Friday, December 30, 2011

Reading 2012

I probably wouldn't have posted this until January if Megan hadn't requested that I do it earlier, but she did! So here it is.

My reading theme for next year is threefold: for fiction, a different country each month; for nonfiction, feminist / Mormon studies / political philosophy books; and for spiritual things, the Bible. (Don't laugh at me for having three different themes; I'd be reading the nonfiction even if they didn't fit in, so I figured I'd acknowledge that from the beginning. And the Bible was actually going to be something I did this year, and then I didn't start on time so I didn't do it. I haven't read it through since high school and I want to again.)

Based on my suckiness at reading this year (since I discovered so many blogs to follow), I'm not going to be ambitious with the number of books. I figure I'll have one fiction and one nonfiction going at any given time, with the Bible going along in the background; and since I no longer read as fast as I used to, I'll probably pick only one book for each country and anything I read beyond that will be a bonus. (Which is kind of a shame, and makes me think that I might end up wanting to repeat this theme again another year since there's so much good stuff out there.)

I made a starter list already a couple months ago, so I'll be using that as well as looking for new things to add. I haven't decided yet what the country will be for January, and that's been holding up the actual publishing of this post, so I'm going to let it go now and add an update when I decide. Feel free to make recommendations, whether from my starter list or my Goodreads to-read shelf or your own reading. One of the criteria I'm using in my decision is how easily I can get a copy of it, so just keep that in mind if I don't take you up on your suggestion.

Is your reading for 2012 going to have a theme or goal? (As usual, let me know if you want any suggestions!)

Thursday, December 29, 2011


Lord, please do not let pregnancy sickness be like what I have experienced today. I am fairly suspicious that this has been a migraine--debilitating headache, nausea, entire body shaky and weak, grande mocha and Excedrin (not at the same time) both unsuccessful in the long term--and I'll tell you this for free, I have not enjoyed it. The nausea is my least favorite part, believe it or not; most of the time I'd take the excruciating pain instead. I'm used to headaches. Nausea makes me want to cry. So, God, since I know you love my future babies too... Please make pregnancy easier than today. That is all.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Baby Steps

I still hate you, Sensa, but thank you for at least choosing a size 8 instead of 2 or 4. It's miniscule, but it is progress.

Liberal Quiz

First time...
Quiz: What Kind of Liberal Are You?

My Liberal Identity

You are a Working Class Warrior, also known as a blue-collar Democrat. You believe that the little guy is getting screwed by conservative greed-mongers and corporate criminals, and you’re not going to take it anymore.
Take the quiz at Political Humor

Second time... Same result, even though almost every answer was different! Interesting.

One more time for good measure...
Quiz: What Kind of Liberal Are You?

My Liberal Identity

You are a Social Justice Crusader, also known as a rights activist. You believe in equality, fairness, and preventing neo-Confederate conservative troglodytes from rolling back fifty years of civil rights gains.
Take the quiz at Political Humor

Both pretty accurate, I'd say. How I sometimes love a good quiz.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Holidays!

Christmas is already over, and I hope you had a lovely one. I did (even though Mike's gift was an XBOX 360, so I've barely seen him since yesterday. I told him to enjoy Christmas break while it lasts).

If you are celebrating Hanukkah, I hope you're doing it in a less lame way than we did! Not that what we did was lame--going to our local Israeli market with my visiting cousin (from the Israeli side of the family), eating falafel and buying our favorite Israeli snacks--but it wasn't much of a Hanukkah celebration. No lighting the menorah, no sufganiyot this year (Brandon made empanadas in the tradition of his family, and that was quite enough frying for one holiday). I missed it, so next year I'm pushing for a better celebration.

The New Year's celebrations are next, and what's dominating my thoughts is that I'm still in the middle of the 2011 reading list, and not quite ready to start the 2012 theme... Ack! Maybe I'll figure out how to fit my current books into the new theme (about which I'll be posting soon, not that most of you care. How my nerdiness must bore you sometimes! I do hope not, though).

