I’m Adam; You’re Eve

Circa my college career, I spent three years teaching early morning seminary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Those not of my faith would assume that meant I was training clergymen, but Mormon seminaries are inflicted upon all kids of high school age. I think one of the reasons I felt compelled to be a seminary teacher was that, in high school, I was such a lousy seminary student. Class is held at 6:30 in the morning, an hour when I’m generally more interested in having dreams and visions than studying them. On the rare occasions I did show up, the teacher would always make me say the closing prayer, because there was no guarantee I would come that way again. In fact, when my old seminary teacher found out that I had followed in his footsteps, word is that he laughed for a good five minutes solid.

But I loved it. I taught in the building right behind the Los Angeles Temple, which got difficult to travel to from South Central LA after the ’94 Northridge Quake destroyed parts of the 10 freeway. But somehow I made it work, and it provided a measure of discipline to my life that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

But it was not without its controversies.

The year I was teaching the Old Testament, some parents had gotten wind of my heretical position on the story of Adam and Eve. Keep in mind that Mormons, to begin with, are already heretics on this story when compared to the rest of the Judeo-Christian world. Unlike many believers, we maintain that the Fall was a good thing and part of God’s grand design, not a tragedy to be mourned. I believed that, too. Still do, in fact.

Where I had trouble was with the idea of conflicting commandments.

According to LDS theology, Adam and Eve were given two charges from the Lord that couldn’t both be fulfilled. The first was that they ought to “multiply and replenish the earth,” i.e. churn out some little Adam-and-Evelets. The second was to stay away from the Tree of Knowledge. Conventional Mormon wisdom is that without eating some of the fruit of the knowledge tree, they wouldn’t have been able to breed appropriately, so, faced with a choice between two of God’s commands, they chose to fall in order to fulfill the higher law.

In my mind, this is problematic on two levels.

The first is my discomfort with the idea of God commanding someone to do something that couldn’t be done. Young children grow up in our church singing about the verse from the Book of Mormon, specifically 1 Nephi 3:7, where the prophet states that he will “go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

Except with Adam and Eve, though, right? If the Lord commanded them to do two things, and it turns out they could only do one, that makes Nephi less than reliable.

The second problem is the issue of divine enforcement. If Adam and Eve had avoided the forbidden fruit, as they had been commanded to do, at what point would the Lord have shown up and complain about the lack of young’uns?

“I said multiply and replenish the earth! Why haven’t you done what I said?”

“We’re trying, Lord! Nothing seems to work!”

You can see where this might get a little messy.

All that is preface, however, to my current position, which is that this conflicting commandment conundrum no longer troubles me in the slightest. How can that be, you may ask.

The answer is found in the temple.

Members of my church, including me, are quite circumspect about how we discuss our temple ordinances, but I don’t think I’m violating any confidences when I say that the ceremony focuses largely on the creation story, and participants are asked to liken themselves to Adam and Eve. It took me years to understand this, but the fact is that the similarity between their circumstances and ours is greater than I initially realized.

Each of us who enters mortality is faced with the same kind of choice Adam and Eve faced.

We teach that everyone on earth lived with our Father in Heaven, and we were there when he “laid the foundations of the earth” and “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” (Job 38: 4, 7) We were the ones doing the shouting, because we would have an opportunity to move forward in our quest to become more like our Father and His Only Begotten Son.

To make that happen, however, we choose to come to a world where we leave the presence of God to become subject to pain, sickness, sin, and death. That choice is identical to the choice of our collective first parents.

God, then, forbids us to sin because that’s what He has to do. If he looked upon sin with the least degree of allowance, He would cease to be God. Therefore he cannot compel us to choose to wade through evil and learn the lessons that only come from exposure to a fallible world. But we chose to come and sin anyway, because only through sorrow can we know joy.

The Book of Mormon makes this point with transcendent clarity.

For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so… righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

Wherefore, it must needs have been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation. Wherefore, this thing must needs destroy the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes, and also the power, and the mercy, and the justice of God.

– 2 Nephi 2:27-28

Our Father knew this, prepared for it, and provided a Savior for us in order for us to make our way back.

Like Adam and Eve before us, we chose this, with full knowledge that it would require us to suffer. We even shouted for joy when we were presented with the opportunity. We need that perspective when life gets difficult, which it invariably does.

Elder Neil A. Maxwell put it best:

While most of our suffering is self-inflicted, some is caused by or permitted by God. This sobering reality calls for deep submissiveness, especially when God does not remove the cup from us. In such circumstances, when reminded about the premortal shouting for joy as this life’s plan was unfolded, we can perhaps be pardoned if, in some moments, we wonder what all the shouting was about.

