Theodicy and How I Redefined God

**Warning: colorful, adult language contained within**

Why do people suffer? I’ve written on this before. Suffering was one of my earliest posts, in fact. Elizabeth Smart and God’s Problem. Here I am again. And why? Not because of another book, but because of real life. My mom has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer. I suppose that there was a high probability of this diagnosis eventually given she’s been smoking for 40+ years now, but it’s not easy to consider either way. But this is not the situation that has struck me. This situation now being faced by the family is happening because a person made a choice. While not any easier, what’s happening is the result of individual free agency. Nor am I really struck by the struggles and suffering of a co-worker, though it certainly saddens me that she has to go through such a struggle. She’s attempting to “adopt” her own child legally with her wife because while New York recognizes them as legal parents, since New York views their marriage as legal, some states don’t. Eventually the South and Midwest will catch up with the rest of the civilized nation. But her struggles are because a judge has decided, for who knows what reason, the they have to provide residency information, dates and addresses, effectively since birth for her and her wife. So their suffering can readily be explained because of the decisions of a judge. Not to diminish the struggle in any way, that is not at all my point, it’s just that the reason for the struggle here can be pinpointed. But what about struggles that can’t be pinpointed? I’m reading an article right now about Theodicy and Auschwitz. He quotes Elie Wiesel as saying “Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.”1 From here, he quotes Robert McAfee Brown “Ever since thatfirstnight, Wiesel has struggled with two irreconcilable realities— the reality of God and the reality of Auschwitz. Either seems to cancel out the other, and yet neither will disappear. Either in isolation could be managed—Auschwitz and no God, or God and no Auschwitz. But Auschwitz and God, God and Auschwitz? That is the unbearable reality that haunts sleep and destroys wakefulness.”2 How to we reconcile the standard Judeo-Christian thoughts on God with the fact that suffering, often times on a massive scale exists? Let’s go beyond that, though, right down to a personal level.
My reason for wanting to sit down tonight, now approaching midnight, and write this at the expense of sleep and school work, is that I read a blog post from a friend of mine today that his daughter has been diagnosed with an incurable genetic disorder which will eventually cause her to die at a younger than normal age. Where is God in this situation? Umm…damned if I know. Well meaning folks want to say things like “the Lord works in mysterious ways” or “it’s all part of the plan.” My first reaction is to roll my eyes…my next reaction is to say, perhaps aloud, “man, that is such bull shit.” You know, maybe it is “part of God’s plan” but while folks think that’s a cool thing to say to folks in times of trouble, it’s really just shit poor counseling. To be quite honest, saying that to a person in a time of trouble can easily lead to the reaction of “oh really, this happening of part of God’s plan? He’s causing this and allowing this? You know what, F#$K Him.” Some folks might not like me describing it like that. But it’s this combination of simply not finding God in a given situation (i.e. a child being diagnosed with serious, incurable illness) and my general dislike that these things are somehow planned to happen by God. What is this plan, anyway?
I mean, how detailed of plan are we talking about? My view of this plan falls somewhere in line with Harold Kushner and what he writes in his book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” In some ways, this falls right in line with some of the struggles I have with certain blessings of the Gospel right now. I just can’t work them out within myself. I’ll get to that in a minute. I feel like God created the Earth and everything on it, but once creation was done, once the Earth started to exist on it’s own, once humanity and animals existed, the whole thing was then out of God’s control. We’re here. This is us. God wishes he could help my friend and his daughter, He really does, I think. But he can’t cure the disease. He also didn’t cause it to happen. It just happened. Because humans are imperfect, and sometimes this happens. But God’s not at fault here because this is our realm. But God can give us comfort. God can moderate our pain. He can help us get through things. Maybe, I even believe in angels that can help us get through struggles. In Elizabeth Smart’s book, she writes about finding a cup of water one night. There is no normal explanation as to why it showed up. We read about the three Israelites in Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednago who were thrown into the fire and comforted, shielded from the flames, by an angel of the Lord. But none of these people were delivered. Elizabeth Smart had to deal with being raped every day for several more months and the Israelites had to wait for the king to open the door. So maybe I do believe in miracles to a certain degree. But if I don’t think God can deliver us from these troubles directly, then where does that leave me?
