around the corner!!” If you’ve read one transcript…..you’ve read them all!!)

VII. Glen A. Larson’s “Star” on the “Hollywood Walk of Fame.” It has to be read to be believed.

VIII. Glen A. Larson’s scene by scene replacements (in script form) for the perfectly good footage Richard A. Colla had already shot for “Saga of a Star World.” They have to be read to be believed. (Hint: THEY SUCK!!)

IX. Glen A. Larson’s contract with ABC-TV and Universal Studios for “Battlestar Galactica.” Larson got paid that much money?? Really?? Hacks can make it in this world after all. (Mary Tyler Moore tosses her hat up into the air during the opening title sequence of “The Mary Tyler Moore” Show.)

X. Glen A. Larson’s clothing receipts from the Salt Lake City “Big & Tall” clothing store. (Hint: The “Thing” from the “Fantastic Four” also shops there.)





The hypocrisy in Tuesday’s Salt Lake Tribune was truly stunning to me.

On the one hand, they ran a very thoughtful column by Peg McEntee, which rightfully decried the rhetorical excesses of an extremist right-wing group. Specifically, McEntee was disgusted with a video that showed a man in a rubber Barack Obama mask engaging in all sorts of vile behavior – strangling elderly people, stabbing pregnant women, and other reprehensible nonsense.

I think McEntee’s analysis was spot-on. That kind of childish and offensive demonization of a political opponent is beneath the standard of rational political discourse. I only wished she would have directed her ire to the Pat Bagley cartoon that ran in the paper on the same day.

Bagley’s cartoon has two panels under the headline, “The Right Winger’s Guide to Political Etiquette.” In the first panel, President Obama is shown bowing obsequiously as he greets the Japanese emperor. The caption above reads, “Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!” In the next panel, Dick Cheney replaces Barack Obama, and he’s scowling as he holds a smoking rifle over the bloody corpse of the Japanese emperor. The caption reads, “Right.” (I dont’t want to embed the thing in my post, as I find it offensive, but if you must, you can view the cartoon here.)

Does anyone else recognize the double standard here?

I disagree with Barack Obama on just about every front, but I don’t have to hate him personally to do that. Crass depictions of the President as Adolf Hitler or some other demonic figure are rightfully decried by many reasonable people on the Left who recognize how inappropriate that is. But when Pat Bagley depicts the former Vice President as a cold-blooded assassin who would love to shoot an international ally in the head, the same people refuse to bat an eye.

The only lesson that can be learned from this is that demonization of the opposition is a terrible thing, unless, of course, the person being demonized has an R next to their name.

Much has been made about the divisiveness and incivility of American politics, and I think that often those concerns fail to take into account a wider historical perspective. Politics today can be brutish and nasty, but there have been many times in our history when it’s been far, far worse. If you doubt that, spend a moment studying the Civil War and send up a silent prayer that we now settle our domestic disagreements with words, not bullets. These are trying times, yes, but we’ve been through trying times before, and we’ve managed to come through them intact.

But I get very depressed by incidents like these. Until we can start to recognize the decency in those who oppose us, we’re never going to get close to anything resembling rational discussion.

And I’m as much a hypocrite as anyone, because I think Bill Clinton is a morally bankrupt turd.

Call Him Ishmael

My first dog was named for the narrator of Moby-Dick, a wandering soul who boards Captain Ahab’s ship and chronicles his deadly obsession with the white whale. I’ve never read Moby-Dick, and, as near as I can tell, neither has anyone else. But it’s the only book I know of, apart from scripture, that has the name Ishmael in it. In my eyes, that alone is enough to make it cool – although not enough to get me to read it.

My Ishmael wasn’t any kind of a sailor. He hated water and the cleanliness that came with it. He was something of a wanderer, though, more like his Biblical namesake than the dude on the boat. In Genesis, Ishmael, firstborn son of Abraham, was cast off into the desert, unwanted and alone, much like the sad stray dog that my mother took in a couple of years before I was born. Mom was fond of taking in stray dogs and stray people over the years, but none of them captured my imagination like Ishmael – or Ish for short.

I was devoted to that unkempt, scrawny black lab mutt. I didn’t realize until many years after he died that Ish didn’t really like us very much.

Oh, I’m not sure if that’s entirely true, but there was no other way to explain his desire to bolt whenever he saw an open door. He was pleasant enough when the doors were closed, especially if there was food involved, but he never really took to the simple life. When freedom presented itself, Ish made a run for it.

Then came the call to arms.