I have nothing to add to that, except that I really miss teaching seminary. And Neil A. Maxwell. But not the 10 freeway.

Lessons from Boston

I woke up this morning to discover that the explosions in Boston have created a version of a real-life “Die Hard” movie, with suspects engaging in shoot-outs and throwing pressure cookers at police. It’s surreal. As the nation continues to reel from this terrible tragedy, it’s depressing to watch some public figures attempt to use these acts of terror to further their own puny political purposes.

The day after the attacks, former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank took to the airwaves to ludicrously claim that “no tax cut would have helped us deal with this.” How on earth is this hideous event in any way correlated with tax cuts, or tax increases, or taxes at all? Such blatant partisanship immediately after a tragedy is extremely unsettling, yet that didn’t stop former presidential advisor David Axelrod from appearing on MSNBC and insinuating that conservatives opposed to high taxes chose “tax day” to carry out this deadly terrorist attack. Because, you know, conservatives like blowing people up on Tax Day.

That’s worse than foolish. It’s vicious nonsense, and it has no proper place in our public discourse.

Any political manipulation of this tragedy is disrespectful to the victims of the attack, and it diminishes the integrity of those who engage in it. But it doesn’t seem to be going away. “Normally domestic terrorists, people, tend to be on the far right,” said MSNBC host Chris Matthews, ignoring groups like the Weather Underground or individuals like Ted Kaczynski, AKA the “Unabomber,” and other domestic terrorists who used bombs to further their far left agendas. Indeed, bombs were the weapon of choice for 60s-era radicals. Normally domestic terrorists like Bill Ayers and such tend to be on the far left. But such examples are conveniently flushed down the Matthews memory hole.

Others have been unabashed in their attempts to leverage this calamity to further their own policy positions. Many have suggested that this increases the likelihood of passing stricter gun control legislation. On Twitter, actor and comedian Jay Mohr tweeted that this is the moment that proves that the “2nd amendment must go.” That’s an absurd premise. This attack has absolutely nothing to do with the Second Amendment or guns. It was carried out with makeshift explosives fashioned by ordinary pressure cookers, which, barring the banning of common household appliances, would not have been thwarted in any way by legislation, least of all new gun laws.

In times of crisis, it is natural for people to turn to their leaders for guidance. It is therefore the responsibility of our leaders to provide the kind of prudent governance that sets politics aside in order to meet the needs of the public. Tragedy is a terrible platform for demagoguery

And, no, I didn’t forget about Retro Friday!retro
That graphic is going to get old pretty quickly, isn’t it?

Anyway, here we go…

 

HAPPY LABOR DAYposted September 3, 2007

My shortest post to date. It says “Unions suck. That is all.” This link blurb is about three times longer than the original post.

SWEET BABY JAMES posted September 4, 2007

THE MORMON DIALOGUE CONTINUES…September 5, 2007

More Q&A about LDS, following up on my Mormon weirdness post.

FRED, RUDY, AND A BLOCK OF CHEESEposted September 6, 2007

A rather dated and quaint assessment of the 2008 presidential race, where I fretted about Rudy Giuliani winning the Republican nomination. He got a single delegate that year. Simpler times, simpler worries.

HOOEYposted September 7, 2007

Exactly as advertised. A series of random thoughts on disparate subjects from global warming to Martin Short to cascading style sheets.

ON REQUEST: WEIRD MORMON STUFFposted August 29, 2007

Just what it says. A reader asked about the more Galactica-esque points of Mormon doctrine, notably Kolob and human deification, and I do my best to answer him without sounding like a lunatic.

MISSING LANGYposted September 8, 2007

I posted a video about the history of my battle with Languatron to the tune of Diana Ross’ “Missing You.”Herein I explain all the inside joke references. Kind of stupid, really, but still mildly amusing. YouTube blocked the video on copyright grounds, so I had to reembed it. Unfortunately, I can only find the earliest version that doesn’t include half the video, so this edit feels incomplete.

GLOBAL INTEGRATED JOINT OPERATING ENTITY posted September 9, 2007

I complain about a proposed anti-American GI Joe movie that never ended up happening, and then I worry about the lunatics who commented about this over at Ain’t It Cool News.

HOLIDAY EUPHEMISMS
posted September 10, 2007

One of my anti- “Happy Holidays” rants. This has actually gotten better over the years as “Merry Christmas” has come back in style.

