Changing the Definition of Marriage

A friend sent me a long but very thorough article on the effects of changing social norms. It was interesting because it started with this, “Unlike most libertarians, I don’t have an opinion on gay marriage, and I’m not going to have an opinion no matter how much you bait me.” But, she went on to give various reasons why this decision goes much further than whether or not we’re discriminating. She discusses the changes to welfare, social security, and divorce law. I found it very helpful to see through the flawed arguments on both sides. Towards the end she says, “My only request is that people try to be a leeetle more humble about their ability to imagine the subtle results of big policy changes.” Humble? What’s that?

Religious Discrimination?

I recently read an interesting comment about Proposition 8 apparently from a gay man:

As a gay man….none of my rights are being violated or taken away by prop.8! I already have “domestic partnership” rights! I do believe, however, that the rights of parents, and religion as a whole, are about to be disrupted and violated in a very profound way. The moral fabric of our society has been slowing eroded by liberal views over the years. If prop 8 fails to pass, in order to protect civil rights we will likely be forced to return to the courts for additional protections of religious rights. It’s not unreasonable to assume that failing to pass prop 8 presents real possibility for restrictions on religious freedoms. Same-sex marriage could lead to more widespread social acceptance of homosexuality that would create a polemic tension with religious groups whose negative attitudes towards homosexual behavior derives from faith in the divine inspiration of church leaders or traditional scripture. Their doctrines and institutions could more and more find themselves under the label of bigotry. And since members of religious institutions behaviors, practices, and even perceptions are framed within these doctrines, individuals will find their very conscience under siege. We may very well find ourselves in a situation where we must choose whether we would prefer religious discrimination over orientation discrimination!

When those who say that gay rights are a civil matter and not a religious one, they forget that most of our laws are based on morality. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a Utah Supreme Court Justice and U of Chicago Law professor, said the following when addressing BYU students in 1999, “[Some say] we should not legislate morality. Those who take this position should realize that the law of crimes legislates nothing but morality. Should we repeal all laws with a moral basis so our government will not punish any choices some persons consider immoral? Such an action would wipe out virtually all of the laws against crimes.”

I’m sad to see the world change so drastically in the last few years. The protests against LDS members in California are disheartening to say the least, but we have to remember that a vote is an opportunity to give your opinion, and everyone is entitled to one. Comparing lifestyle and behavior to skin color is disrespectful to those who’ve suffered centuries of hatred and bigotry simply because of their family tree. The experience of this LA Detective is insightful.

The Economy is all Bush’s Fault! I Think?

Let me first say I don’t enjoy defending Bush. But it’s important that people understand where problems begin. Plenty of problems have been caused by this administration and I believe most of them can be categorized under an umbrella of hubris and all its fruits, including the loss of hegemony . But to say that the economy is the result of Republican leadership is frustrating. I’ve always understood that it takes time to see the effects of legislation that influences the economy. I came across this insightful article on how Clinton pushed for mortgages to be made available to people with poor credit. There are so many elements to the credit crisis I don’t think any educated person would dare place blame on any one person or factor.

There Were Only Free Men and Slaves

In the middle of a crazy war where everyone has an opinion about its validity, I found some insight from the words of Michael Shaara in his book, The Killer Angels, about the battle at Gettysburg. Chamberlain’s thoughts according to Shaara (p. 27):

This was the first place on earth where the man mattered more than the state. True freedom had begun here and it would spread eventually over all the earth. But it had begun here. The fact of slavery upon this incredibly beautiful new clean earth was appalling, but more even than that was the horror of old Europe, the curse of nobility, which the South was transplanting to new soil. They were forming a new aristocracy, a new breed of glittering men, and Chamberlain had come to crush it. But he was fighting for the dignity of man and in that way he was fighting for himself. If men were equal in America, all these former Poles and English and Czechs and blacks, then they were equal everywhere, and there was really no such thing as foreigner; there were only free men and slaves. And so it was not even patriotism but a new faith. The Frenchman may fight for France, but the American fights for mankind, for freedom; for the people, not the land.

