Friday, March 27, 2009

The Domino Treatment


Dear Readers,

Are you bored? Do you want your toes to feel good?

Well then do I have an idea for you!

It’s the Domino Treatment!!!


HOORAY!!!

What you’ll need:

- Two feet, with five toes each
- A set of dominos

3 Simple Steps:

1. Put the dominos between your toes. Put two dominos between your big toe and your second-to-biggest toe. (See diagram.)

2. Leave them in for a few minutes. Or maybe for a whole hour! Who knows? For advanced or adventurous Domino Treatment patients, try walking around on your heels while the dominos are still wedged between your toes. It kind of hurts, and it kind of feels crazy! You can even fall asleep or watch a movie or read a book while you undergo the Domino Treatment, if you want to.

3. Now it’s time to remove the dominos! If possible, have somebody else take the dominos out from between your toes; that feels better. (Individually self-administering the Domino Treatment is alright, but it’s just not the same.) Have the dominos removed slowly, one by one. It feels really cool. Don’t move your toes or feet or legs around right away after the dominos are all removed. Let your toes slowly drift back into their natural place.

Other Information:

There are many different types of dominos, and there is still much debate surrounding which type of domino renders the Domino Treatment most effective. I prefer using the ivory dominos made from the tusks of murdered elephants. Blam! See you later, Dumbo, looks like your magic feather didn't work for you this time around! Ha ha ha - j/k lol :) !!! - (Why do I make jokes like that? I love elephants. I really do.) The dominos I really use are smooth and glossy. I think they’re made out of plastic. My box of dominos doesn’t list the materials that the dominos are made out of. I just measured my dominos, and they are 2 inches by 1 inch a fourth of an inch thick. That’s a good thickness, see. You want to make sure the dominos you are using are thick.

Maybe you’re wondering about the origin story of the Domino Treatment. It was serendipitous! I made it up one time, a long time ago, out of nowhere! It was just a wonderful idea that came to my brain! I don't even remember when it was. It just seems like the Domino Treatment has always been a part of my life. I think I invented it when I was a teenager, living at my parents’ house. That’s all I remember about the Domino Treatment's history, expect that the Domino Treatment became an overnight sensation!

Now that you know about the Domino Treatment, spread the joy! Woo-hoo!

Sincerely,

Telemoonfa

Whole-Wheat Bread Recipe

Dear Readers,

Here’s a recipe for some tasty wholesome whole-wheat bread that’s been in my family for a while. Try it at home!

3 and ½ cup warm water
1 tablespoon salt
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
1 and ½ tablespoon yeast
9 cups whole wheat flour

350 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes. Makes 3 loaves.

Mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl (Instructions 1), or in a bread mixer, (Instructions 2) or in a bread maker (Instructions 3).

Instructions 1. This way is messier and longer and harder, but it’s cool. Yeah, so just add all the stuff together in a big mixing bowl, adding the flour last. Stir in as much flour as you can using a spatula or a big spoon, and then you have to plop the dough blob on a lightly floured flat clean surface (like a countertop or a table) and get your hands in that sticky mess and squish it all up real good-like. Punch it a few times. Ha ha ha. Give those forearms, wrists and fingers a workout. Let that dough know you’re alive! After you’ve added all 9 cups of flour during the kneading process, put it back in the bowl and let it rise for a long time, maybe 40 minutes or so. Then divide the blob of dough into 3 equal parts (as equal as you can get it) and put them into 3 greased-up loaf pans. (I use Crisco, or non-stick vegetable spray if I’m out of Crisco, to grease the pans up. I also use cast iron pans instead of glass loaf pans. One time I dropped one of our glass loaf pans on the kitchen tile and it broke and I stepped right into a shard of glass and cut my foot open. Ouch. But I suppose it doesn’t really matter what type of pans you have and what type of greasing method you use. I just like Crisco because I like the way it feels to smear that white fatty grease all over the place. And I like using cast iron rather than a different kind of metal or glass because when I use cast iron- that heavy thick black metal- I feel patriotic and manly, like Davy Crockett, or Daniel Boone… or like Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone combined!) Let the dough rise in the three loaf pans for… oh… 40 minutes or so, and then put them in the preheated oven. Bake it at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. It’ll be really good, especially when it’s hot and right out of the oven. My wife says if you tap it and it sounds hollow, then it’s done, but I don’t quite understand what, “sounding hollow” sounds like, so I just cut into to see if it’s done. But it’s usually always done by 40 minutes. Yummy yummy! Eat it all up like a good American!

Instructions 2. Put all the ingredients into a bread mixer, adding the flour last. Don’t add all 9 cups of flour at once, because that will probably mess up your bread mixer. Let it spin on the highest speed for 13 minutes. Plop the dough blob onto a table or countertop. Roll the dough out and divide the dough into three equal parts. Put the 3 parts into 3 greased-up loaf pans. Cover with a rag and let it rise in the loaf pans for about 40 or 50 minutes, and then put it in the oven. 350 degrees for 40 minutes. It’ll be good.

Instructions 3. Put all the ingredients into a bread maker, push a button and come back in a few hours and your bread will be done. WARNING! This type of bread is ala-quiffert! And loopert. And you-pin quoo-pin, so you might as well not even do it. Oh, and you might need to change the size of the ingredients, I don’t know. All I know is that bread made in a breadmaker is usually swiffer you-pin ala-whutiest woo. It’s edible, but it’s not nearly as good in flavor and texture and beauty as the bread that is produced from following Instructions 1 or 2.

Here’s some other tips and wisdom I’ve accrued from my few years of making this bread on a pretty regular basis:

1. Get your yeast from Sam’s Club or some other quasi-wholesale place. It’s way cheaper there than at a regular grocery store. 1 tablespoon of yeast usually equals one packet of yeast.

2. Use warm water like the instructions say, not boiling water. Really hot water could kill your yeast. (Remember, yeast is a living creature! Isn’t that creepy? It’s like an organism with chemicals in it or something.) If your yeast is dead, then your bread won’t rise, and then you’ll be eating unleavened bread, like Jews sometimes do. Which isn’t a bad thing, mind you. I love Jews and I love unleavened bread. I’m pro-Israel! Israel’s in the Bible! A friend of a Jew is a friend of mine! But if you’re going to set out to make unleavened bread, then you’ll probably want to use a different recipe.

3. When you add the 1/3 cup of oil and 1/3 cup of honey, put the oil in first. That way, your 1/3 cup measuring container will be all oiled up, and the honey will run out of it smoother than it would if you put the honey in first.

4. Don’t be a sucker for expensive organic wheat flour or anything hippie like that. I always use wheat flour that I’ve ground myself from whole wheat grains from LDS food storage. Your best bet to make this bread reach its fullest potential is to convert to Mormonism (if you haven’t already done so) and then you’ll have insider’s access to all sorts of secret Mormon food storage products!

5. You can put jam on it, or butter on it, or peanut butter on it, or honey on it, or whatever! This whole wheat bread is like, regular bread that can be used just like regular bread can. And it’s soooooo yummy!

6. Making this bread involves a certain fortitude of mental focus, a Zen, a spiritual concentration and the patience of a traveling pilgrim. Making this bread will never be as easy as buying bread from the store.

7. Being the personally fiscally conservative that I am, (“personally fiscally conservative” is my nice way of saying “tightwad”) I’ve wondered whether it’s cheaper to buy all these ingredients and make the bread yourself or to just buy bread at the store. I haven’t done the math, but I bet it would be cheaper (not to mention less time-consuming) if you just went to the store and bought some cheap bread. But for some reason the bread I buy at the store is never the same as the bread as the bread I make at home. Maybe if I went to a fancy bakery and spent a lot of money on a loaf of wheat bread, maybe then it would taste the same as the bread that I make at home, but then it might be more expensive that way.

Enjoy!

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Your Tax Dollars At Work: A $1,000,000 Suicide Prevention Wall

Dear Readers,

I’ve ranted about wasteful spending before, but I just found out about a new really really dumb wasteful spending project that is being funded by the $ 787 billion federal economic stimulus that was passed into law last month.

A town in Ohio is going to build a big suicide prevention wall around one of its bridges. A suicide prevention wall? Who ever heard of such a thing? And it’s not cheap, either. The wall comes with a price tag of over a million dollars.

But actually, you know, hopefully with this new wall built, all Ohioans will be incapable of killing themselves in any way. Ha ha ha.

Here’s the link to the article

http://www.ohio.com/news/top_stories/41958387.html

And have you heard about the news around the AIG executive bonuses? What really makes me mad about the AIG bonus stuff is that I feel like the media and the government are trying to point the finger at the businessmen and say, “Look, businessmen are so crafty and sneaky that they managed to get lots of money out of the system! Businesspeople are horrible and slimy, so we need to regulate them more. We need to create laws that prevent businesspeople from running our economy into the ground by taking all the money for themselves and keeping it from the lower classes.”

But really, the AIG bonuses were in the stimulus bill! The U.S. representatives, senators, and President all voted and signed it into law- so they should be blaming themselves for the AIG bonuses. In the words of my beloved Ronald Reagan, “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is our problem.”

The bill was too big- nobody knew what was in it- they rushed to get that thing pushed through the House and the Senate- they were supposed to give the politicians and the public 48 hours to review it (even though 48 hours isn’t enough to throughouly review a bill that’s over 1,000 pages long!) Watch this You-Tube clip of House Republican leader John Boehner. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3085DErFpoY It will upset you, but you should really really see it!

So, I’m just upset about it.

