Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Philosophy Series: Mormon Modesty Misses the Point

This post from Doves and Serpents is by far the best, simplest thing I've ever read on Mormon modesty. (The bold is my emphasis.)

The way we talk and think about modesty is rooted in sexism. It’s rooted in what I believe are false notions about men, women and sex. Men are not simple creatures that can’t control themselves if they see some flesh. Sexual arousal is natural, a biological fact, for men and women. Both men and women are visually stimulated (although our culture is, and has been for most of recorded history, focused on stimulating men). Arousal, in [and] of itself, is not immoral, only our actions can be ethical or unethical. Women’s bodies, and their ability to procreate, are not dangerous. The connections made between sexual violence against women and the clothes they wear are spurious and damaging. Sadly, we live in a world where women can be attacked no matter what they are wearing. One of the most poignant things to come out of the SlutWalks was seeing women walk in the clothes they had been raped in – sweatpants, jeans, bulky winter coats – no piece of clothing or glimpse of skin ever causes sexual violence. Before puberty, children are not really capable of being modest or immodest. We cover them to keep them warm and protected from the elements, but suggesting that a young girl’s shoulders are somehow immodest is on par with putting her in a padded bra or high-heeled boots, it sexualizes her too young.
We teach our girls from a very young age to constantly be aware of how others will perceive them. Mothers and grandmothers are most often the gatekeepers and enforcers of modesty rules, passing them on to children who wouldn’t even begin to worry about wearing a sleeveless dress unless someone told them it was wrong. Of course, the morality of modesty aside, a very pragmatic argument can be made that every culture has rules about getting dressed and we have to prepare our daughters to function within society. They will run into people who will judge them for what they wear or don’t wear. They will encounter dress codes in their schools and future workplaces. It’s our duty as parents to prepare our children for these realities, but it is not more important than how our children feel about themselves.

I’m a big believer in getting to grips with what we really believe and trying to act in a way that honors our truest values and intentions. Although modesty is ostensibly an external practice, I believe the best modesty lessons teach our children to think about who they are and what they want to convey through their clothing and then give them the freedom to own those choices. Some critical thought about getting dressed is a necessity for women in a world of mixed messages. 

However, at this time in your daughter’s life, the best lesson might be to say nothing, to allow her some respite from being constantly aware of how her looks or dress might impact others. The best lesson might be to brave the disapproving looks and comments from other mothers and teach your daughter that sometimes we get judged for the choices we make, but it doesn’t matter as long as we know why we are making them and that people all over the world have different ideas about the right way to get dressed. The best lesson might be that there is nothing shameful about her precious little body and covering up her favorite dress won’t make her more holy because holiness is something that comes from the inside.

Monday, November 28, 2011

In the Wild, by David Elliott and Holly Meade--8/10

In the WildIn the Wild by David Elliott
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The illustration in this book is definitely worth 5 stars--it is absolutely gorgeous! I really don't know if I've ever seen such beautiful illustrations. My niece picked it up at the library and I made her check it out after glimpsing the pages as she turned through it; then she went home, and I kept it to read for myself.

The writing, though, I would give 3 stars or maybe even 2, so I'm compromising with the overall review. Some of it I liked; most of it was only okay, and some of it bothered me--like how the poor rhinoceros gets the only negative poem in the book. What's that about?

A horn stuck on a boot-like face,
So wrong, so clearly out of place.
A frightful sight, preposterous--
it must be a Rhinoceros!

I was also bugged by inconsistencies: the meter sometimes changes mid-poem, so they don't have a good rhythm; some are titled, like "The Panda," "The Wolf," and "The Giraffe," but in some the animal's name is just incorporated into the text, like with the rhinoceros; some poems are written about the animals but some are written to them, and one is even written in the format of a letter complete with salutation and signature.

If I could get a hold of just the pictures, I would absolutely frame them and put them in a kid's bedroom. The writing is just so disappointing next to the brilliance of the illustrations.
This isn't my favorite page, although I do love it; it's just the only one I could find online.

View all my Goodreads reviews

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Let the Christmas Music Begin

Do you ever look back at something you wrote, think it's totally absurd, and then get slightly weirded out when you realize how not long ago you actually wrote it? I just saw the post I wrote in 2008 about my favorite Christmas songs, and I laughed a bit at a few of the songs that were on there.

"Ave Maria" used to be number 5, but has moved to number one. (I know this isn't technically a Christmas song, but this is when I just love listening to it.) "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" is also still on there, and is in mostly the same place--maybe moved down to number 3, because number 2 now belongs to "The Coventry Carol" (formerly number 6). 