“Ish is out!” someone would scream, and then the entire house would mobilize for the rescue mission. Mom would drag us into the station wagon, and we would patrol the streets, following the trail of destruction in Ish’s wake as he ran furiously to escape the little kids who loved him too much to let him go. Eventually, he would be cornered or exhausted, and we’d haul him back into the car and back home, where he moped and shlumped his way through the indignity of domesticity. Sometimes, though, we would fail to catch him, and Ish would be seemingly gone forever.

It was in those moments, then, when Ish showed his true colors.

An hour or two after his disappearance, Ish would return of his own free will, bearing a peace offering – a dead bird, a dead rabbit, or perhaps even a dead cat, which did not endear Ish to any of our feline-loving neighbors. Mom was aghast, but I was glad to know that, underneath it all, Ish really did like us. Either that, or he was hungry after a few hours alone and liked to be fed. Either way was fine with me.

Comedian George Carlin once noted that, because of the relatively short life span of domestic pets compared to their owners, every dog or cat is a built-in childhood tragedy waiting to happen. Ish lived a long and healthy life, I suppose, but he died before I was a teenager. I was embarrassed by how much I cried when I found out, and I never thought I could love again. That changed drastically when I discovered girls a few years later, most of whom liked me even less than Ish did, but you never forget your connection to the first beast to barge into your life. And his veterinary-induced departure left a hole in my life that has mostly healed by now, but it still stings if I fiddle with it.

After all, what became of Captain Ahab after the white whale was dead? (Seriously, what became of him? I haven’t read the book. I don’t know.)

Why Glen A. Larson And Mormonism Don’t Mix

Of no real note, this is my 500th blog post. Huzzah!

As you can tell, I’m having a hard time keeping up my previous frenetic pace on this blog – I’m actually a busy guy these days – so I’ve asked my good friend Languatron to pinch hit for me today. More than just a fringe lunatic in Chicago, our pal Langy now labels himself an “Internet corporation.” This is one of his more inspired pieces of stupidity, and it’s aimed largely at me and this blog, so I thought I would give it a wider audience than the 4 or 5 people who have seen it over at the Frakheads bulletin board.

The title of this post is his, as is the excrement reproduced below, unedited, unexpurgated, and unhinged. Enjoy!

(All right, I edited one word – I’m not willing to drop F bombs on this blog. But you’ll get the gist of it.)


Glen A. Larson (Stallion_Cornell, Arthur, Schnorkenschneider, MrPostModernist) has always fancied himself a devoted Mormon. Yet, if his personal conduct on Internet bboards during the past 10 years is any indication, Glen A. Larson is a habitual Mormon and nothing more. He prides himself as being one, yet he is unable to demonstrate Mormonism in his personal life in any way. Surely the Mormon God he habitually worships would have made him more successful in fighting me in the past 10 years if he truly believed in this Mormon God. Yet, here Glen A. Larson is a decade later….still fighting me…..still making no progress in fighting me…..still unsuccessful in censoring me. I post freely on four boards. Three of them are mine plus Frakheads. My three boards remain open to anyone to join, but Glen A. Larson has repeatedly demonstrated his cowardice in being unwilling to join. A decade later, I have grown in strength and am now an Internet corporation. The exact opposite has happened to Glen A. Larson. Instead of successfully getting ride of me, he has unsuccessfully and helplessly watched me grow during the past 10 years.

Psychologically, Glen A. Larson is a 12 year old child and he’s a coward. At no point during the past 10 years has he ever tried to refute my blunt facts against Universal Studios. Instead, he has engaged in juvenile stabs at censorship tactics no doubt taught to him by some out of touch flame war consultant who unsuccessfully attempted to instruct Larson and the other Universal Studios stealth marketers on how to fight me.

Surely this Mormon God of Glen A. Larson’s should have given him the wisdom and intelligence to fight me during the past 10 years, if Larson knew how to call on him for help. And that’s the key. He doesn’t. And Glen A. Larson can’t call on his Mormon God for help because he takes his Mormon God about as seriously as he takes anything else. Glen A. Larson believes that any of his problems can be solved by being a self believing smart ass on Internet bulletin boards. Glen A. Larson worships his double decker keyboard laptop more than he does this Mormon God. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this has made Glen A. Larson an outcast of his Mormon church. Lord knows Glen A. Larson is on Frakheads bright and early every Sunday morning spamming the hell out of it instead of attending church with his Mormon brethren.

