26 October, 2010

A Sad Thing.

Lots of good things happened today, but that's not what I'm thinking about right now.

All throughout today, I kept thinking about how Eazy-E died. I don't know why his death was on my mind today in particular. He died in 1995.

If you don't know who Eazy-E was you can read a bit about his life here. He was an incredibly gifted rapper who rapped about what he knew best: dealing drugs, gang violence, and lonely sex.*

In February 1995, he went to the doctor because he hadn't been feeling well for a while. He thought it was asthma. It turned out to be AIDS. Not HIV. Full-blown AIDS. He died a month later. He was 31.

The more I think about it, the sadder it makes me. Not only that he died of a horrible disease at a time where no long-term treatment existed, but also that he had such a destructive relationship with his body that he didn't realize how sick he was until it was too late. He had such a sad, short life.

I like to think about Jesus hanging out with Eazy and Tupac and Notorious B.I.G. in Heaven. I think they would all have a good time. It's a lot less satisfying to picture Him with Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. They had their turn earlier, right?

*I might be projecting there. But it always sounded lonely to me.

21 October, 2010

This is How I Prepare for Things.

Look! A baby teacup poodle!!OMG so cute asasdfhsdjkjdff.

16 October, 2010

Anyone need cheering up?

This should do it. Delightful.

It took me a second ... wait ... how do I know that voice ... JOHN RATZENBERGER!!

I was a little young for Cheers, OK?

15 October, 2010

Some Really Obvious Things.

1. I watched the movie Babies today. I loved it. Babies are so cute! At first they can't do anything except just lie there and be squishy, but then they learn how to do things! And when they mess up it's adorable because they're little! I never get tired of babies.

2. It's getting colder! I think fall is coming! Fall is usually really fun, because I love the first day of school, but since I'm not in school right now mostly fall is just cold. My birthday is happening soon, but mostly that just indicates that after I turn 26 it's going to be cold all the time for a long time. I just really hate being cold!

3. Know what I like to read? Books. Especially the Classics. So timeless! You should definitely check them out.

4. Sufjan Stevens is a great singer. I know, he has a funny name, but hear me out! He is generally categorized as an "independent" or "indie" songwriter. Some people argue that indie music is superior to commercial music because it's more "real."*

5. A good food to eat is pasta, maybe with sauce. If you want to get crazy maybe you should try TOMATO sauce. Whoa. Now that's a good combo.

6. I'm pretty excited about my interview for grad school! I was worried I wasn't going to get one, which would have meant that I was the bottom quarter of all the applicants. That wouldn't make me feel good. However, my being chosen only means that as an interviewee I am in the top 75%, which isn't that comforting either. What if I am not in the top 25%, or even the top 50%? It feels good to be chosen for things you want to do. Accordingly, I will be sad if I do not get chosen.

7. I can't wait to get some student loans so I won't be so worried about money! It's great to get money from the government. It sucks that you have to pay it back, though!

*I am not one of those people.

12 October, 2010

"As strong as our faith is, with all the mixed messages attacking it, it can also become very fragile."

On Saturday, I road-tripped down to Portland with the lovely Erin. We were there for less than a day but were able to squeeze in eating Lebanese food, buying terrible movies at Deseret Book and being with the equally lovely Cassie as she went through the Temple for the first time.* It was, of course, unspeakably lovely, albeit a trifle whirlwind. But that's how I like to roll.

Erin and I were discussing some of the frustrations of life in a singles ward during the loooooong drive back, seeing as it was so rainy one could not drive at an acceptable speed. Whilst we were talking, ELC said something that stuck with me.

She said, "Some people come to church for external reasons."

The conversation went on from there, but I kept thinking about that sentence the next day during Sacrament Meeting.

I am not sure if everyone goes through this process like I do, but I have to talk myself out of leaving the Church on a fairly regular basis. It almost became a joke between me and some of my friends at BYU. "Hey, Wills, what are you doing later? Well, after you have dinner at your grandma's, would you mind talking me out of leaving the Church? Thanks, I appreciate it. Bye."

