All posts by blain

Letting Go Some More

God,
Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I can not change,
Courage to change the things I can, and
Wisdom to know the difference.

We all need all of those things every day, even on good days. When the days aren’t so good, we need them more. Letting go of our desires and wishes and wants and needs and letting God drive the bus is hard. I remember days when it felt like the sun would not rise if I forgot to get out there and push to make it happen. Realizing that making my knuckles white was accomplishing little to nothing, and might actually be working against what was best was very hard. The best thing about hitting yourself in the face with a hammer over and over is that it feels so good when you stop.

My contribution to the world is small — a very small drop in a very large ocean. It will not accomplish what I want it to accomplish. It will not earn the gratitude and attention I would like to receive from it in my neediness. But it is mine to contribute, and enough drops in the ocean can make things different. If I do what God wants with it, then it will be made best use of. If I can let go of those wants, desires, expectations and even needs (hardest to justify, but not the hardest to let go of), and allow God to direct me, my needs are taken care of, and things work out for the best.

I just wish it wasn’t so hard.

Divorce and Remarriage an Abomination for Mormons? Answering a Christian Friend.

This is a response to some questions from a friend who has been in a number of abusive relationships and marriages, and is a devout mainstream Christian. Her questions sprang from a vow she made as a small child to marry once and forever. Looking at that in the light of some of the statements found in the Bible regarding, divorce, women and remarriage, she wondered if she was now destined to be single forever because she had broken this vow and the rules shown in these statements. My response is closely tied to the questions you’re not seeing, but I tried to put enough context in that you could see basically what I was responding to.

Yeah. Many have made such vows to marry once and forever, and lots of clean and pretty young Mormons with a couple or three small children and a few years into the process look down their noses at those who were not able to make it work. Life has a way of teaching us that there is more to it than we understand. I can’t speak too much to the Catholic perspective. I respect it, but I don’t understand or share all of it that I do understand.

Yeah, I know some folks get hung up on that notion of “wife forever” in a coercive way. I am not a biblical inerrantist, so hanging on a few proof-texts really isn’t my style. My personal theology includes the notion that God is not a jerk. He’s not going to force someone to be miserable through eternity for things not their fault or for bad choices they have repented of. There is a Mormon notion that God doesn’t function through compulsory means, and that individual choice is eternally protected. By “notion” I mean “core doctrine,” in this case. So, there isn’t really much doctrinal support for the notion of wives-as-chattel, and strong (IMO) doctrinal opposition to it. Continue reading Divorce and Remarriage an Abomination for Mormons? Answering a Christian Friend.

s/(Priesthood Ban)/Temple and $1/gi

A podcast I was listening to yesterday pointed out that what I’ve been calling the Priesthood Ban was also a ban on black women entering the Temple.  This was not a product of them not having the priesthood, since non-black women don’t hold the priesthood either, but were not barred from the Temple.  So I think the proper label for that is the Temple and Priesthood Ban, and I wish every place you’ve ever seen me use the former term to be considered to be the latter.  Thus, the title of this post (which will probably make no sense to people not familiar with regular expressions — sorry).

 

Gridlock is a Feature, Not a Bug.

I am guardedly optimistic about the process we’re going through right now, wrt the Sequester <tm>.  The part of policy-making which is so annoying is the part where the process is working — the part where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, because those darn other-siders won’t just get out of the way and let us have our way!  Nobody is supposed to get their own way all the way — that’s not what pluralism and democratic institutions are about.  We are supposed to hammer out workable compromises, making concessions in return for concessions on the other side that give us some of what we want.  And what we’re facing right now is a very abrupt change in the way we’ve done things, and that’s really what’s causing the frustration.

Previously, the way we greased the gears of compromise was to give people on each side something they wanted to get — an increase in spending here or there, or a tax break, etc.  And the way those played out tended to be things that increased the deficit.  Now, we’re in a situation where increasing the deficit isn’t available.  We can’t give people what they want that same way anymore.  We’re going to have to give up things we want — everybody is.  And this is hard, because every dollar spent, and every dollar  brought in through taxes (maybe even every dollar borrowed — thinking about that) has a constituency who don’t want to lose what they’ve got.  And the more dollars, the more powerful the constituency.  So, there are loud voices (money and power buy volume) proclaiming that the sky is falling — recall the doom-and-gloom about the Sequester two weeks ago, and how now the word is “We never said all of this was going to happen in a day or a week.” Continue reading Gridlock is a Feature, Not a Bug.

Equifax sold my email address to spammers.

Since I own my own domain (guess which one?), I have an infinite number of email addresses I can use.  So, when I create an account on a new website, I can give each one a customized address that I can track to know who had which address.  Then, if they sell the address to spammers, I can know exactly who did it.  Thus far, I’ve identified Buy.com and Emusic.com and Podpickle.com for doing so, and, today, Equifax.com joins the list.

