Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The End of a Year

Another year is over.  We have ambiguously determined that about ten days after the winter solstice a new year begins.  It's interesting to see how many things we take for granted are basically ambiguous.  Our perception colors everything we believe about the world.  Our unrecognized biases flavor our arguments and reasoning processes.  In order to avoid letting these ambiguities and biases harm our relationships with others and with the Lord, we have to develop charity.

Marvin J. Ashton had this to say about charity.
Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.
My prayer for the new year is that we can all develop more charity for one another.

Friday, December 27, 2013


Many people think that the LDS Church is being a bit paranoid about their religious freedom in the gay marriage debate.  I understand where these people are coming from, but I also understand the view of the Church.  It's important to remember that the Church is no stranger to being persecuted due to their beliefs about marriage.

In 1882, the Edmunds Act officially made Polygamy a felony in the US territories, but that was not how it was actually enforced.  What really happened was anyone who professed to believe in Mormonism was disenfranchised of their vote, the opportunity to hold public office, or to serve on a jury.  It didn't matter if they had ever been in a polygamous relationship or not.

Then the Edmunds Tucker Act a few years later disincorporated the Church and the Perpetual Emigration Fund, seizing most of it's assets, disenfranchised women of their votes in the territory, and prevented children of polygamous marriages from receiving any inheritance.  The Supreme Court upheld the law.

I realize that all this happened over a century ago, but it's hard for the Church to forget such an injustice.

Recently in Hawaii, the marriage bill that was being debated included wording that could make it illegal to hold marriages in churches unless they either allowed same gender marriages or never allowed those not of that religion to use the facilities.  That would not have been a problem for the Temples, but regular church buildings could have been in real trouble.  Eventually, common sense won out and the wording was changed to provide more protection for religious institutions.  This was just a few months ago, not centuries ago.

What I'm saying is that marriage law is not just about marriage.  It can be (and has been) used as a weapon to persecute and intimidate groups of people.  Please, as we re-forge marriage laws and structures, be careful to provide protections to prevent abuse of the laws in such a way.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Logical Fallacies - Appeal to Possibility

I had a friend that encouraged me to read the Foundation series.  I started to read it, but I never picked up the second book because it seemed so logically inconsistent.  It was all the probabilities quoted that bothered me.  The author seemed to believe that the most likely events were events that would happen, at least most of the time.  It's a huge fallacy.  In real life, unlikely events far outnumber likely events, so much that in most cases the more likely events still are not very likely.

The appeal to possibility (sometimes called the appeal to probability) is the argument that since something is a viable possibility (or has a high probability of happening) that we may accept it as a forgone conclusion.  I see this reasoning when people don't believe that I truly love my wife, simply because I'm gay.  They see valid cases of gay men married to women who are not happy in those marriages, and so assume that since the possibility is there, it must be true for me.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  But it makes for a great example of the logical fallacy.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Finding a Soul Mate

I have kids, so I end up seeing lots of animated films.  That's fine, because I really love animated films.  But I remember watching "Hotel Transylvania" and staring in dismay when an awful lie was expressed.  Evidently, in this fictional world, there comes a time in your life when you "zing" (meaning, fall in love) and it only happens once.  If you miss that chance, you are doomed to a life without your one true love.  What an awful message!  Despite the fact that it's a terrible falsehood, too many people believe it.

I recently read a wonderful article describing a very different attitude.  Her story expresses that the person she fell for, her soul mate, didn't work out, but the person she married, she worked with until they became soul mates, not by some magic attraction but by patiently working at their relationship.  You can read the story by clicking here.

I suppose different people will get different message from the article.  To me, it says that a soul mate isn't someone we find, it's someone we work with, sacrifice for, and build up.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Be True to Yourself

I cringe every time I hear this cliche.  It is supposed to mean we should be honest with ourselves, but it is usually intended to convey something subtly different.  It sounds to me like people often really mean to disregard inhibitions.  I agree that sometimes our inhibitions are not healthy, and cause us to be dishonest with ourselves.  But our inhibitions are also parts of ourselves that are very important.

A basic principle of art is that the negative space in a painting is just as important -- sometimes more important -- than the subject in the foreground.  Similarly, our inhibitions and ways we deny ourselves are an important part of our true selves.  I'm a somewhat impulsive person.  Those impulses that I entertain define me in many ways, but those that I choose to deny define me even more clearly.  If you see a man in his 50s that is trim and muscular, it is likely that the person exerts self control over impulses to overeat or laze around.  Care with the diet and regimented exercise are the only way to keep in such good shape into your 50s.  The person is defined by their sacrifices, the things they deny themselves.

When someone says to be true to yourself, what should you be true to?  Your impulses?  Your appetites?  Your indulgences?  Or perhaps your inhibitions?  Your sacrifices?  Your strength of will?

We all make choices to suppress some of our attributes and accentuate others.  The way we do this both expresses and shapes our values.  When our values change, so do these choices.  When our choices change, so do our values.  They are closely interrelated.  So I dislike it when people use the phrase "be true to yourself" to mean "change your values," when it should mean "be honest with yourself."