After that, no holidays I care about for another... well, approximately ten months. :) But quite a few exciting things will be happening in January, not least of which is that Dafni will probably be having her baby! And it has only just occurred to me that between our immediate families, Mike and I now have at least one birthday in every month of the year (most of them have two). (Are you interested in hearing them? Because that's the kind of thing I like to share.)
  • January: my youngest brother, Joseph, my dad, and our new brother-in-law Bryan (who I just Facebook-stalked because he hasn't had a birthday yet since he joined the family)
  • February: my youngest sister, Dafni, and my aunt Miki (who's generally considered immediate family because she lived with us for so long) on the same day; our brother-in-law Jeremy
  • March: Brandon, Dafni's husband, and Anna, Mike's younger sister
  • April: Mike and our niece Mia
  • May: our sister-in-law, Candice, and her son Foxx (on consecutive days!), plus our anniversary
  • June: me, my brother Benjamin, and our nephew Cillian
  • July: our niece Alex, my mom, my brother Daniel, and Mike's brother Dan
  • August: Talia, the sister just younger than me, and our niece Kennedy
  • September: Ed and Liron, Miki's husband and son (on the same day!), Mike's older sister Lis, and his dad
  • October: Kristofer, Talia's husband, and Sapphire, our newest niece
  • November: Jaylee, also known as Goose
  • December: Mike's mom
Hooray for celebrations! What did you (/are you planning to) do for the holidays?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

In Which I am Not Putting Down Anyone's Choices that Differ from Mine

It has come to my attention that some people might feel hurt by the thoughts I've been sharing. I can understand that, and I want you all to know that I am not judging anyone's choices. I'm talking about my own experiences, and I am fully aware that others have had different ones. I do think there are problems with Mormon culture, yes, but that doesn't have anything to do with individuals' choices--none of these behaviors are problems except when they expand beyond an individual and start being forced on others and taught as doctrine.

I've said many times, and I'll say again, that I do not think there is anything wrong with dressing modestly, nor do I think that dressing "immodestly" is preferable (I use scare quotes because I think the concept of what is immodest is one of the problems). I am not saying that Mormon girls should start wearing tube tops and miniskirts everywhere. I am only talking about problems with the way modesty is taught, when it becomes just as objectifying as the worldly attitude it is supposed to be opposing. Sexualizing something doesn’t mean just making it look sexy--it means that you see it first and foremost for its sexual nature. If your first concern about the female body is to cover it up so it doesn’t look sexually appealing, then yes, you are sexualizing it. Whether you see it as a sexual object to be flaunted or a sexual object to be hidden, it is still a sexual object.

I think I have also said that I do not judge people who don't share my political beliefs. Yes, I have strong opinions. In many cases I believe that the position I hold is the right one, which in some cases means I think opposing viewpoints are wrong (as opposed to just less preferable). This still does not mean I think you are a bad person, nor will I ever tell you that you are. I think I am entitled to believe that something is right or wrong. I do not think I am entitled to judge your character based on your choices, and I don't think you are entitled to judge mine.

If you were bothered by the Mormon dating satire I did a couple posts ago, I am sorry, but it was that--a satire. Again, I wasn't saying that there is anything wrong with a person making those choices; I was talking about Mormon culture at-large, which teaches those choices as the morally right ones to make. It is one thing for a person to decide to get married before 21; that is an individual's choice, and it is fine. It is quite a different thing for a religion to teach that young women (and only young women) should get married before 21. That's what I have a problem with.

I understand how people could feel hurt by things I've said, and I want to make it clear that I'm not intending to say anything personal about anyone. So please don't take it personally. I am certainly not attacking anyone, and I'm very sorry if anyone feels that I am. And for the record, I don't think it's okay to attack people because you were hurt by something they said.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I think some people have been surprised lately by the things I've been posting and writing about. A lot of things have changed for me in the last few years, and especially this year. A lot of things have happened, I've learned quite a bit, and my opinions and feelings have evolved. In many ways I'm very different from the person I was in college, and even just two or three years ago. It's clear that not everyone thinks this change has been for the better, but I do, and that's what matters.