THE HEALING FIELD: CONNECTING THE DOTS
posted September 11, 2007

An unapologetically pro-American 9/11 post.

Tune in next week for:

MY BRUSHES WITH GREATNESS

SPAMALOT

WILSON ON POLITICAL WOMEN

And much more!

 

Thoughts on the World

I’m not going to say much about the Boston Marathon explosions here, as I’ve written extensively about them as part of a piece I’ve submitted for publication elsewhere. I’ll link to it here should it appear online, or I will post it in its entirety should it be rejected. I will say I share the collective outrage of the nation and the world, and my prayers are with the victims. I also decry any attempts to use this tragedy, or any tragedy, to advance any specific political agenda.

I want to talk, instead, about weddings for just a moment.

Why weddings? Well, they’re big business. Americans fork out somewhere around $40 billion per year to get hitched. That figure is significant because it’s also the entire Gross Domestic Product of the misnamed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In other words, North Korea’s entire economy is only the size of what Americans spend on bridal gowns and wedding cakes.

To put that it in hard dollar terms, every year the United States produces nearly 50 grand in wealth for every man, woman, and child in this country. In North Korea, that figure is only $1,200. Granted, our wealth isn’t anywhere close to being evenly distributed, but we have forty-plus times more of it to distribute, and $1,200, no matter how you slice it, doesn’t go very far.

What does that mean? It means that, in a rational universe, North Korea wouldn’t even be thinking about going to war. For the most part, they’re starving to death. It also means that, even with their million-man-plus army, they’d last about fifteen minutes against us. They know that – or, at least, Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il knew that. Every time they rattled their sabers in the old days, they just wanted the West to come and feed them, and, after much rhetorical banter, we’ve always dutifully obliged.

When this latest fracas started, that’s what I thought was happening here, too, but this whole exchange is far freakier, because Kim Jong-Un is too young, too brash, too scared, or too stupid to act rationally. I don’t think this is leading to war, but I’m only 87% sure of that, as opposed to 100% sure when such silliness happened in the past. That means I’m 13% frightened out of my wits. Because if Korea blows up, we win, but a lot of people on both sides will end up in body bags.
_____________

Grotesquely speaking of body bags, I’d like to recall this story from a couple of years back that a friend of mine posted on Facebook. She read the headline and assumed that an abortion doctor had been killed by a rabid pro-life advocate, and her stated position was something along the lines of “These people are terrorists and should be dealt with in the harshest possible terms!” I pointed out that she had misread the story, and that the victim was an abortion protestor, not an abortion provider. Quietly and with no further comment, she pulled the story from her page.

I thought about that as I read the gruesome tale of Dr. Kermit Gosnall, the abortionist who routinely murdered infants born alive during botched abortion by what he called “snipping” them and storing them in Tupperware. (“Snipping” is here used as a euphemism for “beheading.”) These aren’t just late-term abortions – these are infanticides of babies no longer connected to their mother’s wombs. He’s justifiably on trial for mass murder – and next to nobody in the media is willing to talk about it.

During the presidential campaign, the Democrats repeatedly insisted that the country is just a hairsbreadth away from a theocracy where abortion will be a capital offense. Even the slightest inconvenience to terminating a pregnancy is viewed as a Talibanic oppression of the “right to choose,” because little things like mandatory ultrasounds are the first step on the slippery slope to burqas and female circumcision. But the Gosnall trial proves that we’ve already slid down the slippery slope – and in the other direction. The fact that we’re not even willing to talk about it shows just how far we’ve fallen.

Those are the depressing things I’m thinking about today. But tomorrow night, I’m going to the Bon Jovi concert in Salt Lake CIty! (Yes, in some ways, that’s even more depressing.)

Tolkien Grousing on Retro Friday

Over spring break, the Cornells huddled together and watched all twelve hours of the Extended Editions of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” movies. It’s been a few years since we’ve seen them, and I’m pleased to report that they’ve aged rather well. The CGI still holds up, although the trickery to make the hobbits look tiny does not. “Oh, look!  A body double! Wow! Bad digital shrinkage! Neat! Forced perspective!” It’s very, very obvious once you look for it.

It’s interesting to watch them after having seen the cinematic adaptation of “The Hobbit,” because, even in the extended versions, they lack the bloat and padding that marred the retelling of Bilbo’s adventure. They’re tightly constructed, well performed, and, for the most part, true to Tolkien’s vision.

Unless, of course, you ask a Tolkien. Christopher Tolkien, that is, the curator of his father’s legacy who, at the age of 87, recently granted his first lengthy interview ever in which he complained that Jackson’s films “eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25.”

