Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Trouble Brews in a Long-Term Relationship

The Boy Scouts of America has decided to allow openly gay men to serve as leaders within its organization.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is "deeply troubled" and has announced that it needs to take some time apart to clear its head and decide if their relationship has a future or not.  According to President Newsroom:
In spite of a request to delay the vote, it was scheduled at a time in July when members of the Church's governing councils are out of their offices and do not meet.  When the leadership of the Church resumes its regular schedule of meetings in August, the century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined.  The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation.  However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.
Sigh...okay, a few jumbled thoughts:

1.  So much for trying to soften your approach to gays, guys.  I thought giving members permission to support gay marriage on social media and holding a press conference condemning housing discrimination based on sexual orientation was supposed to be preparing for the inevitable so that when homosexuality no longer has a social stigma you can say you always loved the gays.  Throwing a tantrum when the BSA allows gay leaders but still gives religious troops the right to choose their own leaders as they see fit is not going to assist you in creating the future illusion that you were always on the right side of history.

2.  Also, way to whine about the timing of the vote.  Sure, there are a lot of LDS Boy Scouts. but the church makes up less than 20% of the BSA rolls.  The vote passed 45-12, so even if the Mormons had been represented according to their numbers, they still wouldn't have gotten their way.  So what's the point in complaining about the timing?  Basically, this is the equivalent of telling your wife that she was never good in bed after she's already explained to you that she doesn't love you anymore.  You're still losing the relationship, only now you look more petulant and the two of you will probably not be able to remain friends.  So good job there.

3.  "The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation."  Is it just me, or does this sound reminiscent of the Church's approach to the priesthood ban?  The church has always welcomed gay scouts but God forbid they should ever want to become leaders!  The church has always welcomed black members but God forbid they should ever want the priesthood!  If a scout grows up and wants to continue with the organization as an adult by providing leadership to the youth, but that leadership is conditional upon the person maintaining a heterosexual persona, can that really count as "welcoming?"  Basically, it means that once the kid hits eighteen, he can no longer participate in scouting because he's gay.  That's not very welcoming.  Although I suppose it is encouraging closeted gay scouts to continue, you know...lying to everybody about who they are.  Which is fantastic, obviously.

4.  I would like to know how, exactly, openly gay Boy Scout leaders are against the church's doctrine.  Because the church's whole deal lately has been "hate the sin, love the sinner" and "it's okay as long as you don't act on it."  So what's the problem with an openly gay leader?  He could be married to a woman with plenty of kids and simply honest with everyone about his struggle with same-sex attraction.  That is completely in accordance with LDS policies and teachings.  So why should this disqualify him from the opportunity to serve in the scouting program?

5.  Once again, guys, as a religious organization, the BSA is still allowing you to choose your leaders according to your own criteria and you can be just as bigoted as you want within your own walls.  So quit yer bitchin'.

6.  I think a few openly gay leaders in the LDS Boy Scout organization would actually be a good thing.  It could give some gay or curious youth a role model.  Maybe having someone openly gay to look up to would help them cope with their confusing, embattled situations.  Maybe this could help prevent a few more suicides.  Not that this is likely to become a reality.  But still, it could do some good.

It looks to me like the church is probably going to attempt to set up its own spiritual version of Boy Scouts, like scouting and the Duty to God program all rolled into one. I think they're hoping their threat is going to change minds, but that also seems unlikely.  Regardless, it will be interesting to watch how the situation plays out.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Helaman 1: More Bad Stuff Happens

Now that all our heroes from the Book of Alma are dead, the Nephites begin to have "a serious difficulty," in stark contrast to all the peaceful, easy, non-violent times they've had up until this point.

That's a Bad Mission Statement
The header to the Book of Helaman begins:
An account of the Nephites. Their wars and contentions, and their dissensions. And also the prophecies of many holy prophets, before the coming of Christ...
Contrast this with the mission statement of the Book of Mormon from its title page:
...Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations—
So the purpose of the Book of Mormon is to teach us about the history between God and the ancient peoples, to allow us to learn and take advantage of covenants, and to convince everyone of the Jesusness of Jesus.  So what is the Book of Helaman going to be about?  Wars and political upheavals of the Nephites.  And also, by the way...religious stuff, prophecies, Christ, you know.

One Big Happy Family
In the wake of chief judge Pahoran's death, the voice of the people decide to democratically vote on his replacement from the confines of his lineage.  His sons Pahoran, Paanchi and Pacumeni are the frontrunners.  Pahoran junior wins the election, class act Pacumeni throws his support behind his victorious brother, and super-villain Paanchi smolders in jealousy.  Eventually Paanchi tries to convince his followers to overthrow Pahoran, but in an act of precognitive crimefighting that both Tom Cruise and Philip K. Dick would have been proud of, the government catches him before he can go through with it, puts him on trial, and sentences him to death.

Damn.  Harsh.  One brother down.

Paanchi's gang, incensed by these events, send in Kishkumen, who murders Pahoran on the judgment seat in plain view like an idiot, but somehow manages to escape capture.

Ouch.  Brutal.  Two brothers down.

Then, suddenly, Lamanites attack, led by a brilliant and imposing man named Coriantumr, who is, unsurprisingly, a disgruntled Nephite.  Coriantumr blazes straight through to Zarahemla, conquers and ransacks the city, and then chases down Pacumeni and slams him against the outer wall of the city, killing him.

Yeesh.  Bloody.  Three brothers down.

Does this actually feel like the way things happen in real life?  Doesn't this seem like contrived, dramatic storytelling?  I mean, a brother sentencing his own brother to death for treason is then murdered on his throne by one of his deceased brother's disciples?  Murdered on the throne?  Because sneaking into his house at night or gunning him down in the street (with a sling, not a gun) would be too risky?  And then, to top it off, when the big bad guy invades suddenly out of nowhere, it's he, personally, who kills the reigning political power of the land?  Out of all the people in that army, Coriantumr is the one who confronts Pacumeni?  Come on.

I mean, it's an exciting story and it would make one hell of a movie, but don't try and tell me it reads like legitimate history.

How Thick Can You Get?
Why does Zarahemla fall to the invaders?  Verse 18 explains:
And it came to pass that because of so much contention and so much difficulty in the government, that they had not kept sufficient guards in the land of Zarahemla; for they had supposed that the Lamanites durst not come into the heart of their lands to attack that great city of Zarahemla.
Well, if it's a great city, doesn't that make it kind of a logical target for attack?  Especially considering it's the freaking national capital?  Have they not met the Lamanites?  They love attacking the Nephites and starting wars!  They've been doing it for the last five hundred years!  Since the two societies live so close to each other and hate each other's guts, how stupid would one of them have to be to leave its capital so poorly defended in the years immediately following a long and bloody conflict?

And who is in charge of the Nephite armed forces?  None other than Moronihah, son of the famed and lauded Captain Moroni.  I guess the apple falls very far from the tree.  Or maybe it's just that Moroni always fought incompetent generals and Coriantumr doesn't seem to be an idiot.  So maybe it's apples and oranges.

Although, once Moronihah defeats Coriantumr and his army (by surrounding them, probably a page from daddy's old playbook), he demonstrates that he's not much of a chip off the old block at all.  Moroni would have given his prisoners an ultimatum, forcing them to swear an oath of peace and loyalty on pain of death.  Moronihah just lets them all go back home.

What's this?  A Nephite general exhibiting mercy? It's like the world has turned upside down.