See you later.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Sprawling Phoenix Metropolitan Area, Arizona, 2009

Mailboxes Driveways Houses
Cactus Grass Trees Dirt Rocks
Stucco Adobe Wood Concrete

I look at it all
from where I sit
in my front yard.

Children Parents Strollers
Sunglasses Shirts Shorts Shoes
The bright bright sun

Around the corner’s a gas station.
Around the other corner’s a school.

The bright bright sun

The ever-present sky

The Midget on Top of an Apartment Building

The Midget on Top of an Apartment Building

The midget wears a hat
There’s his hat!
What’s that on top of his hat?
Look at the puff of purple
See it?
See it?
Puff of purple?
Puffy
Purpley
Like a fuzz ball
I wanna touch it
I wanna touch the purple
Ha ha ha
Midget with a hat

Ha ha ha

All of Us Are Friends

All of Us Are Friends

My friend
My friend

My friend in the park
bouncing a ball
bouncing a ball

My friend in the store
poking a peach
poking a peach

My friend in the church
holding my hand
holding my hand

My friends, my friends, all of us friends
all of us wonderful wonderful friends

And God is there too!
with all of my wonderful friends
in the park

with all of my wonderful friends
in the store
with all of my wonderful friends
in the church

And God is there too!
with all of my wonderful wonderful friends

Yes, God is at the park,
with all of my friends,
standing on the hidden side of the tree,
and if we look all around the tree
- Poof! - He’s gone.

and we bounce the ball
and we bounce the ball

Yes, God is at the store,
with all of my friends,
under all those peaches,
way down deep deep under there,
way way way deeeeeeeep down

and we poke the peaches
and we poke the peaches

Yes, God is at the church
with all of my friends
disguised as a grownup man
(sshhhh… He looks like all the other men)
and if we talk to Him
in a very nice church whisper voice
He says “Hello,” and we say “Hello,”
and He walks away
and we walk away

and we hold our hands

and we hold our hands

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Moon Landing

Dear Readers,

I think it’s so awesome that America went to the moon and put an American flag up there. I get really patriotic when I watch footage of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin up there, hopping around in space. It’s amazing.

I talked with a guy the other day who said he thought it was dumb and pointless to put an American flag on the moon.

I told him I thought it was cool. It was a nice conversation.

America’s awesome!

Click on yes if you agree.

Yes.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Sex Part Two

Dear Readers,

Recently one of Telemoonfa Time’s followers, S., commented that Utah leads the country in porn downloads. And S. provided a pretty authoritative link http://people.hbs.edu/bedelman/papers/redlightstates.pdf backing up that statistic. That statistic has been bothering me. Why does Utah lead the country in Internet porn downloads? There’s so many Mormons in Utah!

(According to wikipedia and lds.org today, there are 2,736,424 people in Utah, and 1,823,613 of them are LDS. That means that Utah is about 66% LDS. Who knows how many of the 1,823,613 are active/devout, though.)

One explanation for the statistic is that Utahans consume just as much porn as the people in all the other states, but Utahans might be more afraid to go to a store and buy a pornographic magazine or video, because they might run into people they know there, and they keep their porn habit a secret. In other states and religions and cultures, there might not be such a stigma around pornography, so they’re not afraid to buy porn in broad daylight.

(That reminds me of a joke. How do you keep a Mormon from drinking all your beer on a hunting trip? Bring two Mormons.)

Another explanation for that bothersome statistic is that maybe Utahans have more computers. Utah’s economy is better than a lot of the country’s, so maybe more people in Utah can afford computers, so there are more downloads of everything, so there is logically more porn downloads.

But that’s a dumb explanation.

Maybe the real reason why Utah leads the nation in porn downloads is that Mormonism is a sexually repressive religion, and that Mormonism sometimes produces people with messed-up attitudes or neurosis-psychosis-things about sex. If my last explanation is true, then that’s a shame. Church leaders, especially youth leaders, and parents should do a better job teaching children about sex.

Or maybe another viable explanation is that Satan is attacking the family, and so he works extra super hard to get Mormons involved with pornography. But that’s sort of cop-out answer, you know, “Satan made me do it.” Sometimes that’s the right answer, though.

Maybe Mormons have mental problems with sex because Mormons in America today grow up with a great divide between the Church’s attitude about sex and the media’s attitude about sex. From the Church we hear, “Thus saith the Lord, don’t do it until you’re married, and then only do it with your spouse.” From the media we hear, “Everybody should have sex with everybody all the time because sex is so cool!”

And since sex is an uncomfortable topic for a lot of families, they don’t talk about it, and kids naturally get curious, so they turn to the school locker room or the media to teach them about sex, and then they start sinning big time.

There are lots of great books and resources about human sexuality from an LDS perspective. Here’s a good article about sex straight from the Church’s official website:

http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=74e6605ff590c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____

And here’s an entire book about teaching children about sex, published by the church: (By the way, I love the way the LDS website. It provides so much reading material and so much good information. I mean, if you had a mobile web device with you all the time, or a Kindle of something, you would never have to buy the scriptures, the church magazines, Church lesson manuals, or anything like that, because all that stuff is available online for free!)

http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=67852ce2b446c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=53537befabc20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____

I just feel like there’s a need for Mormons or people with sheltered childhoods to talk about sex in a spiritually healthy, safe environment. That’s why I brought up this uncomfortable subject.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Sex

Dear Readers,

Sex!

Are you uncomfortable? I’m uncomfortable. Sorry to make us all feel uncomfortable.

But as uncomfortable as we all are, I want to talk about sex.

A few things have happened to me lately that have made me want to do a post or two about sex. Yesterday I saw a temple wedding, and I also heard about a former LDS bishop that got excommunicated for child molestation.

Sex is such a big topic, and up until now, excepting one humorous post on the mating behavior of tarantulas, Telemoonfa Time has been silent on the issue. And of course lots of blogs are silent about the issue. Lots of nice family blogs, you know. And that’s fine. That’s good. That’s healthy.

But Telemoonfa Time is not a family blog. It’s Telemoonfa’s blog.

Lately I’ve been writing in my journal about sex in an honest, open, liberating and sometimes graphic way. Writing in my journal about sex has been therapeutic, and I think it’s been healthy. But I think that maybe I should destroy my journal, or at least the part of my journal that talks about sex and my thoughts on sex and my experiences with sex and other sexy sex sex sex stuff. Sex.

Do you think I should destroy that part of my journal? Do you think I should not have published this blog post, the one that you are reading now?

How honest and detailed should a person be when recording history, or when presenting himself or herself to neighbors, etc? (That’s what my last blog post was about, how people alter history and broadcast positive images of themselves.)

Most Christians agree that the Bible serves as a good example of honesty in record keeping, and the Bible gets kind of graphic about sex sometimes. For example, see Genesis 38:8 + 9. Also, the inspired prophet Matthew feels it’s important to mention that Joseph and Mary didn’t have sex, even though they were married, until after Jesus was born. That’s in Matthew 1:25. Why do we need to know that detail? Should Matthew have left that out?

Of course it’s not appropriate to talk about sex in many settings. But sometimes it is appropriate to talk about sex.

I kind of think, “well, if a family blog or a Christmas family newsletter is not the right medium for talking about icky things, then what about a journal? Shouldn’t that be the right place for one to record most private thoughts?” Well, a journal should be a place to record one’s most private thoughts, but really I think a lot of people who keep journals think that it could be read by somebody else someday, (e.g., children, nosy houseguests) and so they censor themselves.

And that brings up another question: are there some thoughts should not be recorded, let alone thought? Yes, I would say that’s true. Some thoughts are horrible. I do believe in self-censorship. I do believe in burning some books.

I’m reminded of a personal anecdote. I was in the Institute building right across the street from Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher, Arizona. A Book of Mormon class was about to start, but I was hanging out by the pool tables, chatting with people. We start talking about a play that had been produced at the college the previous night, Zoo Story, by Edward Albee. A lot of Mormons walked out of the play, (How righteous they looked, when they walked out) but I stayed the whole way through the whole thing, and I loved it.

(Zoo Story really is one of my favorite plays now, by the way. I think it’s deep, moving, incredible, and just plain good theatre. I highly recommend it.)

One guy was especially offended by the play, and he made it clear that the play came from Hell, and that those who participated in the play or who sat through the whole play had some repenting to do.

I asked him what in the play offended him. He said that his breaking point was when the play brought up homosexuality. He said something like, “Homosexuality isn’t something that should be discussed on stage out there in front of everybody. Same-gender attraction is a temptation that should be talked about only in the privacy of a church office or a therapist’s office, that’s it.”

I said that I unashamedly loved the play, and that sometimes art needs to deal with subjects that are uncomfortable. I told him that the play wasn’t advocating homosexuality and it wasn’t advocating sinful behavior, but that it was dealing with uncomfortable issues. I told him that uncomfortable issues are part of the human experience, and that art is a beautiful expression of the human experience. But in order to express or represent the human experience, you have to show the good and the bad. The Scriptures can’t leave out the Devil. He’s important to the story!

I wish I had said all that to him, but I probably came off sounding less profound and more flustered in our conversation.

All of a sudden I really wanted to fight the guy! I wanted to punch him, and I wanted him to punch me back, and I wanted us to get into a big fight right in the middle of the Church building. But somebody said, “Hey Telemoonfa, Book of Mormon class is starting,” and so our conversation ended abruptly, and we never resumed it. I went inside the Institute class and tried to learn about the Book of Mormon, but really I fumed about how hidebound and dangerous that guy had been.