Friday, December 13, 2013

Be Prepared

President Hunter asked members of the Church to get and keep temple recommends, even if there was not a temple they had the means to visit.  It's an interesting request.  It reminds me of the saints in the early days of the Church from Colesville, New York.  They migrated to Ohio, and knew they were not intending to stay.  But they were commanded, "let them act upon this land as for years, and this shall turn unto them for their good." (Doc&Cov 51:17)  They ended up staying for less than two months.  But they were to act as though they were staying for years.  Develop friendships with neighbors; build bridges; plant crops.  Even if you leave and can't harvest the fruit of your labors, they are good labors, and will bless you.  Even if you don't have an accessible temple, getting a recommend is a good thing, and will bless you.

President Hinckley said something similar to those for whom marriage was not forthcoming.  Be prepared, but live life.  Get an education and become productive.  Be ready if an opportunity arises, but don't obsess about the future.  Grow and develop where you are.  Like the Colesville saints, build bridges, plant crops, develop friendships.

I think something similar can be true when someone has a gay orientation.  When I got back from my mission, I decided I would continue with my education and live a full life regardless of whether or not I found someone who would marry me for who I was.  I figured it would be quite some time before I married because I was not attracted to girls.  It turned out to be not very long, but I was not obsessing over it.  In fact, I was rather unprepared for it when the opportunity came (as my poor wife could attest).

Overall, it's good to be prepared for the things we hope for, but it's also good not to obsess too much about the future but live life here and now.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Commandment to Change

About a decade ago, the leadership of the Church decided to send some of the apostles out to live in other countries.  Elder Oaks was sent to live for a couple years in the Philippines.  While he was there, he realized that the people in that country often felt that in order to join the Church, they had to change their lifestyles, unlike those in America, particularly Utah.  (But maybe not Los Angeles; they had probably seen enough movies to know that LA was populated by people who regularly participated in car chases while shooting guns.  People in LA would have to change to become Mormons.)  I think the idea was something akin to "it's not fair that we have to sacrifice and change, while those in Utah don't."

Elder Oaks gave a great conference talk about the fact that everyone has to change.  Those in Utah have to change.  The scriptures are replete with the commands like "Cry repentance unto every people," or "Repent and be baptized."  The term "every people" includes those in Utah as well as those in more remote locations.

Real growth and progression can only happen when we are humble and willing to change, to sacrifice what we are, to become something greater.  We have to sacrifice the bliss of ignorance in order to become educated.  The commandment to change is a reminder of a necessary part of our own road to happiness and salvation.  In the Lectures on Faith, Joseph Smith taught, “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.”

It's interesting that I often read of similar kinds of complaints among the gay Mormon community.  It seems that some people have more to sacrifice than others to be a faithful member of the Church.  But while some people's sacrifices are certainly more noticeable than others, everyone needs to sacrifice.  Everyone needs to change.  The call to repentance is for everyone.

I do not mean that we need to change our orientations.  Rather, we need to be humble, teachable, meek, and faithful, for there is power in humility, the power of change.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Self Reliance

One of the things that the Church is always emphasizing is the idea of self reliance.  Caring for ourselves physically and being prepared in case of physical illness, taking care of our social and monetary needs and being prepared for problems in that realm, and getting a good education to overall help with this self reliance has been a hallmark of the Church for many generations.

Sometimes, we forget what it means to be self reliant.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


In Matthew 23, Christ denounces the Pharisees as hypocrites, even though they are the official leaders of the church in Jerusalem.  But it's very notable that He does not denounce their office.  In fact, the opposite is true; He tells the people they still have to follow them.  He said, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:  All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not."

Friday, November 29, 2013

Logical Fallacies - The Ecological Fallacy

It's been a while since I've had a fallacy post, so I though it would be a good time to investigate another one.  This one is fascinating to me.  It stems from the fact that many people do not understand how aggregate statistics and individuals relate.  Suppose you find out that the average income in a neighborhood is higher than the national average.  You know someone who lives in that neighborhood.  Does that mean that it is likely that the person has a higher than average income?  If you think it does, you're the victim of an ecological fallacy.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Don't Forget the Lion

One of the first hymns I memorized as a child was "The Spirit of God."  The final verse begins with a very memorable line: "How blessed the day when the lamb and the lion shall lie down together without any ire."  I didn't really understand it as a child, but I though it was talking about the peace during the millennial reign.  Now I understand it to be talking about the mercy and justice of God.  But I think, as humans, we still don't get it.

Friday, November 22, 2013


Communication is an interesting process.  I sometimes hear the opinion that "I'm only responsible for what I say, not what you understand."  It's true that some people read things into others' words that were not intended, and this can lead to problems in communication.  A person who takes offence at everything others say is the usual example that comes to mind.

But there is also a responsibility on the part of the speaker to use language that others are likely to understand.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


This morning I saw a beautiful rainbow, so bright and clear that my cellphone camera could have caught it.  I was in the swimming pool, so I didn't have my cell phone with me, but it was beautiful.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Two Different Freedoms

I think that I interact with the idea of freedom in two different ways.  So for me, it is as if there were two totally different forms of freedom.  The first is "freedom from" in that I can be free from some influence or power.  I would like to be free from pain.  This kind of freedom is like safety.  If there is a safety net below a tightrope walker, an acrobat on the tightrope is free from some of the consequences of falling.  This is an important kind of freedom.  We want to be free from the judgments of others, to be free from discrimination, to be free from restrictions.

