No, Senator Hatch, 45 is not a “very good man.”

Before he passed away, and feeling the rapid onset of eternity, Senator John McCain expressed that he didn’t want 45 at his funeral, opting instead for Vice President Mike Pence, according to family members close to the respected legislator.

Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told CNN,

“I think that’s ridiculous. He’s the President of the United States. He’s a very good man.”

Feeling the backlash of public opinion, Hatch later apologized, saying

“I felt badly, I had spoken out of turn,” Hatch said. “I shouldn’t have said what I said.”

Whether that was a sincere apology or political mush because he was caught out is only for him to know. But the “very good man” part of that first quote is what got my hackles up. Oh, it’s not that Hatch is a die-hard Republican, Congress is full of those. People like McConnell, Ryan, Cruz, and a whole host of other supporters of 45, as inexplicable as that is to me. No, it’s the fact that Senator Hatch claims to be a member of my own faith, specifically the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That, by definition, makes him a Christian.

So let’s start with the Bible. In 1 Timothy 3, we read Paul’s admonitions about ecclesiastical leaders:

A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Note: many people in the world don’t put stock in the Bible, and that’s fine – it’s their privilege. But Hatch does – he claims to reverence this book and its teachings, so it’s very relevant to his statement about 45’s character. In an article dealing with Evangelicals’ relationship with 45, the Washington Post wrote,

“Many have acknowledged the awkwardness of being both self-proclaimed followers of Jesus and the No. 1 champions of a president whose character has been defined not just by alleged infidelity but accusations of sexual harassment, advancing conspiracy theories popular with white supremacists, using language that swaths of Americans find racist, routinely spreading falsehoods and an array of casual cruelties and immoderate behaviors that amount to a roll call of the seven deadly sins.”

The hand-wringing, self-justification and scripture-twisting that 45’s religious supporters have brought to the stage is literally breathtaking. Our current *president fails almost every one of Timothy’s admonitions, and while some might say, “Oh, he’s talking about leaders of the church,” for me these are qualities that ought to apply to leaders of peoples and nations as well. And I’m not just talking about Republican leaders, either – I was heartsick when William Jefferson Clinton disgraced the office of the presidency (and in the Oval Office itself!) and have always felt that despite whatever qualities he brought to the presidency, he should have immediately stepped down.

But as this cartoon by Pat Bagley from the 70s illustrates, many Americans seem to tolerate a lot from their elected officials if it happens to advance their own interests:

Bagley - 3 Bears

The more you look at 45’s public persona, and public behavior, and public business dealings, the less he seems to align with anything one finds in the teachings of either the biblical or the historical Jesus.

But then there’s the Book of Mormon, another scripture that Hatch claims to reverence, where we find the story of Korihor, the anti-Christ:

“And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime.”

And that has pretty much been 45’s game all along – to paraphrase what I see in his statements and his actions and his tweets, “I’m rich, I’m powerful, I’m President, I’m the best, I’m yuuuuge, I can do anything I want, and there’s nothing wrong with any of it.”

Senator Hatch, as you look at 45 and his history, the history of questionable business dealings, irresponsible behaviors, dishonesty with contractors, countless bankruptcies, the adulteries, the dalliances, the sexual harassment, the hate, the xenophobia, the racist attitudes, the arrogance, the intolerance, the public mockeries of those who disagree with him, the inexperience, the incompetence, the unleashed and uncontrolled and unsubstantiated tweets, the megalomania, all of it – 45 makes Richard M. Nixon look like Gandhi by comparison. These are not the qualities of a “very good man.” You, and every other Latter-day Saint who cast a ballot for 45 have effectively put Korihor into the White House, and now we’re all reaping the political and social whirlwind.

Now before anyone accuses me of hypocrisy, let me quote the relevant passage for you:

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?  Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own ye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”

On a personal level, I leave all judgment to God, because I’m keenly aware of my own failings. But we’re talking politics here, and public service and honor and the common good, and I hold my leaders to the highest possible standards. If our chief executive and our legislators can’t be better than the rest of  us, they have no business leading us, because otherwise they can lead us nowhere but unto destruction.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Purpose of Life

For the longest time, in the South visitor’s center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, hung the following mural by Robert Oliver Skemps (click the image for a larger view):


New I-Center Mural

It depicts God’s plan for our existence on earth, a probationary period during which we  have the opportunity to obtain a physical body to experience life’s blessings and challenges, and be tested to see if we will exercise our free agency to choose good or to choose evil. From left, the seminal events in our life are birth – our arrival in this world from our previous existence with God; instruction in the home; education; marriage; work; family; adversity; fulfillment; and finally death – our return home to the God who gave us life.

It’s a beautiful painting, but at some point the Church decided that it had a “dated” look – it definitely looks like something out of the 50s, and was originally commissioned for display at the New York World’s Fair in 1964. After being removed from Temple Square, the painting was sent to the Hyde Park Chapel in London where it hung for many years, until it was carefully removed by Scott M. Haskins and lovingly restored. It is now displayed at Brigham Young University Idaho.

Taking its place in the visitor’s center was a new version by Joseph Brickey. In a communication with me, he mentioned his challenge in “updating” such an iconic painting. Church authorities wanted the same painting with modern attire, and Mr. Brickey indicated that he solved the problem by advocating for “metadating” instead – that is, going backward in time to a pioneer setting that would be timeless and resonate with people of any generation.

I was able to go home to Salt Lake early this month, and took this picture (potato quality because it was shot with my ancient Galaxy S5, but good enough to give you the idea – click the image for a larger view:)


Purpose of Life Painting 2

The message – this time presented from right to left – remains the same, but the pioneer motif definitely seems more appropriate to past, present, and future.

