Jul 16, 2009

Off We Go!

The car's all packed, I've checked every list multiple times, Every piece of luggage is crammed full as possible without going over the 50 lb cutoff, I created a detailed list for the In Laws and a paranoid-freak-out list of reminders for myself, checked out several books from the library and now I'm going to *try* to get a good night's sleep. Say some prayers/wish us luck!!!

Jul 14, 2009

Tales of a Ninth Grade Molly-my blogfict

I don't know if you guys have been around enough to remember this, but a while back I was doing regular posts on a blog-fiction blog I created called Tales of a Ninth Grade Molly.

I got enough confused comments (people thinking I really was a 14 year old girl) that I felt guilty and closed it down. But now the phenomenon of blogfict is known enough that I feel less like I'm accidentally lying to people, so I've put it back up. Anyway, I thought it might be fun for some light reading if you're bored and come to my site looking for something new... because there probably won't be anything much new on it for a while. I might try to post something while we're away and in Ethiopia but internet is really slow there so I might have to wait until we come home.

Anyway, this is a serial blog so you'll get the whole thing in order if you start on the oldest entry and not the newest one that is currently on the webpage. You can click on the archives in the sidebar to do this.

Tales of a Ninth Grade Molly

Enjoy (I hope.)

Jul 12, 2009

activism and zeal

Looking back over the post I wrote a few days ago, I'm surprised at the bluntness level. Generally I don't say half of what I think or believe, because I know that they are things that *I* know and a lot of the understandings that I have reached aren't even applicable to the next person. For instance, in the example of vegetarianism, I guess there are some mental illnesses that get worse when you don't eat meat. So those people shouldn't try to live a life of vegetarianism. My truth doesn't apply to them.

However, I go back and read it and feel kind of glad I said it. I feel strongly about this not because I think about it a whole heck of a lot (it is a part of my lifestyle, just a piece of what I do every day, like doing laundry) but because it really bothers me that LDS people where I live will turn and tell me that vegetarianism is like unto apostasy.

There are many things that people choose and do that will tick other people off. I love it when I meet someone with strong beliefs and a commitment to those beliefs, even if they are diametrically opposite to mine. I love people who have causes and live according to their consciences and their own understandings that they have reached, and their own inspiration.

If someone believes strongly in non-vegetarianism, and has a lot of passion about the good that the FDA does and the need for the government to suppliment funding for agribusiness to make dairy and meat more affordable to the population, then I applaud that and feel proud to know them. I have friends who believe in gun ownership, for instance, and have been very active in doing it in a responsible way.

What I don't understand or enjoy are those people who feel like anything out of the "norm" or "mainstream" Mormon Culture must be Like Unto Apostasy. I think there is a fine balance that needs to be achieved; I'm not going to stand up and give my testimony on vegetarianism. But I feel like a lot of the people where I live have decided that in order to be righteous they must live according to the axiom "moderation in all things" which to them means don't have strong opinions, or if they are strong, make sure they're mainstream. Don't choose a lifestyle that involves something too different from the norm. Don't get involved too heavily in causes, don't discuss politics.

I have a hard time with that. See, even the phrase, "moderation in all things"... well, it's not in the scriptures. Sorry guys, I've looked long and hard for it. What is in the scriptures? Plenty about Zeal. Plenty about salt losing its savor. Plenty about how we ought not be "lukewarm".

Like I said, there must be a fine balance and I know personally the folly that gospel hobbies can bring. But there ya go, folks... I'm zealous and proud of it. And I'm going to laugh at the next person who says I'm being immoderate because I don't eat very much meat, I have Barack Obama bumper stickers, and I choose to teach my kids at home.

Stress makes me blunter, I think. Countdown on our trip is 5 days. I'll see if I can make it through without irrevocably offending anyone. :)

Jul 11, 2009

Why Vegetarianism?

I realized suddenly today, as I was perusing various articles on vegetarianism and the church, that I have never described here why I choose vegetarianism. I can't speak for Skywalker; he has slightly different views that are more ingrained and have evolved since he first swore off meat entirely 10 years ago.

As I write this I have two sets of feelings: a little bit of frustration and a little bit of sadness. I feel like LDS members in the USA as a whole has lost the spirit of this part of the Word of Wisdom:

D&C chapter 89.

12 Yea, flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used csparingly;
13 And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.
14 All grain is ordained for the use of man and of beasts, to be the staff of life, not only for man but for the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals that run or creep on the earth;
15 And these hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess of hunger.