In an era when people forget that freedom started in America, it’s important to remember the blood spilled for us. That courageous blood was spilled not just for a free America, but for a “new faith” that spread throughout the world.

Religious Nutjobs

It’s increasingly difficult to vote for those with conservative values when there are very few people who represent them well. I read a NY Post article, Why Our Elites Fear Faith, about Washington’s problem with Sarah Palin’s faith:

Such a woman wouldn’t fit in Washington (nor would a man of equal faith). In the DC area (where I live), plenty of government-affiliated men and women regularly attend a church or synagogue. But their appearances are perfunctory and well-mannered. Passionate faith is regarded as an embarrassment.

So, even though Sarah Palin isn’t someone I would choose to vote for (it always seems to be the lesser of the evils), I find myself increasingly astonished at how out of touch America is with those of us who are still religious. An example of that is found in this article by Matt Taibbi in the Rolling Stone where he talks about how Huckabee is a cool guy, but still a “nutjob”: “The troubling thing about Huckabee’s God rhetoric is that a man who is glad that Christians will “win” at Armageddon must be happy about the rest of us losing.”

Speaking from the perspective of a Christian who still believes in Armageddon, I don’t think anyone will be happy when others lose. A true Christian wants everyone to be happy, but knows that happiness only comes through righteous living. We urge others to choose good over evil but we don’t force anyone. And, despite what other people might say, we don’t even force our opinion on people. If you don’t want to read what I write, click away. If I’m saying something you’re not interested in, change the subject. Mormons may be guilty of a lot of things, but you’ll never find a time in our history when we’ve attempted to force our faith on others. Elder Maxwell explains that well in his talk on Patience.

My brothers and sisters, the longer I examine the gospel of Jesus Christ, the more I understand that the Lord’s commitment to free agency is very deep—indeed, much deeper than is our own. The more I live, the more I also sense how exquisite is His perfect love of us. It is, in fact, the very interplay of God’s everlasting commitment to free agency and His everlasting and perfect love for us which inevitably places a high premium upon the virtue of patience. There is simply no other way for true growth to occur.

So while I may want to force others to see my perspective, to feel what I feel, or to hope the same future I hope for, that would be exactly contrary to what I believe God’s plan is all about. My salvation will be worked out through obedience and faith in Jesus Christ despite what others choose, what others say about me, and what direction the world is headed. I know in the end God will win and greed, violence, hatred, terror, selfishness, and all other evils will lose. Since the world embodies these traits, James tells us, “know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

According to my view of religion, I am commanded to love my neighbor. I don’t choose who to love, either, because Christ tells us, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” (Matt 25:40). The difference between the fanatics who are blowing up buildings and the passionate faithful who are choosing to follow the teachings of Christ is whether they think they can decide who should be loved and who should be killed. That’s the very reason why the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades were so un-Christian.

So, call me a nutjob but don’t confuse with me the nutjobs who will kill people. As I said in a forum on wired.com:

And thus the faith (irrationality) vs. science (rationality) argument lives on.

You go on calling me irrational until one day, you become the extremist who wants to rid the world of all those who might possibly become an extremist by believing in something beyond what can be proven. By wanting to remove the threat, you become the threat.

The only Christian who becomes an extremist is one who, as George Sanayana put it (paraphrased), redoubles their effort when they forget their aim.

The aim of any Christian is to love God and their neighbor. I may not agree with you, but I don’t hate you. I also won’t accuse you of not using your brain. I appreciate the challenge to have faith in something beyond.