"O Holy Night" is also still on there--however, Celine Dion and Amy Grant are certainly no longer my favorite versions, and I sort of cringe in remembering that I listed them as such only three years ago. I'm currently favoring The Irish Tenors and Celtic Woman, but am open to suggestions for new favorite versions!

"I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" was number 10 on the old list, and is one that I actually sort of hate now. (Also "Baby it's Cold Outside," which didn't make the old list but used to be one I loved. I still like it in Elf, but mostly I find it a little smarmy.) "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," "We Three Kings," and "Carol of the Bells" were 9, 8, and 7 respectively, and although I like all of those songs, I don't think I would put them on a list of my favorites anymore except as my favorites of all the other songs that aren't my favorite.

I also still like "Silent Night," and of course, you can never go wrong with The Nutcracker Suite.

I am absurdly picky about Christmas music, but the stuff I like, I love. Absolutely adore. And I can listen to it over and over for hours. (My Christmas playlist on Grooveshark contains 81 songs right now, and almost all of those tracks are just different versions of the songs I mentioned above.)

I do need to find some new songs to add to the list, though... So, based on the information I've given you about my tastes, can you recommend anything? 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

In the Spirit of Thanksgiving...

With the focus on gratitude this time of year, I've been looking around for things I can do for others and I thought I'd share in case any of you are finding yourselves similarly inclined. I'm certainly not doing these all at once, but they're all causes I'd like to support at some time or another.

Utah Co-op is doing an Angel Tree drive; they post information about each "angel in need" and you can claim the one you want, shop for them, and either drop off the package or mail it in to the address they provide.

The Breast Cancer site has a "click to give" program in which sponsors donate money for each click; also, money from sales goes to help fund mammograms. (The same site also has pages for hunger, veterans, animals, rainforests, autism, child health, and literacy.)

You probably already know that when you buy a pair of Toms shoes, you also buy a second pair that goes to a child who needs them.

Kiva is a really cool organization through which you can lend--not donate--small amounts of money to people in poor countries, to help them build up a business and get on their feet. This is one of the ones I'm most excited about doing; Chuck and Josh talked it up on our favorite podcast, and you can read about it on the How Stuff Works website (the Kiva website also has a really easy-to-follow explanation of microlending).

You can donate money, host a dinner, sponsor a child's education, or write a letter to a woman in Somalia or Congo through A Thousand Sisters (another one I'm excited to do, having just learned about it a few days ago).

Or you can donate to Opening Doors, a scholarship fundraiser from LDS Philanthropies to help send single mothers to LDS Business College.

Many grocery stores have a food donation program going during the holidays, and I know some of them are really simple--you can just grab an already-packed bag from the front of the store, pay for it, and stick it in the box on your way out.

For most of these charities it doesn't matter how small your donation is, and though it sounds like a patronizing cliche, it really is better to give a tiny amount than nothing at all--everything does help, and frankly it's good for you, too. (For Opening Doors, I had just happened to have $9.43 deposited in my PayPal account by Ebates the day before, so that's what I donated.) I think knowing that you've done something, even if you wish you could've done more, is good for the soul. The widow's mite and all that, you know?

What others should we know about?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish we were capable of accepting history as it actually happened instead of celebrating a holiday that covers up mass murder, the sex-slave trade, racism, and the Eurocentric rewriting of history to say what we want it to say...

But I am still okay with using the day to give thanks for all the blessings in my life.

I'm thankful for all the time we're able to spend with our families, and all the help they've been able to give us when we need it; I'm thankful for the internet, bittersweet gift though it is, and for the connections it allows me to discover and maintain; I'm thankful for Mike's job that provides for us, and mine that works with all my limitations; I'm thankful to have beautiful babies in my life who are sources of pure sweet goodness; I'm thankful for nature and music, which are the ultimate conductors of divine love that can help me feel good about life even when it seems to hate me; I'm thankful for books and the constant opportunities for learning, escape, and empathy they offer; I'm thankful for old friends who share my interests and new friends who are on the same journey I am; I'm thankful for Mike, for how well we can work together to deal with all the messes in our life. And I'm thankful for this time of year, when everything just seems more special and beautiful, and it's so easy to focus on peace and kindness and happiness and love.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone... I hope it's a wonderful one.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak--9/10

You miss a few things if you listen to this on audio, because I saw some illustrations and formatting when I picked up a hard copy--but the narrator is also fantastic and it's a lot of fun hearing it read in a German accent, so you'll have to just decide which you'd rather get; I can't say which is better. I can say, though, that I am currently in love with Markus Zusak's books. The first one I read, I Am the Messenger, was amazing, and The Book Thief was equally incredible: The story, characters, and writing are just beautiful and loveable, and if you don't find yourself in tears by the end, I will possibly question the functionality of your tear ducts. Or soul. (Okay, not really.)