I have written before about my many intellectual struggles with the Church, which have only been made worse by my serving a mission (hilarious). Conversely, the more I struggle, the more I realize that if I leave the Church, it would all be for nothing. Well, not for nothing, but if I really wanted to leave, I would have done it already, right?

The fact is, I don't want to. And hopefully, because I don't want to, I never will.

Here's where the external vs. internal binary helped me out so much.

So, lots of people my age go to church for social reasons, to make their family happy, to find people to date, to have local support system, to have someone to go to for help when you move, etc. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, but it does kind of miss the point of worshipping Jesus Christ and serving others and all that idealistic Bible business. Those would be external motivators to be involved with the Church. They aren't bad, just motivated by things other than your own thoughts and feelings.

Internal motivators, on the other hand, would be introspective things like a love of God, a desire to improve, etc. Obviously, hypocrisy plays a role here as well, because some people go to Church with the goal of seeming pious when in fact they do whatever they want when no one's watching. That's more obnoxious than the kids who come to Church looking for friendly times. Thus, it is possible to have a seemingly internal motivator actually be an external one. But generally, I hope you get what I'm saying.

Here's the thing. I have NO external motivation to go to Church. I'm not crazy about most of the people there, bless their hearts. I would have a perfectly viable (and less arbitrary) social circle if I hung out with people I actually had things in common with besides belonging to the same church. My family doesn't care one bit whether or not I'm Mormon, in fact many of them would probably be delighted if I cut loose with them once in a while instead of being a Mormon stick-in-the-mud.**

In fact, most of the reasons I have for wanting to leave the Church are external ones. Get it? It's not like I don't believe in God or struggle with the possibility that the Church isn't true. When I want to leave the Church, it's because I feel so fed-up with some embarrassing policy or some obnoxious people that I feel like saying I GIVE UP. Jesus shouldn't have to put up with this crap and neither should I.

But the trouble is, He does. The trouble is, it's still true.

My reasons for leaving are external, but the things that keep me from doing so are all internal. I believe in God. I love the Book of Mormon. I love the Temple. These people are crazy, but most of them mean well. Abandoning my internal motivations for external reasons is just as immoral as doing things for external reasons when no internal motivation exists.***

Additionally, the things that I love the most about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are some of the most internally focused. Take family history work. If the doctrine about eternal families isn't true, do I gain anything from doing it? Nope. Don't make any friends or meet any hotties at the Fam. Hist. Library, I can promise you that.

Ditto with the temple. If this is all a gigantic hoax, no one has been hurt by the things we've done in the Temple. But no one has really been helped, either. Either these things mean nothing, or they mean EVERYTHING. Those are the things that I feel the strongest attraction to.

Here's to doing things because they're right, and not because anybody cares except God, assuming He exists.

I feel that He does.

I'm not giving up yet.

*Erin was actually going through the temple with a separate friend at a different time. But saying it up there would have messed up the narrative.

**Except then who would be the Designated Driver?

***Which isn't ALWAYS immoral. But that's a post for another day.

07 October, 2010

A memo I missed and another I didn't.

I won't try to pretend that I was a tomboy when I was little. I did climb trees and collect bugs, but I also played with dolls until I was in fifth or sixth grade (but secretly). I never was much one for sports or roughhousing. However, I completely MISSED the whole Princess thing that most girls supposedly go through at some point. Do you think it's an exaggeration to say that most girls have a princess phase?

I never played with make-up or pretended to be a princess. I never had a Disney Princess costume or insisted on pink everything or screamed at my mother, "MY REAL MOM'S A PRINCESS!"

OK, I did once. But it was in jest.

I think the whole princess trend which is manifesting itself in very strange ways is finally starting to ebb. I hope so. It doesn't seem like the catalyst for healthy thought patterns in little girls. I'm glad I missed it.

However, lest you think it's an urban myth, I have several distinct memories of looking at my various Barbie dolls and feeling sad that I didn't look like them. How messed up is that?

In sum: American culture screws up little girls in a vast myriad of ways.

Check out the rest of this series here or the other work of Dina Goldstein here. Genius.