Posts tagged church
Lost, season 1, episode 7. The first episode centered on Charlie.
Before the island, Charlie had been reluctant to stick with the band because of the conflict between his religion and the temptations that the band’s popularity was introducing. His brother Liam told Charlie of how important Charlie was to him and to the band and that he couldn’t do it without him. Liam promised that they would help each other and stop if things got out of hand. So Charlie continued with the band and the record deal based on the confidence that his brother had given him.
Later when the band had gotten even more popular, Charlie found his brother with drugs. By that time Liam had become the popular member of the band and had taken credit away from Charlie, and this time Liam wasn’t flattering to his brother. Liam said that he was the important member of the band and that Charlie was useless. Now torn down by his brother, Charlie found comfort in drugs for the first time.
By the time Charlie crashed on the island, he was a hopeless addict (while his brother was ironically clean and settled down with a family). When Charlie isn’t needed to pitch in around camp he starts to believe that his new friends don’t value him and that they think he’s useless, and he wants to turn back to his drugs. Locke shows faith in Charlie that he’ll be able to kick his addiction. Later when Jack finds out what Charlie was going through, Jack tells Charlie how valuable he is. At the end of the episode Charlie finally decides to burn his drugs so that he can’t go back to them.
There’s a pattern that I notice in Charlie’s life. When Charlie was at his best and his strongest and his most confident was when the people that he loved expressed how much they valued him. When Charlie was at his worst and his most vulnerable was when those people expressed a lack of love and appreciation.
Here’s the moral of the story in my opinion: The way that we treat people matters! That might be obvious, but it’s easy to forget or make excuses for it.
Coincidentally we had a similar lesson in Young Men’s class at church last week. Adam showed the following video, which I think is really well done. I like that it captures some pretty realistic high school interactions. (Also the lines about not drinking all of the juice somehow remind me of Napolean Dynamite.)
I think that we often make excuses for our own immoral actions and words by saying that people are responsible for themselves and if someone else chooses to be offended by something we say or do then it’s their own fault. The hypocrisy in that is that we require everyone to be accountable for their own actions while we try to avoid the responsibility for our offenses.
Here’s another coincidence where this idea has come up lately. Kelly recently shared this quote in an FHE thought:
When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, O what power it has over my mind, while the opposite course has a tendency to harrow up all the harsh feelings and depress the human mind. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 5:24)
Joseph Smith felt like he was affected and influenced by the way that other people treated him, whether positively or negatively. It’s probably not fair or realistic for us to expect our friends and neighbors to be immune to the way that we treat them.
To tie this back to the episode, imagine for a minute how Charlie’s life might have been different if the people in his life before the island had treated him with the love and respect that his new friends on the island treated him with in this episode. The writers of this episode give us a nice view into Charlie’s life and the key moments in it as they relate to his addiction, but in real life it’s harder to see the results of our actions. Take even the smallest thing that we say or do, consider the possible butterfly effect (no pun intended with the episode title), and there’s no telling how big of an impact we can make, whether for good or for evil.
John Locke uses a metaphor with a moth to teach Charlie that he’ll grow through his trials, but I want to hijack that metaphor to tie it into the lesson of the episode in a different way. Here’s part of the exchange from Locke and Charlie:
- Come here. Let me show you something. What do you suppose is in that cocoon, Charlie?
- I don’t know, a butterfly, I guess?
- No, it’s much more beautiful than that. That’s a moth cocoon. It’s ironic, butterflies get all the attention; but moths — they spin silk, they’re stronger, they’re faster.
And we’ll stop there. Forget the comparison with the moth and the butterfly (because putting down the butterfly contradicts what I’m going for here) and focus on the fact that Locke finds beauty in the moth. It’s easy to think that the butterfly is beautiful because it’s got pretty colors on its wings, but finding the beauty in the moth requires knowing more about it. It’s different than the butterfly, but it’s not any less beautiful.
What if we all treated each other that way? What if we all strove to find the beauty in each other and always treated each other as beautiful and valuable people? I think that’d be pretty good.
I wrote my Mormon.org profile about a year ago when I was starting my new job and I wasn’t sure how open I should be about my religion at work. It turns out that no one really cares much one way or the other, but it was good for me to write it. It turns out that I really like just being able to be open about who I am regardless of the circumstances.
Even though I wrote this a while ago, I don’t really have it posted or linked to anywhere. Since that website seems to be picking up speed, I figure that it’s probably time to share my profile so that people can find me on there if they’re so inclined.
So here it is: I’m Bryant, and I’m a Mormon.
I’m sitting in church and your child starts crying. I know that you’re trying to hush the kid, or even trying to give him/her what he/she wants, but the child keeps crying. And you keep sitting there trying to make the kid stop crying. Why are you still sitting there? Just get up! You can try to make your kid stop crying in the hallway or foyer or whatever. I know you probably don’t want to miss the meeting if you have to get up, but the rest of us don’t want to miss it either.