This is a story about a German girl named Liesel, growing up outside Munich during World War II. She's best friends with Rudy, her neighbor; Hans, her foster father; and Max, the Jew who's hiding in their basement. She's a book thief, and her story is narrated by Death (a surprisingly compassionate character).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Shop to Occupy

If you're participating in Small Business Saturday this year (the day after Black Friday), or if you'd just like to consider doing your shopping at independent stores, these links might help you out. You can buy online if you don't live near them.

Monday, November 21, 2011

"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

To be perfectly honest, until now I've been kind of a pansy about this topic, because... well, because my beliefs have changed so much in the last three years that I'm now considered a "radical" by most of the people I knew before, and I didn't want to add even more material to the pile of criticisms. But I'm not going to be a pansy about it anymore, and interestingly enough, it was seeing The Help that led me to this decision. I watched the way black people were being treated in that movie and I felt sick to my stomach, especially when I thought about the fact that there is another group of people being treated much the same way right now.

So I would like to share this, which I found last night. It's exactly what I would like to say--to everyone, not just BYU students.

A response to the hateful and deceiving articles in our Daily Universe [BYU's student newspaper] against our homosexual brothers and sisters:

We of the BYU community who are sympathetic to our homosexual brothers and sisters were extremely hurt by the ignorant articles in the Daily Universe comparing homosexuals to prostitutes and serial killers. Gay students are in every classroom, every ward, and every apartment complex at BYU and we want to reach out in love to help you better understand.

-Utah leads the nation in youth suicides and teen homelessness, a large number of which are gay youth. (Utah Suicide Stats Alarming, Salt Lake Tribune, 2007)

-Gay youth who are rejected by family or peers are 8 times more likely to commit suicide, 6 times as likely to be depressed, and 3 times as likely to use illegal drugs and engage in unsafe social behavior. (Ryan, Huebner, Diaz, & Sanchez. 2009. Pediatrics)

Attempts to “love the sinner and hate the sin” more often than not come across as rejection, hate, and hostility. The hostility directed toward anonymous populations instead spiritually wounds your brothers and sisters all around you. If you don’t think you know a gay person, you’re wrong. They just don’t trust you enough to tell you.

The attitude and environment at BYU represented by those articles creates and reopens wounds that the Son of God Himself died to heal. Gay members of the church struggle under the burden of self-loathing encouraged by a culture that inadvertently teaches that those attracted to the same sex are not worthy of God’s love. Only through much pain and the mercy of Jesus Christ are those wounds healed. And it is not your place to undo what He has done.

Some people believe that homosexuality is a sin, but what does that have to do with love? The task of any religion is not to teach us who we’re entitled to hate, but who we’re required to love.

To our gay brothers and sisters at BYU you are not alone. We love you. There is a place for you, with us and with God.

For more information, see the Facebook group: ShameOnYouDU.

So. In the spirit of not being a pansy:

I fully support gay marriage being legal, think the LDS church was wrong to support Prop 8, and believe that the way most of the Christian world is treating homosexuals is absolutely un-Christian. 

If churches don't want to perform the ceremonies, they shouldn't have to. But as far as recognition from the government goes, there is not one reason why religious beliefs should have any say in the matter. The United States government is not an arm of your religion, no matter what religion it is. 

Stop trying to force people to live according to your standards--you don't have that right. Stop trying to change them yourself--it's not your responsibility. Stop focusing on their sins--focus on their humanity. Love them--not in the "I love you so I have to hurt you" way, but just in the "I love you because you are a child of God just like me and everyone else" way. Mind your own business and stay out of their sex lives. Stop thinking that allowing them to get married will somehow have any effect on you--their marriage is not about you. And most of all, stop alienating, judging, and abusing them. Please. It's time for this to stop.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

If I Were Braver...

I would have told off several people at the movie theater this weekend.

We finally saw The Help--which was, incidentally, amazing; I'm going to pick up the book as soon as possible now that I know how much I love the story--and let me tell you, except for when I've seen kids' movies, I don't think I've ever sat in a theater with such an annoying crowd of people.

