Daily Fast Write 3/31/15

I find these becoming a little more difficult to write. I am not sure why. I think these work better when done in group settings. I really don’t know what to write about tonight. Perhaps it’s just one of those times where I just have a block. I find myself a bit annoyed…maybe not annoyed…maybe discouraged that my stuff doesn’t get views. I wrote that a couple weeks ago. But it’s difficult to write stuff, to take time to make devotional videos and such, then look at the stats at the end of the day to see two views on my video from today or whatever. Two views, that’s interesting, one of them is mine where I had to click on the video to get the link… One thing that really stands out to me is that this huge focus we like to put on using social media to spread the Gospel is a huge myth. I post and I write every day and I get about 10 views on average each day. That’s total page views, maybe 5 to 7 individual viewers. So, I’m trying to figure out how many relatives I have as friends on Facebook….more than 5, I know that. Interesting that I write that…the relatives who read my stuff might be annoyed by me writing that though obviously they shouldn’t because they are reading my stuff and that’s awesome and the ones who don’t look at my stuff and who I wish would look at my stuff will never see it. But anyway…back to this idea of spreading the Gospel using social media. That’s a cool little buzzword, makes you sound hip and all, but it’s truly not all that valuable. If you’re not a celebrity or someone who otherwise has a following, you don’t get views. I think this would be what we might call a meta-post…I’m making a social media post commenting about the worthlessness of social media posts. Interesting. Peace be with you.

Daily Fast Write 3/30/15

Here I’ve gone another day and completely forgotten about doing this. I take these things ultra seriously as part of my daily devotional time, it seems. Oh well, at least I’m doing it now. It’s really cool, Camille is totally on board with me putting out my videos. I guess I wasn’t expecting that which is the main reason that I wasn’t sure if I would be able to put out a video for each of the dates in Holy Week. There are a lot. Each day of the week has a passage, then there are three on Easter Sunday itself. Now, that shows the importance of Easter. So I’ll try to get them out. One thing that I have decided to do on Thursday is to put out a video that evening around 6pm or so, it will be a recording of the Eastern Orthodox Twelve Gospels service. I went to that last year. It’s really moving. I would actually consider doing it myself, but I don’t have three hours to devote to the service and even if I did, I wouldn’t do it out of respect for Eastern Orthodox Christians and their beliefs. But it was a great service. I might actually see if some people might want to go to that with me this year, it’s next week. Ugh. I have to weigh-in in April. I have to lose some weight. Gotta start eating healthy and cutting weight. I can make it. I really should consider eating better. It doesn’t do a lot of good to run a bunch if I come home and eat half a bag of doritos or something…and I have been known to do that. Me and Trey went for a run today. That was cool, I haven’t been able to run with him since it’s been so cold. Well, I guess I should note that he didn’t technically run with me, I just pushed him in the stroller. Talk about driving up my time. But it was cool. Holy Week. A little time off from school. I’ll still do some assignments to get ahead, but it’s great not having anything that’s mandatory. g’night. Peace be with you.

Monday of Holy Week

Well, here we are. Holy Week. The key point on the Christian calendar. The most important part of the year for the Christian church.This week, we’ll go on a journey through the final week of Jesus’ ministry on Earth leading to Easter Sunday. I hope many of you will come on this journey with me.