Theodicy is a difficult subject. Bart Ehrman notes in the early pages of his book “God’s Problem” that he wanted to write that book 20 years before he did, but didn’t feel that he was qualified to do so. He still didn’t feel qualified to do so when he eventually wrote it, but he figured that maybe he’d waited long enough. So, I don’t think I’m fully qualified yet to talk about theodicy, but I’m studying. So, what do I think about priesthood blessings? Well, that’s a big one. Do I think I can go over to my friends’ house, drop some oil on his daughters’ head, say some words, and cause her to be healed? No. No I do not. I think maybe I’m supposed to believe that, but frankly, I don’t. Kushner talks about this a bit in his book. So prayers can heal, he mentions at some point in the book? But he asks if we really believe in a God that has the ability to heal all the sick and afflicted in the world, but will only do it if a certain person comes over and offers a certain prayer in a certain way? He gave a slightly longer explanation, as far as I remember, but that’s the basic point. Do we really believe that about God? That God only heals as a result of specific things being said? I’m not sure that I do. I think my God’s bigger than that. Do I think I can go over, lays hands on someone, and give them comfort? Yes, I believe that. I think I can say prayers and give blessings to others where I can speak through the power of the Holy Ghost and offer them comfort. But I don’t think I can heal them. I just don’t. Maybe one day I will, who knows. But right now, I don’t.
I think about how I would react if I got this kind of news about one of my sons or my daughter-to-be. I really don’t know how I would react. It’s truly terrible news. As I was considering writing this tonight, it occurred to me that my friend and his wife would have to tell their daughter who is 13 what is going on. Difficulty on top of difficulty. This goes back to my post on death, but in general, how do we discuss traumatic events with our kids? Do we try to help them express their feelings about these things? Perhaps more importantly do we allow them the space to ask these questions that I’m asking here? Do we allow them to ask about where God is in the situation? Theodicy is difficult enough for adults who have, maybe, come to realize that the world is full of terrible. Even for a daughter as seemingly mature as theirs, I’d have to image this is terribly difficult to deal with. How to you explain theodicy, suffering, and the orthodox all-powerful, all-loving God to kids?
How do we view suffering? How do we deal with it? Honestly, I think I jettisoned the orthodox God a while back. I just didn’t admit it to anyone. I’m still working with how to define what exactly I believe. But I see too much. Too much to believe in the standard definition. I see too much to believe lame ass lines about everything being part of a plan. I turn on the TV and see reports of Coptic Christians being beheaded by terrorists. I read an article about Auschwitz and how God’s chosen people were sent to the gas chambers by the millions. I see a co-worker close to tears today because some judge wants to be an asshole. And I read…I read about the pain of a friend, about the pain of his family, and it hurts me. Not nearly as much as it hurts him, though. And where is God in all this suffering? I don’t know. So, while I still believe a lot, I believe that God created the Earth, I believe that Jesus Christ is the way to salvation and exaltation, and so forth, I can’t honestly say that I still believe in the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving God of orthodox Christianity.
The problem with Theodicy is that there is no good answer. Kushner does a better job than I likely ever will. I simply find it incomprehensible that an all-loving God would saddle a good family with such a burden. What is the “greater good” here? Where is the greater good in Auschwitz? Where is the greater good in cancer? In suicide? In rape? I’ve seen too much. No, I don’t believe anymore that God is all-powerful. Strangely, that gives me a lot of comfort. Why doesn’t God help? Because God can’t. We’ll be redeemed one day. We’ll get to Heaven one day. But God can’t intervene here on Earth. God doesn’t cause or allow children to get sick. It just happens and, man, does it hurt. But God can comfort you. God can comfort all of us. That comforts me quite a bit.