There was the girl on Mike's right side, who inexplicably began stomping her feet on the floor for several minutes with her sandals slapping loudly.

There was the woman on my left side, who--equally inexplicably, since I never saw her put anything in her mouth--was crinkling a very noisy wrapper throughout at least half of the movie.

And there was the row of women behind us, who spent the entire last 45 minutes of the movie talking--not whispering, talking--about how the movie was differing from the book.

I swear, I wanted to smack them all. I am not a publicly-confrontational kind of person, but they each got their share of glares; that's how irritated I was. I just couldn't believe how rude they were being, how totally unaware of themselves and the fact that they were surrounded by other people. It's really frustrating when people think they're the only ones in the universe, you know? It's just frustrating.

Such a lovely movie though. I really do love it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rape Culture, Gender Privilege, and Sexual Harrassment: Things to Think About

I've been reading a lot of new stuff lately, and I mean a lot--I had to start using Google Reader because there was no other way for me to keep current with the approximately 35 blogs I've started following. As such, I've been posting less here, but also collecting a few articles and posts that were especially meaningful to me for the sake of sharing them with you. I hope you'll find them as interesting as I do, and maybe leave with a few things to think about.

I followed an amazing trail of fantastic articles today. It started with something that referenced this post on rape culture from earlier in the year, which links to this post on why we need to stop teaching Young Women that they should be modest "for" the Young Men, then to another post written in response (which I find absolutely infuriating all the way down to the comments, which the author apparently thinks help his case), and finally to this post which is so amazing that I sent it to my younger brothers, who are now fully immersed in the grown-up dating world and who are too otherwise sweet and awesome to not have this information under their belts. Somewhere in there--I can't remember where--a blog linked to this post on Standards Night  by the woman who founded Segullah.

There the thread broke and was picked up in a totally unrelated post on a different site, which I deemed irrefutable evidence of harmony in the universe because it's exactly the same topic but now addressed by men (in articles posted several months after the ones by the women). It started with this post on the privilege men don't know they have in not having sexual assault be a part of their daily thoughts; that post led to this one on harrassment and all those "jokes" that women "just don't get" because they're "oversensitive" (I sent this one to my brothers, too, as it's basically the male-perspective version of the first one I sent)... Which led to this fantastic guide for men called How Not To Be An Asshole.

Really, some of the best reading I've done in a while, and that's saying something. I'll end with something that was linked in the comments on one of those posts, and which I tried to post on Facebook but since it's been "loading" for about fifteen minutes I suspect that it's not going to make it:
I laughed out loud, but although it's done quite amusingly, this wonderful poster is not a joke. Seriously--let's start putting things like this up, and stop implying that it's the victims' responsibility to not get assaulted. Let's stop fostering a rape culture, and let's start by no longer teaching young girls that the behavior of boys is something they 1) can control and 2) are responsible for.
Rape culture is 1 in 6 women being sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. Rape culture is not even talking about the reality that many women are sexually assaulted multiple times in their lives. Rape culture is the way in which the constant threat of sexual assault affects women’s daily movements. Rape culture is telling girls and women to be careful about what you wear, how you wear it, how you carry yourself, where you walk, when you walk there, with whom you walk, whom you trust, what you do, where you do it, with whom you do it, what you drink, how much you drink, whether you make eye contact, if you’re alone, if you’re with a stranger, if you’re in a group, if you’re in a group of strangers, if it’s dark, if the area is unfamiliar, if you’re carrying something, how you carry it, what kind of shoes you’re wearing in case you have to run, what kind of purse you carry, what jewelry you wear, what time it is, what street it is, what environment it is, how many people you sleep with, what kind of people you sleep with, who your friends are, to whom you give your number, who’s around when the delivery guy comes, to get an apartment where you can see who’s at the door before they can see you, to check before you open the door to the delivery guy, to own a dog or a dog-sound-making machine, to get a roommate, to take self-defense, to always be alert always pay attention always watch your back always be aware of your surroundings and never let your guard down for a moment lest you be sexually assaulted and if you are and didn’t follow all the rules it’s your fault.

–Melissa McEwan from Shakesville, on FAQ: Rape Culture 101
This is something that always bothered me as a teenager, long before I knew why it did, and as an adult I've thought about it a lot. Have you had any experiences with it? (This is a silly question to ask, because if you're a woman it's virtually guaranteed that you have, and to my knowledge I have maybe three male readers; but I'll ask nonetheless.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

If by "best" you mean "driest"...