This is the first element of why I have become vegetarian. Vegetarian for me, is actually probably a little less extreme than most mean when they call themselves vegetarian. For me, if I'm vegetarian I end up eating meat on occasion. For instance, I eat it on Thanksgiving. I eat it on the odd occasion when I am pregnant or nursing and feel that my energy is depleted. I eat it on the very odd occasion when the ward potluck seems to consist of hotdogs, hamburgers, potato chips and iceburg lettuce salad and that's all there is. So if I declare myself vegetarian and abstain from meat whenever I feel it is within my reasonable means to do so, I end up eating meat "Sparingly, in times of winter or cold or famine."

I enjoy meat when I eat it. I think of the animal that gave up its life. I try to respect the life that was given for the meat I am eating. I'm not always good about this, but I work on it every time I make that decision to eat meat.

Our family also eats fish... this is because right after I got married I read some studies that showed that the only people who tend to be healthier than non-smoking vegetarians are people who eat fish occasionally, and are non-smoking vegetarians. I have convinced skywalker of this; we eat fish very occasionally, more often during the winter.

I think the real issue with the word of wisdom is, what does "eat meat sparingly," mean? To skywalker (I said I wouldn't speak for him, but here I am) it means not eating it when it's not necessary for health. See, skywalker believes that if you have an abundance of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes in their natural and sprouted state, you should not need meat (other than fish) in your diet. Therefore to eat meat sparingly, to him, means not eating it at all unless we find ourselves in a situation of famine or extreme hardship where those easily-obtained proteins and irons and muscle-building nutrients would become necessary.

For instance, I have had discussions with him about feeding our adoptive children a little bit of meat for a while, as they have just come from a situation of famine and low nutrition, and as little children have less room in their stomachs for food (and these girls might have parasites, too) meat might be important element as we try to quickly build up their health, weight, and overall nutrition.

There are scriptures that say that you must not command people to abstain from meats/forbid people to eat meat:

D&C 49

18 And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from cmeats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God;
19 For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.

Clearly, here the word "forbiddeth" actually means "biddeth" in the context of the scripture.


Timothy chapter 4:

1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:

These two scriptures clearly state that if you preach the abstention from meats or command the abstention of meats, you are not of God, but are preaching false doctrine because they are ordained for the use of man (but note the disclaimer in verse 4 of the Timothy scripture).

We don't command our kids not to eat meat. In fact, at a friend's house or a ward social, if meat is there, and our kids want it, they get it. I don't go around preaching that vegetarianism is a doctrine of the church, either. When people find out I'm vegetarian (in the sense I've defined it above) they will sometimes put this scripture out there, and my response is, I'm not telling you to eat no meat. In fact, my own goal is not to eat no meat, but to eat it sparingly, and I find I can only achieve that in our (hugely meat-eating) culture if I commit to a life of vegetarianism when I'm cooking on my own.

The other element of my vegetarian convictions is about waste, and the life of the animal, and the treatment of the animal by our meat industries. The prophets, while they have declared the preaching of vegetarianism as false doctrine and "extremism" (see Boyd K. Packer's "The Word of Wisdom, Principles and Promises") There are also plenty out there who decry cruelty to animals and "waste" of flesh and blood because of lust.

Brigham Young on May 17 1868 at Bountiful:

If the Latter-day Saints could look at things as they are, they would see that there is a grievous sin upon this people for neglecting their stock and letting them perish; turning their sheep on to the range for a few hours, and [p. 218b] bringing them up and penning them twenty hours out of the twenty-four, until they become diseased and sickly. If the people could see as an angel sees, they would behold a great sin in neglecting the stock which the Lord has given them, for it is the Lord who gives us the increase of cattle and sheep, yet many of the people treat them as a thing of naught.

Heber C Kimball on April 27 of 1862:

Look at the animal creation, they were all created by law, and will fulfill that law by which they were created. But see the feeling and disposition that we have in our hearts to be cruel towards animals, and that same passion that we cultivate towards the brute creation, mankind by-and-by will have towards one another. Reflect upon the experience of the past and you will find it so. I perceive that the older I grow the more com[p. 336b]passion I have upon the brute, but young and unthoughtful men and careless, cruel boys will drive a horse at the rate of sixteen miles an hour, and then whip him all the way up every hill on the journey. Is this the spirit of Christ and of our holy religion to be cruel to animals and beat them in this way? I say no; our religion and the spirit of Christ would teach us to be kind to them, to encourage them by bating and nourishing them.