Daily Fast Write 3/29/15

Are we even Christians? I mean, really? Well, what an eventful Palm Sunday. We got to have Fast Sunday at church. Just what the world needs. Let’s do Fast Sunday on the day that begins Holy Week. Ain’t that great? But it gets better. We get to listen to some old man talk about how much money he gets to pave the parking lots during 3rd hour. So, at some point, it ran through some intelligent, Godly person’s mind that it made better sense to have a fast day and then listen to some old man drone on and on for an hour rather than actually celebrating Easter. I tell you, it’s a good thing that the Conservative Christians don’t accuse us of being Christians…because we damn sure don’t give them enough evidence to prove the case. I mean, it’s Easter. Easter. You know, the day that Jesus died to atone for our sins. And we don’t even hear about it in church. That’s special, friends.  I just don’t understand. But see, what makes it really cool…somebody thought it would be good for us to preach from the Ensign magazine this month…why? Because somebody wants us to all be subscribers. Here, I gotta do this in caps. WHILE THE REST OF THE CHRISTIAN WORLD IS CELEBRATING A BUILD-UP TO EASTER, THROUGH LENT, AND SO FORTH, WE’RE PREACHING ACROSS THE PULPIT SOMETHING BECAUSE WE WANT FOLKS TO BUY F^&*ING MAGAZINES. That’s awesome. Like I said, good thing they don’t accuse us of being Christian, because we don’t give them enough evidence to make the case. I just don’t get it. How spaced out do we have to be? Oh, and it was awesome and cool in Sunday School…people wonder why I don’t speak. I made two comments and the teacher just looked at me like I had two heads. Sweet. Sorry if I actually try to make comments to facilitate discussion that are outside the little lesson manual. Actually, no, I’m not sorry about that. Then I watched WrestleMania tonight. That show sucked. I’m glad it’s only $9.99 now. Yeah, back to church…I thought I wanted to comment on Mania more, but I guess not. I just don’t get it. We have literally no clue about what’s going on. Is Fast and Testimony really more important than Easter? Apparently so. Sorry, I guess I would put Easter above everything. But that’s just me. What do I know? Oh, I just try to worship Jesus Christ every week and not have some jamoke come in to tell me about how much money he has on hand to pave parking lots and do building maintenance. I literally could not care less about that. Apparently, though, I care too much about Easter and actually celebrating Jesus Christ. Sigh. What to do though? Nothing, I suppose. Keep in posting on the blog, getting 8 or 10 views a day. See how that goes. Social Media is pretty useless for spreading the gospel, unless you’re a celebrity. I want to write a longer blog post about this. Parking lots, man. So glad I got to hear about that today. Just what the world needed to hear. I gotta go say my prayers. Peace be with you.

Daily Fast Write 3/28/15

I didn’t write last night. I was trying to finish up a paper, but I was conversing with someone as well. So I don’t feel bad about missing yesterday. I’m giving up Facebook for a week. That probably sounds odd to some people because you’re probably reading this on Facebook…I had Camille change my password, but put it into WordPress so that my stuff from here still posts on Facebook. But I can’t actually check it. Hopefully this lets me, along with a couple other things, to do a bit of a restart on my own internal spirituality. Something that can let me move forward more. I read part of a book last night, I can’t remember the name off hand, but it is a first-person recollection about sexual assault. A lot of the stuff was rather irritating to read because it shows just how difficult it can be for victims of sexual assault to come forward and report. No one wants to believe them. They ask idiotic questions about what the victim was wearing, idiotic questions about why she (or he) was in that particular place at that time, or any number of other stupid questions. Why do people do that? I mean, we’re smarter than that, aren’t we? That must be too much to ask. I have to get back to running some more, partly because I have to weigh in some time in April, but I have my half marathon coming up in about 7 weeks. I’m also prepared for a positively fun day at church tomorrow…fast Sunday. Great, we get to do that the week before Easter. Just what we always wanted. And then we have a joint priesthood and relief society gathering during the third hour, apparently we get to talk about cleaning the building. Nonsense. So glad we put so much priority into celebrating Easter. That’s why I started recording the videos. Maybe someone can watch them and actually see a progression towards Easter. Maybe we can really try to celebrate Easter one time, ehh?

Helping Someone Find the Best Church (For Them)

I suppose something to note up front is that I believe that my particular faith is the best. If I did not think my faith tradition was the best, I would go find another. I see no need to attend a church that I do not think is the best possible. I strongly suspect that is the case for everyone who reads this. “Your” denomination is the best. It has the closest thing to the pure Gospel possible as that fits with your own experience and theology. So I think that can provide a good common ground if everyone who reads this understands that everyone else’s faith is the best. Now, that said, what can we do to help other people find faith? Is my faith tradition always the best for someone else?

Certainly there are some, even many, in the LDS tradition who would say that our faith provides the only means of the highest exaltation in the Kingdom of Heaven. I would even say that I agree with that. However, I also think that the LDS Church is not the best option for some individuals. So what should be do in these cases? Perhaps this comes from my looking to become more of a multi-denominational minister through chaplaincy, but I’ve come to look at things from the view that I’m supposed to help lead people on THEIR faith journey, the one that gets them closer to God, rather than trying to get them into the place where I am taking my journey.

