Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Poisoned by Degrees

A friend posted this video on facebook yesterday from Dawn Hawkins at Morality in Media who was flying from Washington, D.C. to Texas to speak at a conference regarding the correlation between pornography and sex trafficking.  Sitting in front of her on her flight was a man looking at porn.  She confronted him, and he basically denied it.  Later, she quietly told him where she was going and why and mentioned that he was part of the problem.  Another woman stood up and told her that no one cared.

Dawn also wrote a summary of her experience if you don't want to take the time to watch the video.

What struck me, was that when I watched the video, there were 103 likes and 2,253 dislikes. So did that mean 103 people like what she's doing or that 2,253 dislike pornography and clicked dislike? I certainly hope 2,253 people don't think she's an idiot for trying to take a stand, so they're disliking her.

I wouldn't be surprised, though, if people really don't like the stand she's taking.  We live in a pornography-saturated society.  We have been poisoned by degrees to accept it.  People like their porn.  We're afraid to speak out against it because we don't want to be the goody-goody, and we don't want to take away people's "free speech" rights, do we?
In the facebook conversation following the video, there were some insightful comments:

I'm starting to realize that a lot of [people, even married women with children] simply don't care. They'll complain passionately about the new law in Virginia that women must get an ultrasound before an abortion, but not one word is said about child pornography and human trafficking. I brought up the matter to a friend the other day and mentioned the serious nature of child pornography in particular. I was astounded that she responded so casually-that grown adults should be left alone to what they will do.
. . . the kind of porn the men view and collect is a direct indicator of what kind of sexual activity they are into and the viewing of it feeds their addiction until they feel they must act it out. If they are into women, they can act out their fantasies with a consenting adult (not that it isn't still harmful). If it's children, well, this is where the child molestors are born. Don't think it could never be your child--these addicts are everywhere. I have heard stories from these guys [men involved in fighting criminal behavior] that would make your toes curl. . . . We have had a spate of school teachers arrested here in [our state] in the past several months, all child molestors who had porn on their computers that mirrored their victims. Tell your friends that their children ARE IN DANGER because of porn.
Sorry I've had so many pornography-related posts lately; this isn't meant to be an anti-porn site, but I guess the issue has just come up a lot.  Please take a stand where you can and fight this plague. 

Side issue:  So why is it that people will throw a stink about nursing in public, but no one seems to care about pornography? 

Is Hard Work Worth It?

Middle Aged Mormon Man posted "Dig It!" about work.  I've been struggling over this with our kids lately, too.  In fact, I tracked how much time our kids spend on "stuff" during the day.  Yesterday, our 8 year old boy cleaned for 15 minutes, had 1 hour and 15 minutes of screen time, and 10 minutes of homework (then he read at bedtime, too).  Then we had dinner.  After dinner, he played a game with his dad, then when my husband tutored a neighbor boy in math, our son did some Kahn Academy.

Our son doesn't seem to be super interested in sports, so we haven't signed him up for much unless he seems really excited about it. For instance, he did baseball last summer and wants to do it again next summer.  A couple years before that, he did 1x/week, pay as you go karate.  This year, he and our 5 y.o. girl wanted to do a drama class, so they are doing that once a week, but that's it.  Oh yeah, plus there's Cub Scouts.  I wonder if I ought to have my boy in more sports?  Do we have too much free time on our hands or is free time good?  I keep hoping that when the weather gets better he'll go out and play basketball and ride his bike.

We did piano for a while, and he was a good student, and even did well, but he HATES it.  After our teacher moved away, we gave him the summer off, then I started teaching him starting at the beginning of the school year up until Christmas.  We just haven't been back.  When I realize the majority of his home time is relaxation (usually -- he did pretty well yesterday), it makes me sick, and I want him to do something more constructive with his time.  Perhaps he needs to find an instrument he likes more or he chooses the songs to play?

From the article:

I am aware that my generation had it much easier than my father's. He spent his childhood working the farm, milking cows, bailing hay, and then washing up and going to school. It was a tough life. Of course my generation had it much easier, and we had to listen to him talk about carrying 100lb bales of hay around the ranch when he was six.