He struck me as a holier-than-thou play critic who ends every review with either “the play promoted Mormonism, and therefore should be patronized,” or “the play promoted the kingdom of the Devil, and therefore should not be patronized.”

That anecdote brings up a lot of moral quandaries. I’m still not totally sure that Zoo Story is a play that ought to be performed a lot, because it’s so artistically beautiful, or if it should be banned from decent society. And I’m still not totally sure how appropriate it is to talk about sex in some situations, which brings us back to the topic about how appropriate it is to write about sex, graphically, in juicy detail, in one’s journal. (I don’t think it’s OK to write erotica, but I’m talking about something else, I think. The line between writing about sex in a healthy way and producing pornography is a fuzzy gray line.)

A while back, Spencer W. Kimball wrote an interesting article about journal keeping, called “The Angels May Quote From It”

http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=f318118dd536c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=6cf4ca99be2ab010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&hideNav=1

First of all, Mormons have been told lots of times to keep journals. Kimball writes,

…we urge our young people to begin today to write and keep records of all the important things in their own lives and also the lives of their ancestors in the event that their parents should fail to record all the important incidents in their own lives.

And doesn’t “all the important things” include sex?

Sometimes it seems like “good Mormons” leave records, or want to leave records, that go something like this, “I was born in blah blah. I got baptized at 8, became a deacon at 12, a teacher at 14, a priest at 16, an elder at 18, a missionary at 19, a husband at 21, a father at 22. I was happy the whole time, because I was Mormon, and nothing too bad ever happened to me. The End.”

Kimball also writes,

Your journal should contain an image of your true self rather than a picture of you that applies cosmetics to everything you ever did, making you appear to be flawless. There is a temptation to paint with words one’s virtues in rich color and whitewash the vices, but there is also the opposite pitfall of accentuating the negative. Personally, I have little respect for anyone who delves into the ugly phases of the life he is portraying, whether it be his own or another’s. The truth should be told, but we should not emphasize the negative. Even a long life full of inspiring experiences can be brought to the dust by one ugly story. Why dwell on that one ugly truth about someone whose life has been largely prudent?

The problematic phrase is “an image of your true self.”

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

P. S. To avoid uncomfortable-ness, I think it would be best for everyone involved to refrain from bringing up this blog post, or any future blog post about sex, with me in real life. Thank you.

Photoshopped Sepulchers

Dear Readers,

I’m kind of upset about something.

A few years ago, when I was home from college during a Thanksgiving break, my family got a family portrait taken. My mother bought us all matching outfits for the occasion. I remember my acne was much worse than it is now.

A few weeks after that Thanksgiving Break, when I was home for Christmas Break, I looked at our family portrait, and I noticed that my face in the picture was very clear. Strangely clear. I looked at the picture and I looked in the mirror, and I was shocked that just a few weeks ago, my complexion was pimple-free. But I just thought, “Well, my acne comes and goes in spurts, and I’m lucky that my face was clear on the day those photos were taken.”

A month or so later, though, I found out the truth. My mother told my sister, and my sister told my girlfriend (who is now my wife) and my girlfriend told me. My face had been photo-shopped. Airbrushed. The photographer erased all my acne using computer technology.

When my girlfriend told me about the doctored-up photos, I was confused and angry. I wanted to drive all the way to my parents’ house and burn all those pictures, because they were lies. I felt as though my mother, the photographer, and everybody else who knew about it had entered into a conspiracy against me.

Of course they had good intentions, and of course they felt like they had my best interest in mind. Maybe they thought that I would have liked it. Or maybe the airbrushing wasn’t premeditated at all. Maybe the photographer said at the last minute, “Hey, for another $50, I can make all of Telemoonfa’s acne disappear,” and my parents agreed to it without consulting me. Who knows.

And I remember feeling then, as I sort of feel now, that I should at least have ownership of my own image. (Alas, we don’t have absolute control over the way we are perceived.)

But I couldn’t burn those pictures or throw them away. They were expensive family photographs. Plus, they had already been dispersed throughout my extended family. To round all those pictures up and destroy them would have been a formidable task. And I would have faced mountains of opposition from my family members, especially from my mother. The whole thing would have been very embarrassing, and I didn’t want to start a fight, so I just tried to forget about the whole thing, and I never brought it up to my family.

The bottom line is, my mother wanted to think that she had a son without acne, and so that what she has in the picture. A son without acne. Good for her. She has what she wants. A picture in the hallway of me with clear skin. A representation of a face that never existed.

Does my mother realize, though, that by altering those photographs, she’s altering history?

But I suppose altering history and hiding unpleasant facts are only natural, motherly things to do. People do it all the time in scrapbooks, in yearbooks, in photo albums, on myspace pages, on facebook pages, in journals, in blogs, in press conferences, at Church on Sunday, in Christmas family newsletters, on resumes, in job interviews, at family reunions, at high school reunions, in sales pitches, at company parties, and the list goes on and on and on.

The past gets glorified. The unpleasant things about people are swept under the rug.

Like just look at this post I recently read from Gunnell Family Happenings: http://mjgunnellfamily.blogspot.com/2009/03/st-patricks-day.html (It’s a blog I follow. I think Gunnell Family Happenings can be seen as a representative of many cutesy-wutesy family blogs) The post is about how the Gunnell family went to the park on St. Patrick’s day. I’ll sum it up for you. It says:

“The weather is gorgeous. It’s a nice day. The kids are gorgeous. The gorgeous kids feed the ducks. It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so the festive, happy people that work at the park made the water green. Mrs. Gunnell’s children enjoy their childhood, and Mrs. Gunnell enjoys her adulthood. Everything is gorgeous. What a nice family the Gunnells have. The End.”

I don’t mean to show disrespect for the Gunnell’s blog. It’s very nice, and it fulfills its purpose nicely.

Very few people are capable of depicting themselves honestly.

And what is honesty, anyway?

Matthew 23:27:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones…”

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

After the Nuclear Holocaust

Only cockroaches are left.

Cockroaches on top of cockroaches.

They wriggle,
copulate,
spread.

Mother cockroaches
scrape against rocks,
gash their exoskeletons,
releasing black inner fluids.

The mothers feel no pain-
They are animals.

Soft pink mouths of the young
arrive and open to receive the
mother cockroaches’ bloodmilk.

The next generation is taller, harder.

And eventually,
(shortly after sunrise
when the sky
is a soft eggshell blue,
when pure white whispers of clouds
slowly ascend,
and the whole world
smells like progress, and good fortune)
one morning in a laboratory,

the cockroaches invent themselves souls.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jews Without Money, by Michael Gold

Dear Readers,

I just read a fantastic book for school that you might enjoy. It's called Jews Without Money. Here's a response paper I wrote for it. Enjoy.

Response to Jews Without Money.

This response will be more emotional than my previous responses. I absolutely loved Jews Without Money.

Maybe I loved it so much because I’m interested in Communism and I’m interested in Judaism, and I also enjoy autobiographies or semi-autobiographies. And this book had all three of those things in it!

It’s been my favorite book I’ve read for school so far this semester, and that’s saying a lot because I’m taking three literature classes. I’ve been recommending Jews Without Money to people and talking about it more than I usually talk about books I read for school. I liked the writing style. I liked the subject matter. I liked the straight-forward, chronological narrative style. I liked the honesty of the book, and I loved Gold’s description of his mother, especially in chapter 13, Jews and Christians. His mother was such a realistic and interesting character. I feel like I know her personally.

I thought that Gold had a nice balance of particular stuff and universal stuff. In other words, while he did use a lot of Jewish jargon or references to Judaica, he didn’t use so much that modern non-Jewish readers like me couldn’t understand what he was talking about.

Currently I’m trying to become a high school English teacher, and I liked the book so much, that I think that I would like to teach Jews Without Money. Hopefully no parents would accuse me of being a communist, if I did teach it. (I’ll make students memorize the preamble to the Constitution, just to prove my patriotism. Ha ha ha. Or in some other way, if I taught Jews Without Money, I’d probably need to assure students, parents and administrators somehow that I’m not a communist, or even a communist sympathizer.) But I think that high school students in the suburbs of Phoenix would enjoy reading about a world rougher than their own.

The book brings up so many hot-button issues, too, that would be good to talk about in a high school English class, like race, class, gender, religion, socio-economic status, economic systems, the justification of strikes, government, nurture vs. nature, and the list goes on and on.

I cried while I read the last chapter, The Job Hunt. Right now I’m looking for a job, and my wife is pregnant, so I’m starting to feel some of the pressures of being responsible and bringing home the bacon. I’ve never enjoyed looking for jobs. The whole process is very uncomfortable. I don’t know of anyone who enjoys begging for work. But reading The Job Hunt made me think that I don’t have it as bad as some people do, and it also made me think, “What a sad world this is we live in.”

I just read an article that really relates to this book. (http://www.palmbeachpost.com/localnews/content/local_news/epaper/2009/03/08/a1a_homedepot_0309.html?imw=Y) It’s about how undocumented workers are standing outside of Home Depots looking for construction guys to give them work, and Home Depot really doesn’t like them standing out there, because it bothers the customers, but these people are desperate for jobs and money.

I’d also like to teach Gold’s book because Jews Without Money is very relevant to today’s economic crises. With all the talk of bail-outs and nationalizing of banks, I feel like we are getting closer to a socialist economic system.