1 Gottschalk, Stephen. “Theodicy after Auschwitz and the reality of God.” Union Seminary Quarterly Review 41, no. 3-4 (January 1, 1987), 77.
2 Ibid.

Daily Fast Write 3/3/15

“A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy.” Let’s think about this for a minute, folks. Someone really said this, in an interview. One of those wonderful humans from India who killed a girl a few years ago. Hopefully they get the death penalty. Yeah, Christian guy who supports the death penalty. At least I think I do. This was a debate, kind of, in a Christian ethics class I took a couple semesters ago. I can’t remember exactly how I phrased my response. Either way. But what leads people to think things like this? How low a value to you have to hold for another human being? I guess he’d say the same thing were it his daughter that was raped and killed? Hopefully he gets what he deserves. Sometimes I wish we had Judges, like in Judge Dredd. I thought that on Saturday when we watched part of a movie in Victim Advocate training. I think it now. I’d volunteer to be Judge Dredd, no doubt. Just…really. what do folks think about? Girl goes to a movie with a friend, might have been a boyfriend, was certainly a male, and this hump thinks she deserves what she got because of that. Just a wonderful, classy human being. I requested a book last night from the library on an introduction to Queer Theology. Also I read part of an introduction to a book from a SOuthern Baptist pastor who has recently changed his theological view on LGBT folks in church. I thought about something earlier today…how would folks in church react if I said “queer?” Well, I think I know how they’d react, shock and horror. I think it’s telling that some, maybe most, folks are so detached from the conversation about gays and lesbians that they have no idea that “queer” is now an acceptable word to be used in describing members of the community. LGBTQ is now one of the abbreviations (yeah, I know it’s not really an abbreviation, I can’t think of the right word) used to describe the community. Along with many others…intersex, intergender, questioning, pansexual…oh my. I couldn’t tell you what most of those mean, but I do know that they exist. We need to know more about folks that fit into this group. These people are fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. THough don’t some of them not actually identify themselves by gender? I think I read that somewhere. Yeah, a third gender…I think I read about that with the kid in Oakland who got burned up pretty bad. Even the newspaper, New York Times maybe, said there is a difficulty in assigning gender to some people who do not want to be identified by gender. I can’t remember is the kid in Oakland was transgender, I don’t think so, or identified as asexual. Anyway. I guess according to the logic of the bum I mentioned before, this person deserved to be burned nearly to death because he/she was riding the bus in the evening wearing female clothes. See, I can’t even adequately describe the gender. Born male, I remember that, but dressed female sometimes and didn’t want to be identified by a particular gender. How do we address that as a church? That’s the real complication, isn’t it? How do you deal with someone who self identifies as female, but was born male, who is attracted to males? Is is “same gender attraction?” I hate that term, btw. Well, I guess that depends how we want to define gender and sexuality. Are gender and sexuality determined only by genetics? I’m not smart enough to have the answer to that one, at least I can admit that. Do we even try to research some of the things that we say? I’m not researching this, I’m just writing whatever thoughts come to mind, but sometimes people make these huge, sweeping statements without, seemingly, doing the first bit of research into the science behind it. Strange.

Daily Fast Write 3/2/15

“Poll: When you hear the word Christian what word most quickly comes to mind. The six most popular words were the following: hypocritical, judgemental, anti-homosexual, conversionist, too political, and sheltered.” This is from a book we’re reading in class. Does anyone else see anything wrong with this? Random folks, both practicing Christians and not, what word first comes to mind when describing the church. This is the list folks. Should we not be embarrassed by this? I mean, really. This is embarrassing. Christianity is supposed to be a religion that transforms lives and 91% of the people surveyed said they identify Christianity as being anti-homosexual. That’s just sparkly. But then again, what do we do to change that view? It’s not like we actually try to go out into the communities and help people. We stay isolated in our little boxes and then go home to our little boxes. We never actually get out to see the world as it exists. Conversionist, that’s a good one too. Folks think that all we’re worried about as Christians is converting people. We don’t care about friendship all we want is the convert. That’s probably why recent converts stop attending church. Somebody does something cool to get them into the waters, but when they really start coming to church, they have no friends because they’re not the New Kid in Town anymore and everyone has moved on to the next big thing. So they leave. This shouldn’t surprise us, but somehow it does. I guess I’m guilty of doing this myself, but at least I notice it. Most people don’t even notice it. We need to do better work at being church communities. We’re not. We’re just groups of people that gather for a couple hours on a Sunday then go home, go however many hours without really talking to each other, then come back to church on Sunday. Nice….back to conversions…I had someone ask me a while back if their child’s friend, who is Mormon, would stop being friends with the child once they realized that the other person wouldn’t convert. Is it sad that this is even a question? I think so. I would hope that does not happen, but I’d bet that it does. Sad. Do we put that much focus on conversion that we don’t even care about relationships? Maybe that’s why I don’t share the Gospel with folks so often. Maybe I want to share by example and not just start spewing from the mouth something about God. I don’t want a friendship with that person, I just want them to come to church. Most folks have pretty good bull shit detectors and they can see through stuff like that. We need to have genuine relationships with people before they can really even consider learning about the Gospel. They need to know that we value friendship about numbers. But we’re pretty piss poor at showing that. There are a lot of things that I would like to do in the congregation. But sometimes we get talked out of things because we don’t think they’ll bring converts into the church. maybe we should stop worrying about what will bring in converts and think about helping the community. Hmm…what a concept….I’m a little bit annoyed right now. We’re not even celebrating Easter in church this year. I mean, really. We get to have another Fast Sunday this month on the 29th, then we get General Conference on the 5th, then Stake Conference on the 12th. And we wonder why people think we don’t believe in Jesus Christ. For my Methodist friends, Easter is, I believe, a 13 week season that runs from Ash Wednesday, through Lent, Palm Sunday, Holy Week, then the remaining Sunday’s of Easter before ending on Pentecost. 13 weeks…we can’t even muster 1. I just don’t get it. And perhaps what irritates me more is that no one else even recognizes this. Easter. The highest High Holy Day on the Christian calendar…and we don’t even celebrate it in church. Ain’t that special? Sigh….