The latest generation has it even easier. Part of the reason is that technology replaced some of the labor of my youth (gas mowers, weedeaters, blowers, snow blowers, have replaced push-mowers, hand trimmers, and snow shovels)  Part is because my kids and I are Suburbanites: Garden yes, farm, no. Part is because society now prohibits young people from holding difficult jobs for terrible wages. When I was a young man, several jobs I held were brutal - construction, landscaping, etc. They were good for me, and made me stronger, and put some money in my mission fund. They also gave me something to lord over my children with: "When I was your age, I spent the day swinging a pickaxe with blisters the size of quarters..." (Yeah, they hate it)

Another difficulty is that our kids just don't have much time to work anymore because societal priorities have shifted. School, hobbies, church and sports* tend to take up so much time that holding down a job would be virtually impossible.  Most everyone I knew had a job in high school. Now few of the youth I know are employed.  To make it worse, there aren't a lot of jobs out there for young people.  Sometimes I feel that we don't expect much from our youth in the area of work anymore . We figure that since they have all the other "stuff" going on they need time to relax - to "chill". So we let things slide. Chores become a Saturday-only thing - unless there is a game on Saturday, and we let them off the hook becasue they are tired, and they've had a rough week.  (Can you hear me quoting myself?) I would be afraid to tally hours the FOMLs spend laboring vs. hours spent looking at a screen.

How do your kids spend their time?  Do you force them to do music?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Daughters in My Kingdom: Chapter 4

In chapter 4 of Daughters in My Kingdom, "A Wide and Extensive Sphere of Action," the Relief Society is somewhat reorganized after 20 years (p. 41) of no formal organization.  Brigham Young encourages bishops to seek out those in need and to enlist the help of the sisters in this effort.  Fourteen years later (p. 44), Eliza R. Snow is officially called as general Relief Society President. 

I've often wondered why approximately 34 years went by with no formal Relief Society!  All I can see on the matter is on page 41 when Brigham Young says, "Some may think this is a trifling thing, but it is not. . . . "  It is unclear as to is this trifling to the women or to the men.  If it's in reference to the women, that would indicate they were somewhat indifferent on being organized.  However, Brigham Young also states, ". . .you will find that the sisters will be the mainspring of the movement," which indicates to me that the women were pretty excited about their reorganization.  Again, this is a topic I'd like to learn more about.

Another indicator that the women were happy about this is expressed in something Eliza R. Snow said on page 44:  "If any of the daughters and mothers in Israel are feeling in the least [limited] in their present spheres, they will now find ample scope for every power and capability for doing good with which they are most liberally endowed."  That tells me that women were excited for a bit of work to do outside their homes, just as most of us all feel a bit of relief with being useful outside the home (not that we don't want to be useful inside the home, but it's nice to have access to a bigger sphere sometimes).

I'm always impressed by the women who married into polygamy and defended it (p. 46).  It was the standard they were tied to and the commitment they made.  It's good they upheld their covenants.  I'm glad we don't have to uphold what they did! 

I liked that these women spoke up for themselves: "It was high time [to] rise up in the dignity of our calling and speak for ourselves. . . .  The world does not know us, and truth and justice to our brethren and to ourselves demands us to speak. . . .   We are not inferior to the ladies of the world, and we do not want to appear so" (p. 47).  Now contrast that to the "fundamental Mormons" who practice polygamy today (if you are unfamiliar with them and us, they are NOT members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/LDS Mormons).  You sadly don't see the fundamentalist ladies being able to speak up for themselves and their husbands, and you hear many stories where they are considered inferior.  (I'm sorry, I usually try and keep my posts positive, but the contrast is just so obvious here.)

Speaking Up
I loved the story on page 49 about Emily Richards learning to speak in a meeting:  "The first time [Eliza R. Snow] asked me to speak in meeting, I could not, and she said, 'Never mind, but when you are asked to speak again, try and have something to say,' and I did."  She "continued to improve her ability as a public speaker, and in 1889 she spoke at the National Woman Suffrage Association convention in Washington, D.C."  WOW, that's progress!

I also liked the quote by President Kimball (p. 50) that "Relief Society sisters will become a powerful influence for good upon the 'good women of the world.'"  I hope we are, and I'm grateful for the good women out there that I look up to that are not of my LDS faith.

The Balance
The balance of chapter 4 is mainly about temporal self-reliance and projects the women were involved in such as sewing, wheat storage, health care and medical education, and suffrage.  On page 58, Eliza R. Snow is quoted as saying: "Our sphere of action will continually widen, and no woman in Zion need[s] to mourn because her sphere is too narrow. . . .  Let your first business be to perform your duties at home.  But inasmuch as you are wise stewards, you will find time for social duties. . . .    . . . You will find that your capacity will increase, and you will be astonished at what you can accomplish."  Those women had the same balancing act we do today.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Storm Is Here, and We Weren't Prepared

Where I live, we recently had some extremely severe winds that blew down giant trees and fences and blew off lots and lots of shingles.  The majority of our city lost power for as little as a few hours, but some people lost power for up to a few days.  I've always thought of myself as a pretty prepared person -- I'm pretty sure we have our year's supply of food, and we also have our 72 hour kits. We have at least some wood for fuel.  We keep some extra gasoline in the garage for cars and bought a nice grill for fun grilling and emergency cooking.