Like anything else, Glen A. Larson uses Mormonism as a punch line if it suits me. But is he serious about the faith? I doubt it. He makes references to Mormonism on his Stallion_Cornell blog, but the manner in which he makes reference to it makes him sound like he is an outsider looking in on the faith and never successfully mastered the art of worship within the faith. He comments on it, he objectifies it, he distances himself from it. I think the status of his life during the past 10 years has been a sad reflection on his apparent snarky attitude towards Mormonism. He’s been a literal shut in for the past 10 years, isolated from the real world. His only world has been his double decker keyboard laptop in front of him. What sane Mormon would waste away 10 years of his life fighting someone on Internet bulletin boards over the “1978 Battlestar Galactica” series? And it was never really fighting. It was just repeatedly posting juvenile spam messages because he couldn’t face up to the reality that I was and am completely right…..Universal Studios sucks ass as a corporation and has royally f—-d over “Battlestar Galactica” again and again.

Glen A. Larson’s Mormon God has probably long since given up on him, not even giving Larson loving family members or children to put their hands on his shoulder and say……”You know what Glen? It’s extremely abnormal and weird to have wasted away 10 years of your life fighting someone on Internet bulletin boards because that person has an blunt and honest assessment of Universal Studios. Why don’t you shut down your laptop for good and become a member of our family again?” No, Glen A. Larson (Stallion_Cornell, Arthur, MrPostModernist, Schnorkenschneider) doesn’t have that. All he has is his laptop, fighting battles he will always lose, and wasting away on the Internet while I continue to succeed at what I’ve been doing during the past 10 years.

Of Muslims and Murderers

President Obama recently urged the nation not to “jump to any conclusions” about a mass murderer with an Arabic name who shouted “Allahu Akbar!” before mowing down over a dozen U.S. soldiers at a military base.

Today, the DC sniper, a Muslim extremist and sympathizer with al Qaeda, is being put to death. I remember vividly that it was weeks after the man was caught before the press was willing to acknowledge the man’s religion and the role it played in his murderous rampage. Apparently, we weren’t supposed to jump to any conclusions then, either.

But when Timothy McVeigh blew up the Federal Building in Oklahama in 1995, it was clearly Rush Limbaugh’s fault. At least, that’s what President Clinton suggested when he decried the “angry voices” on talk radio that created a “climate of violence” leading to the Oklahoma City bombing.

It was about a year later when I remember having a conversation with an actress in Jackson Hole about Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber who killed people in order to get his left-wing manifesto published in the New York Times. We were referencing the Oklahoma City incident, and she was complaining that right-wingers were inherently violent. I pointed out that extremism in any ideology was equally dangerous, citing the aforementioned Mr. K as an example. She refused to concede that Mr. K was even a left-winger, or that one could assign any ideological motivation to his actions.

Anyone see a pattern here?

It would be nice to live in a world where Muslims and left-wingers and abortion activists were never violent. Heck, it would be nice to live in a world where NO ONE was violent, including right-wingers like McVeigh.

But we don’t live in that world. And we don’t make that world by ignoring facts that we find embarrassing or unpleasant. And the fact, brought home by the shooting this past week, is that some Muslims are violent.

Now this Muslim doesn’t represent all Muslims any more than Glenn Beck represents all Mormons – and thank heaven he doesn’t. But if a man at a military base had started shouting, “All hail Joseph Smith!” as he gunned down his fellow soldiers, do you think the media would be so circumspect about avoiding mention of his faith?

How do we do anyone a service by ignoring facts?

The thing that is so confusing about this is that even non-violent Islam holds tenets that are antithetical to the American Left. The subjugation of women; the shunning of homosexuals, and intolerance of other faiths are all inherent to Sharia law. I can understand left-wingers who are reluctant to acknowledge the extremist tendencies of their own ideological brethren, but why the reluctance to stand up and acknowledge the failings of a religion that runs counter to much of what they believe?

And please don’t try to tell me it’s because they “respect all faiths” or some such nonsense. They don’t. Leftists despise my faith, and they say so publicly. When a Mormon apostle recently described the oppression the LDS Church has encountered since Proposition 8, he was greeted with howls of derision from the Left. Nobody was worried about hurting our feelings.

Maybe it’s fear, then. Maybe the Left just doesn’t want to poke an angry tiger with a stick. They can beat up on Mormons all they want with no repercussions, but they know if they draw cartoons with Muhammed in them, they’ll start a riot, so they wear kid gloves and “avoid jumping to conclusions.”

I can understand that, I guess, even if I don’t respect it.

This over-sensitivity and/or fear leads us to really strange places. Again, on Facebook, I posted a link to an article about a movie being made by faithful Muslims about the life of Muhammed. The problem is that Muslims believe the prophet is too sacred to depict in person – no likeness, either visual or auditory – of Muhammed will appear in the film. My comment was that it seemed strange to make a movie about someone if that someone can’t be in it.