Someone asked (fairly bluntly, which I quite appreciated) where I am with the LDS church right now, and I may as well share because I think it helps clarify a lot of the thoughts I've been sharing lately. This is what I told her:

Where I am with the church is that I think Mormon culture is absolutely out of control, has extended far, far beyond actual doctrine, and is incredibly judgmental, repressive, and unhealthy in many ways. There are many wonderful things about the church, that's still very true. But it seems that a lot of those wonderful things disappear the instant you start to have ANY ideas that are a little bit different from mainstream Mormon beliefs. You wouldn't believe how I have been vilified and attacked, by former friends, by family, by many different Mormons, for simply having different political beliefs. And not even the super touchy ones, like gay marriage or abortion--I have been called, verbatim, "a bad person" for my ideas on HEALTH CARE. There are actually a lot more liberal Mormons than people think--you just don't know about them because they're afraid of people finding out. For good bloody reason. There are large communities of politically liberal Mormons for exactly this reason--we are not accepted in the majority of mainstream Mormon wards. This is not a church doctrine; General Authorities often stress the importance of LOVE before other things, of respect toward all different beliefs, etc. But it doesn't filter down into actual practice, and this is the kind of stuff I meant when I said earlier that Mormon culture is toxic. It can be great as long as you're like everyone else--although in many ways there are still problems, like in the way modesty is often taught--but if you are different, then it is not great. And I have a big problem with that.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Puritan Mormons

or, Why I'm Half Expecting the Next Edition of For the Strength of Youth to Come Out with a Picture Like This on the Cover:

Here's the micromanaged Mormon process of dating and marriage.

Don't date until you're sixteen.
When you do date, make sure boys are GENERALLY the ones who ask.
Make sure you only date Mormon boys/girls (because you marry the people you date).
Make REALLY sure you don't do anything remotely intimate.
Don't date the same person frequently.
Have them meet your parents.
Don't stay out late.
Don't sit in your car.
Don't just "hang out"--a date is a "planned activity".
Have your dates chaperoned by other young couples who are also not being intimate.
"Protect each other's honor and virtue."
Don't have a sexual thought this whole time.
To that end, girls, don't show shoulders, backs, cleavage, stomach, or more than three inches of thigh; don't wear things that fit your form; have only one pair of earrings; short skirts with leggings underneath are not okay, but strapless tops with spandex shirts underneath are. Naked shoulders and legs and backs are okay when you're swimming, but still no stomachs. (And if you have a two-piece that covers your whole stomach but might flash a little bit of stomach when you're in the water, THAT'S NOT OKAY, so you should probably just wear a one-piece; we don't care if it's incredibly inconvenient and you have to strip naked or do some really awkward rearranging to pee, that underwater glimpse of stomach is too much to be borne and you'd just better not risk it.)
Boys, you be modest too.
Also don't be vain and focus on your appearance.

As you start becoming an adult, "make dating and marriage a high priority."
Find the person you're going to marry, date for six weeks, and then, on your wedding night, throw all those years of rigid sexual repression out the window and have a healthy long-term relationship with the spouse you've known for two months. (Never mind the fact that half of you have never been in a long-term relationship before, because until you were 18 you were told not to date one person exclusively, and now you're 19 and married.)
Have babies immediately, because nothing else matters in a woman's life and also your uterus will shrivel at 25.
Women, stay home with your kids because otherwise you are selfish and your children will suffer.
Happily ever after.

Change a few words in there--like "car" (to "carriage") and "hang out"--and this could be a guideline to dating in the Victorian era. Seriously, could we nitpick things more? Why does every tiny little aspect of life have to be regulated by rules? What happened to personal responsibility and leading horses to water?

Does life really need to be motivated by the fear of how many ways there are to screw things up?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Me too, Post Secret friend...