With these storms, however, we realized we were much better prepared for a summer disaster, not a winter one.  We weren't sure how to cook food indoors safely.  With 100 mph cold wind gusts, I really didn't want to cook outside on the deck.  Sure, we had wood, but it needed to be split to be burned in our fireplace.  Considering I was 6 or so months pregnant, I really didn't want to be out splitting wood anyway (my husband had gone to work).  We also realized that with our somewhat open floor plan on our main floor where the fireplace is, we couldn't just shut off one room and keep it warm.  We still haven't figured out solutions to the cooking and heating problems, but need to.  (In case you were wondering, we ended up leaving our house when it got down to 55 and went to a friend's who had a gas fireplace in a room that could be closed off.  We ate dinner at a restaurant that had power.  For the night we went about 45 minutes away and stayed with friends whose area had been unaffected.)

It seems like just as this severe wind storm crept up on us, the evils of pornography have crept up on us as a society.  I hate to say it, but it's as though Satan's strategies in preparing the world for this day have worked.  The moral fibers of society have been weakened enough that pornography is generally accepted.  The devil and his angels must laugh at our unpreparedness.

Last night we had our adult session of stake conference.  Our stake president mentioned that young men are getting exposed to pornography at age 10, 11, 12, and 13, but because because it's an addiction that is kept quiet and is relatively easy to hide, these boys don't get help until they are 16, 17, or 18 -- giving them up to 8 years of use, thus making it very difficult to overcome.

Tragedy, yes, but there are things we can do to win this war.

  • For one, our stake president encouraged us to have "spiritual courage" within our families and also to reach out to others with Christlike love who are struggling.  We need to pray to know how to help others.  We need to stand up and speak up against things that are harmful.  Leaders were encouraged to intervene with youth early so we can head off this problem.  My husband plans to talk to the 14 & 15 year olds he teaches at church and also speak to our 8 1/2 year old (again) about this.  (I realized the other day that our little boy is half way to independence -- going to college and potentially moving out of the house!  I wonder if we've taught him half of what he needs to know to face the world.  Have we armed him thus far?  I feel there's so much more we need to do to prepare him for life ahead.  I hope we can stay close.)

  • Also again, Stephanie's Satan's Power Tool post gives us ideas on how to talk to our families about this problem.  Particularly striking regarding our husbands:
If your husband has a heartbeat, he struggles with [pornography] on some level.  The world is cruel to him in its blatant temptation and oppressive titillation.  If he watched the Super Bowl, he’s seen pornography (for heaven’s sake, don’t get me started).  Talk to him about it.  Ask him how he’s doing:  What can you do to help him?  What steps can your family take to help him feel protected?  What measures does he currently use to avoid the temptation?  Be prepared to feel threatened a little as you learn what a real struggle it might be for him to stay unharmed by the storm.  Cling to each other a little tighter.  Express your love for him and your desire that he remain clean.  Encourage him to fight the hard fight.  Pray for him, and pray together.  Talk about your covenants and go to the temple often to remember them and reconnect to them.

  • At Julie Beck's 2009 Women's Conference address, she reminds us that we women have the responsibility to protect our homes (and ourselves) from pornography.  This is the talk where she said, "Sisters, fight -- fight, sisters" regarding pornography.  That call can be likened to a story I shared before:
. . . Erastus Snow, under the direction of Brigham Young, told [a] stake president he needed to stop 'going "heart and hand with the gentiles"' by "selling and drinking liquor dispensed at the LDS co-op store" or he'd be replaced.  Snow told the women: "I advise you sisters to get together in the capacity of a Relief Society, and gut the store of every drop of liquor in it, and spill the liquor on the ground."
Now Julie Beck didn't say to go to the local adult store or even the local grocery store and tear up all the nasty magazines, but she did say to take action within our stewardships, our homes, and to fight for them.