As mentioned in this blog post, there is another version of this mural, also by Robert Oliver Skemps, depicting the purpose of life with Asian models, which hung in the visitor’s center of the Hawaiʻi temple. I once saw a thumbnail of it, but have been unable to locate it again. It was salvaged during the demolition/reconstruction of that visitor’s center, but I’m not sure if it was ever acquired by the Church. If it is ever restored, I’ll do my best to get it up here.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

My Lifelong Wrestle With Mormonism

An insightful and poignant essay, very much worth sharing. His second list is much like one I saw decades ago, compiled by a good friend of mine, Dru White:

A Few Commandments

The Old Wolf has reblogged; be sure to read the full post below.

Love Refined

Since I’ve at times been grumpy, tired, the bad kind of opinionated, and wrong about things, I haven’t felt like I’m the right person, in the right moment, with the right amount of faithfulness to be the giver of the things I’ll discuss below.

I’m not a theologian or doctrine ninja. I’m not extremely well-versed in scripture and I haven’t always been on the straight and narrow path.

View original post 2,440 more words

Twisting reason – the false logic of desperate atheists and insecure believers

This image recently popped up on my Facebook feed, and I found it disturbing.

11044560_10153100276521605_6200623964597898679_n

Accompanying the image was the exposition,

“He either exists but can’t, in which case he’s not omnipotent, or he exists but won’t, in which case he’s not benevolent, or he plain and simply doesn’t exist.”

I’ve seen that before elsewhere; there’s a fallacy in there, one which many atheists seem to miss. I am reminded of a young Corrie Ten Boom, who asked her father what “sexsin” was. The father kindly asked her to carry his suitcase; upon trying, she found it far too heavy. He explained to her that like suitcases, some knowledge was too heavy for a child to carry, and asked her to trust him with it until she was older. She was satisfied.

Humanists who are bound and determined to disprove the existence of God, and show by demonstration that people of faith are fools, or benighted, or willfully stupid, often do so by attempting to shove God into a human box, as if they in their wisdom understand all there is to know about the human experience. They smugly postulate that if they would do X and God doesn’t, therefore God does not exist. I recall another recently-posted quote from Tracie Harris:

“You either have a God who sends child rapists to rape children or you have a God who simply watches it and says, ‘When you’re done, I’m going to punish you.’ If I could stop a person from raping a child, I would. That’s the difference between me and your God.”

Now this particular quote was directed at a degraded evangelical turd who put out there that raped children are “evil” and hence deserving of whatever they get; it’s easy to understand why in the heat of outrage over such an ignorant premise that someone might say something of that nature. But the quote annoyed me because it sets up the same false dichotomy – that God is somehow equal to humans and subject to the same rules and logic as humans are.

The picture itself is a perfect example of this compulsion by the atheist community to belittle people of faith at every turn. Showing the amazing and impressive ability of technology to improve the lives of people and raise the human conditon is a wonderful thing. Turning around and attaching a cheap shot at people of faith detracts from the message.

The same argument can be applied to people of faith, and most particularly evangelical Christians who condemn every unbeliever and agnostic (as well as the rest of the believing community who don’t happen to believe in exactly their version of whatever) to an eternal Hell, as though they had the authority to do so.

Oh & that’s why science has cured cancer right? I (along with a few other friends) prayed over someone who had pollups (sic) & the next week (without any medication) his pollups were gone.. I don’t see science doing that. The only reason some science works is because God wills it to. Science can’t heal a broken heart, nor can it comfort those who need comfort or save your soul or give you eternal life. When you die, you call out to science… & see where you end up. Until then I’ll be praying for all of you who are unsaved.

This quote is filled with so much wrong that I don’t know where to begin, so I’ll just let it speak for itself.

Now, the picture above was posted by an intelligent and respected friend. He, and everyone else, is free in this world to believe in something metaphysical or not.But in the name of whatever you consider holy, be it some deity or the amazing power and creativity and goodness that can be found in humanity, stop taking pot shots at each other. It helps nothing, it convinces nobody, and it just ends up polluting the social environment and making everyone who does so look petty and vindictive.

Mohandas Gandhi is reputed to have said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” This is good advice, regardless of which side of the theological issue you happen to fall on.

The Old Wolf has spoken.2


1 Oh, wait, I’m forgetting about people who flog and decapitate unbelievers. Well, in most places in the civilized world, then.

2 I hate theological/political/scientific debates. As a result, I have disabled comments for this post. If you have a position to espouse, post it in your own blog. If it has merit, if it lifts me and inspires me to do better and help others and raise the human condition even more, I’ll consider it.

A gift from God

 

I consider all food a gift from God, but when you go into your garden and pick things you’ve grown yourself, it seems an occasion for extra gratitude: free food from the ground.

20140826_102216-1

20140913_192837

 

Those of my friends and family who are of the atheist/agnostic tradition look at such things as an outgrowth of evolution, which is fine; on one level, that’s correct. But seeing such bounty merely in such terms leaves me with a sense of emptiness, of incompleteness. If there’s nothing but random chance and selective breeding and survival of the fittest, then there’s no one to thank for these gifts.

One take on gratitude was famously given by “Charlie Anderson” in the movie Shenandoah, played by James Stewart:

“Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, sowed it, and harvest it. We cook the harvest. It wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be eating it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you Lord just the same for the food we’re about to eat, amen.”

It is certain, we wouldn’t have food in the stores if it weren’t for the backbreaking and often poorly-compensated work of farmers and laborers, but if it weren’t for the sun and the rain and the soil and the seeds and the wind and the pollinators, there would be nothing at all. So I often remember to thank the Lord for the work of everyone along the supply chain that brought dinner to my table, but recognize Him as the ultimate source of all goodness.

That’s just how I roll.

The Old Wolf has spoken.