The books also got me thinking about communism. Personally, I don’t think that Communism was the Messiah that Michael Gold was looking for. Maybe Gold would have been better off becoming more faithfully Jewish, and just trying to work and go to school, to work himself out of poverty, rather than waiting for the worker’s revolution to come. At the same time, though, I think the system or “the man” or big greedy people and businesses were exploiting the lower classes, and keeping them in poverty.

Again, Jews Without Money affected me very emotionally, more so than the other books we’ve read. It reminded me of some of my personal experiences. One time I worked under the table for three weeks as a plumber’s helper in Tucson, Arizona. I hated it. My bosses were mean and I’m horrible at fixing things and using tools. I was also worried that my mean bosses wouldn’t pay me the cash they promised me. Because if they didn’t pay me, there was nothing I could really do besides threaten them with violence or something vigilante like that. I couldn’t have called the Better Business Bureau or sued them, because I was working for cash, and they could have denied ever knowing me.

The last day I worked with that plumbing company, one of my co-workers said, “It’s a good thing you never called in sick, because if you call in sick, you get fired.” He also told me, “You know what happens if you get hurt on the job? You get fired. Maybe if you're hurt really bad, and the boss is feeling nice, you’ll get a ride to the Emergency Room, but that’s it.”

I worked around people I suspected might have been undocumented workers, so I can understand their plight a little bit. But I know that I’ve been much more privileged than undocumented workers, and I know I’ve been much more privileged than Michael Gold and the people who lived in the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the early 1900s.

Thank you for assigning this book. It will definitely be one that I won’t sell back at the end of the semester.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

More on Absolutes, Exaggeration, Figurative Language, Etc.

Dear Readers,

I have a little bit more to say about absolutes, commitments, exaggeration, figurative language, etc., and then I can put this subject to rest, for tonight anyway.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said to young LDS women in November 2005, “Everything Christ taught He taught to women as well as men.” When I read that I thought: That’s not literally true. Christ had secret meetings with his twelve male apostles, you know. Christ taught Joseph Smith stuff that Joseph Smith couldn’t tell anybody else, men or women.

So why did Elder Holland have to talk in absolutes like that? Well, I think we all agree that the spirit of what Elder Holland was something like, God loves women just as much as he loves men, and even though the leadership of the Church has a patriarchal structure, that doesn’t mean… well, you know what I’m saying. There’s no need for me to re-write what has already been adequately expressed. Read the Family, A Proclamation to the World for further insight on LDS gender roles.

Again from the Nov. 2005 Holland talk, we read, “Fathers and mothers, prophets and apostles have no motive except to bless your life and to spare you every possible heartache we can spare you.” That’s not literally true either. Sometimes parents, like abusive parents, have very bad motives. Holland doesn’t say, “all fathers and mothers” but when there is no qualifier, no “some” or “most,” then “all” is assumed.

I mean, what do you think when you read the sentence, “Male lions sleep twenty hours a day.”

Do you think that that statement means that a few male lions sleep 20 hours a day now and then? Or do you assume that the statement means that all male lions typically sleep 20 hours a day? That’s what I assume. I mean, as long as their slumber isn’t interrupted by something out of the ordinary like a volcano erupting nearby, you know, then the meaning that I get from “male lions sleep 20 hours a day” is “all male lions typically sleep 20 hours a day.”

Why is Holland leading us to believe that all parents everywhere have righteous motives for everything they do?

A good way to think about why Holland worded his talk the way he did is to think of his alternative. Imagine the absurdity that would abound if absolutes were strictly avoided and everything would have to be qualified, qualified, qualified! Like, instead of saying the powerful statement, “Fathers and mothers, prophets and apostles have no motive except to bless your life and to spare you every possible heartache we can spare you,” Holland would have had to say something like, “Many fathers and mothers, and many true prophets and apostles, mostly want to bless your life and to spare you many trials and heartaches. Some parents are bad, though, so you’ve got to watch out for them. And some prophets are false, too, but I think most of them are pretty good. I think I’m pretty good anyway.”

I’ve thought a lot about this stuff before. Here’s something I wrote a while ago, on the absolutes and exaggerated language in scripture topic: (It’s copied and pasted from a comment I made on Telemoonfa Time after the “Seeking Utopia” post)

I know the scriptures say, “With God all things are possible.” (Mark 10: 27) But… I guess I don’t take that Scripture literally. Because in another scripture, D + C 82:10, it says, “I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” So, it is not possible for God to deny his word when people keep up their end of the bargain- that’s at least one thing he can’t do. I don’t think God could just stop existing, either. And God cannot give an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom to somebody who is unfit for it. (I’m reminded of this funny/ dumb riddle thing: could God create a rock that was so heavy that he couldn’t pick it up?) I believe, and I’ve heard it expressed by Mormons before, that God is governed by certain eternal principles, like mercy and justice. God has to follow rules, too. God can’t make 2 plus 2 equal 5.

But doesn’t “With god all things are possible” have more oomph than “With God many unlikely things are possible?”

In conclusion, we live in a fallen world, and humans use a fallen means of communication: spoken and written language. I believe in a transcendent, heavenly communication- I believe in telepathy, the Holy Ghost, and other metaphysical/spiritual forms of communication that cannot be subjected to current scientific or logical scrutiny.

Communication will be so much cooler in the Celestial Kingdom. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Exaggerated, Literally Dishonest Language as a Means of Motivation

Dear Readers,

Reach for the stars and you’ll get to the moon.

May your reach always exceed your grasp.


Have you heard those sayings? I think there is wisdom and good advice in those sayings. I’m interested in how the application or espousal of the wisdom of those sayings affects some of our language use. By that I mean that I think people sometimes speak in an exaggerated, sort-of-dishonest way to motivate themselves or others.

For example, have you ever worked out in a gym or an exercise class, or with a personal trainer? If not, have you ever seen an episode of “The Biggest Loser?” There’s so many “lies” told in those settings to try to get people pumped up. Trainers or workout buddies say stuff like “you’re a machine!” or “you’re a lion!”

Those examples were clearly metaphors, but what about stuff like, “Woo! It’s time for you to sign up for the Navy Seals!” or, “You’re the strongest man on the planet!” or, “Mike Tyson better watch out for those fists of yours!” or, “You’re unstoppable!” or “You could do these push-ups all night long!”

Those aren’t metaphors. They’re basically just lies, right? Why do athletic trainers lie like that?

(Sorry to rain on your parade. Sorry to be a Gloomy Gus. Sorry to be a wet blanket. I’m just trying to look realistically at language use in a gym setting. By the way, as you might expect, I make a horrible work-out buddy. Not only because I roll my eyes at cheery, motivational lies, but also because I don’t like working out to begin with.)

I think athletic trainers and coaches and motivational speakers “lie” like that to get people motivated. Isn’t “You are David! The basketball hoop is Goliath!” even though it’s false, more motivating than, “I think you are mediocre at basketball!”?

In the same vein as weight room pep talks, I’ve heard some people recommend “positive affirmations.” Positive affirmations are short statements that people memorize and repeat to themselves. Sometimes people recite, aloud, positive affirmations whenever things get rough, or maybe every morning while looking in the mirror.

Positive affirmations are kind of cheesy, but I bet they really work. Positive affirmations could be a psychosomatic thing, or part of the placebo effect. Here’s some sample statements I stole from http://www.successconsciousness.com/index_00000a.htm

My thoughts are under my control.

I radiate love and happiness.

Wealth is pouring into my life.

I have a wonderful and satisfying job.

Ha ha ha. Maybe I’m a cruel guy, but I just have to laugh at some of these. Can you imagine a miserable fast-food employee saying to himself over and over, while he’s flipping burgers, “I have a wonderful and satisfying job. I have a wonderful and satisfying job. I have a wonderful and satisfying job.” Ha ha ha. I think there comes a point where positive affirmations stop being positive affirmations and start becoming lies you tell yourself.

(Which lie do you want to believe? The lie that you are smart, beautiful, and wealthy, or the lie that you are stupid, ugly, and poor? Because the truth of the matter is you’re most likely somewhere in the middle of those polar opposites, smart and stupid, beautiful and ugly, wealthy and poor.)

As an actor, I can tell you that it’s so powerful to repeat things to yourself and convince yourself that you believe them. I’ve had experiences on stage in a play where I think I really start feeling real emotions, emotions that my character is supposed to feel. I get so wrapped up in my character that I almost believe, if only for a moment, that I am no longer Telemoonfa, but that I am really the character I am playing.

I remember when I played the Narrator in The Good Doctor by Neil Simon in high school. I was so nervous the night of the first performance. I was sitting behind the grand curtain at a desk with an old typewriter on it. I had a pencil and some paper as props. I remember when there was about 5 minutes left until the curtain opened, I was sitting there in my costume, all by myself, and I wrote to myself in big capitol letters over and over, “I am a writer. I am a writer. I am a writer.” (My character, the Narrator, was a writer.) I think that was a type of positive affirmation I used to help get me into character and perform well. And I think it helped.

I think there’s well-intentioned exaggeration used in romantic relationships, too, as in, “You’re the most beautiful person in the whole world,” or, “I’ll be happy with you all the time for the rest of my life.” And maybe even in some cases, those three little words, “I love you,” could be a well-meaning exaggeration. (Oh… I feel like a creep for writing that.)

What I’m getting at is there are some merits to saying stuff that you don’t completely completely completely agree with or things that you don’t believe with all your heart, or things that you don’t know with absolute, sober certainty.