Ouch.

At the age of 44, I’m sad to learn that I don’t fall into the film’s demographic. And I first saw the trilogy when I was apparently too old to appreciate them, too, so accept these musings from someone who is obviously too immature to have anything substantive to say.

But still, ol’ Chris Tolkien needs to pull his head out.

 

8870244a96926a73802373b11e9d834c_christopher_tolkien

I have some problems with the movies, yes, particularly in the areas where Jackson went too far afield in altering the original story to make it more cinematic. I find the character arc of Faramir to be particularly grating, although I understand why Jackson did it that way, as, literarily, Faramir had no character arc – he was a saint from the get go, and saints aren’t as much fun to watch on screen.

That doesn’t excuse the moment in “The Return of the King” when Frodo sends Sam home, though, particularly since Sam actually leaves. The same Sam who risked his life to jump on board Frodo’s boat at the end of “Fellowship of the Ring” and swears never to abandon Frodo voluntarily starts back home from the border of Mordor? Ridiculous. And I would have liked to have seen Sam struggle with the ring, as well as a few other additions and subtractions.

But other changes made an awful lot of sense. No Tom Bombadil? That’s Tom Bomba-tastic! And the absence of the Scouring of the Shire is absolutely fine with me – it’s a long, tedious, undramatic section that undermines just about everything that went before. Those who complain that the movie version of “The Return of the King” has too many endings don’t remember that there are over a hundred pages left in the book after Frodo destroys the ring. Tolkien’s story is a wonder, but it’s also overlong, plodding, filled with tangential weirdness, and largely uncinematic.

That’s not a criticism so much as a straightforward assessment. Tolkien was not writing with movies in mind, and any adaptation has to prune and focus all of his narrative cul-de-sacs and poetic indulgences into something watchable. The fact that Jackson was able to do this and still maintain both thematic and narrative consistency with Tolkien’s work is nothing short of miraculous. It is, in its own way, an act of creativity on par with Tolkien’s book. So to hear Christopher Tolkien grouse that it’s some sort of evisceration strikes me as petty and vindictive.

Honestly, what did Christopher Tolkien expect? Would he have preferred a sequel to Ralph Bakshi’s lamentable LOTR cartoon? Maybe a few more Rankin-Bass kiddie versions with very unTolkieny songs thrown in? (“Where there’s a whip, there’s a way…”) Actually, he’s stated he’d prefer none of the above, as he doesn’t consider his father’s work filmable. And he’s right. It’s not filmable in its original state – it needs to be adapted to suit a new medium, which is what Peter Jackson did so well.

He also complains that he has not been adequately compensated for the movies, since the film rights were sold for a relative pittance way back in the day. Well, boo hoo. The movies increased sales of the books by 1000% in the three years they were in theatres, with a whopping 25 million copies of the books flying off the shelves between 2001 and 2003. These “eviscerations” sparked a renaissance of interest in the source material from whence they sprang. Surely that’s a good thing, Chris? And surely your father’s estate profited handsomely thereby?

I love the books. I love the films. And I have little patience for multimillionaire whiners.

And now, of course, it’s time for round two of…

RETRO FRIDAY!

retroAs I mentioned previously, I’m editing, categorizing, and tagging all my blog posts, ten per week beginning at the beginning, in order to better manage the info. I’m also posting links to the spruced-up posts to those who are deranged enough to want to read or reread them.

And here they are! Although I’m scrapping the whole thumnbnail picture thing I started last week- they’re too much work, and they’re really not necessary for what I’m trying to accomplish.

LEGISLATING MORALITY WITH VAMPIRE LADIES – posted August 24, 2007

Really enjoyed rereading this little gem about vampire novelist Ann Rice’s warped perspective on abortion and the redistribution of wealth. This piece has proven to be prescient, methinks.

SOMETIMES LANGY’S RIGHT – posted August 25, 2007

MORMONS AREN’T VICTIMS – posted August 26, 2007

Discussion of the Mountain Meadows Massacre and its context in Mormon history, as well as a warning against the MMM-themed movie “September Dawn,” which nobody ended up seeing anyway.

ANDREW FOGELSON’S MAGIC KISS – posted August 27, 2007

Still one of my most frequently-viewed posts, wherein I tell the story of my obnoxious behavior in my role as the lead of 1985’s Calabasas High School production of “The Music Man.” Andrew Fogelson’s son is now the Chairman of Universal Pictures, so this was kind of a stupid bridge for me to burn.