I think I just gave the worst sacrament meeting talk that’s ever been given. Well, maybe not the very worst ever, because at least I didn’t say that Jesus couldn’t do anything himself because he didn’t have a body. I guess mine was the second worst ever. I’m trying to look on the bright side, though. Kelly suggests that maybe this experience will help me be more empathetic towards other people who look like bumbling idiots at the pulpit, but I think that the real silver lining is that the bishopric will think twice before asking me to speak again.
Last week I saw an advertisement for a permanent make-up company in Salt Lake, and I was going to write a post about it, but I got lazy and didn’t do it. This week I found a new catalyst in that the young women in my ward are having a presentation on make-up as part of their weekly activity night.
Before I get into the particulars of my catalysts, let me just explain why I have a problem with make-up. I know there’s a lot of potential issues with make-up or even with fashion in general, especially when you try to reconcile it with religion, but I think the thing that sets make-up apart from other fashions is how intertwined it becomes with a woman’s self-esteem. If it were treated the same way as picking a belt or a pair of shoes, then I don’t think I would care. But it’s not treated the same. It becomes such a part of a woman’s identity that she is convinced that she is not pretty without it, and she’s uncomfortable being seen in public until after she has her face painted.
Cultural traditions are complicated and I know there’s probably a lot of factors that have gone into making and keeping make-up so connected to self-esteem as it is. I don’t know what’s to blame for that, but I do see that the make-up companies realize this connection and that they prey on women because of it, taking advantage of self-esteem issues to sell their products. You could probably make an example out of any number of advertising campaigns, but one that is particularly obvious to me is Mary Kay. When they have their little make-up parties to sell the product in women’s homes, they actually vote on who is the “most improved” because of the new make-up.
I don’t really know what my ward’s agenda is with this activity for the young women or how they’re going to present it. I think it’s entirely possible that they’re going to have a very tasteful presentation and try to teach the girls to be moderate in how they wear their make-up. Even that, though, I think is potentially damaging to the young women.
I’ve seen those reality shows where they give a woman a make-over, which usually involves teaching her how to properly use her make-up. I haven’t seen a lot of these shows, but every one that I have seen tells the woman to be more moderate and more sparing in how she applies her make-up. That’s fine. The problem is that even this approach (or especially this approach?) teaches the woman that this is the way that her face is meant to be painted. The make-over teaches her what clothes are in style, and maybe what is flattering to her out of that style, but with the make-up it teaches her what matches her, as though it is something permanent that her face needs and not something that changes with the seasons and her moods like other fashions. It teaches her that this is the right look for her features and complexion. Even if the end result is that she wears less make-up than before, it still emphasizes the idea that there is a correct look for this particular woman and that it is only achievable through the application of make-up.
So regardless of the intent, I’d just be afraid that by teaching the young women to use make-up, you’re really just teaching them that they need make-up.
Maybe it’s an extension of that idea that there is a single correct look for a woman’s face and that make-up achieves it that has led our society to the idea of permanent make-up. Anything permanent and unchangeable makes me nervous and I think the fact that there are women who are willing to have their make-up permanently attached just emphasizes how much the industry has convinced them of their inadequacy without it.
There is an additional thing that bothers me about permanent make-up. I’m sure that Salt Lake has more ads for tattoo removal than for tattoo parlors, but permanent make-up has no problem fitting in with all of the other ads for permanently changing a person’s body to fit some arbitrary image of beauty. The part of this that really bothers me is that some of the same people who have religious reasons for thinking that tattoos are immoral can think that permanent make-up is just fine. You do realize that they are the same thing, right? The only difference is the shape of the tattoo that you’re getting, but it’s still a tattoo. I think the women who find themselves in favor of permanent make-up but against traditional tattoos have forgotten why they are against tattoos in the first place. It’s so easy to be swept up in a cultural stereotype, but before long we forget our values and just start thinking that the definition of our religion is the same as our niche in that culture.
I guess it makes sense that the cultural associations blur the lines between make-up and tattoos for some women. After all, it’s only because of cultural associations that permanent make-up could ever have an appeal in the first place. Women have been taught that they don’t look good without it, and that they should always wear it whenever they are visible to anyone else, so it seems like an inconsequential step to have it permanently attached. Societal pressures have already permanently inked the make-up to our identity, so why not to skin?
Last week we had dinner with some newly-made friends and the subject of politics came up. We found out what each other’s viewpoint was, and then when we realized that they were opposite of each other, we simply moved on to other topics and we continued to have a good time hanging out and talking.
I have some other friends that I also disagree with on politics, but I still enjoy discussing the subject with them because we can see each other’s point of view and disagree without becoming disagreeable, and overall I think we both grow from discussing alternate view points.