Daily Fast Write 3/1/15

So I started doing this in church today. I think I’m going to teach Elder’s Quorum like this from not on when it’s my weekend. It will get better than it was today once people figure out the idea.

“Come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been” This is all we really have to do isn’t it? Just come as we are. God doesn’t need for us to prepare. His grace and the atonement of Jesus Christ are sufficient for all…Leonard Nimoy died last week. That kinda bummed me out. I’m a Star Trek nerd. Major bummer he won’t be in the next movie…Today have been a good day. I got to teach twice. I really enjoy teaching. Really the think I enjoy most about church. Sadly church isn’t fun or uplifting for me sometimes. That might come as a shock to some…A girl on Facebook this morning mentioned that she was happy church was canceled in North Carolina because it gave her a real day of rest. I posted that she should talk to an Orthodox Jew. Those folks know Sabbath keeping. I mean, they can’t even heat up soup in the microwave. Talk about keeping the day holy…Today was fun and uplifting.

Daily Fast Write 2/28/15

Really late on this, it’s actually after midnight…oops. Long day

“Men try to fix things.” Today I watched part of a movie about a 14 year old girl who was sexually assaulted by an older man. Rather uncomfortable to watch. One thing that stood out to me, probably because i’m studying a lot of pastoral care now, is that the father in the movie never tried to listen to what his daughter had to say about the assault, but he simply wanted to fix it however he thought was best. I wonder how often parents, specifically dads, do that? Often times I feel like I try to find solutions rather than listening. Certainly the military does that. At least I’m getting paid this coming week. Going to work without getting a paycheck was not going to be all that much fun. I mean, that’s tough. i hope I can have a good day at church tomorrow. I have to teach Elders, so that should be fun. I’m going to teach the lesson using readings, read backs, writes, and so forth like from class. I felt like that was a great community building teaching method. Oh, I ate a “kosher style” hot dog last night. I guess I never knew what that meant until last week. Kosher style…that’s no good for the Jewish folks, they can’t eat that. Real kosher has to be supervised by a Rabbi, apparently. I didn’t realize that. Hopefully I can meet with the Rabbi this coming week. I want to learn more about the Jewish culture and Judaism so that I can be a better minister. Who knows, I might find God in the Synagogue. I feel like God can be found anywhere, as long as we are looking for God.