THE LOST ART OF THE CRANK CALL – posted August 28, 2007

The first mention of My Esteemed Colleague and the story of how we hounded an innocent man into madness because he used to answer the phone by saying “HOWWWWWDY!” Also uses the phrase “Frog Hopkins Joe Joe Joe Joe.”

ON REQUEST: WEIRD MORMON STUFFposted August 29, 2007

Just what it says. A reader asked about the more Galactica-esque points of Mormon doctrine, notably Kolob and human deification, and I do my best to answer him without sounding like a lunatic.

ON HATINGposted August 30, 2007

The first in a series of discussions about the multitudes of people who hate my guts. The focus here is Bill and Jacqui Landrum, who originated the phrase “These are my jewels. You don’t like them? I take them back.” Devolves into a discussion of My Esteemed Colleague’s little raccoon.

LEARNING FROM LARRY posted August 31, 2007

Poor Former Senator Larry Craig. This post recounts the downfall of the Idaho legislator who solicited gay sex in a restroom, plead guilty to doing so, and then tried to take it back. It also laments the fact that I don’t know how to solicit sex or buy illegal drugs.

ON BEING HATED
posted September 1, 2007

The story of a Kids of the Century girl who nursed a grudge for over a decade because I used to make fun of her making out in public. I think the main reason this bothered me is that when I was mocking her, I wasn’t making out with anybody.

THE TRUE STORY OF RICHARD THE BRICKLAYER
posted September 2, 2007

The Stallion Cornell family tree is explored in depth here as I recount the story of Richard, the reluctant pioneer who came to Utah only because all his money burned up and he couldn’t afford to go back to Birmingham, England.

Tune in next week for:

SWEET BABY JAMES

FRED, RUDY, AND A BLOCK OF CHEESE

HOLIDAY EUPHEMISMS

And much more!

 

 

Singing for Shatner

The departure of the Shatner’s Toupee blog has really bummed me out.

tombstonePerhaps I should hold out hope – it’s still there, after all, despite being surreptitiously yanked off the web for a brief period. The webmaster made a grand announcement on New Year’s Day that he was going to get up and running again, and now four months have passed, and… nothing.

I’ve considered devoting this blog to continuing that noble legacy. I can think of no higher calling than investigating and chronicling the endless nuances of William Shatner’s artificial hair. Then I realized that I’d like to stay both married and sane, which would be very difficult to do if I were to fully indulge my unnatural obsession with Captain Kirk’s wigs.

But I can dabble, can’t IOn a parallel track, I’ve set a goal of recording a new song every week. I’m not necessarily going to post all of them here for free, as I still have a burgeoning professional music career on iTunes that has yielded several dollars in dividends – and by “several,” I mean $5.63. My original album “Stalker Tunes” has been for sale online for a couple of years now, and nobody’s bought it in its entirety. (Just think! You could be the first!)


Below is the graphic that made this one of the coldest selling items of last year’s yuletide rush.

Its follow-up single, “Edge of a Crow,” has been sold and/or streamed precisely 0 times, so you could say I’ve hit a sophomore slump.

Still, hope spring eternal, and I’ve got about five recordings in the can, and a couple of them are actually pretty good. I think I’ve stepped up the production values considerably from my earlier efforts. I intend to release a second album sometime this year to give everyone another opportunity not to buy anything, so I don’t want to cannibalize my non-sales by releasing the songs on this blog for free.

But I don’t think I can sell my latest opus, as it contains previously copyrighted material – specifically, it includes a whole lot of unauthorized William Shatner participation. I think most of it is protected by Fair Use provisions and would be considered legally acceptable parody, but why take a chance? This blog can’t afford to be embroiled in legal trouble, because I’ve only earned $5.63.

So rather than risk Shatnerian wrath, I’ve chosen instead to throw caution to the wind and offer it to you as a token of my esteem, a tribute to the glory days of the toupological blog that was, and a pathetic cry for psychiatric help.

I give you – Follicly Active, a duet between Stallion Cornell and an unwilling William Shatner.

Enjoy.

 

Announcing Retro Friday

“Are you saving all your newspaper columns?”

That was the question my mother asked me on the phone the other day. I pointed out that, no, I wasn’t, because all of them are online, and saving newsprint is no longer the thing to do. (You can read my latest column, which appeared in hard copy today, online here. List of columns here.)

“Well, I want a copy of them,” she said. “Put them altogether for me and print them up in a book and give it to me for Christmas.”

I decided that was a good idea. But I haven’t written enough of them to constitute a book of any heft. So I thought I would pepper my book of columns with stuff from this blog, which has been running, off and on, for over five years, complete with hundreds of thousands of words that could now fill an encyclopedia, if there were such a thing anymore.