She encourages us to fight when she says:
    • We cannot sit and act like victims
    • We must teach our families everywhere:  in family home evenings, prayer & scripture study, mealtimes -- both formally and informally
    • We must limit activities that take us to and fro
  • I feel that the most important thing we need to teach our children to withstand pornography is personal integrity.  We need to teach them what is good and wholesome and pray with all our mights that they will choose what is good and wholesome.  We need to teach them that it's okay to be different; it's okay to not do what everyone else appears to be doing.  
Some people simply define integrity as telling the truth, but I look at it as so much more comprehensive.  My integrity defines who I am.  Will I do what I say I will?  Do I act consistently with what I profess I believe?  I am reminded of the Karl Maeser story about honor:
I have been asked what I mean by 'word of honor.' I will tell you. Place me behind prison walls--walls of stone ever so high, ever so thick, reaching ever so far into the ground--there is a possibility that in some way or another I may escape; but stand me on the floor and draw a chalk line around me and have me give my word of honor never to cross it. Can I get out of the circle? No. Never! I'd die first!
That is integrity.

  • The very last thing I wanted to mention was regarding the use of media.  Bad media is all around us.  If we do our best to avoid it, not let it infiltrate our minds, we will be so much better off.  We must avoid ANY movies or t.v. or music that is not uplifting -- the stakes are too high when we let even a little bit in.  Do we want to be close to God, or don't we?  I once heard a story by a guy who was trying to overcome a drug addiction, and he felt that he should change his music.  He started avoiding any music that wasn't uplifting and he felt a change in his life.  He was able to be closer to God because negative media wasn't consuming his mind.
It's not too late to win this war, even if it seems that we've had a slow start in fighting back.  We know we are on the winning team, so let's show it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Beauty Paradox

(Wow!  Two posts in one day, you mus be shocked!!)

You probably all saw Stephanie's post, The Beauty Paradox, a bit back at Diapers and Divinity.  I kept meaning to write about it, but was just... busy with other things.

However, since this has kind of become my personal file-folder of sorts, I still wanted to link to her post for future reference.

Favorite quotes:

". . .when young women dress immodestly, “they not only can send the wrong message to young men with whom they associate, but they also perpetuate in their own minds the fallacy that a woman’s value is dependent solely upon her sensual appeal. “"

"The world’s (and Satan’s) definition of beauty tries to convince us that only by using clothing, our bodies, and our looks can we have power and gain approval.  The approval that surface beauty seeks is the approval of men.  And women.  I have often wondered why women who are active Latter-day Saints, endowed in the temple, married (and therefore more informed on how men work) still choose to dress immodestly.  I do not think they are seeking attention from other men.  I think they seek attention and approval from women who have also bought into the importance of surface beauty.  I can’t fairly make any sweeping generalizations about this, but it’s important to ask the motive-question:  why would I choose clothing that portrays “sexy”?  It’s important to note that when we seek the approval of other people, that approval is fleeting and fickle.  Trends change, and we can easily find ourselves on a treadmill of shopping, beauty procedures, and self-absorption just trying to keep up with what the world of fashion demands."

"In the end, surface beauty causes us to seek approval from mankind and to get power from the wrong source.  Deep beauty, however, earns the approval of of our Heavenly Father, plus self-approval and self-respect.  This approval is lasting and unwavering.  Our virtue gives us confidence.  If you can look in the mirror each day and look into your eyes at your deep beauty, and feel the love and power that comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ, then you are prepared to face whatever challenges may come your way with confidence.  Surface beauty gets you noticed, but deep beauty makes you PRAISEWORTHY.  When you are virtuous, you are worthy of respect and you are an example to others.  You wear the countenance of Christ, and you can comfortably draw upon Him for power and confidence."

The Plague of Our Day

Let's be open and honest here.  We all know pornography is a huge plague of our day; we probably can all think of at least one person/family it has affected.  I've seen some great posts within the last couple days that I wanted to link to and spread the words of hope.

1.  Jocelyn at We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ wrote up a little story/lesson on how to talk to your kids about their bodies.  It brought tears to my eyes giving me even greater desire to protect and teach my darling little children the sacredness of their bodies (and their minds).

2.  Stephanie at Diapers and Divinity was pretty fired up about fighting pornography and provided some different ideas to people in different situations dealing with pornography.  She also links to lots of resources.

3.  In Stephanie's post, I wanted to point out a specific resource -- a forum for wives of pornography addicts.  It contains resources and a place for women to connect.  This is part of the initiative coming from Mormon Woman and MMB, at least partially spurred on by so many of the hopeless comments left on their sites about the devastating effects of pornography.

Pray we can protect our families from this plague, but let's also take action and do what we can to fight it!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Perfect Body

My old friend, Polly, wrote this comical piece on body image:  Coming to Grips with the Golden Mean.

See how she found out she was a Greek Goddess, and you might be one, too!