Daily Fast Write 2/27/15

“RIP, Leonard Nimoy.” Uh, what the hell? Seriously? That’s Mr. Spock, man. I’m a nerd, I admit it. Not many cast members from the original Star Trek still around. Kinda strange to think that show came out over 50 years ago. Kinda strange to think about a lot of things in relation to time. Maybe Spock should be a notice to folks who smoke. He stopped smoking 50 or so years ago and he still suffered from CPOD. Bad stuff. Same stuff that contributed to the death of my uncle a couple weeks ago. “has there been a recent change in the population of our family” I asked my mom that morning. I saw a really strange post from a cousin. It’s hard to ask “did somebody die?” At least I could play it off with my other question. Death happens sadly. WWE is in New York City tonight, I wish I could go. talk about a change of directions. Stuff like that happens in these fast writes. I Like WWE. It’s entertaining. some folks probably think I’m going to hell because I watch it. Oh well. They can think that. Maybe I am going to hell, who knows. I think the stronger I get as a religious person the easier it is for me to admit that I might be wrong. Some folks I don’t think could deal with that uncertainty. I can. brings me comfort, really. We were talking some about “group think” last night. Every time I hear about group think, I think about Golf Club Atlas and the discussion board. Part of me is glad I’m not there anymore. It was fun, getting to chat and converse. I’ve had a lot of discussions with green and red letters sprinkled in. Green letters. he seems like a good guy generally, but i can’t tell if he’s a school yard bully or just wants to drive conversation. speaking of bullies…that seems to be a big problem nowadays. I think it’s because the internet keeps it from being self limiting. back when I was in school, not that long ago…and I’ve pretty much passed a major turning point in life saying “back when I” …”middle aged white men” we are middle aged white men, Joey said. Yeah, I guess we are. back to bullying…it used to be that if you were a bully, you had your fun and eventually came on somebody who’d just beat your face in, then you weren’t a bully any more. But the internet prevents that self policing. The problem then becomes the fact that kids feel like they can’t talk to parents. I think we do a bad job as parents trying to make sure our kids feel like their problems are important. we have the bills to pay and stuff. yet to the kids, these online bullies or whatever are huge problems. we cause them to stuff it inside them and let it fester, causing depression and who knows what else, because they have no safe place to share it. We see kids, what, 11 and 12 years old commit suidide nowadays? Maybe if they could talk to somebody who didn’t just blow off their problems as nothing significant, that wouldn’t happen. I have to make sure that I do that with my kids. Leonard Nimoy. What is Star Trek without him? what a character he played.

Baptism and Bluntness-Weekly Reflection 6

This was a good week for doing work but I am not sure how much real, tangible growth I had spiritually this week. I certainly gained a greater respect for my Bishop this week after our meeting Thursday evening. I also met again with the member who I spoke for during his baptism two weeks ago, he’s an interesting case to say the least. This was also my first week serving as Assistant Mission Leader in my congregation and that gave me some additional items of work. I feel like as a congregation and personally, there is growth as far as the work that is happening, but that my growth spiritually is stagnant, possibly because I am not working on it as much as I should.
I have known my Bishop since my wife and I moved into our current Ward (congregation). He was the first assistant to the previous Bishop when we got here and he and I get along quite well because we have a lot of shared interests. I have a new respect for him as a Church servant after Thursday night, however. The mission leader and I had to meet with him. Our appointment was scheduled for 8:30pm but his previous appointments ran late and we did not get in until about 9:35. We did not finish until 10:45. During all that time, even though he had worked until 5pm, had likely not been home since 6am when he left for work, he gave us his undivided attention and continued to work through all the plans and ideas we had for the mission effort. I am not certain I would have been so easy going during the whole process. That is probably something I should be willing to work on going forward, since those times will almost certainly happen to me in professional ministry.
On Wednesday, we met with our newly baptized member to teach him part of a series of lessons for the recently baptized. We showed him a video about temples, which are fairly unique to our faith. After the lesson, we spoke with him and he basically told us about how bad his life is, how it has been bad for weeks, and he does not anticipate it getting better. This is the same person we met with a few weeks ago and I mentioned I did not go into details about our conversation for “obvious reasons;” sorry for that word usage, I simply meant I was not sharing because I considered this to be a private conversation, much like you meeting with a member of your congregation. That week, I was worried about him. This week the feeling was different because the conversation was the same as the prior one. I have the feeling that this man simply refuses to see the good that is in his life. He has a good job, not a ‘get-rich’ job but a good one, he is healthy, has food on the table, and all the needs of life, but he sees only the bad parts because he used to work at a power plant in Saudi Arabia (perhaps he should be thankful he is not there?) making more money than he makes now, so sees nothing good in his present situation. I hate to say this, but he’s like a living version of Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. He mentioned to us that he had stopped praying because he did not feel his prayers would be answered. I eventually just told him that I felt like he needed to just kneel down and pray whatever was on his mind, get angry, ask why he is doing good things and still has all these challenges, and just generally ask why God is letting this happen. I would not normally tell someone to say that, but felt that given his situation, it would benefit him to simply air our everything in such a situation. This is interesting given my own personal thoughts right now in that I do not think his situation is somehow God’s fault or that God is putting all sorts of challenges in his life but that this is simply something that happens and is really outside of God’s control because this is our mortal world. But I did not tell him that.
Finally, I took over two weeks ago as Assistant Ward Mission Leader. This is a fairly unique position in that it is in the manual as an optional position but is rarely filled because it is usually not needed. My duties in the Ward as part of this class made it a reasonable fit for me. Part of this will be working to create our Ward Mission Plan for 2014, how we will work to introduce more people to our church, how we will reach out to the community, and how we want to get families involved in the process. I will write out much of this and present it to leadership tomorrow, hopefully they are accepting of our plan. I am also more involved with missionary planning, we have three pairs of men (Elders ages 18-22) and one pair of ladies (age 19-20). It is an interesting dynamic the mission leader and I have. He is very laid back, does not like to say anything that might annoy others, and things of that nature. I tend to say whatever is on my mind, especially if I believe it to be correct. This morning we had our weekly meeting with all the missionaries and we were discussing the members who are on our Ward rolls but have no known address or phone number. The mission leader asked if it was possible for the missionaries to look up members using computers at the church building. One of the sister missionaries said (rightfully, in my mind) that it is not their job to look up that information, but the members job. The mission leader asked something to the effect of could they look up one or two a week to show members that they are working? I said in response that if the members would actually go out with the missionaries then they would know how much work is being done. Perhaps I should work on being gentler in conversation.
This coming week I hope to really dedicate myself to following one or two of the disciplines from Celebration of Discipline. I think I get too busy trying to do work with the church, school work, and other things that I forget to study and be dedicated to growing my own spirituality. I am going to be sure to take at least thirty minutes a day to do that this week.