In one of my recent posts I talked about how sometimes I’m uncomfortable with people saying, “I know the Church is true,” from the pulpit during testimony meetings. Maybe even saying, “I know the Church is true,” can be a sort of positive affirmation.

But here’s something that Elder Boyd K. Packer said that applies to my discussion here.

http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=f318118dd536c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=1d3125292eaef010VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1
It is not unusual to have a missionary say, “How can I bear testimony until I get one? How can I testify that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, and that the gospel is true? If I do not have such a testimony, would that not be dishonest?”

Oh, if I could teach you this one principle: a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it! Somewhere in your quest for spiritual knowledge, there is that “leap of faith,” as the philosophers call it. It is the moment when you have gone to the edge of the light and stepped into the darkness to discover that the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two. “The spirit of man is,” as the scripture says, indeed “the candle of the Lord” (Proverbs 20:27).

I really love that talk excerpt. I’ve heard “a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it” quoted and paraphrased quite a bit in conversation.

But wait, my annoying mind wonders, does “a testimony is to be found in the bearing of it” mean that eventually if you say, “I know the Church is true” enough, you’ll start to believe it? Is that all testimony-gaining consists of? Well, that messed-up, because gaining a “testimony” of something by repeating it over and over could be true of almost anything. If you say, “Adolf Hitler was a swell guy” over and over and over, then you’ll be likely to believe that Adolf Hitler was a swell guy.

My rebuttal to myself is that you have to do a lot of other stuff besides bearing your testimony to gain and nourish a testimony. You have to live as correctly as possible, submit to God’s will as best you can, in order to know God’s ways. You can’t just say, “I know the Church is true” over and over and over and expect to receive the mysteries of eternity laid before your mind in a glorious vision.

“For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” (Mosiah 5:13)

In conclusion, see you later.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Exaggeration in LDS Testimony Bearing

Dear Readers,

If you are familiar with LDS fast and testimony meetings, you know that members often say, “I know the Church is true.” That’s a bold statement. And sometimes I think, when I hear somebody bear their testimony and say that phrase, “I know the Church is true,” I question him or her. Does he or she really know the Church is true?

I sometimes waffle between conducting a thorough philosophical investigation into epistemology and just saying, “Aww… whatever, that testimony was nice, and Brother So-and-so is a nice guy.”

I’m especially skeptical when it comes to little children bearing their testimonies. When I see a young kid go up to the pulpit with their parent, and the parent whispers in their ear what to say, and then the kid repeats, “I know the Church is true,” I sometimes take it as an affront to honesty.

There we are in Church, in a house of worship that preaches “thou shalt not lie,” and that extols the virtues of honesty, and yet there’s a little kid saying something that’s probably not really true, something that he or she does not understand, before the whole congregation! And the Bishop doesn’t even do anything about it!

The kid doesn’t know that the Church is true, does he? The kid knows that his family has been pretty nice to him, that Church is for the most part a pleasant place where people dress up, smile, chat, sit reverently, and shake hands, and the kid knows that sometimes the Primary teachers bring candy, but do kids know what it means to say, “I know the Church is true?”

To say that one knows that the Church is true means to accept all of its teachings and doctrines. Some LDS teachings and doctrines are pretty intense. And I just worry that children don’t really know what they’re saying, and that parents are encouraging children to say things that the children aren’t really sure about.

And then other times I’ve heard children stray from the usual testimony script and say stuff like, “I know that the Holy Ghost died for our sins.” And the parents get a little embarrassed, but the real problem here isn’t the minor slip-up or the parents embarrassment, the real problem is the way that children so easily use the phrase, “I know…” Maybe they should be saying, and maybe a lot of members should be saying, “I believe the Church is true,” or, “I hope the church is true,” or, “I think the Church is true,” or, “It's a gamble, but my money’s on the Church being true.”

I understand that when children bear their testimonies, the congregation has the attitude that it’s all in good fun, that we shouldn’t really take a child’s testimony seriously. (Although probably most Mormons don’t want to admit that.)

I feel like if I were to express some of my skepticism about children’s testimonies, then people would tell me that I ought to relax and stop making such a big deal out of a small, harmless thing. And I feel like people will tell me that I should start thinking about how I can make the world a better place and such, rather than worrying about children telling the truth in their testimonies, but still I can’t get this subject out of my mind right now. It’s something I think about, and I wonder if other people think about it too.

I think that when I have a kid that’s old enough to bear his or her testimony, I’ll have him or her do it alone, if he or she wants to, and say what they want to say. But I guess if my wife wants to go up there and whisper stuff into our kid's ear, and then the kid says it to the whole congregation, and everybody’s happy, then... whatever... I guess that’s fine.

That’s normal. That’s what Mormons do. I don’t want to make a big deal about it.

I’ll admit that sometimes I feel uncomfortable when I say, “I know the [LDS] Church is true.” Maybe what I should be saying is, “I’m not 100% sure, but I’m convinced enough that the Church is true, that I’ll act as if it were true.”

I feel like it is better to error on the side of being conservative with language rather than to error on the side of exaggeration.

Here’s a good scripture (Doctrine and Covenants 46: 13 and 14) that, I think, defends my ideas about being careful with that phrase, “I know” and being careful with using exaggeration, bold language, and absolutes.

“To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.

“14: To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.”

Maybe I’m one of the ones who are given the gift of believing on the words of those who really know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Disclaimer: Much of this blog post’s content could have been the handiwork of Satan.

Where Does Misusing Language Rank on the Sin-O-Meter?

Dear Readers,

How bad is misusing language on the sin-o-meter? I don’t know. There’s swearing, cussing, telling dirty jokes, lying, exaggerating, being melodramatic- and all those things could be imperfect.

Religion is so hard on children sometimes. (But a lack of religion could be harder on children.) So many people have felt like, “Oh, I’m going to hell for sure,” when they really weren’t that bad. I remember in elementary school, or maybe it was in middle school, one of my classmates said that if you ever said the words out loud, “I swear to God” you would go to hell no matter what. I might have thought that was real for a little while. It scared me.

And in some ways, it doesn’t matter that a church’s official doctrine didn’t say “If you say, ‘I swear to God’ then you will definitely go to hell.” That’s what my former classmate believed.

If a Sunday School teacher or a Preacher or a parent isn’t careful enough, they might give children the impression that they are not beloved children of a loving and merciful Heavenly Father, but that they are “sinners in the hands of an angry God” (like the sermon by the early American Puritan Jonathan Edwards). If church leaders or parents aren’t careful enough in the way they preach, children might think -and many do think, like my former classmate- that God hates them for sinning, and that God will not have mercy on someone who accidentally or ignorantly says, “I swear to God.”

Misconceptions about damnable behavior don’t only thrive in the minds of children, but in the minds of many adults. I met this one guy on my mission who said that he believed that if you ever called anybody a fool, then you would go to hell for sure. He cited Matthew 5:22, which says, “…whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” So I guess this guy I talked with really believed that it was a major sin to use the particular word “fool.” I’m not sure if he really believed that or if he was just saying it to stir the pot or play devil’s advocate or something. It was a long time ago.

My personal thoughts are that the meaning of Matthew 5:22 is that you should avoid being angry with people and you shouldn’t insult them too much. But honestly I don’t think I see any difference between saying, “you’re a moron” and “you’re a fool.” Did that guy believe that if you called people morons or idiots, that only scored a 1 out of 10 on the sin-o-meter, but if you said the word “fool” then you would burn in hell forever? That seems unjust and unGodly to me.

Oh! But I just found a wonderful rebuttal to that guy’s ideas about how if you called somebody a fool, you would go to hell. Jesus himself called people fools! And Jesus was perfect! Our Savior called the Scribes and the Pharisees fools in Matthew 23: 17 and 19.

In conclusion, where does misusing language rank on the sin-o-meter? I don’t know. And what exactly constitutes misusing language? I don’t know that either. The more I think about it, the harder it gets to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Taking Contracts Seriously – An Anecdote

Dear Readers,

I’m reminded of a funny story about this one time my brother Borris, who is a lawyer, wouldn’t sign a contract that his son Bames brought home from kindergarten. The contract said that the parents would read to their kid every night for 10 minutes or something like that. Borris’s wife Balea really wanted Borris to sign it.

(Borris or Balea, if you’re reading this, I’d be glad to have your version of the story- you can leave it in the comments.) But the way I remember the story was…

Balea put a pen and the contract into Borris’ hands and said, “Oh, Borris, just sign the contract! All the other parents are signing it.”

And Borris said, “I don’t care if all the other parents are signing it. I already read to Bames just about every night anyway, so why do I have to sign a contract saying that I promise to do something that I already regularly, naturally do? Plus, what if we both get really sick and lose our voices one night and so neither of us can read to our son, and we don’t live up to our contractual obligation of reading to Bames every night? Then we would have broken the contract, gone back on our word, and been even worse parents! We would be teaching our son by example that it’s OK to make promises you don’t intend to keep. It’s better to not make a promise than it is to make a promise and break it.”

Balea said, “Borris, you’re taking this whole thing way too seriously. Everybody knows that this contract isn’t legally binding. And I doubt that every parent who signs this contract is going to read to their child every night for at least 10 minutes for the entire school year.”

Borris says, “But that’s what they should do if they sign the contract! That’s what the contract says! It says, ‘I agree to read to my child every night for at least ten minutes.’ And then it has the dotted line where we’re supposed to sign. Also, why should we have to read to him at night? What if we’re early risers, and we prefer reading to him in the morning before school? Why does the contract stipulate mandatory night-time reading?"