What I realized in doing this, however, is that this blog isn’t very well organized. I’ve never bothered to categorize or tag any of the more than 700 posts that have accumulated like virtual barnacles on the hull of cyberspace. I can search for specific posts and usually find them, but the archive has become quite voluminous, and it would be nice if things therein were more easily accessed. In addition, every time I dig out an old post, I find typos and such that ought to be spruced up. I’m quite proud of the body of work I’ve almost inadvertently created, and it would be nice if I brushed it off and cleaned it up.

Which gave me the idea of Retro Friday.

Every Friday for the next few months, I will revisit ten old blog posts, beginning at the beginning. I will post links, short summaries, and, where possible, pictures that describe these ancient posts. In the process, I will read through the old stuff, clean it up, and tag and categorize it. It will be slow going, but in a couple of years, this blog will be perfectly organized, assuming North Korea doesn’t blow us all up. Who knows? We might even have some fun along the way.

Some ground rules: I will fix broken links and bad punctuation/typos, and maybe even add a few links here and there if necessary, but I’m not going to re-edit for content or make modern editorial comments. I want these posts to be the best posts they can be, but they also need to remain representative of my frame of mind when I wrote them.

Ready? No? Well, tough. Because I even created my own Retro Friday logo!

retroI didn’t say it was a good logo, mind you.

Anyway, let’s kick off our first Retro Friday by beginning at the beginning.

ON BEING STALLION CORNELLposted August 15, 2007

 

HEY, ROVE! DIVIDE THIS!posted August 16, 2007

 


WHY? BECAUSE I’M A (D-WORD)!posted August 17, 2007
Recounting my time as a movie reviewer counting profanities for the Entertainment Research Report. This was also the subject of one of my far-more-recent newspaper columns.

 

FOR HE IS THE FRUMIOUS BANDERSNATCHposted August 18, 2007

BOLTONTwenty-one years after its release, I finally watch and review the movie version of “Dune.” In my defense, I had just finished reading the book. I liked both printed and cinematic version, even though the movie, objectively, is awful.

 

A RELIGIOUS TREATISEposted August 19, 2007

imagesA bit of false advertising. For my first Sunday blog post, I wanted to write something profoundly pious, but I end up telling the story of how, as a missionary, I fell asleep in front of a warm Scottish fire and embarrassed myself in the home of a member of the LDS church.

 

WISTposted August 20, 2007

landruA post where I ponder my mortality and life choices after my 39th birthday and recall the counsel of the late, great Charles Macaulay, who played Landru in the original “Star Trek” episode “The Return of the Archons.”

 

EVOLUTION POISONS EVERYTHINGposted August 21, 2007

evolutionMy first blogging foray into science I’m not qualified to discuss, although the focus is more on the hysterical reactions of atheists who brand any question about evolution to be a religious heresy. The title comes from atheist Christopher Hitchens’ book “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.”

NEVERLAND posted August 22, 2007

peter-pan-thumbI wrote a musical. Later, I started adapting that musical into a novel. But here’s the post where I provide links to demo recordings to four of the songs. The recordings are really, really good, and, still, I hold out hope that, someday, this show will get the production it deserves. I’ve just reproduced this post as a page that is linked in the top menu bar in the hopes that some Broadway producer stumbles on it and says, “Hey, why not give this thing a shot?”

LANGUATRON’S BOOK: A REVIEW posted August 23, 2007

langToo much of this blog is devoted to my rivalry with one Andrew Fullen of Chicago, AKA Languatron and the author of several vanity publications about Battlestar Galactica. I review one of those books here. You can find a similar review on Amazon.com, and, if you’re a little drunk, you can also pick up a copy of the book in question.

LANGUATRON REVIEWS MY REVIEW also posted August 23, 2007

lang No sooner did I post my review than Langy himself posted his incoherent response. That was fine with me – it gave me an excuse to post a second blog post in a single day, which helped me build up my content without having to come up with too much original material. Kind of like this whole Retro Friday dealie.


And that’s that! The first Retro Friday is over, and ten posts have been proofread, edited, tagged, and categorized. Tune in next week for such gems as:

Legislating Morality with Vampire Ladies

Sometimes Langy’s Right

Mormons Aren’t Victims

And seven more!

 

A Practical Priesthood Problem

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints holds its semi-annual General Conference this weekend, which I affectionately refer to as “church on TV.” Instead of dressing up in my Sunday finest, I will greet Sunday morning by sitting in my pajamas, eating bacon, and lying on the couch as church leaders offer televised counsel that has no dress code.