On the other hand, a more difficult form of freedom is "freedom to" in the sense of freedom to act or be.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

An Expert at Fence Sitting

I think of it as balance, but some people would call it fence sitting.

As a young child, I developed an interesting skill.  I could defer or redirect animosity around.  I could avoid making enemies by not positioning myself in opposition to anyone.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Losing the Spirit

When I was growing up, I was repeatedly taught about how disobeying the commandments caused us to lose the spirit.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

High School

I've heard many stories about gay oriented Mormon who were bullied in high school, or otherwise have had terrible experiences during that period of their lives.  I so feel for these folks, and want to go back in time and be their friends, support them through that period of their lives.  It was so different for me.

Friday, November 1, 2013


"That company?  They were awful.  It was the worst experience.  I'll never use their services again."  Suppose this thing was said about a company which you have patronized for years, and has a perfect service record with you, truly a pleasure to work with.  As humans, we tend to pass judgment so quickly based on a small set of experiences.  What one person experiences, others may not.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Freedom vs. Commandments

I have always been interested in the unusual dichotomies within the LDS doctrine.  The most often discussed is the mercy vs. justice dilemma.  But another that is very important is the commandment vs. freedom paradox.  It seems like a paradox, because our Father in Heaven gives us commandments at the same time as he claims to grant us freedom.  As a parent, it does seem like an impossible situation to resolve.  I want my children to have freedom so they will learn to be independent and responsible, but at the same time I want to give them rules to protect and guide them.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Polarizing Issues

In history, there have occasionally been issues that so polarized and divided the populace that a realignment of political parties happened.  The biggest drawback I see from these examples is the level of animosity and the lack of respect for moderate voices.  Extremists rule the day, and dialog, compromise, and reason are largely suppressed.  The people tend to gravitate to the extremes rather than to the middle.  People who were believed to be rational tend to act like irrational zealots.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Logical Fallacies - The Fallacy Fallacy

This one is an interesting trap.  When someone argues fallaciously, it is tempting to assume that their point was wrong.  After all, why argue for a true point with fallacies.  But this is not necessarily the case.  When someone rejects an idea because fallacious arguments were used to support it, that someone is making the fallacy fallacy.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Without Natural Affection

Twice in the epistles of Paul (Romans and 2nd Timothy), in a list of transgressions, he includes "without natural affection."  In the letter to the Romans, it is just a few verses after a description of male homosexuality, and so it has been often tied to same gender attraction.  However, also included in both lists are disobedient to parents, boasters, proud, and trucebreakers/covenantbreakers.  It's not like the description of homosexual lusts were any more connected to "without natural affection" than to any of the other transgressions in the list.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Catching Up

When I was a student, I remember sometimes missing class or getting behind in some subject or other.  It was always possible for me to catch up, to make up the missing learning and get back with the class.  But the process was far more difficult, and I always felt like I was barely keeping my head above water, when this happened.  The principle is that it's easier to keep up than to catch up.

Friday, October 11, 2013

One Hundred

This is my one hundredth post here on this blog.  It has been a fascinating experience, as I don't really consider myself a writer.  For those who haven't perused all the past ninety-nine posts, I thought re-introducing myself and summarizing my story would be valuable.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Thoughts on Conference

After ten hours of sitting and watching conference, there's no way I could give a comprehensive assessment of my thoughts and ideas.  But here are a few randomly scattered thoughts.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Why I Love General Conference

I love general conference.  I remember being a kid sitting outside with my father listening to conference on the radio.  We didn't get it on television where we lived.  Now, with the internet, it's available to view all around the world.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Addicted to Semantics

Maybe I'm just being too fussy with semantics, but I think people misuse the word "addicted" quite often.  It's not just a synonym for habit-forming.  I have a habit of eating breakfast every morning.  That doesn't mean I'm addicted to breakfast.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Logical Fallacies - Anecdotal Evidence

This one is probably the most difficult fallacies to fight.  An anecdote is a brief story or vignette.  Anecdotal evidence is the use of someone's story as evidence for a general hypothesis.  It often starts with something like, "I knew a guy who," and then continues on with some story to provide evidence.  "I knew a guy who smoked three packs of cigarettes a day and lived to the age of 94, which proves that smoking doesn't cause cancer."  The problem is, statistics only work with large samples, and anecdotal evidence has very small samples, often sample sizes of one.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Is the Church for Everyone?

I've heard people express that the LDS Church is not for everyone.  Certain people thrive in the Church, it is said, while others will struggle.  Many feel that those of a gay orientation would probably fair better in a different church, for example.  This can be a surprisingly touchy subject because of the doctrine that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the "only true and living church on the face of the whole earth with which [the Lord is] well pleased." (Doc & Cov 1:30)

Friday, September 20, 2013

One Benefit of a Mixed Orientation Relationship

I've always been taught that when getting married, couples have this initial period of bliss that wears off after a few months or years, and that the let-down can lead to a "falling-out-of-love" period.  However, I don't think I ever experienced that.  I think that it is one of the benefits of my orientation.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


So, what does it mean to you when you say you are attracted to someone?  What does it mean to be romantic?  I think these things may vary greatly from person to person, so that makes discussion of orientation somewhat problematic.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Logical Fallacies - Confirmation Bias

I remember Gordon B. Hinckley liked to say that if you always look for shadows rather than light, you are likely to find them.  He was pointing out that many critics of the church fall prey to a logical fallacy often called confirmation bias, a kind of fallacy of incomplete evidence.  The idea is that if you believe something is true, you tend to primarily notice evidence for that thing, while missing much of the evidence against it.  Often this happens without the participants even noticing.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Scouting, Part 2

Ezra Taft Benson said, “Give me a young man who has kept himself morally clean and has faithfully attended his Church meetings. Give me a young man who has magnified his priesthood and has earned the Duty to God Award and is an Eagle Scout. Give me a young man who is a seminary graduate and has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. Give me such a young man, and I will give you a young man who can perform miracles for the Lord in the mission field and throughout his life."