Daily Fast Write 2/26/15

“What is it that others think is right for me to say and do?” I read this last night. You know, maybe this is kind of the root of some of my issues. How worried am I about what others think is right? Should I be worried at all? I find it difficult working in the religious community. It’s difficult to be a real part of a community that seems to have no idea what to do with you. No one understands what a Chaplain does. 95% of people don’t even know that LDS chaplains exist. They don’t udnerstand why I am goign to school. Folks just don’t understand. Yet, I feel impaired in spiritual progress. SOmetimes I talk to people about doing things in church and the words coming back to me seem to be just drawn out versions of Rooster Cogburn saying “I can do nothing for you, son.” I wish I could teach more. I wish I could preach more. I truly am happy when I get to do those things. I feel engaged and active in the church. I want to do something more than just sit around. It’s strange, I think we don’t know what to do with that. It seems that we ask a lot of poeple to preach or teach and it’s like you’re having to twist their arms around to get them to do it. Yet I would honestly enjoy it, at least I think I would, for a while, if I were asked to preach every week and teach Sunday School and Elders every single week. I just really enjoy that. Which is a funny thing to say because I remember freaking out the first time someone asked me to teach a Sunday School class as a substitute. But I really found comfort in teaching…I remember being asked to teach Sunday School as the permanent teacher, 12 year old kids I was teaching. That doesn’t seem that long ago but I see on Facebook where these kids are getting driver’s permits. It won’t be long and they’ll be talking about going to college. It’s interesting to see them grow. A part of me wishes we were still in Alabama, but most of me is glad we’re gone. I’m holding off making some unkind comments…you’re not supposed to hold back on these fast writes, but at some point, I just have to hold back and be kind. How can you fit into a community that doesn’t udnerstand you? How can you talk about feeling a call to ministry that the vast majority of people you talk to don’t even want to acknowledge exists? Talk about difficult. Are you even LDS folks ask. Yes, in fact I am. Strange, right? Someone who actually WANTS to minister to people.