So, if you’re considering using any of those websites, be ready to give them a throw-away email address that you can walk away from when they sell it.  I’ve added that address to an email filter so it goes directly to the bit-bucket, and I will never seen anything sent to that address again.

BSA policy on gay scouts and leaders, Mormon style

Okay, so I just spent a while in a thread about the proposed change in BSA policy regarding gay youth and leaders on Deseret News, and it was my daily dip in the part of Mormon Culture that drives me up the walls — the smug, self-righteous, never questioned confidence that “we” are right about everything, know everything, and those who disagree are sad, stupid, unrighteous people that we will deign to pray for God to enlighten. Makes me want to swear like the Rodeo Song (it’s gotta be 40 below somewhere).

In what way is a policy that denies men participation in this program who have not violated the Law of Chastity compatible with the teachings of the Gospel? There seems to be this idea that this policy change is being driven through by NAMBLA as a way of “recruiting” lots more gay youth they can have sex with. Because, presumably, there are tons of young men out there thinking “I just can’t decide if I want to have sex with boys or girls,” and, if they can only listen to a promotional video where someone extols the highlights of choosing the gay lifestyle (it’s just a non-stop orgy, donchaknow, until God kills you with the AIDS, because he hates fags), they’ll instantly be drawn into the clutches of these evil perverts.

Sorry, but that’s just pathetic nonsense. Continue reading BSA policy on gay scouts and leaders, Mormon style

The Ongoing Fiscal Crisis, and Democratic Processes

Everybody elected works for the people in about the same proportion.  They were all sent there representing a constituency, and all of those people deserve to have their voices involved in the process, even when they are wrong.  The purpose is not to come up with the optimal outcome — it’s to come up with an outcome that most people can accept.  Fighting and maneuvering and compromising is an important part of the process.  It’s annoying to watch, but it’s designed into the system, and it’s a feature, not a bug.

And it’s the only way we’re going to get this deficit problem solved.  We’ve tried all kinds of commissions, and passing laws to limit how much can be spent and how much can be taxed, and they have clearly and abjectly failed.  Now, we’re disturbingly near the point where we can’t maintain the illusion that we can ever pay back those we have borrowed from, so borrowing more is becoming less and less possible, and that’s the only reason we might be able to fix the problem.

We can’t do it all by cutting government spending, because every dollar spent has a constituency who have a narrative about why they should get at least triple more than they do, and why anybody who wants to cut it is stupid, evil, short-sighted and, probably, greedy.  We can’t do it all by increasing taxes because every dollar taxed has a constituency who have a narrative about why they should not be the ones paying as much as they do, and why somebody else should pay more (and someone is probably greedy there, too).  So the solution is to get all those constituencies together in one large dialogue where the rules are that, when it’s done, the deficit has to go down reliably and consistently in real terms (no more gimmicks like leaving all the unspecified spending cuts for 2 to 120 months down the road).  It has to go down this year, and next year, and drop to zero in less than a decade, and not go back up.

How we accomplish that will require serious negotiations in good faith, and the people in power have no real experience in doing that.  Word on the street is that the President is particularly bad at it, for example, but his Vice President is pretty good at it.  But they can only go as fast as the electorate are willing to go, and that’s where the growing-up I mentioned before needs to take place.  Less with the dismissive rhetoric, more with the listening respectfully, and more with the doing the homework it takes to understand the process.

Report on Batch 3 of Crockpot Applesauce

The parameters

This batch was different from previous batches in that I did no coring of the apples of any kind — just cut them into quarters and dropped them in the crock.  I used a cheap, small Walmart bag of Granny Smiths and Golden Deliciouses, along with a small paper bag of whatever was closest to the door in Haggen.  I added no water, but did add seasoning and lumps of cane sugar for the cooking phase.  And, then, I used a screen colander to squeeze the stuff through.

The Results

The screen colander did a much better job of getting stuff through than my plastic colander that only has holes on the bottom of it (nothing up the sides),  However, I have a bunch more stuff left in the colander, and I think I’m going to move it to the plastic colander so it can let through more of the pulp without letting through the seeds, skins, and the like. I’ve had two bowls of the stuff that got through the screen, and it was very liquidy, but very tasty.  And there was no problem from not adding water — it cooked down to a pulpy paste with a little stirring after just a couple of hours in the crock pot.

For Next Time

I’m considering not doing all the seasoning in the cooking phase.  I’m not sure.  I’m also thinking about taking some of the pulpy stuff I get out, after I’ve done the liquidy stuff out, for apple butter.  And I’m told we have the Foley food mill around here someplace, and that would make this a lot easier.  If I can find it.