I can't tell you how often I have heard this quote in many different settings.  I understand the value of helping young men grow up to be great missionaries.  And I agree that a young man who had all these qualities would probably make a great missionary.  But it always hurt a little bit.  Having only achieved the rank of star, it tended to make me feel like I was not an acceptable member of the church and an unprepared missionary.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Scouting, Part 1

I was not a very good boy scout.  I grew up in a family where camping, fishing, hunting was just part of family life, but I wasn't particularly excited about it, nor was I against it.  Camping with the scouts was, therefore, nothing special.  Being severely ADHD, which was not even something people knew about back then, meant that I had a very difficult time completing merit badges and the like.  So while I enjoyed my time in scouts, I was not very successful by the normal measures of awards and badges.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


One thing that I know sometimes bothers my wife is how much of a skeptic I am.  My first reaction to any new idea or information is skepticism.  I immediately refute it, look for facts that give me cause to disbelieve.  I have been trained in an academic discipline in which negative questioning and searching for counterexamples is held in high regard.  However, if you give me time, new information and ideas do eventually change and shape my worldview.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Faith, Hope, Charity

What does it mean to have faith?  The first principle of the gospel is not just faith, but faith in Jesus Christ.  That's a little more specific, but what exactly does that mean?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


When I was a graduate student, I noticed something that I thought was odd.  People my age were not dating.  They would hang out with large groups, only pairing off occasionally for a brief fling.  I eventually learned that most of these people had been in and out of "steady" relationships since junior high or earlier, and they were tired of the drama.  That just seemed sad to me.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Not the Only Option

Take a young Mormon with a budding testimony.  Suppose they have a gay orientation.  Now include the belief that he (or she) will never be able to serve a mission, get married in the temple, or even stay a member of the church if they are gay.  What is likely to happen?  All too often the reaction is to hide, to deny one's own emotions, bottle it all up, suppress the passions.  It's like trying to completely stop up a river.  Eventually the water will overwhelm any barrier.  Then, in the flood of reaction, the church may be rejected along with the emotional baggage.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


In one of my favorite webcomics, the chaplain in a mercenary army explains that his religious order doesn't believe in celibacy, but rather chastity.  So basically, no sex outside of marriage.  Seem a bit strict?  I've had friends express that expecting teens to abstain from sex is extremely naive.  They figure that the only celibate teens are those that can't attract the opposite sex.  My experience has been quite different.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


A smokescreen is a kind of distraction to keep people from seeing clearly.  It bothers me when I see people purposefully confusing or distracting from the truth in order to argue a point.  That's one of the reasons that I post about logical fallacies so much.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


There have been a lot of good things this blog has done for me.  I've been able to write my thoughts and organize my thinking a little.  I've been able to focus on an aspect of myself that has had little time to grow or develop in a healthy way.  But one thing it hasn't been able to do is give me a sense of connection, a sense of belonging to a community.

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Safe Date

I dated a ton before my mission.  One time I even had 8 dates during the same week (I might have had to stretch the definition of "date" a bit for that -- I counted homework dates where we got a snack afterwards).  I recall talking to a mission companion about how much I enjoyed those dates.  This particular companion had known me before the mission and laughed.  He explained to me that the girls enjoyed dating me because I was "safe."  Somehow I broadcasted to the girls around me that dating me would be just for fun -- I was not into drama and going steady and all that.  My companion explained that it was like when girls liked dating gay guys -- they were safe dates, free from drama and stress.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Logical Fallacies - Appeal to Authority

Okay, now we get to a real confusing one.  Almost everything everyone believes is based on trust in some authority figure.  Most people haven't actually performed the gold foil experiment that demonstrates the existence of atoms, or even know someone who has.  But we're taught about them by teachers who were taught them by professors, who were taught about them in their own classes, etc.  There's simply not enough time or resources for everyone to experience everything, so we have to use trusted sources, teachers, encyclopedia articles, and other such authority figures.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Writing vs. Speaking

I looked back on my mission journal, and saw again how my writing looked very clinical.  I don't put very much emotion into it.  Mainly, I have lists of schedules and milestones.  I talk about doctrine a bit, and it reads rather didactically.  However, when I talked to people as a missionary, I was very fluid.

