>> Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Robin Williams: Or Why I Can't Stand Matt Walsh

>> Wednesday, August 13, 2014

As all of you know by now, Robin Williams has taken his own life after dealing with depression. Normally I don't agree with or fully understand why so many people are so saddened by the death of someone they never personally knew, but this time it's different.

Maybe it's because many of Robin Williams' movies could have helped people struggling with the very thing he succumbed to. It might be because I'm starting to better appreciate how much art affects us as human beings. Or maybe it's because I've read so many stories over the past day of how truly decent of a human being he was. Regardless of the reason, his death has touched me in a way other celebrity deaths haven't. Unfortunately, we as a society can't solely focus on the wonderful things a person accomplished while on this earth. Someone has to go and spoil the pot. For me, that someone was Matt Walsh.

Matt Walsh, a prolific blogger amongst Mormons, basically blogs for his job. At least that's what it seems like. Which, hey, good for him. Not everybody can monetize their blog to the point of making a living off it. However, I feel like this monetization causes him to blog on all the time about anything. More hits equals more revenue from ads, after all.

Walsh tends to have very strong opinions about things, and essentially every post I've read of his makes my blood boil. He approaches topics with an all-knowing attitude and utterly refuses to see the other side of the topic he's discussing. I actually stopped reading his posts a long while ago because they made me so angry. But he posted about Robin Williams and, as depression (and people who commit suicide because of it) is a sensitive topic for me since I myself suffer from it and many people I know have had profound struggles with it as well, I decided to bite his dangling carrot.

The crux of his argument is that committing suicide is a choice. This statement, on the surface, is very true. It wouldn't be suicide if it weren't the person's choice; it would be murder. The thing that really rubbed me the wrong way with Walsh's post was that he states he has dealt with depression himself, so he positions himself as someone who knows everything about depression. Therefore, since he didn't experience the utter helplessness that many, many depressed people do, then Robin Williams simply chose to take his own life. That's that. That was a stupid choice, he hurt his friends and family. Case closed. His writing makes it seem like you can just snap your fingers, surround yourself with happy people and joyful things and *snap* you're not depressed anymore.

Unfortunately, that's not how it works.

When you're depressed, you are literally unable to think straight. There is a very real chemical imbalance in your brain that prevents it from functioning correctly. You generally cannot see happiness, cannot see that others love you dearly. You stop being yourself, and at times all you think is you are such a burden to your friends and family that it would be better that you didn't exist. Expecting a depressed person to be able to snap out of this state of mind is utterly refusing to understand the physiological events occurring in the depressed person's body.

A while back a humor blogger chronicled some of her "Adventures in Depression." That's part one, and it's quite funny. Part Two is also rather funny, but is a frighteningly accurate depiction of what it's like to be depressed and have your family and friends try to do what they can do bring you out of it. I strongly recommend it for anyone struggling to understand what depression does to a person. Note that there's some strong language in both of those links.

Many people have fallen so deeply into depression that they feel there is no other choice than to take their life. I know it's difficult to understand, but it's true. And there are people out there like Matt Walsh who have experienced depression and still don't understand what it's like to feel there is no other option. It's heartbreaking. So when Matt Walsh stands up and effectively says, "Suicide is a choice. Just make the choice to not commit suicide," it makes me very, very angry. Because he doesn't understand. So many people don't understand what it's like to feel you don't have the choice people tell you you have.

And that's why it's so important that we talk about depression and other mental illnesses. They're currently treated like they're taboo. Our friends and family who struggle with this condition need our help. They need to know they can trust us. They need to know that we love them. They need to know that life is worth living. And if nobody talks about it, nothing gets solved and we continue to experience tragedies like the death of Robin Williams that are preventable.

But it isn't going to be easy. It's going to take effort. It's going to take love. It's going to take a lot of uncomfortable discussions and chats before we can change things for the better. But remember that if things do change, we can save lives. And that, I think, is something Robin Williams would have wanted.


Taco Bell Waffle Taco

>> Friday, July 25, 2014

I celebrated Pioneer Day in the most pioneer way possible. Some of you may be familiar with my food explorations. The last American Monstrosity I consumed was the KFC Double Down. It was surprisingly tasty, and not even as unhealthy as other fast food sandwiches. This time, I went in expecting something horrible. And I got it.

That's right, I took the dive into the Taco Bell Waffle Taco. This item has gotten a lot of press because of how weird of an idea it is. Let me say up front that this is another item that sounds less healthy than it is. But I have no doubt in my mind that this item was conceived of purely for the press it would receive.

The waffle isn't anything special. In fact, it's not even average. It's dry, mostly tasteless, and spongy. I anticipated there being some sort of maple syrup flavoring to be there, but the Taco Bell employees must have missed the memo, because mine was just filled with grease.

Next is the sausage. It was about 5 shades darker than what you see in the photo above. It was dry yet greasy, and equally as gross. I've had the breakfast Crunchwrap before, and the sausage is about the same there too. Taco Bell was really scraping the bottom of the barrel when they sourced these sausage patties.

The eggs. Oh the eggs. Dry, tasteless, probably fake.

Imagine the consistency of eggs. Now combine that with a bland, stale tasting waffle. add to that gross, old sausage, and throw on a little melted cheese to top it all off.

This was my breakfast. This is what American ingenuity has come to. Do yourself a favor and go to Gandolfo's and get The Crew instead.