This idea comes from an experience that I had this past week. I had to speak in church last Sunday, the 15th, so I invited a coworker of mine to join my wife and I while I was speaking. Surprisingly, she said she would come. I say surprisingly because she is a lesbian and the LDS Church is not exactly accepting of openly gay individuals. I was not sure if she would come with her wife. She did not for a few reasons, none relating to how the Church treats LGBT folks. That said, though, I did feel the need to send my coworker, “Peggy,” (like from Mad Men, not my coworkers’ real name) a message just reminding her that I’m LDS and that, as a church, we do not have the most welcoming record for LGBT folks so if she did not think she would be comfortable in the church, I understood, and she certainly should not feel like she had to come. I wish I didn’t have to send a message like that. But she came and seemed to have an enjoyable time. Back at work, we were discussing church in general on either Monday or Tuesday, I can’t remember which though it doesn’t matter. Peggy started talking about how she was raised in a rather conservative religious household, though not as conservative as some, and how church was still important to her. What to do from here, I wondered?

As we were talking, Peggy talks about how church is important to her, how she wants her kids to be raised around a church community, but that her wife had not grown up in any church. She wants to make sure that whatever church they go to when she is able to take that leap into a church with her entire family is welcoming and accepting of them unconditinally as a family unit. So, what is the “right church” for her and her family? As much as I would like to have been able to sit there and say “hey, come to my church, we’d love to have you all” I know that is simply not the case, not in reality. How would they be treated in church? Certainly they would not be treated the same way that I am treated. Peggy’s wife knows fully well how they might be treated given that, as I hear the story, her LDS brother will barely speak to her after she announced her marriage to Peggy. I hear that story with mixed emotions of sadness and anger, but I suppose I do not know if there may be any additional details as to why this happened…although I can’t personally think of a reason that would cause me to stop talking to one of my siblings and I have to admit that I’ve given at least one of my own siblings pretty damn good reason to stop talking to me at least once; we still talk. So, given that I know that she and her family would be, at the very least, treated with a type of benign neglect, how do I proceed?

I have to consider that Peggy would have to get a divorce from her wife in order to be baptized into the church. So, do I really think that membership in a particular church that will not be exceptionally welcoming of them (well, I guess just her?) is grounds to break up a family? No, absolutely not. So, in effect, that rules out Peggy and her family coming to ‘my’ church. Whether I feel that I have enough knowledge on the subject matter to fully agree or disagree with the policy is different matter, but that’s another discssion. But where would they be accepted? Do I have the ability to help Peggy find a place where her and her family will be accepted? Certainly I do. I know of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches through a fellow student at United and that church is a LGBT focused minitry. I noted to her that I know that there is a congregation in Manhattan. I noted that some congregations of the United Church of Christ are listed as Open and Affirming in that they fully accept LGBT folks into the congregations and that there is a search feature on the UCC website that would allow her to search for only those congregations. I also mentioned that, at least some of, the congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America are fully accepting of the LGBT community; I know this because I read Nadia Bolz-Weder’s book “Pastrix” and I know that she’s ELCA. So, what did I do here?

I helped someone to move forward along her own spiritual path. Her family is important to her as is mine to me. Christianity is very important to her as it is to me. However, she would not be welcome at all Christian churches, she and I are both aware of that fact. So, should I try to coax her into attending a church that is going to constantly call her a sinner, try to drive her towards some, probably physically and mentally unhealthy, form of repentance, possibly (probably) drive apart a family, but that will almost certainly see her walk right back out the door eventually? Common sense would say that is not the answer. So I have to help her on her own journey to faith. The path that she can come to love. The path that can lead her to the transformative Gospel of Jesus Christ. She has said that she wants that Gospel. I can do a little something that might help her to find it. That is a big deal.

So, maybe some questions for thought:
–Is my path or “your” path to the Gospel the best for someone else?
–If Christianity is about community and Christian practices, isn’t it significant that someone is a part of the Christian community?
–Does it matter if that community completely agrees with my personal theology? (That’s a very broad statement, BTW, because, at the very least, all those churches do not agree with my theology of God/Godhead/Trinity, regardless of anything else)
–When we talk about religion and Christianity with someone, do we think about the religious path that is best for them or the one that will make us feel the best about ourselves? Should those two be the same?

Daily Fast Write 3/26/15

Well, no real fast write today either. Sorry for that and to readers. I was about to write this, but then had a situation come up that was far more important. Sometimes the ability to help comes at the most unexpected times. It’s strange how fast conversations can change. Peace be with you all.