I look at my blog now, and I see some of the same things.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


When I was young, I didn't have a great sense of belonging.  I didn't feel like I belonged in any particular group of peers.  I often satisfied that need through reading, as I often identified with the characters in books more closely than those in the real world.  But also, I'm not sure I felt that need as strongly as others.  I rather relished my "outsider" status, at least in my own eyes.  But the need to belong was still there.  As I grew through my teen years, I developed a much better sense of community, and had a great group of friends.  And while I still feel like I didn't exactly "belong," I felt friendship and appreciation, which were what I really needed.  I think, some may feel that to honestly feel like I belonged, I would have had to reveal my gay orientation to a group of friends, and that was not going to happen.  But even then, I'm not sure I would have really belonged.  Or maybe I'm misunderstanding.  What does it mean to belong?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cogito Ergo Sum

I think, therefore I am.  Thus said Rene deCarte, the famous mathematician and philosopher.  If I didn't exist, I couldn't question my existence, so I must exist.  However, I can't know your thoughts.  This puzzle has yet to reach a logical conclusion.  How do we know anything beyond our own existence?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Logical Fallacies - Appeal to Popularity

"If everybody else walked off the edge of a cliff, would you?"  You've probably heard some form of that phrase.  It is a warning about the appeal to popularity, the attempt to prove a point simply because it is a popular belief.  Sometimes it sounds like peer pressure (everybody is doing it).  But in it's purest form, it is an appeal to some common belief as evidence for its truth.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Most Serious Sin

What is the most serious sin?  It seems very tempting to try to rank sins.  Alma does it a little when chastising his son Corianton.  But I think people often misapply Alma's words.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

In The Dark

In the Book of Mormon, secret combinations are the main culprit for the destruction of several whole civilizations.  What's so bad about secrets?  It's pretty clear that those secret societies like the Gadianton Robbers depended on the mask of secrecy to avoid the immediate consequences of their evil acts.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Temple Marriage

As a Mormon, I believe that virtually everyone will go to heaven.  However, our capacity to grow and develop in heaven depends upon what we learn and what we do here in our mortal lives.  In particular, only some people will have prepared themselves to be able to tolerate the continual presence of God the Father.  That's why one of the prime focuses of the Church is the temple.  Temple ordinances are not optional.  They are an important part of the preparation.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Logical Fallacies - The Golden Mean Fallacy

This is more formally known as the argument to moderation.  The problem is when people figure that if two parties hold differing views, the truth must be somewhere in the middle.  Please note that the truth may very well be somewhere in the middle, but it might not.  The existence of the differing views is not evidence for the truth being a compromise of the positions.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Peer Pressure

I did not grow up with a tendency to recognize peer pressure.  I certainly had friends, and got along with others.  I cared what others thought of me.  But I wasn't prone to the kind of peer pressure that most kids go through.  I think that helped me deal with my own differences.  I sometimes felt like there was nobody that was like me, that I was all alone.  More often I realized that there must be others, possibly many others, but I would probably never get to know who they were.

Anyway, I think the extent of my feelings of peer pressure was that I didn't want others to misunderstand me.  So I couldn't tell anyone about my orientation, primarily because I knew that others tended to have serious misconceptions about homosexuality.  They would fail to understand me, and that seemed to be the worst thing ever.  I still feel that way somewhat.  Being misunderstood is one of my greatest fears.  But I've got to think peer pressure is different for most other people.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Being a Gay Scout Leader

I've been involved in scouts as a scout and a leader for most of my life.  I'm currently a leader in the scouting program, but since I'm not really "out" I guess I don't count as "open and avowed" according to the scouts.  So I can continue to be a leader.  But what would happen if I came out of that proverbial closet?  Since I'm still active and hold a temple recommend, the Church probably wouldn't have a problem with me being a leader.  But surely there would be some busybody who would so worry about me infecting innocent boys with the gay virus that they would complain to the scouting office.  I worry about the reasoning of these people.  They were okay as long as my orientation was secret, but they're scared of knowing?  That's just so weird.  I'd think if they had the boys best interest at heart, they would encourage openness.  Isn't it better to know more about our boys' leaders than for them to be keeping secrets?  What message are we telling our boys?  Telling the truth will be punished, while refusing to tell the truth is rewarded?  It seems like the wrong message.

Friday, June 7, 2013


You know, one thing that I've thought about a lot is the idea of how much of our sexual drive and our needs for intimacy are driven by hormones.  It really seems that those chemicals in our blood manage an awful lot of our emotional reactions and needs.  I also feel that, at least for me, my hormones are not actually part of my orientation.  My orientation may determine the gender to which my attractions lean, but the nature of those attractions seem to be similar to other guys.  For example, there's research that shows guys tend to be more attracted to smiling girls while girls tend to be attracted to solemn looking guys.  I'm attracted to smiling guys.  Brooding looks do very little for me.  So I'm behaving like a typical guy, except for the gender, of course.  These traits are only true statistically, and of course, vary from person to person.  Still, I tend to be fairly typical in most respects, except for my orientation.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ack! My queue is gone!