In an ensign article on kindness to animals, Gerald Jones quotes Joseph Smith. Read that whole article, if you're interested... it has several quotes from prophets and other church leaders on animals, particularly the treatment of them.

I feel that the animals raised and slaughtered by the meat industry are not treated with kindness, good stewardship, or humanely. If you watch harrowing movies of slaughterhouses you will see how cavalierly animals are treated and, quite frankly, it will probably make you feel sick. :( I'm not posting any of those videos here, but they are readily found if you want to search for them.

In particular, the quote above by Brigham young about penning stock for most of the day and this being cruel and an improper use of stewardship, has direct application to how most of the animals in our society are treated. If you eat a hamburger at McDonalds, you must acknowledge the fact that your single hamburger is made up of the meat from at least a hundred different cows, and all of these cows have been treated incorrectly.

Stewardship, to me, is key here. I personally feel that, yes, meat is ordained for the use of man. And beast of the field were meant to serve man (there are vegetarians who would disagree with me.) But I feel that our society grossly misuses and abuses that stewardship that we have been given. If I don't want that sin on my head (see above it was described as sin), then I should not participate in the system at all. And if I do eat a hamburger from McDonalds, I need to do so with the full awareness of what sort of suffering went into the making of that hamburger.

We have become separated from the reality of meat eating.

When I was younger, we raised pigs, sheep and goats and slaughtered them for meat. We got to know the animal, we fed it, we took care of and nurtured it, and we were there to see the end of its life, and see where our meat came from. Today, we are completely divorced from that. A hamburger to us is as convenient as an apple picked from a tree... our meat is cut carefully so that we can't see the relation to the animal it was, it is packaged and lined up on a shelf for the taking. This separation from the life of the animal, the sacrifice that it has made for our consumption, does not entail good stewardship either, in my way of thinking.

If I had it my way, I would raise chickens and cows and sheep myself, so that I would know they were treated well, they got the nutrients and care they needed, and I would be there for the slaughtering so that I could have that connection to the meat I eat. I feel that this is the way God intended our stewardship with animals, particularly as relates to meat eating (or milk drinking, or eggs) to take place.

To go along with this, another couple of scriptures:

back to D&C 49:

19 For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.
20 But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.
21 And wo be unto man that sheddeth blood or that wasteth flesh and hath no need.

And then there is the JST of Genesis 9:11:

And surely, blood shall not be shed, only for meat, to save your lives; and the blood of every beast will I require at your hands.

And an interesting, perhaps more speculative note to end on. This is an excerpt from a discourse given by Orson Pratt on Dec 2 of 1877. You can find it on the website, http://scriptures.byu.edu/ which is a searchable online index of all the talks and discourses from the early prophets and leaders of the church.

"...in those days when 'the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea,' then the 'lion shall eat straw like the ox.' His nature will be so susceptible to the Spirit of God that it will be entirely changed, instead of his preying upon other animals and devouring their flesh, he will feast upon the vegetable kingdom, just as he did in the morning of creation. When the earth was first made, all things were pronounced very good; it issued forth from the hand of the Creator in a very perfect condition, but when man fell, a change came over, not only man, but also the animal creation, and the vegetable kingdom came under the curse, and the power of Satan was exercised upon the earth, enmity was introduced between man and the animals. But the time will come, when the Spirit of God will be poured out upon all flesh and 'The wolf shall lie down with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them,' etc."

This is not a doctrine widely preached today, but it is something to think about. This is something Skywalker believes in; that during the millennium we will all be vegetarians. I'm not going to plant my flag anywhere, but I will say it's something to consider and think about.

Jul 7, 2009

Call Me Judgmental...

... but no matter how talented somebody is, no matter how much they changed the face of some cultural phenomenon, no matter how many barriers they burst through, pedophilia pretty much takes things, for me, out of the realm of acceptable icon (of any kind.) I don't care about surgeries, sexual preference, (amongst consenting adults) race, heck I'm a pretty relative thinker when it comes to artistry, even. But pedophilia?

I'm sorry. In the eyes of this mother, unforgivable.

I guess I could celebrate the life before the crimes. I could celebrate the icon as many would like to remember him.

I'll try to do that. But I won't pretend it doesn't really, really bother me. Apparently in this country you can do anything you want and if you have 20 million to pay a settlement, people will forgive you.

Jul 3, 2009

And More Pictures...

Those last pictures... the ones where Woinshet looks sad? They were taken right after our postponed court date.

These ones were taken yesterday. I wonder if the grins are because they know they're being adopted?

I like to think so.

Winna has lost a tooth :)

July 22nd or bust!!!