And by “church leaders,” I pretty much mean “dudes.”

Of course, this is not entirely true. Women speak at General Conference, too, and, for the first time in its 178-year-history, the conference will feature women offering the invocations and the benedictions at conference meetings. And with the lowering of the age of female church missionaries from 21 to 19, young women are signing up for missionary service in droves, including my 19-year-old niece who was recently called to the England Leeds Mission.

Behold the Niece of Stallion!

my-niece
It seems women are having a greater impact on the destiny of the church than they ever have before, which is leading some to question the church’s policy of limiting its priesthood authority to only one gender.

Please understand what I’m about to say here. I do not think that one gender is better than the other, yet I do believe it is essential that the priesthood be limited to either one gender or the other. It doesn’t matter to me which gender, mind you, but I really think you have to pick one.

Allow me to elaborate.

I have held a number of church positions in my life. My favorite callings all involve teaching, but every now and again, somebody decides I ought to be in some sort of leadership position. I’ve been a young men’s president, and, twice, a counselor in a bishopric.

Being a counselor in a bishopric is a significant commitment of time. This is especially true on Sundays, when a counselor’s day begins at the crack of dawn and doesn’t end until hours after everyone else has gone home. (And this is only a fraction of the time commitment required of a typical Mormon bishop.)

During all these hours spent away from your family, you are in close quarters with two other men, and you are discussing things that are often extraordinarily personal and confidential. You establish a powerful emotional and spiritual bond with these guys. In addition, you are often called upon to travel with these men, sometimes with only one and not the other.

I don’t think it’s sexism to recognize the practical problem that putting a woman into this mix would create.

I have a friend who’s a bishop who claims that this already presents a challenge in certain circumstances. Men and women working together in auxiliaries end up creating emotional ties that lead to places they wouldn’t otherwise have gone without the proximity of church service, which is usually difficult and problematic enough without introducing an additional element of sexual tension into the mix.

Of course, proximity doesn’t always lead to bad lovin’. Men and women work together in secular activities all the time, and grown-ups, even when they are attracted to each other, are capable of controlling themselves. But there is something intimate about priesthood service that would lend itself to inappropriateness more than a day-to-day “real world” job would. I don’t have hard evidence this is the case, but I think most who have participated in this process firsthand would know exactly what I’m talking about.

In my defense, I should note that while this is a problem that ought to be recognized, I don’t think it’s an insoluble one. You could conceivably create a coed priesthood where all leadership functions are performed by one gender or the other.

So, in other words, a woman called as a bishop would be required to call two female counselors, and counselors for dude bishops would be limited, as they currently are, to only the male half of the congregation.

Wow. I think that could work. But I’m not the guy calling the shots – for which you should be grateful.

Just as I will be grateful as I’m worshiping the Lord by sitting on my couch eating bacon.

Open the White House

A visit to the White House can be an arduous process. It requires months of advance preparation, because names have to submitted to the Secret Service in order to run background checks. Consequently, those who travel to the nation’s capitol often plan their itinerary around their appointment for a tour of the Executive Mansion. If you’re one of those with White House tickets in the next few months, prepare to be disappointed. It seems the Obama administration has scrapped your plans by cancelling all upcoming White House tours, citing budget cuts mandated by the sequester as the reason.

This explanation is stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Estimates place the amount of dollars saved from discontinuing the tours at $18,000 per week. That’s budget dust. To put that in to perspective, the Congressional Research Service estimates that it costs ten times that amount to keep Air Force One in the sky for a single hour. That would mean that a single round-trip transcontinental flight by the president burns up the entirety of the money budgeted for White House tours. The president’s most recent vacation to Hawaii cost a reported $7 million, a sum that could have funded all White House tours for the rest of the decade.

I’m not an Obama hater. But it’s very hard to avoid the conclusion that, with this decision, the Obama administration is acting in bad faith.

The financial savings are miniscule, but the unnecessary inconvenience inflicted by this capricious decision play into the narrative the president has been peddling for months.  Flying across the country in his very expensive jet, he has repeatedly warned of dire consequences should the federal government be forced to tighten its belt by a measly 2.4%. Now the cuts are here, and the sky hasn’t fallen. Surely the president must realize his credibility has taken a hit as the apocalypse he predicted has failed to materialize. It seems that by shutting down public access to the White House, he has now managed to inflict a little public misery in order to save face.

In any case, there’s something seriously out of whack here.