I've been doing some research in trying to find the states with the mildest climates in the U.S. Several pages have come up with lists that claim "the best weather" in the country--and I've been surprised to find that the cities that top these lists are all desert cities. Yuma, Tucson, Phoenix, Albuquerque, El Paso, Las Vegas, Reno... This is puzzling to me, because when I think of fantastic weather I do not think of cacti or triple digit temperatures (despite having grown up in Arizona). But I'm seeing this a lot, so now I'm wondering--is warm weather and dryness what most people are looking for? Maybe Mike and I are just different now that we've gotten so grouchy about super hot summers. What do you think the best weather is?

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Best Thing I Have EVER HEARD.

Dafni texted me last night with the news that Jaylee was pretending to read me a book over the phone. She said Goose was talking to me (which she apparently does a lot!) and Brandon said "Miri likes books!" so she went and got a book, sat down, and started reading into the phone.

Then there is the status update from this morning:
Jaylee puts her cell phone and wallet into her purse and tells me she's going to the store. Her list: eggs, cheese, broccoli, 2 apples, a book and daddy.

I might burst from the cuteness. Really.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Daylight Savings My Eye

I don't know why it makes sense for Daylight Savings Time to end at the beginning of winter. Sunday was fantastic--I slept in and still woke up at 7:45, and all day long we kept thinking it was later than it was. It's really nice to be thinking "crap, it's getting late," and then look at the clock and see that no it isn't. However, it is now fully light outside when I wake up at 6:00 in the morning, and fully dark at 6:00 in the evening. Maybe it's just me, but I think the sun is shining at the wrong 6:00.

In other news, due to my recent discovery of KERA member benefits, I have been obsessively looking up performances for the last hour and a half (even the ones for which there actually is no discount--it just got me looking). And I am pretty much bursting with excitement about Les Miserables and The Nutcracker. I've never seen either live, and I've always wanted to. Don't worry, I've got it alll planned out.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


A fascinating blog post: A Prophet Occupies Wall Street. This is a talk that was given in October 1953, in General Conference, by Spencer W. Kimball as a member of the Twelve. 

"All money is not lucre—all money is not filthy. There is clean money—clean money with which to buy food, clothes, shelter, and other necessities and with which to make contributions toward the building of the kingdom of God.

Clean money is that compensation received for a full day’s honest work. It is that reasonable pay for faithful service. It is that fair profit from the sale of goods, commodities, or service. It is that income received from transactions where all parties profit.

. . . Compromise money is filthy, graft money is unclean, profits and commissions derived from the sale of worthless stocks are contaminated as is the money derived from other deceptions, excessive charges, oppression to the poor and compensation which is not fully earned. I feel strongly that men who accept wages or salary and do not give commensurate time, energy, devotion, and service are receiving money that is not clean. Certainly those who deal in the forbidden are recipients of filthy lucre.

 . . . I am sure that money is unclean when it is obtained through oppression, fraud[,] bribery, or through misrepresentations.

. . . He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want (Prov. 22:16). Much is said about the hirer and the hired in the scriptures, and about the employer and the employee:

Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth ( James 5:1-4).

. . . Again:
Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates: At his day thou shalt give him his hire neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it… ( Deut. 24:14-15).

And to me that means, woe unto them who will rationalize, who will explain away their errors in these matters, who justify their oppressions. Farm hands, domestic help, and unprotected people are often oppressed, when economic circumstances place them in the position where they must accept what is offered or remain unemployed. And we sometimes justify ourselves in underpaying and even boast about it:

Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand. And they covet fields, and take them by violence; and houses, and take them away: so they oppress a man and his house, even a man and his heritage ( Micah 2:1-2).

. . . And as we look about, we see many who are greedy for excessive wealth, and especially that which comes with sharp practices and at the expense of strict honesty and complete integrity. It is hard to satisfy us. The more we have, the more we want.

. . . For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. Having food and raiment let us be therewith content. Why another farm, another herd of sheep, another bunch of cattle, another ranch? Why another hotel, another cafe, another store, another shop? Why another plant, another office, another service, another business? Why another of anything if one has that already which provides the necessities and reasonable luxuries? Why continue to expand and increase holdings, especially when those increased responsibilities draw one’s interests away from proper family and spiritual commitments, and from those things to which the Lord would have us give precedence in our lives? Why must we always be expanding to the point where our interests are divided and our attentions and thoughts are upon the things of the world? Certainly when one’s temporal possessions become great, it is very difficult for one to give proper attention to the spiritual things.”