I'm not the kind of person that would be good at regularly blogging.  So I've kept up regular twice-a-week posts by binge-writing my blog and setting the release dates way in the future.  Unfortunately, I just noticed that I don't have a post queued up any more, and I need to pay attention or my regularity will start to slip.  I've been fairly busy, and will be even more unlikely to do too much with the blog as the summer progresses, so either I'll write a bunch of short blog posts and put them all up now, to be released over the next month or so, or I'll have to slack off.  I'm leaning toward trying the former but the latter may happen.  I dunno.  I'd bet I could manage.  We'll see how things go.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Being Alone

When I was 12 and started to be seriously interested in boys, I knew it was something I would never talk about with others.  I had no fear of diminished love from my parents -- I knew they would love me the same no matter what.  I was more worried about how they would show that love.  I didn't want to have to see a psychiatrist to delve into what in my past made me this way, try to change my orientation, or (even worse, in my view) possibly tell me I should start seeking relationships with guys.  I worried that my parents might want me to go to such counselling.  Or perhaps they would be disappointed or worried about it.  I didn't want to deal with that kind of thing.  I still don't, so my parents don't know.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Hidden Statistics

Back in the 1950s, Darrell Huff wrote a little book entitled How to Lie with Statistics that is still in print today.  While the context of the book is rather outdated (annual salaries of $2000 and the like), the mathematical principles in it are still quite relevant.  It is still quite easy to support a cause by playing with statistics.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Cause or Effect

I've got a theory.  It seems like a surprisingly high percentage of the gay-oriented Mormons who gather in these online communities have suffered bouts of depression -- the clinically diagnosable kind.  Many have been abused at some time in their past, or at least been bullied at school.  A lot of people look at these facts and conclude that there is a causative relationship -- the idea that the bullying or the abuse or depression causes the gay orientation.  That would mean if we could somehow keep our kids from these dangers they wouldn't be gay.  But I defy that logic.  I was not that kid.  I wasn't the kid with a distant dad or the abusive neighbor, but somehow I ended up gay, anyway.  So here's my counter-argument.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Logical Fallacies - Appeal to Emotion

This is the logical fallacy that advertisers use the most.  The basic structure of the argument is that because I invoke a certain emotion, what I say must be true (or my point must be valid).  If you watched the presidential debates, I think both candidates made more appeals to emotion than actual logical statements.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Perfect Salad

From a very Platonic logical view, there can only be one perfection.  Any variation from that perfection would be different, and therefore flawed.  I don't believe in that view of perfection.

It would be like saying that there is a perfect salad ingredient.  Therefore, the perfect salad would consist entirely of that perfect ingredient.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Stereotypes and the Freedom to Ignore Them

As humans, we tend to overclassify everything.  I think we are somewhat hardwired to do so.  It's in our nature.  I think it has to do with how we recognize images.  We have a hard time getting computers to recognize cloud types, for instance, but our brains find pictures in the clouds (that one looks like a turtle sitting on a scooter -- with a music stand in his hand) which is something we could never get a computer to do.  We classify and categorize the shapes of clouds very naturally.  Sorting people into stereotypes is just another manifestation of this amazing trait of our minds.  It's very natural, and we have to fight it.  Learning to overcome these natural instincts is simply a part of being free to make choices.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Building a Home

Everybody begins life with a very different set of starting circumstances.  We are born in different areas, to different parents, at different times, with different predilections, strengths, weaknesses, etc.  These circumstances of our births form the foundations of our lives.  Because everyone gets a different setup for life, a different foundation, so to speak, we should take care not to judge others based on our own limited experiences.  If we want to build two homes on very different foundations, we can't expect the buildings to be identical.  But at the same time, the principles of building remain the same, and both buildings are guided by the same end goal (which is providing shelter in the case of home-building).

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Being Sifted

In Luke 22 we are told of Christ's warning to Simon Peter: "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat."  This one is an interesting passage that I have a hard time understanding.  I've heard many interpretations of this passage, but I'm searching for something that makes sense in context.  The Savior follows with "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not."  So it seems that the antidote to being sifted as wheat is to have faith.  So what does wheat have to do with faithlessness?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Logical Fallacies - False Cause

Culturally, this is one of the most common fallacies there are.  It's not used in arguments so much as misunderstanding the world around us.  In Latin, the Fallacy of False Cause is known as "post hoc ergo propter hoc," or "it happened after, so it happened because."  You go to a restaurant for dinner, and shortly thereafter get a stomach ache.  The obvious conclusion is that the restaurant must have had some bad food, but that is logically fallacious.  If it is food poisoning, the symptoms can occur immediately, but often occur a day or two later.  And it might be a virus or something else.  Nevertheless, we humans tend to be particularly prone to drawing these kinds of fallacious conclusions.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


As I was talking with my wife, recently, we discussed whether or not I would like to have had a straight orientation.  It was an interesting discussion, and I had some thoughts.

First, I realized that I value my whole self, and changing my orientation would change who I was.  I like who I am, and do not really want to be somebody else.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Wrong Road

In Norton Juster's book, The Phantom Tollbooth, our protagonist asks directions of someone "Is this the right road for Dictionopolis?"  I love the response.  "I don't know of any wrong road to Dictionopolis, so if this road goes to Dictionopolis at all it must be the right road, and if it doesn't it must be the right road to somewhere else, because there are no wrong roads to anywhere."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Logical Fallacies - The Straw Man

When I hear the term "straw man" I think of jousting dummies - enemies that are just a set up, that can't fight back.  And that's essentially what a straw man argument is.  It's a logical fallacy in which the opposing view is simplified or subtly replaced in such a way as to make arguments against it easy and powerful.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Vocabulary: Acceptance and Approval

What does it mean to be accepted?  This is a tricky word that gives me trouble.  I know that if I were to submit an application, my application needs to be accepted.  That doesn't mean that it will be approved.  So in this sense, approval is the goal, and acceptance is a step toward that goal.  But I don't think the words are always used that way.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I recall my first youth conference, when I was 14.  We had speakers talk about dating and romance, and the humor found in growing up.  One of the speakers talked about the steps of relationships, and the first step was “notice the difference.”  He claimed his three-year-old could probably identify most of us by gender, but he was talking about something different.  I think the general reaction of the audience was “yeah.”  But in reality, I was more like his 3-year-old.