P.S. This is what my waffle taco actually looked like, surprisingly accurate to the advertisement:


The Curious Case of Kate Kelly

>> Wednesday, June 25, 2014

I’ve been mulling over this situation for quite a while, reading lots of opinions both for and against Kate Kelly and her Ordain Women movement. This video by msnbc.com finally pushed me over the edge and I decided I couldn’t put off writing down my thoughts on the matter.

While it is always sad to see a fellow saint leave, whether through their own choice or excommunication, I'm finding it hard to have sympathy for her situation. What I continually see from Ms. Kelly is manipulation of facts and appeals to perceived inequalities. She presents half-truths as fact, and manipulates readers and listeners to try to convince them she was severely wronged. She very expertly presents enough truth to make it seem plausible that she's been wronged somehow, while leaving out key factors to the public that completely change the situation.

 Before you read further, it’s important to take all of this not in the context of your own or my beliefs, but on the beliefs that Ms. Kelly claims to hold. There will likely be things you disagree with, but remember that I’ve based my article on things that she believes based on her active membership in the LDS Church. Please also consider that I’ve tried to establish context for beliefs here, but I’m hardly the authority on Church doctrine. A better resource to clarify that doctrine can be found at lds.org and mormon.org

A few things that really bother me about this video:

1. She claims that "all men are ordained." This is a half-truth. The full truth is that all worthy men can be ordained. No man has an inherent right to the priesthood. All priesthood holders are interviewed before they receive the priesthood, every time they "move up" in the priesthood, and should be interviewed regularly by their various ecclesiastical leaders to ensure they are living worthy of the privilege of holding the priesthood.

1a. On a related note, Ms. Kelly doesn't seem to understand that holding the priesthood means nothing if one is living unrighteously. I say this because her actions appear to be saying she knows better than a prophet of God, so to many members of the Church she appears to be trying to satisfy her own agenda, displaying signs of pride and unrighteous dominion. D&C 121: 35-37 reads:

  35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—
  36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
  37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

Ms. Kelly has blatantly disregarded the requests of her church and her church leaders to cease her efforts. As has been stated again and again by many people, asking questions Is. Not. Bad. Continuing to push your agenda after you've received answers from men you hold as prophets of God who speak for God on earth is bad. When Joseph Smith was translating the Book of Mormon, his friend Martin Harris wanted to take the manuscript to a different city to show it to others he knew. Martin persisted in asking Joseph to pray and ask God to allow him to take the manuscript. God told Joseph no twice until Joseph asked a third time, and Joseph was finally given permission, despite being told no twice already. Martin Harris took the manuscript and lost it. When he returned and Joseph discovered what had happened, Joseph feared he had lost his own soul. He didn’t believe he could ever be forgiven for what had happened. After a time and much repentance, however, Joseph was forgiven.

When we presume to know better than God, the end result is not a pleasant one. Ms. Kelly is using the exact tactics that would render the priesthood entirely useless to her, were she to be ordained.

2. She uses examples in her past to imply that she's currently a fully faithful member of the Church. That's all fine and dandy, but where's the current evidence? In my experience, the people who most strongly speak against the Church are former members. People who, like Ms. Kelly, have been baptized, who may have gone on missions and have likely been to the temple and possibly even sealed.

If she is as faithful as she is trying to show everyone she is, then she would have a stronger understanding on how revelation works, because that's exactly what she claims to still believe in. Instead, she's showing through her actions that she no longer believes key doctrines of the Church, that she knows better than the prophet, and by extension of the beliefs she claims to hold, that she knows better than God.

What concerns me most about her efforts isn't that she wants equality for men and women in the church. What concerns me most is that she is claiming to believe one thing, while going directly against what she claims to still believe.

If she still believes that the prophet speaks for God but doesn't believe he's right in this instance, how can she possibly trust a single thing this or any prophet has spoken as the mouthpiece of God? Does that not fundamentally shake her faith in prophets? It's something I don't understand about this situation, and smacks of hypocrisy because of it.

3. She says this is the moment when we become a 21st century church or keep on “with these 15th century tactics of targeting heretics and radicals." Her word usage and association here is brilliant for her cause, and it’s intentionally used here to elicit an emotional response. Christianity has a sordid past, and she takes advantage of the word association to excellent effect.

However, should a church be condemned for sticking to their doctrine, when in fact said doctrine does nothing to belittle or marginalize women like Sister Kelly claims? Should that church not go after a heretic that is actively leading members of the church away from the doctrine the church teaches? Merriam-webster.com defines a heretic as “someone who believes or teaches something that goes against accepted or official beliefs.” By all accounts, Kate Kelly is currently a heretic.

Keep in mind that the Church has an incredibly strong organization for women within their organization, the Relief Society. I participate in meetings where we decide on things for my congregation, and I cannot imagine making those decisions with only the input of men. I’m rather comfortable saying that the women in my congregation are more important to making decisions than the men are. I know my bishop would never make decisions that affect our ward without first consulting the Relief Society leaders in my ward, because I see him consult them every single week. And I know my experience doesn’t necessarily speak for everyone, but please understand that my experience with women in the church does not mirror what Kate Kelly claims in her organization or to the media.

Finally, I’ve included a link to the letter Ms. Kelly received from her leaders regarding her excommunication. Some may be under the impression that the meeting regarding her excommunication came on with no warning, or that they scheduled the meeting when they knew she wouldn’t be there. This letter clarifies both of these matters and shows that the meeting regarding her possible excommunication was not done with spite or hate, but with the utmost love and concern for her as a member of the church. Read the letter.


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