Me too. I love seeing a book that still has one of these in there, and I feel sad knowing I'll never use one again. For the rest of my life, I think I'll be struggling to decide--am I holding onto this because it's really better, or just because I'm nostalgic? Because there are a lot of things I don't want to let go, and a lot of things I don't want to embrace. I'm wondering if one of the defining measurements of my life will be how I walk the line between irrational curmudgeonry and 1950s-in-love-with-the-future science-worshipitude. I can tell you right now that I'll never be guilty of the second, but since the society I live in seems to be, it'll be a line I have to walk all the same.

Monday, December 12, 2011

"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar."

I posted a link to this story on Facebook last night, along with a declaration of how utterly crap I think it is.

Companies pull ads from Muslim reality TV show

I only wish I shopped at Lowe's more, so that my boycott would actually mean something. But I'm boycotting anyway, as a matter of principle, and I sent them an email too.

In the comments on another website that was discussing this issue, this idiotic gem was shared, along with the followup:
"I’ll shop there now! Good on them."
"No I was not being ironic. I do believe Islam = hate. That is not bigotry, but a criticism of the faith."
In the first place, I love the logical fallacy that if something is "a criticism of the faith," it is necessarily not bigoted. 

In the second, I love the irony of Christians feeling justified in this kind of hateful behavior toward Muslims because they believe Islam teaches hate. (I also love that Christians feel qualified to make statements about what Islam is or isn't, even in direct contradiction to what Muslims say it is and isn't. You'd think the "are Mormons Christian" debate would have taught us, at least, a little better than that.)

The title of this post comes from 1 John 4:20, and I think it sums things up pretty neatly. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Twenty-Year-Old Spam

I received this in my spam folder a couple days ago. Spam from the past? Lost in a time warp until this week? Who knows?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

You MUST Be Joking.

I don't even want to bother pointing out all the ways in which this article sucks.


Sometimes You Just Need a Good Graphic

And I've been collecting them the last few weeks. 

Finally (and I apologize in advance for this one, but it had to be shared):

Which one's your favorite? :)

Are You Sure You're Wearing Pants?

I am in love with this graphic, and so--even though most of you have already seen this since I posted it on Facebook earlier--I will share it here as well. You can never be too vigilant in the battle against GLHP (Girls Leaving the House Pantsless) Syndrome; also you can never have enough flowcharts. To that end I give you this masterpiece:

Constant vigilance, my friends!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sex Ed from Holland

I just read a really fascinating article, and I have to admit I'm completely torn about the subject. The gist of it is this:

In America, compared to Holland, teen birth rates are eight times higher; abortion rates are twice as high; and the AIDS rate is three times greater. 

In Holland, teens are commonly allowed to have boyfriends/girlfriends sleep over at their parents' house; birth control is widely distributed; and sex is not culturally restricted to marriage, but is connected to love. (Basically, there is no culture of "hooking up" like there is in America.)

I give you this hoping that you will be enticed to read the rest of the interview, because it makes some truly excellent points and also gives necessary background to the information I mentioned. It's not long, and it's very conversational; very easy to follow. 

I think there’s no doubt that America's super-restrictive attitude toward sex both causes and exacerbates a lot of the problems it’s meant to prevent. But I'm still torn on actual teen sex.

On the one hand, the emotional consequences of sex can be a lot stronger for teens, and let's be honest--their judgment and decision-making skills are not those of adults. I think about myself as a teenager, the things I believed about the world and wanted for my own life, and how much I changed within only one or two years after high school (and then how much again within only five years of that)... and I think there's a reason we try to treat teenagers like children. Because they're not adults. Frankly, I think choosing a college is the only big life decision a teenager should ever make. 

On the other hand, though... I wonder why puberty begins so young if teenagers are really so ill-equipped to handle it. It doesn’t seem logical to me that teens develop such a powerful instinct that they are then supposed to completely ignore, at an age at which their judgment and self-control are far from mature.