Borris continued, "Furthermore, Balea, if this were a better contract, then it would have a clause in there that something like, ‘you get ten nights of time off from reading to your child in case of sickness or family emergency or other personal reasons.’ Not only that, but the contract says simply, ‘read to your child every night,’ which means, because it does not qualify the phrase ‘every night,’ every night for the rest of eternity! That’s what it means! That’s just ridiculous! I’m not going to agree to read to Bames every night for the rest of eternity, and I can’t understand why any sane, honest parent would agree to something like that. Who would be so idiotic as to sign something like that?”

“Well apparently I would be so idiotic to sign it!” Balea yelled, and then stormed out of the room.

Now Bames is known at school as, “The kid with the weird Dad who wouldn’t sign the reading contract.”

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Avoiding Absolutes

Dear Readers,

When I’m grading English papers, one piece of advice I often give my students is, “avoid absolutes.” I tell them to be careful about using words like, “always,” “never,” “everybody,” “nobody,” and so on. Students shouldn’t write stuff like, “Everybody knows who Miley Cyrus is,” in an academic paper, because that’s not literally true. What they mean to say would be something like, “Many American teenage girls know who Miley Cyrus is.”

People use absolutes in their everyday speech a lot, and I think that’s why people end up writing that way. (Because oral language is primary and written language is secondary; written language is a reflection of spoken language. Written language changes interestingly imitate spoken language changes.)

How often have you heard people say, “That was the worst day of my life,” after a bad day? Well, was it really the absolute worst day of his or her life? Probably not. Or there’s other times when people say, “That was the best hamburger I’ve ever had in my whole entire life. I’m not even kidding.” That’s probably also not literally true. The person is exaggerating.

Here’s another example. “People talk or text on their cell phones all the time.” That statement is not literally true. Sometimes people sleep, and they do not use their cell phones while they sleep.

Now I have some of what I think is God’s advice on avoiding absolutes and speaking honestly.

I think Jesus talks about avoiding absolutes, or at least he recommends making our language simple and not-melodramatic, in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:33-37.

“33. Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
34. But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne:
35. Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
36. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst no make one hair white or black.
37.But let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”

I really like that last part, “let your communication by Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.” I interpret that scripture to mean maybe,

1) Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.

2) Don’t get in the habit of saying “I swear by…” .

3) If you establish yourself as a credible, honest person, then people will believe you when you say simply, “I didn’t take the cookie from the cookie jar.” You don’t have to say, “I absolutely positively did not take the cookie from the cookie jar. Seriously. I promise promise promise you with 100% certainty- cross my heart hope to die stick a needle in my eye- I did not take the cookie from the cookie jar!”

There’s also Matthew 15:11 “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” That’s when Scribes and Pharisees were criticizing Jesus for letting his disciples eat with unwashed hands, which some people thought broke the law of Moses.

There’s also the ninth commandment in Exodus 20:16: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

From these and other scriptures, it is clear that God has given us advice/commandments on using language well.

But aside from restricting us from using certain words, aside from saying, “Thou shalt not…” God and inspired prophets have also provided us with good examples of how to use language well. Angels have always been well-spoken. I am reminded of Oliver Cowdery’s description of John the Baptist giving Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the Aaronic Priesthood: (From the Joseph Smith History in the Pearl of Great Price)

“I shall not attempt to paint to you the feelings of this heart, nor the majestic beauty and glory which surrounded us on this occasion; but you will believe me when I say, that earth, nor men, with the eloquence of time, cannot begin to clothe language in as interesting and sublime a manner as this holy personage.”

That means that angels are better writers than Shakespeare was. Right?

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

I Have a Hard Time With Commitment

Dear Readers,

Like many men, I have a hard time with commitment. I like to keep my options open, you know what I mean?

I had a really hard time deciding to marry my wife. We dated for longer than a lot of LDS couples date. We dated for a year and then we were engaged for about five months, and in much of that time, (my wife would hate to hear this) I was indecisive. My indecisiveness and non-committal attitude was frustrating and disheartening for her.

Can you imagine my thoughts as my wife and I were dating? Sometimes I thought, “The rest of my life is such a looooooong time. Marriage is such a big commitment. I’ve always wanted to be a man of my word. It’s better to not make a promise than to make a promise and break it. How can I go through with the marriage vows?”

Some of you might hate to hear me talking this unromantically about dating and marriage and commitments, but I trust that some of you out there understand.

Added to the stress of committing to marry somebody was the belief that marriage is not for only mortality, but for eternity! So, the person you marry will be with you forever (in theory) and how can we miniscule humans have the capacity to make such gigantically important decisions? It blows my mind.

(By the way, looking back, I’m glad I proposed marriage to my wife, and I’m glad we’ve been married semi-happily for almost three years.)

Here’s another time in my life when I had trouble making a commitment. I remember being a little bit torn up before deciding to receive the Melchizedek priesthood. I was at Eastern Arizona College, in Thatcher, Arizona, and I was in the process of gaining/strengthening my testimony and deciding to serve a mission. I was aware of the seriousness of being ordained to the office of an elder and receiving the higher priesthood. I was aware of the oath and covenant of the priesthood, in Doctrine and Covenants section 84.

Verse 41 especially frightened me. “But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.”

Yikes!

When I read that, I think I’d just rather not make the commitment, so I don’t have to be held up to such high standards. I thought I could still live according to Melchizedek priesthood standards, without actually getting the Priesthood and going through with the ceremony of ordination. I thought it would be nice to know that I could slack off a little now and then if I wanted to. If I did not make the commitment, I thought, I would be more honest, and I would be freer.

I didn’t want to promise to live a life of righteousness, even though I was sort of already planning on living a morally OK life, whatever that means. I just didn’t want to formalize or publicize my commitment to a life of righteousness. I didn’t want to get a certificate reminding me of my commitment. Maybe I told myself that I just wanted my commitment to be personal and unexpressed, unverbalized, I didn’t want anybody to expect certain behavior out of me.

I hear the same sort of argument from couples who cohabitate, who behave as if they are married, and yet they are not. I’ve heard unmarried couples say, “We have a nice relationship. We know we love each other. We have our own private agreement. Why should we get the rubber stamp of approval from some church or the government to ‘validate’ the beautiful relationship we already have? And anyway there’s so much divorce and infidelity these days that those official vows aren’t taken that seriously.”

And in a way, those are good arguments against getting married. I have some good friends who live together without being married, and they seem like great people, you know.

But then after verse 41 comes verse 42: “And wo unto all those who have not come unto this priesthood…” So God is basically saying, “You have to formally make the commitment and you have to keep it. The End.”

Well, I’m not completely sure why, but God wants a covenant-making people. He doesn’t just want good behavior- he wants a commitment of good behavior.

Mormons do make covenants frequently. At baptism, upon receiving the priesthood, at marriage, in the temple, and also every single week when we take the sacrament, we are making promises to God. So many promises.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Jokes

Dear Readers,

“Whenever an old man dies, a library is torn down”

Awww... isn’t that an adorable quote? I heard that from somewhere. I don’t know where. And I thought, uh-oh, what if I die? All the books inside me will die with me. All my stories and jokes and ideas that aren’t written down will die when I die!

Maybe I’m writing stuff down in an attempt to build myself a gigantic gravestone.

Whatever. While I’m alive, I'll diffuse my dominant culture as much as possible as soon as possible! Woo-hoo!

Without further ado, here are some jokes I have inside my brain. I heard them from somewhere. Enjoy.

1.


Did you hear about that new restaurant on the moon? They say the food's great but the atmosphere's horrible.


2.


A mushroom walks into a bar and says to the bartender, "Give me a drink." And the bartender says, "I'm sorry, but we don't serve your kind here." And the mushroom says, "Why not? I'm a fun guy."

(When you say it out loud, “fun guy” kind of sounds like “fungi” and mushrooms literally are “fungi” so that’s what makes the joke funny.)


3.


Did you hear that you can reach OJ Simpson on the Internet? Yeah! All you got to do is hit back-slash, back-slash, and escape.


4.


There were three cannibals eating a clown, and one of them said, "Does this taste funny to you?"


5.


Three guys got stranded on a desert island somehow and they found a magic lamp and they rubbed it and a genie popped out and said, "I'll grant you each one wish."


The first guy said, "I just wish I was back home." And poof! He was gone.


The second guy said, "I wish I was back home, with an extra million dollars." And poof! He was gone.


The third guy said, "Oh, I'm lonely now. I wish my two friends were back here."


6.


You know how to kill a blonde? Put a scratch and sniff sticker at the bottom of a pool.


You know how else to kill a blonde? Put spikes on her shoulder pads and then ask her a difficult question, and then she'll put her head to the side as she's saying "I don't know. I don't know" and then she'll put her head on the spikes, you know?


7.


There was a blonde and a brunette who both jumped off the Empire State Building because they were committing suicide. Which one hit the ground first? The brunette, because the blonde's head was so full of hot air that she floated. Alternative answer: the brunette, because the blonde had to stop and ask for directions. Alternative answer: the brunette, because the blonde was so dumb!


8.


Why didn’t the teenager cross the road? Because he was too depressed.


9.


American astronauts, Russian astronauts, and Polish astronauts were having a meeting and discussing their upcoming space travel plans. The American astronauts said, "We're going to Mars." The Russians said, "We're going to start a space colony on the Moon" and the Poles said, "We're going to go to the sun!" The Americans were like, "Yeah right, how could you go to the sun? You'll burn up and die." And the Poles said, "Oh we're not worried about burning up. We're going to go at night."