Friday, April 12, 2013


In the Doctrine and Covenants section 20, we are told to pray vocally and in secret.  In the Sermon on the Mount, when giving alms we are told to not let the left hand know what the right one does.  What are the purposes of these secrets?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Error in Translation

Many years ago on my mission, I often heard the following, usually attributed to some general authority or other: "If you don't look once, you're not a man.  If you look twice, you're not a missionary."  However, I have yet to figure out which supposed general authority said it, so this is more Mormon Rumor than Mormon Doctrine.  Still, I understand what people are trying to say.  And what they were trying to say had to do with girls.  Since I didn't ever look once, I guess I wasn't a man.  But that's not right either, because those who spoke it were working with the tacit assumption that every young man looks once as the basis for a different message.  As I was not forthcoming about my orientation, I can hardly fault them for that assumption.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Just Friends

Here's an interesting thought.  Some students at Utah State University ran an informal poll and discussion about whether or not men and women could be "just friends" or not.  It should be noted that the population they are drawing from is exclusively traditional college students, so the results will not necessarily apply to other demographics.  Take a look.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Imagine a World

Imagine a world where the Puritan version of chastity won out, and people taught and believed that all sexual thoughts were evil (it was the original sin, after all, according to traditional Christianity).  Teenagers, with their raging hormones, were not to be told anything about dealing with their feelings other than they needed more penitence if they kept thinking about romantic relationships.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


I recently attended the baptism of a young friend.  I've always been taught that baptism symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of the Savior.  It also represents our own rebirth, as Christ taught Nicodemus in John 5.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Why we cannot expect the Church to support gay marriage

You know, Mormonism is a missionary-minded church.  Because of that, I don't think we should expect the Church to come out in support of gay marriage.

Consider the following:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Logical Fallacies - Argument from Ignorance

The argument from ignorance, sometimes known as an appeal to ignorance, is a fallacious argument that states "if you can't prove it's wrong, then it must be right."  A simple example would be to argue that I was Napoleon Bonaparte in a past life because you can't produce evidence against the claim.

Friday, March 22, 2013


When Abraham and Sarah received their blessings, they were promised a progeny that rivaled the sands of the sea in number, and that through their seed all the kingdoms of the world would be blessed.  But they only had one child, Isaac.  So, when the Lord asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, it was not just about losing a son.  In some sense, it was also losing the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Straight Questions

Okay, I'm really curious about how straight guys feel attraction.  I only have my own experience with attraction, and I know that I'm exclusively attracted to guys.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Framing the debate

I grow tired of hearing the debate around the gay marriage issue.  Both sides have a narrow set of topics on which they wish to speak, and any other topic that the other side wants to address is considered irrelevant.  Personally, I am more interested in re-framing the debate.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Logical Fallacies - The Red Herring

The story is told that when training dogs to follow a scent, a red herring (cured fish) with its pungent smell is used to distract the dogs; and they need to learn to ignore the odor.  Similarly in logic, one trap to fall into is to be distracted by a tangential argument that misses the point of the case being made.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Being in love with my wife

In Baroness Orczy's Scarlet Pimpernel, the title character's alter ego, Percy, had just watched his wife leave after a difficult discussion.  He is described as "a strong man, overwhelmed with his own passion and his own despair. Pride had given way at last, obstinacy was gone: the will was powerless. He was but a man madly, blindly, passionately in love, and as soon as her light footsteps had died away within the house, he knelt down upon the terrace steps, and in the very madness of his love he kissed one by one the places where her small foot had trodden, and the stone balustrade there, where her tiny hand had rested last."

When I first read that passage, I thought it utterly ridiculous.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Lazy Daydreamer

I’m not naturally good at finishing tasks.  So I often feel really guilty about it.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Logical Fallacies - Equivocation

Equivocation is a logical fallacy created by a misuse of language.  When you change the definition of a word mid-argument, that's equivocation.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Eliminating Opportunity Cost

In two previous blog posts, I mentioned disagreeing with a leader who thought all maladies would be gone if we had enough faith, and that mortal life is filled with opportunity costs.  Well, those two subjects, faith and opportunity cost, are actually related.  Let me explain.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Logical Fallacies - Limited Choice

While watching the presidential debates, my wife enjoyed tearing apart all the arguments made by both candidates, as almost everything each one said used logical fallacies to prove their points.  In discussions about orientation, both sides of the argument are also prone to use logical fallacies, so I thought it would be useful to list some of them here and how they are used as inappropriate arguments.