I’m not bringing up this difference to say that one way is better than another. I don’t need to discuss every subject with every friend that I have. It doesn’t matter if it’s because we wouldn’t disagree in a friendly way or if it’s just because we have different passions and the same subjects don’t appeal to both my friend and me. My point in bringing this up is that I can choose what to talk about with my friends based on their interests, their passions, and the situation; not just based on my own passions and interests. I think that choice is a good thing.
That brings me to problem I’ve been feeling about my blog. My blog doesn’t give me that same choice as a regular conversation does. My blog isn’t individual. In my blog I don’t just write to one person and so it’s not custom-tailored to how I best communicate with anyone. My blog is written generally to everyone, whether I know them or not, whether they hate me or not. I’m writing simultaneously to my mom and my boss, to the kid that’s hated me since the 5th grade and to the friend that lives too far away to in person very often, to my best friend and to the stranger that doesn’t know me at all but hates me anyway. Not that those people necessarily read my blog, but they can read it just as easily as someone that I specifically target with any post that I write.
I realize that this is the nature of blogs and of the Internet in general, and for most of my blog’s lifespan there’s been no problem with that. The most that I’ve ever had to censor myself with it was to be sure that any references to my crushes were sufficiently disguised that I wouldn’t cause myself any public embarrassment. Most of my posts are just silly and stupid, and the worst thing that can happen about someone unexpected reading them is that they won’t think I’m as funny as I think I am.
Maybe my life is just different than it once was and that’s why my blog has become different, too. If nothing else, my current crush is well-known and she’s happy to have me publicly confess it. Maybe the only thing that’s really changed is the frequency and passion in recent political discussions. Or maybe nothing’s changed at all, and it’s just the fact that I’m a multi-faceted person, and that sometimes I want to write about something that I feel more deeply than a burrito. (I mean that metaphorically. I feel burritos all of the way down.)
I think that if I were to have my way then I’d just write about everything that I think and feel, regardless of how personal or controversial or humorous the subject is or isn’t. I’d just write open and honestly about myself and all of my facets and not worry about how my reader might judge me. Sometimes that’s been fine for me, but I don’t know if I’m brave enough to really open myself up to every person that might wander across my blog. I’m afraid of how I might limit my life by doing that. I’ve realized recently that I can’t be open about every facet of myself with every person that I’m friends with. Some people simply aren’t comfortable with all of my facets, and unfortunately relationships change or get ruined when they’re forced to see me from a point of view that they hadn’t previously.
So here I am, at the end of this post, not knowing what to do with my blog and my friends. It’d be nice if I could just separate my digital persona from my real-life image so that I could still use my blog as an outlet for all of my multi-faceted thoughts, or maybe I could separate all of my facets into separate identities and blogs that wouldn’t have to collide or interfere with each other. (I could keep just my food-related blogs tied to my real identity, since anyone that looks at me will know that I like food.) I’m afraid it’s probably too late for any kind of separation like that for the people that already know me and read my blog, and instead I just feel sad to feel that I’ve already ruined both my blog and some relationships.
Or maybe I should stop taking the oxycodone so that I can stop feeling so melodramatic about the whole stupid thing.
(I should probably point out that the oxycodone is a joke for the sake of anyone that might think that I’m addicted to painkillers, but the fact that I’d have to point that out just makes me feel like I’m talking in circles.)
It’s 10:15pm, and I just woke up an hour ago.
I couldn’t sleep last night, so I ended up staying up all night playing X-men. Then when I got home from church I fell asleep. I slept all day.
I don’t know how to recover from this. What if my sleep schedule is now permanently up-side down?
So I found out yesterday that I don’t have the calling that I thought I had. After winter semester they just had a mass releasing of everyone, so at first I thought that I’d been released from my calling, too, right? But then the new guy in charge was like, no you’re still in this calling, so I was helping him with his stuff, but then yesterday the Elder quorum president was like, no you’re not in that calling. I wish they’d make up their minds.
So I broke the sabbath today and went to the Yellowcard/Something Corporate show. I think its ok since yesterday was half-Sunday, too, what with the whole conference thing. The show was great. I got to sit in the adult section, ’cause I’m a big kid, and I have to tell all of you lil’ kids, that the view is a lot better from up there. I know you think its lame ’cause you don’t get to mosh, but seriously, would you rather see the band or push each other? Anyway, I’m glad its only for the big kids ’cause otherwise there wouldn’t be room for me and I wouldn’t feel like I had an unfair advantage anymore. The opener was this killer band from New Zealand called Steriogram. I think they might be my new favorite. I get new favorites a lot. I also decided that all I really need in life is a punk rock princess.
Spring break is over. I think Vegas is my new favorite city. I learned how to play blackjack and roulette, spent a <insert favorite swear word>load of money, got kicked out of my hotel, and got the best shoe polish known to man. I’m also proud to say that I spent all weekend there without doing anything to get kicked out of the Church. Now I’m going to stay up all night and try to catch up on the work that I’ve blown off for the last two weeks.