10.


Three constructions were sitting on a skyscraper they were building on their lunch break. The first guy opened his lunch box and said, "Oh man! Tuna again? My wife always fixes me tuna fish sandwiches and I'm sick of it. It's been like this for years. If my wife fixes me tuna fish sandwiches one more time I'm going to jump off this building and kill myself."


The second guy opened his lunch box and said, "Oh man, peanut butter and jelly? I hate peanut butter and jelly! If my wife fixes me the same thing tomorrow, I'm jumping off too!"


The third guy opened his lunch box and said, "Oh man, baloney again? I'm with you guys. I'll jump if I get a baloney sandwich in my lunch box again tomorrow."


The next day at lunch time, the first guy got a tuna sandwich, the second guy got a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and the third guy got a baloney sandwich, so they all jumped off the skyscraper and they all died.


The cops came and called the three dead construction workers wives to the bloody scene. The wife of the first guy cried and said, "I don't understand. I would have fixed him a different sandwich if that's what he wanted!"

The second wife said, "Why didn’t he just tell me he was tired of peanut butter and jelly instead of killing himself over it?"

The third wife said, "I don't understand. He makes his own lunches."


11.


There was a blonde who was on a plane ride to a make-up convention in Africa and the plane blew up and crashed and she was the only one who survived. She wandered around the jungle for a while and she found this mysterious American-style diner. She went inside and it was just the most wonderful restaurant she had ever been in. The atmosphere was great, the aroma was delightful, and the people were friendly. The blonde perused the wonderful menu and ordered a hamburger.

And it was the best hamburger she had ever eaten! Oh my gosh it was sooooo good!

After she ate the hamburger, the waitress came over and asked the blonde if she would like any dessert.

And the blond said, “Sure. What kind of pie do you have?”

And the waitress said, “Oh we have every kind of pie you can think of! We have apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, lemon meringue pie, peach pie, chocolate pie, blueberry pie, blackberry pie, cherry pie, key lime pie, rhubarb pie, strawberry pie, banana cream pie…”

“Hmmm… I think I’ll have the peach pie.” The blonde said.

So in a few minutes the waitress brought her a perfect, warm slice of peach pie. The blonde ate it, and it was the most fantastic pie she had ever eaten! It filled her mouth with sublime tastiness. Every taste bud in her mouth stood at attention to revel in this moment of deliciousness. The peaches were perfectly plump and scrumptious. The crust was just the right amount of crumbliness and stiffness. The plate that the pie was on was warm and clean and white. A dollop of vanilla ice cream wonderfully complemented the flavor and warmth of the slice of peach pie. The peach pie was so sweet, so perfect! So delicious, succulent, and pleasurable.

The blonde vowed to herself that when she got back to America she would find an equivalent peach pie, for she knew that she could be happy the rest of her life if only she could have one of those slices of pie every day.

She left the restaurant with the memory of the transcendent peach pie. She wandered through the African jungle, found an airport, and flew back to America.

In America, she looked everywhere for a peach pie that was as good as the peach pie she had in that mysterious restaurant in the African jungle. She ate out at hundreds of different restaurants, she went to pie festivals, and she searched hundreds of grocery stores and bakeries, looking for a pie that satisfied her the way that peach pie satisfied her back in that mysterious restaurant in the jungle. But to no avail! Every pie she tasted was just OK, but not nearly as good as the peach pie she remembered.

The blonde gave up hope and fell into a deep depression.

Then it just so happened that about a year later she was on her way to another makeup convention in Africa. In the middle of the flight, the pilot had a heart attack and the plane crashed and everybody died except for the blonde. She wandered through the jungle again, and- wouldn’t you know it?- she found the magical restaurant again!

She went inside and ordered a hamburger, and Oh my goodness that hamburger was incredible! Then it was time for dessert, and the blonde said, “Remind me what kind of pies you have again?”

And the waitress said, “We have apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, lemon meringue pie, peach pie, chocolate pie, blueberry pie, blackberry pie, cherry pie, key lime pie, rhubarb pie, strawberry pie, banana cream pie…”

Then the blonde ordered rhubarb pie. She ate it, and it tasted alright.

12.

What’s a ghost’s favorite snack? A spooooooooooky candy bar!

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cover Letters

Dear Readers,

Here’s the cover letter/memo I sent to a school district I’m applying to. It’s slightly modified from its original version to fit the editorial constraints of Telemoonfa Time.

To Whom It May Concern:

Please include these documents with Telemoonfa’s online application. If there are any questions about my application, please contact me at 123-at-123-dot-123 or (123)123-1234. Thank you.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Here's the cover letter/memo I wanted to send:

To Whom It May Concern:

So your messed-up online application thing was messed up, and I couldn’t figure out how to attach documents to it, (documents like my letters of recommendation that I only have hard copies of!) and supposedly this hand-me-down hulking beast of a printer I have possesses scanning capabilities, but it’s ala-quiffert and it won’t scan! You think I have the time to figure out how to use the scanner on my printer? NO I DO NOT!!!

You think I’m gonna ask my professors to re-write their letters of recommendation and sent me an electronic copy of them? NO I WILL NOT!!!

Enough small talk, let’s cut to the chase.

Pleeeeeeeaaaseeee give me the job! Pleeeeeeeeaaaaaseee! Oh Plllleeeeeeaaaaasssseee I want it sooooooo bad. Sooooooooo bad! Pleaaaasssse I beg of you! In the name of humanity, I neeeeeed this job! Pleeeeeeaaasssseeeeee!

I’m a mess, oh… I’m a mess and I really need a job, I… I hit a rough spot and I just really need a job right now and that will make everything better so please have mercy on me. Please, please, please, just give me a chance, that’s all I’m asking for, just give me that job, that’s all I want. Just give me the job and I’ll leave you alone forever, I won’t ever bother you again, pleeeeeeeeeeeaaaaasssseeee!!!!! Just give me the job so I can have a job…

I think my interview went well. Don’t you think it went well? I think it went well. What went wrong? What could have gone wrong? I thought it was great.

Why haven’t you called me yet? I’m just sitting here by the phone, waiting for you to call and say, “Congratulations, Telemoonfa, you got the job!”

Plllleeeeeeeeaaaseee give me the job!

And still the phone does not ring!!! What are you doing, anyway that you can’t call me? Sipping frapucino? (And no I don't know how to spell it right!!!) Playing tiddly-winks? What’s so important that you can’t pick up the phone and take the 5 minutes out of your day to call me and tell me that I got the job?

Was it my hair? Is that what messed up my interview? You didn’t like my hair? Was it the color or the way I did it that you didn’t like? Did I part it on the wrong side?!

Look, I’m sorry about my hair, if it was my hair that messed things up, I guess missed that secret teacher how-to-comb-your-hair meeting because nobody ever sent me an invitation!

Oh and here’s something else you might like to know: I SHAVED OFF MY BEARD FOR YOU!!! I SHAVED FOR YOU FASCIST MONSTERS!!!

AND STILL YOU DO NOT CALL ME BACK!!!!

I had a beautiful rabbi-esque beard (it was the source of my wisdom) and I cut it all off for you! (I clogged my bathroom sink there was so much hair!) I chopped off my golden-red chin-locks just so I could sit through the twenty minutes of awkward humiliation you call an interview!

What’s wrong with me? Why do you reject me?

Did I mention that my GPA is 3.79?

3.79!!!!!

And I CAN RECITE POETRY!!!!

Anyway, here’s my resume, college transcripts, and my letters of recommendation, if you care- if you haven’t already put my name on your black list! Throw them away for all I care! Throw them away and let my children starve!

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Mitt Romney!!!

Dear Readers,

Mitt Romney!!

Mitt Romney!!

I love Mitt Romney!

Romney for President 2012! I think he will run and I think he will win!

2012 is so far away, though. I have to wait sooooo long until Mitt Romney can be the President. I can’t wait that long! I want Mitt Romney to be my President right now! I’ve been his fan for 2 years now. I first heard about him in late 2006, I think, and today, a little more than 2 years later, I still say, hooray for Mitt Romney!

Sometimes I google Mitt Romney just to see what he’s up to, and- wouldn’t you know it- he always up to true-blue good American stuff! Working, investing in business, talking with people about politics, smiling, holding hands with his wife, and other cool stuff like that!

I just listened to him give a wonderful speech to the Conservative Political Action Committee. Go to this link to watch what I watched. It’s about the economy and liberals and Obama and stuff. http://www.freestrongamerica.com/blog/ Mitt Romney just makes so much sense, you know? He’s incredible. I think he’s what America needs.

Although, I like Sarah Palin a lot, too. And Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin might be opponents in 2012. I don’t know. She’s got her own political action committee, so that means… I don’t really know what that means, but I think that means that she’s planning on staying involved in politics, besides just being the Governor of Alaska. But if I had to vote between Palin and Romney, I’d vote for Romney, of course.

Mitt Romney!!!

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

LDS Prophet Bans Sandals on Church Property, Decries Secular Beach-Style Footwear

In a move that’s sending shockwaves throughout Utah and beyond, LDS Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland revealed to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and to the world that sandals, especially flip-flops, will no longer be permitted on dedicated church grounds.

The policy change was announced four days ago to a packed Conference Center at the Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City, and was simultaneously published in the Ensign magazine, an official LDS publication.

Holland said in his fifteen minute long speech, “We used to speak of ‘best dress’ or ‘Sunday dress,’ and maybe we should do so again… Our clothing or footwear need never be expensive, indeed should not be expensive, but neither should it appear that we are on our way to the beach.”