Many are justifiably outraged by this display of partisan pettiness. Billionaire Donald Trump has offered to foot the bill for the White House tours himself. That shouldn’t be necessary, and it’s embarrassing that it even has to be proposed. The White House belongs to the people, not to the president, and it’s disgraceful when anyone tries to use it as a political prop.

My Dog, He Is Fat

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MY DOG, HE IS FAT

a poem by Stallion Cornell

——

My dog, he is fat
My dog, he is fat
My dog, he is fat
Fat is my dog. He is. (Fat, I mean.)

——

(c) 2013, Stallion Cornell. May not be reproduced or replicated without express written or implied oral consent. May not be folded, spindled or mutilated.

——

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with famed poetry critic Lloyd Calamine, who discussed both the composition and thematic impact of my groundbreaking verse, “My Dog, He Is Fat.” The conversation was recorded and is transcribed below.

LLOYD: Thank you for taking the time to sit down with me, Stallion.

ME: It’s a pleasure to be here, Kent.

LLOYD: I thought my name was supposed to be Lloyd.

ME: Whatever.

LLOYD: Whatever, indeed! Which brings us to your magnum opus, “My Dog, He Is Fat. ”

ME: Yes.

LLOYD: What inspired the majesty and power of these four immortal lines?

ME: Many things, actually. Injustice. Plus the disconnect between the Platonic ideal and our savage reality. Stuff like that. Also, the fatness of my dog.

LLOYD: So your dog really is fat?

ME: He is fat, yes.

LLOYD: How fat?

ME: Somewhat.

LLOYD: Can you be more specific?

ME: Yes, but I choose not to be.

LLOYD: Ah. Are you then reticent to expand further on the powerful themes evoked by your deceptively simple stanza?

ME: Not at all. There’s a lot going on in those 24 words. I wouldn’t expect anyone to get it all in their first read.

LLOYD: And what are some of the more evocative elements that might not be apparent at first glance?

ME: Well, it’s not just a description of my fat dog, although, as I conceded before, my dog is, in fact, fat. But really, this piece takes it further, and I, as an omnipotent narrator, embody the owners of all fat dogs. In doing so, I give voice to the millions of observations that have pierced the collective unconscious on this universal subject.

LLOYD: In essence, then, you’re saying to anyone who’s ever looked at their dog and said, “Man, that dog is pretty fat,” that you are they.

ME: Well, that’s one way of looking at it, but it goes far deeper than that.

LLOYD: In what way?

ME: In every way.

LLOYD: Touché.

ME: Thank you, Kent.

LLOYD: Can you give us a taste of the process? What comes first: the general outline or the specific words? Does it evolve slowly, or does it arrive, fully formed, in your imagination?

ME: It’s difficult to say. I had long observed the fatness of my dog, but who can name the obese muse who demanded that this story be told in iambic pentameter?

LLOYD: I didn’t notice that. Is the poem written in iambic pentameter?

ME: To a degree. As my passion grew, so did my impatience with the limitations of that particular form. Consequently, I took liberties with the meter when the content required it.

LLOYD: A bold choice!

ME: Perhaps. For me, it was not a choice. I write as I must. I don’t have the luxury of flinching in the face of brazen truth.

LLOYD: Are you insinuating, then, that poets willing to accede to the strictures of any preassigned meter don’t share your moral courage?

ME: I can’t judge their hearts. But yes.

LLOYD: So why have you succeeded where lesser poets have failed?

ME: Drugs, mostly.

LLOYD: But of course! Clean living has been the downfall of so many great artists.

ME: Look what it did to Lawrence Welk.

LLOYD: To be fair, he was a foreigner.

ME: Canine obesity knows no borders, Kent.

LLOYD: Oh, I know that. I’m a racist, that’s all.

ME: Racism is bad. You should know that if you truly read my poem.

LLOYD: Ah. Here’s where it gets embarrassing. I haven’t actually read your poem.

ME: What?

LLOYD: I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment.

ME: Well, sure, but –

LLOYD: I’m not like you. I didn’t get into the poetry game for the wine, women, and song. I did it for the money. Big money. High stakes poetry, that’s me.

ME: Then I advise you not to read my poetry. It will indict your soul.

LLOYD: I have no soul. (He commences weeping.)

ME: I can’t help but notice that you’ve commenced weeping.

LLOYD: Nothing escapes your keen, penetrating eyes!

ME: Alas, only one of my eyes is keen and penetrating. The other is playful-yet-vapid.

LLOYD: Oh, my leg! (He dies of joint pain. Exeunt.)

ME: I need a bath. (I brush my teeth instead.)

Fin