And then this from Proverbs struck me:
A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent (Prov. 28:20)."

If you're interested, this BYU database appears to be the only place online where you can read the entire talk; the Conference archives don't go back far enough on the church website.

Do the Police Need a Warrant to Track Your Car? We'll See...

I heard about this Supreme Court case on the radio this morning. They are deciding the issue of whether or not the police need a warrant to place GPS tracking devices on people's cars. "Police, quite naturally, want to use new technology to get the goods on the bad guys," and the public naturally wants them to be able to do that, too. But on the other hand, "citizens, quite naturally, think that when they leave their homes, they still have some zone of personal privacy in their cars." 

The outcome of this case will have a lot to say about whether or not that last statement is true. But in any case, it was just an interesting story to listen to, since it sounded exactly like it could've been an excerpt from this book I reviewed a couple months ago. It's pretty scary, the things that can happen when we don't pay attention. I hope the Supreme Court is paying enough attention here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Two Gifts in One

I've decided that I'm going to try and buy all my Christmas gifts from independent merchants this year, including wrapping. A few days ago my mother-in-law sent her annual message reminding us to put our Christmas lists together, and I was thinking about that when I saw this posted on Facebook by one of my cousins:

There are a couple things I've been thinking about for a few weeks already, so I'll probably exempt myself on those if I can't find anything comparable; but I bet I can do it with everything else.

I'll be posting my Christmas list soon, like I usually do--for the convenience of my family, and also a little bit because twice a year I like to indulge in a little materialistic fantasy--and when I include links, like I usually do, I'm going to try and expand beyond Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This won't mean that anyone has to buy the gift from any particular place, but if they do happen to be interested in a little big-business boycott this year, they'll hopefully have a place to start.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Philosophy Series: The Environment

My Stance:
I believe the government and all people should make preserving the environment a high priority. I believe that we have a responsibility to take care of the earth, and that the safety of the environment is always more important than someone's opportunity to make a profit.

In the first place, out of practicality. As far as we know, there is only one planet in the universe that we can all live on. We know that many of our resources are limited. We know that many of our behaviors are destroying parts of the planet. We don't have a giant spaceship where we can all relocate; we don't have little WALL-E robots to clean up our mess, or EVE robots to come back and search for signs that the earth is capable of sustaining life again. It's stupid to continue on as we are. It's like tearing down your own house from the inside and using the bricks as chairs. Sure, the chairs are useful--but what are you going to do when your house is gone?

In the second place, I believe that the earth is sacred. I believe that we have a powerful relationship with nature, that we are part of nature, and that we should have the utmost respect for the life of the earth. I believe, like Hugh Nibley, that "man’s dominion is a call to service, not a license to exterminate." I believe, like Joseph Fielding Smith, David McKay, and Stephen Richards, that "love of nature is akin to the love of God," and that "nature helps us to see and understand God. To all His creations we owe an allegiance of service and a profound admiration." 

I believe that we shouldn't kill animals unless we are eating them. (I also believe that eating meat is fine, but that it shouldn't be too big a part of one's diet.)

I think that by this point, everyone should be making at least some effort to recycle. (Mike and I haven't managed aluminum or paper yet, but we save all our plastic and take it to Target or Brookshire's when we shop. It's small, but it's better than nothing.)

I support much higher energy efficiency requirements for cars, lightbulbs, refrigerators, etc., and I believe that we should be focusing heavily on energy sources like wind and solar, on both an individual and a national/global scale (because of the belief I mentioned earlier that keeping our home intact is more important than making a profit).

In a similar vein, yesterday I came across a couple blog posts that really surprised me. You can probably guess how I feel about that information, but what do you think about it?

[Edit, 11/8: Funnily enough, this post was written almost exactly one month before I posted mine, but I didn't see it until today. It's a fantastic piece that goes perfectly with what I've said here, but specific to Mormons.]

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Castle Corona, by Sharon Creech--8/10

Everything about this book is lovely. It's nothing earth-shattering, just an enjoyable read; I love the illustration on the cover and the size and shape of the book itself, which is what led me to pick it up in the first place. The illustrations inside are just as beautiful, the characters are silly and fun, and the story--though not based on a very original framework--is done simply and well. It doesn't end quite as predictably as you'd think, either, and that makes it a little more interesting to me. My first thought was that I want to give it to my nieces (my nephews can't read yet), and I think many adults would enjoy it as well.