As far as cultural attitudes toward sex, at least, I think it's pretty clear that Holland has us beat; if nothing else, their statistics say a lot. Who knows, maybe there's something to be said for chilling the eff out as a new cultural standard. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Makoto Fujimura

This man's work is gorgeous. If I could have these two pieces--and if I had a room big enough to do justice to that second piece--I would be a very happy lady.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien--8/10

I haven't finished this yet, but being close to the end of The Two Towers--and already knowing the story from the movies--I feel like I can safely review at this point.

For once in my life, I'm really glad to have seen the movies before I read this book. Or maybe, now that I'm an adult and know that Tolkien is one of the staples of classic English literature and also have been introduced favorably to the fantasy genre in other ways and am therefore not totally averse to it like I used to be, I would have eventually become interested in it even if I hadn't seen the movies. All I know is that the first time I tried, somewhere in the early years of high school, I got bored and quit. But I did see the movies, and I loved them; I think it's very lucky that they were funded well enough to have been done as fantastically as they were, because that's part of what made the book exciting for me. 

The movies followed a lot of things about the book really well; I was pleased to see that several of my favorite lines were actually Tolkien's and not the addition of a screenwriter. It always irritates me when people find a book interesting enough to make a movie out of it, but don't think the author's words are good enough to use.

Anyway. If a movie is done well, it can be really fun to see it before reading a book, because then the book is like an extra treat (since it usually contains scenes and storylines that got omitted from the movie for the sake of time). The problem is that you can't tell until it's too late, and if a movie is bad, then you're stuck with those actors in your head when you try the book. That's why my book-first policy is generally pretty stict, but in this case I'll admit, I'm glad I deviated. If you haven't read this book, do, even if you don't like fantasy. It's clever and often funny in addition to just being a really exciting, engaging story with wonderful characters. And if you're a fan of the movies, it will make you want to watch them again, too.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Christian Cop-Out

I love when I come across something that perfectly explains something I've been thinking about myself. I have often wondered where Christians get the idea that their governments are exempt from the principles they're supposed to follow, that Christ only ever intended for individuals to follow his teachings individually
"Frankly, I'm sick and tired of hearing this epic cop-out on the part of Christians: "I wonder if Jesus meant for the government to feed the poor, or for us to voluntarily give to make sure all the poor people have food."  Many don't even wonder about the notion.  They insist they know.  Provision and care for the least of these -- the sick, the poor, the homeless, the addicted, the mentally ill, the displaced, the marginalized -- is an individual mandate.  Human institutions of government have no business worrying about such things.

What a load of bull dung."

I'm talking about this article from The Christian Left, which you should read, but if you don't you can get the gist of it from my post here.

This is not to say, of course, that I believe our government should be Christian. (I don't.) What it does mean is simply that I believe Christians should vote and participate in government in the same way that they do in their personal lives. "Voting according to your beliefs" does not mean "voting to enact legislation that will force all Americans to live by your beliefs." It means (if you're a Christian) voting for things--for programs, policies, people--that enact Christ's teachings. Like caring for the poor.

"Force everyone to do the right thing" is not a commandment. "Love thy neighbor" is.

The article quotes several scriptures, including Exodus, Leviticus, and Isaiah (links are to the King James versions). I think Jeremiah 22 is my favorite, particularly verse 3, which is specifically directed to rulers (at that time, the king):

Thus saith the Lord; Execute ye ajudgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor: and do no wrong, do no violence to the bstranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent cblood in this place.

For Christians:
Jesus Christ said countless times to care for the poor and love your neighbor as yourself, and he said it to human institutions, too.

For Americans:
The Declaration of Independence says that "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" are unalienable rights, and specifically that "to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men." It says that when a government fails to do this, "it is the right of the people" to change it.

I'm not sure where the confusion is.

Wait--yes I am. It's where greed comes in, and selfishness. It's where, somewhere along the way, someone started thinking that freedom of the market is the same thing as freedom, and therefore is the ultimate highest good. Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but if you want mine... I have a pretty hard time imagining a Jesus who thinks a "big government nanny state" is a worse evil than oppressing and neglecting the poor.