This first post will discuss the "limited choice" fallacy.  When someone artificially limits the options of a choice (usually to just two options) then they are falling into a limited choice fallacy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Opportunity Cost

Most people have heard of the idea of opportunity costs from economics.  It's fundamentally a part of our finite mortal existence that we have limited resources, and we have to make choices as to how to use them.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Having Enough Faith

When I was much younger, I had a teacher in church claim that if we had enough faith, there would be no physical ailments in the world.  If people had enough faith, they could all be healed, and nobody would be sick or injured.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Gay Scouters

Okay, I was never a very good boy scout.  I didn't ever have the focus and drive to actually complete things like merit badges.  I would usually do most or all the requirements but fail to get the signatures or other paperwork done.  I never disliked camping, tying knots, building fires, etc.  But I was never even close to getting my eagle.  However, secretly, I was not worthy to be a scout, I guess.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Math Tests Are Unfair

One of the most important doctrines that distinguishes Mormons from most other Christian religions is the idea that life is designed to be a test.  In the Pearl of Great Price, Abraham is taught about the decision to create the world.  "We will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell; and we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them."  (Abraham 3:24-25)  This presupposes that we existed as spirits before birth and will continue to exist after we die.  In that context, life is not inteded to be fair.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


"What are you most afraid of?"  This question has been circulating around my house lately.  While one of my biggest fears is the fear of being misunderstood, I don't think this particular fear has much to do with my orientation.  However, I do have a fear that I won't measure up.  It's a fear that played out in my youth in interesting ways.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Unusual Kid part 4

I often felt very out of place among my family members, both immediate and extended.  Okay, I realize that this is rather ordinary.  I'm sure most people feel that way some of the time.  But I always felt as if I were the oddball of the family.  I also felt like I didn't fit in with the kids in school, or the kids at church, or anywhere, really.  Again, this is not that uncommon, especially among closeted gay kids.  What is probably more unusual is that I revelled in that position.  I loved being different.  I didn't want to conform. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Diversity in the church

I have a friend who told me the following story.  This friend was listening to a talk by BYU President Dallin H. Oaks given to the missionaries in the old LTM (before the MTC).  This was in the era of the hippy movement and "free love" and such things.  President Oaks told the missionaries that to find the true diversity of mankind, don't look to the hippy communes where "do your own thing" is the catchphrase.  Rather look to the faithful members of the church.  My friend felt it an ironic message to a sea of missionaries in identical coats and ties and nametags.  But before he could reject the idea, President Oaks said that if you didn't believe him, wait until your mission president changes.  That stopped my friend cold.  When his mission president had changed, he had wondered if the two presidents could have even been from the same planet.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Diversities of Gifts

First Corinthians 12:4 reads, "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit."  I love that idea.  That entire chapter is a great one.  It lists many of the gifts of the spirit, and explains that they are divided "to every man severally as he will."  We have all been given gifts of the spirit.  The question then becomes, how are we making use of our gifts?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Unusual Kid part 3

When I was a kid, I loved school.  From what I've heard from friends and others around me, I was really unusual in this regard.  I adored learning new things.  I loved reading, music, art, science, history, even P.E. (despite being rather poor at many sports).  I even eventually learned to love math (having hated how boring it was in early grade school). 

Friday, January 18, 2013


Monday is the day we celebrate the life and mission of Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Guy Friends

Lately, I've heard a lot about guy friends -- healthy non-sexual close friendships among guys.  I can say that I always had some guy friends while growing up.  While I wasn't exactly an ordinary kid, I was very socially active and had a lot of friends.  The irony is that I didn't think I did. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Unusual Kid part 2

I've recently been thinking about young adult literature.  There is no specific genre or story type that makes it young adult.  The only commonality I can find is drama.  The worlds described in young adult literature almost always have an exaggerated sense of the importance of personal relationships and extremely angsty forming and breaking of friendships.  Emotions are as extreme and important as teenagers think they are, rather than at a realistic level.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Unusual Kid part 1

I grew up in an era in which after-school fighting was discouraged, but tolerated.  It's different now.  If one of my sons had been involved in a fight in middle school, even if he never threw a punch or reacted in any way, school policy was three days suspension.  Period.  That was not the situation when I was in school.  In fact, if a kid was being picked on, they were often encouraged (even by school counselors!) to throw a punch in the hopes that they would get some respect.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


I remember learning about connotation and denotation back when I was a kid.  Denotation was simply the definition of a word, but connotation meant the baggage that went along with it.  For example, scent and odor have basically the same denotations, but scent is a more positive sounding term than odor, which gives them different connotations.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Better to Burn?

In the New Testament, Paul addresses the missionaries called to serve the church among the Corinthinans.  Some of them have a hard time controlling their sexual desires, and are not happy being celbate missionaries.  So Paul gives this advice, which is admittedly not doctrine, but his own opinion:
But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. (KJV 1 Cor 7:9)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Just like anybody else

A popular conspiracy theory is to look at U.S. Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy, and find all the similarities between them.  Both last names have the same number of letters.  Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy and Kennedy had one named Lincoln.  And there are loads of other similarities.  But when you start to think about it more deeply, what we're really doing is cherry-picking the similarities out from the differences.  How many secretaries does a president have?  How many of those secretaries had entirely unexciting names that would obscure the amazing coincidences if they were listed, and so are not mentioned?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Strengths and Weaknesses

One of my favorite scripture-mastery passages from seminary was Moroni's lament about his weaknesses in writing, and the Lord stating the following:
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. (Ether 12:27)