To which another of my Facebook friends replied that I was “narrow-minded” and “hateful.” He de-friended me as a result.


If a Mormon tried to make a movie all about the Mormon temple ceremony but, true to his faith, refused to include any footage or excerpts of that ceremony, I would consider that a very odd and difficult thing to do. And I would say so. Would that make me a Mormon hater? And can’t I respect Islam’s insistence that Muhammed not be portrayed on screen and note that making a movie about someone who can’t be in your movie is problematic at best?

As for me, I’m sick of walking on eggshells. The world doesn’t fit into anyone’s neat little preconceptions, and wearing blinders makes it all worse, not better.

A Soupy Story

In every religious group, it’s far easier to pharisaically focus on sins that people can see and smell than it is to follow the Savior’s admonition to avoid judgment of others.

I remember, back in the 1970s, that the standard of all righteousness among the LDS Pharisees was whether or not you drank Coca-Cola. I can remember going over to a (Mormon) friend’s house and opening up his fridge and discovering large, two-liter bottles of Coke and gasping at their audacious display of wickedness. This has since declined as the standard of righteousness, the decline coinciding almost perfectly with the rise of Diet Coke in the ‘80s. Nowadays, it’s been said that you can gauge the faithfulness of a Mormon by the temperature of their caffeine.

For those outside the faith, the question is obvious: what’s the big deal, anyway? Can Mormons drink Coke or can’t they? That’s a question that Mormons don’t fully understand themselves a lot of the time.

The answer boils down to two simple words: “hot drinks.”

Those are the words that appear in Section 80 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the health code for Mormons that was given as a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith back in the early 19th century. The revelation said that this was not to be observed “by commandment or constraint,” but rather as good advice, or a “Word of Wisdom.” It also said to avoid “tobacco” and “strong drinks,” as well as to eat meat sparingly and enjoy grains and wholesome foods. The Word of Wisdom, as it has come to be called, was observed sporadically by the church membership at large until the 1930s, when then-LDS Church President Heber J. Grant made it mandatory for all Mormons wishing to attend the temple to live the Word of Wisdom, especially the explicit taboo on tobacco, booze, coffee, and tea.

Of course, the Word of Wisdom never says “coffee and tea.” It says “hot drinks.” Now at the time the revelation was given, Joseph Smith made it clear that “hot drinks” was a euphemism for coffee and tea, and given the 19th century context, that makes perfect sense. But for the pharisaical, this poses a number of problems. For instance, is the temperature the issue? What about cold coffee or iced tea? And what about, say, hot chocolate?

At one point, that last question was not just academic.

The story I’m about to recount is told in family circles and may well be apocryphal, but it’s worth telling, nonetheless. It involves the previously mentioned Heber J. Grant, although it takes place long before he assumed the mantle of the church presidency. In this story, Heber J. Grant is a young man in his twenties, called to serve as the junior member in the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

At one of his first meetings with his eleven brethren, Heber J. is asked to consider whether or not hot chocolate should be included in the Word of Wisdom prohibition, given the fact that it, too, is a hot drink.

This is a major problem for Heber J. As the junior member, he will be the first polled on the issue, and he worries that if he says yes when everyone else says no, he will look like a zealot. If he says no and everyone else says yes, he will look faithless. He looks to church president Wilford Woodruff for some kind of guidance, but President Woodruff is a very old man, considerably frailer than he once was, and he’s sitting unobtrusively in a far corner of the room, very likely asleep.

Heber J. looks to the heavens for inspiration and receives none. So he considers the issue and, using his best judgment, decides to vote yes. Yes, Heber J. says – hot chocolate should be against the Word of Wisdom.

They poll each apostle in succession. Each time, the answer comes back in the affirmative. To a man, each of the twelve apostles agrees with Heber J. They unanimously affirm that hot chocolate, as a hot drink, should be prohibited.

Then President Woodruff stirs, and, with his eyes closed, mutters under his breath, “Ugh… next time it’ll be soup.”

And that’s it.

Discussion ends; the vote is ignored, and the whole matter is dropped.

Inspiration works in remarkable ways.

So to answer the earlier question – is Coke prohibited by the Mormon’s code of health? The short answer is no – according to the official interpretation of Section 89, only coffee and tea are prohibited. But anyone with any intelligence can look at the reasons for that prohibition and extrapolate that caffeine probably isn’t good for you. So with that mindset, they can reasonably decide to incorporate that principle into their dietary habits and shun Coke, too. Which is fine by me. But what’s not fine is to look down your nose at me if I hold to the letter of the law rather than your interpretation of the spirit thereof.

Take that kind of nonsense too far, and next time, it’ll be soup.