Daily Fast Write 2/25/15

“I’m bored, brother.” hulk hogan said that almost 20 years ago when he decided to stop beign a good guy in professional wrestling. as a side note, it’s almost frignteing to me that the nWo started 19 years ago. but what is it about being bored? i’m bored. i really am. truly bored with church. like, the institution of church, the building. i’m not bored with reading the bible or the book of mormon or studying about church renewal. i’m bored with actually going and sitting in the seats. i talked about this with camille last night. she says taht maybe i don’t give the sermons a chance. maybe i don’t. maybe i do but i can tell within about 30 seconds what it’s goign to be about, get bored, and then the speaker never does anything to really bring me back. a friend suggested taht i try to do a people watching activity during church. that’s cool, i guess, but it doesn’t really get to the root of the boredom. i think this has come up a lot recently after i went to ginghamsburg twice while i was in school. i really feel like i got something out of the church. the preachers really engaged me. i’d like to go back and watch the sermons again to get more otu of them. maybe i could start taking notes during the sermons at church like we did in class. that would be cool. why do i call them sermons? we don’t even call them sermons as a church. verbiage is important. call them sermons and people might really feel the need to try to put together something taht really calls someone to action rather than the lame ass schtick that we get every week as it is now. i really feel bad. i mean, we try to get folk to come to church, missionaries break their asses every day trying to do that. yet what do they find when they get to church? bland talks and the atmosphere of a business meeting. is there no joy in worshiping God? we sure do’t seem to show it. sad thign is, if you did show it, people would look at you like you’re crazy. we can’t even smile. but then again, i don’t smile either. maybe if i smiled other people would smile and at some point in time we might actually have a vibrant joyful congregation. perhaps i’ll try that. i get to teach this Sunday. i’m stoked about that. i like teaching. i really enjoy going to church when i know that i get to teach. we’ll see how the rest of the services go…oh, wait, it’s fast Sunday…bother. but i’m fasting for Lent, so it’s cool. at least i won’t be hungry listening to the rambles…

Daily Fast Write 2/24/15

“But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do.” Vain repetitions, we hate those. We talk about not using those all the time. But don’t worry, that prayer you said over dinner last night that was the same as the one you used the night before and the 25 nights before that, that one’s OK. not vain at all. Why only 25 nights? well, you probably ate out somewhere and forgot to pray because we sometimes forget to pray in public. Jesus said don’t pray in public. does that mean to literally not pray in public or to just not pray in public as a sign of how special and Godly you are? I read something late night that a lot of younger folks nowadays think that Christians are hypocrites. on another note, that same book excludes Mormons from the Christian church. that didn’t impress me. but it comes from a group sponsored by the American Bible Society, so i shouldn’t really be surprised. i saw a survey from them that ranked Salt Lake City at #90 of 100 in the most biblical cities, something like that was the title of the survey. that doesn’t really surprise me, the South was near the top. why was SLC near the bottom? probably because of the wording of the questions. ask a Mormon “is the Bible the inerrant word of God” and most of them will say no. it’s an article of Faith…”Bible so far as it is translated correctly.” that’s always been a comfort to me, i think. back to vain repetitions…how often to we pray in vain repetitions? how often to we go to church and hear the same invocation as last week? maybe not verbatim, but really close. “God bless those who are sick, those who are traveling, those who can’t be here. bless the speakers….” and so forth. i’ve always wondered why that is? but i do the same thing. major change of directions…we’re having a girl. i thought we were having a girl. it just seemed like the thing that was supposed to happen. i wasn’t excited initially about having another child, it seemed like 2 was enough. but now i like the idea. Trey gets his sister Pepper. he wants to name her pepper. Camille is not a fan of that name. i strangely like it for some reason. it sounds really cute, i think. i have no idea why i think that. a friend just asked me if he got that name from Iron Man…i don’t think he’s ever seen Iron man. I’ve never seen Iron Man, I’ve never seen most of the Marvel movies. I did see Guardians of the Galaxy. that movie was hilarious. Batista was funny in that movie. Gwoss. Some people might find that funny. I saw a picture last night where Q from Star Trek said that he’d helped Matthew and Luke write their Gospels. that was funny to me. some folks might not get it. some folks don’t like Star Trek, so they don’t know who Q is. Some folks don’t know the two source hypothesis, so they don’t know what Q is. jokes aren’t funny when they have to be explained. i had to explain it, so i thought, on our lovely million mormons Facebook site, but i took the explanation down. why do i still go there? i really should leave. it’s quite a bother. jokes and sob stories, that’s all. why can’t we have some solid discussions about religion and theology?