Much like abstaining from “hot drinks” has been interpreted to mean that practicing Mormons are not to drink coffee or tea, Holland’s pronouncement has come to be understood by many Mormons as not wearing any footwear that exposes more than 25% of the skin below the ankle. Church authorities have yet to specifically state whether the popular 25% interpretation is a hard and fast commandment or a guiding principle, but Church leaders are expected to make public in the coming months a full-blown handbook for Church footwear that conforms with the new guidelines.

A dispute has also arisen about the propriety of the wearing of socks with flip-flops. Since no skin is exposed when socks are worn, some Church members argue, flip-flops worn with socks ought to be permissible.

Sister Jones, prominent Relief Society President, countered that the flip-flops with socks approach, what she calls the “ninja-turtle style,” is highly inappropriate in the house of the Lord. “Elder Holland said that when we go to church, we shouldn’t look like we’re going to the beach. That’s what he said. I didn’t say it. Elder Holland said it. Now I don’t know about you, but I want to follow the prophet as closely as I can. And when I think about going to the beach, I think of flip flops.”

Sister Jones allegedly conducted a survey to determine what people thought about just how closely going to the beach and flip-flop wearing were associated. Jones claims that 96% agreed that going to the beach is associated with flip-flops. “So with numbers like that,” Jones said to members of the press yesterday afternoon, “I just don’t see how some members can justify the wearing of flip-flops to church, or any kind of sandal, socks or no socks.”

“Plus wearing socks with sandals is out-and-out tacky,” Jones added.

Other members resistant to the change have different ideas. “I sustain my church leaders,” Bishop Haverly said, “But this new shoe protocol is an outrage. The Lord Jesus Himself wore sandals! I’ve seen it in pictures. Was the ground that Jesus walked on icky because he didn’t wear closed-toed shoes?”

Haverly then cryptically stated that he believed the ground of Mt. Sinai got even holier when Moses removed his shoes when God appeared to him in a burning bush. When pressed about whether he was implying that more foot skin exposure in church would lead to more spirituality, Haverly became aggressive and yelled, “Hey I’m no foot weirdo!” and refused to comment further.

Haverly has come under fire by Sister Jones and her Relief Society sisters for declining to enforce the new sandal revelation, but Haverly so far has withstood the pressure, saying that he will continue to preach what he calls the “non-shoe-related doctrines” of the LDS faith.

Further debate has centered on exactly what types of shoes, according to the LDS faith, fall under the category of “flip-flop” or “sandal.” Some self-professed “footwear-fundamentalists” claim that shoes with any size of openings in them, excepting holes for shoelaces, ought to be banned outright from Church property.

Footwear-fundamentalists announced that they will be hosting a bonfire in Sister Jones’s backyard tomorrow at 7 pm at 1300-south 200-west in Salt Lake City. All are invited to come and burn their sandals, flip-flops, crocs, or any other tempting shoes that fail to meet the church’s new declaration.

Reformed footwear-fundamentalists, though, maintain that what Elder Holland really had in mind was the banishment of “toe cleavage:” the exposure of the cracks between the toes.

LDS Bishops and stake presidents across the country, and indeed throughout the world, are exhausted from fielding questions from distraught members. Church leaders have asked that those in doubt of what constitutes appropriate church-going clothing to forgo consultation with overworked Church clergy and to instead seek advice from those that have familiar spirits, or wizards that peep and mutter.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Bill Gates, Violence in Mexico, Violence in General

Dear Readers,

I read this funny article about Bill Gates:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1158905/Microsoft-boss-Bill-Gates-bans-children-using-Apple-products--wife-admits-shed-like-iPhone.html

If you don’t want to read it, here’s my summary: Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, the third richest person in the world according to Wikipedia, doesn’t let his family get Apple products. Ha ha ha. Microsoft and Apple are rivals. But his wife, Melinda Gates, sort of maybe wants an iPhone. Ha ha ha.

Here’s one of the best lines, though: “Gates stepped down as chief executive of Microsoft to concentrate on charity. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the world's biggest philanthropic organisation.” Wow! I had heard about the Gates Foundation before, but I didn’t know it was the “world’s biggest philanthropic organisation”! Here’s the link to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/Pages/home.aspx Prominently displayed on the home page of that website is this mantra: “All lives have equal value.” Isn’t that wonderful?

I think Bill Gates is a great American and a model citizen. I think Bill Gates’ private company and private charity helps the poor better than Obama’s socialist-leaning plans will.

Ok, the next piece of news is a real downer, but it makes me proud to live in America and in Arizona, a relatively peaceful place.

Here’s the link to two articles about the same subject: (I found these through the Drudge Report, by the way.)

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1159068/Massacre-central-How-drug-gangs-murder-torture-way-life-Mexico.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1158779/Thousands-Mexican-soldiers-pour-countrys-violent-city-crackdown-drug-gangs.html

The articles are about the violence that’s going on right now in Mexico, in the city of Juarez, with is just south of El Paso, Texas. The rule of law in Mexico hasn’t been doing so well lately. Mobsters, criminals, gangs, leaders of drug cartels, and other immoral people are running things down there. A lot of the politicians and police officers are in cahoots with the mobs. So the Mexican President, Felipe Calderon, just sent a big army to the city of Juarez to set things right.

This news story has also impacted a lot of Arizona college students’ Spring Break plans. Spring Break is just a few weeks away, and the three Arizona universities (Arizona State University, the University of Arizona, and the school I’m at now, Northern Arizona University) have all warned students to stay away from Mexico this Spring Break, because of all the crime and violence that’s going on down there.

I was chatting with a lady in the NAU Writing Center where I work a few hours a week, and she said that in Mexico, lots of people, sometimes tourists, get kidnapped by gangs, and are forced to withdraw the maximum amount of money you can get in one day from ATMs. Then the victims are kept overnight, and the next day the victims are forced to go to the ATM and withdraw the maximum amount again, and the criminals just keep the victims until their checking and savings accounts are drained.

There really are some horrible things going on in this world, and I’m glad that I live in pretty safe and peaceful place.

Now before any of you think or comment, “But wait Telemoonfa, America is a messed up place too! How dare you compare America to other countries and say that we’re so much better than they are?” Well, I’m not saying that there aren’t bad things that go on in the United States, especially, it seems, in inner cities, but I’m just saying that I’m glad that I have personally enjoyed peace throughout my life.

I think the news articles are somewhat optimistic. Hopefully the Mexican national military restores the rule of law. It’s too bad that so much blood has to be shed, but what can I say? This is a fallen world, and some of the people who live in this fallen world are downright wicked.

Somebody commented on one of the articles: (I like the comments that people leave after online news articles) “Good for the Mexican auithorities I hope they geyt successful in this case. Make a note that no social workers were shipped in!! Perhaps our Police should watch this with interest.”

And that comment just got me thinking about the anonymous commenter on this blog who discussed with me the idea of God using violence, and we brought up the issue of anybody using violence, really. It seems like some idealists, (idealists who typically live in peaceful countries that maintain a military force) believe that violence directed towards human beings is never justified. Of course I disagree. I think that sometimes violence is justified.

It would be great if we could solve the world’s problems through applying Henry David Thoreau’s idea of civil disobedience or Mahatma Ghandi’s idea of passive resistance, or the Jehovah’s Witnesses idea of never getting politically or militarily involved, but I don’t think we can solve some of the world’s problems through those peaceful methods, and I think that’s what history has shown.

Like this problem in Mexico, for example. What could social workers or therapists do in the face of all that anarchy? The President of Mexico was right to send soldiers, and not diplomats, to Juarez to stop the crime there. Calderon was right to send people bearing guns instead of people bearing flowers. And my view is, God uses violence when words and the Holy Spirit and other warnings don’t work.

The Marine Corps has done more to promote peace in this world than the Peace Corps has.

The arguments that some peaceful protesters use reminds me of Oscar Wilde’s arguments in an intriguing document, The Soul of Man Under Socialism. (I love to argue with and think about that essay. A lot of it is beautiful and I agree with some of it. I love Wilde’s ideas about art and beauy, but a lot of The Soul of Man Under Socialism is outlandish.

By the way, if Oscar Wilde were alive today, he would be known as a liberal. And Wilde would be a star, and the media, and teenagers, would love him.) Oscar Wilde basically says that punishing people actually creates crime. He says that in a perfect communist/socialist world, criminals will be treated by therapists, and all bad things will just go away. In Wilde’s dream world, in his visionary socialist Utopia,

punishment will pass away. This will be a great gain - a gain, in fact, of incalculable value. As one reads history, not in the expurgated editions written for schoolboys and passmen, but in the original authorities of each time, one is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted; and a community is infinitely more brutalised by the habitual employment of punishment than it is by the occasional occurrence of crime. It obviously follows that the more punishment is inflicted the more crime is produced, and most modern legislation has clearly recognised this, and has made it its task to diminish punishment as far as it thinks it can. Wherever it has really diminished it the results have always been extremely good. The less punishment the less crime. When there is no punishment at all, crime will either cease to exist, or, if it occurs, will be treated by physicians as a very distressing form of dementia, to be cured by care and kindness.”

I wish Wilde was right about how to stop crime, but I don’t think he is. He paints a picture of Utopia that is nice to think about, but in this fallen world I just don’t think Wilde’s ideas will work out.

Well, I hope you are all safe and healthy, and I’ll see you later.

Sincerely,
Telemoonfa