So, if Washington doesn’t appreciate the passionately faithful, they must think of religion more as a philosophy. And, if it’s a philosophy, then the government is accountable for carrying out good. Government can replace religion. Indeed, in the wake of the destruction of Hurricane Gustav, Obama said:

All across America there are quiet storms taking place. There are lives of quiet desperation. People who need just a little bit of help. Now, Americans are a self-reliant people, we’re an independent people. We don’t like asking somebody else to do what we can do ourselves but you know what we understand is that every once in a while somebody’s going to get knocked down. Every once in a while somebody’s going to go through some hard times. When we least expect it tragedy may strike. And what has always made this country great is the understanding that we rise and fall as one nation, that values and family, community and neighborhood, they have to express themselves in our government. Those are national values. Those are values that we all subscribe to. And so that the spirit that we extend today and in the days to come as we monitor what happens on the Gulf that’s the spirit that we’ve got to carry with us each and every day. That’s the spirit that we need in our own homes and it’s the spirit that we need in the White House. And that’s why I’m running for president of the United States of America.

Because if there’s a poor child out there, that’s my child. If there’s a senior that’s having trouble, that’s my grandparent. If there’s a guy who’s lost his job, that’s my brother. If there’s a woman out there without healthcare, that’s my sister. Those are the values that built this country. Those are the values we are fighting for.

Obama’s comments are very appealing. It’s almost Christ-like. I want a president who views the American people as brothers and sisters and cares for us. However, with socialism as with communism, government is the new God. That’s why I am turned off by Obama. The more candidates push government to replace God, the more wary I become. In fact, if government declares that a woman without healthcare is my sister and forces me to support her through (coercive) redistribution of wealth, then government is taking away freedom of choice. I believe in the words of the prophet Nephi, that men are free to choose liberty (helping others) or death (selfishness). Please don’t take away my liberty to serve and support others. I have no desire to take away people’s liberty to call me a nutjob.

My Prediction About the Economy

In 2005, I thought a great deal about the economy since I was working as a financial adviser and seriously considering the way I managed my own account. We were looking into refinancing our home to get an interest-only loan where we could save the difference between our minimum payment and what we were paying with the 30-year fixed.

Below is a portion of an email I wrote my mom.


September 26, 2005

Mom,
I’m concerned about the economy and I think we’re in for it in the next few years. I’ve been gathering some information from economists. There are many reasons why our economy could be in for a serious recession or even a depression:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8839539/page/1
1. High cost of fuel – cost of fuel increases cost to travel, ship goods, just about everything is dependent on it.
2. Overpriced real estate – http://www.stock-market-crash.net/housing-bubble.htm – The problem with this bubble is that people are buying the biggest home they can afford with the lowest rate they can get – interest only. When rates go up, they won’t be able to afford their payments and there’s a possibility that many people could foreclose around the same time
3. Weak dollar/increased foreign debt
4. Personal savings is at 0%. People are saving nothing. At a time when rates are low and people are barely able to afford payments, they should be preparing to pay for increased rates – higher mortgages, higher car payments.
5. Baby boomers are retiring. One famous market predictors says that when baby boomers retire, they will pull their money out of stocks and put it in lower-risk investments, such as bonds and money markets. This is predicted to cause the value of the assets in the market to drop. http://www.stock-market-crash.net/book/prophecy.htm and http://www.frbsf.org/econrsrch/wklyltr/wklyltr98/el98-20.html. [The financial services company I work for] believes Harry Dent’s prediction:
http://www.fpanet.org/journal/articles/1998_Issues/jfp0898-art18.cfm – a major depression beginning in 2008 or 2009.
6. Natural disasters only make our troubles worse and quicken the pace of trouble in the economy.

Why Uberous Hubris?

Why did I name my blog such a funny name? My intention was to point out the mistakes men make when we think we have it all figured out. There’s a verse in Isaiah (55:6-10) that says:

6 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

So, while my original intent was to point out other people’s hubris, I realize that many of the decisions I make are based on my own perception (on Earth), which is nowhere near that of God’s (in Heaven). I’m guilty of hubris, no doubt, but my intentions are such that I hope to point out differences between what God has revealed through prophets and what man is doing despite the warnings. This post is also a caveat to what I’m posting next, since I hope I don’t come across proud.