Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Is Over

Just like the inevitable crash after a sugar high, it's time again for my annual Christmas Whiplash.

We build up to the Great Holiday with great anticipation all during the Fall, with retailers pushing ever harder to force us to start thinking about it, and buying for it, earlier and earlier.  Each holiday is a stepping stone that brings us closer to the ultimate climax of the Season.  We see evidence of it almost from the time that we're barely finished getting the kids back in school.  Give it a few more years, and we'll be seeing Christmas decorations on Labor Day.

Then, we find ourselves reveling neck-deep in our own unique interpretation of the Significance of the Season on that special day, whether it is spiritual or not... enjoying food, family, festivities, and warmth... and then it's gone in the blink of an eye.  December 26th.  Christmas is gone.  Over.  Finished.  The joyful mess has been cleaned up, presents spirited off to bedrooms, and pies still sit half-eaten on the counter.

Time to face the hum-drum reality of our normal existence again.  Not much to look forward to for a long, long time.  Mother Nature doesn't help.  The crisp Winter chill that added delicious ambiance to the Season is now just plain cold.  No wonder so many people become more depressed during January.  It's Christmas Whiplash.

In the blink of an eye, the miracle of the Holy Birth and the very Christ-child Himself vanishes from view for yet another year.  Or at least until Easter.

I've decided that the gift I'm giving myself this year, however, is defiance.  It dawns on me that I truly need the feelings of love, warmth, and charity that I feel during the Christmas Season all throughout the year... that there's a reason I look forward to Christmas so much.  Thomas S. Monson said that he felt that "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens was inspired... particularly its message admonishing us to "keep Christmas in our hearts, all year long."

So this coming year, during the long, cold months of the dreaded First Quarter and beyond, when my thoughts are attuned to everything but Christmas, I'm think I'm going to go out of my way to find something... no matter how small... that I can do each day to keep Scrooge smiling and that special warmth alive.  I need that in my life.  And if I do a good enough job at that, maybe... just maybe... I'll survive the next three months without going ape-nuts insane.


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday Morming Blahs

I dunno, guys.  I used to look forward to going to Church.  I loved my calling.  I enjoyed the people.  I enjoyed the Spirit in the meetings.  It really was the highlight of my week.

Until we moved to Twin Falls, ID.

There is none of that now.  We attend Sacrament Meeting to take the sacrament.  Period.  There is nothing else there for us.  The noise from over 125 primary toddlers is so overwhelming that we can't hear the speaker, and we sit on the 3rd row.  Sunday School is horrendous.  Poorly prepared lessons and reading off of the dreaded little slips of paper.  Pure Pablum.  Our home teacher actually told us that he and his wife considered moving out of the ward because it was so bad.  He told us that he has to sit in the back of the chapel during Sunday School and do his own gospel study on his iPad in order to get anything out of the time.  Priesthood Meeting even more so, as the lessons are simply read straight out of the manual.  It's a joke.  I go because I don't want my kids to get the wrong impression.  But we all breathe a sigh of relief when we finally go home. My wife and I hate it.  My kids hate it.  None of us can stand it.  I can honestly say that I've never once felt the Spirit since I've moved here.  It's just "going through the motions."

The people here are closed, cold and cliquish.  There is a "Core Group" that has been called to all of the leadership callings in the ward, which never seems to change.... it just gets shuffled around from one "Core Group Member" to another. 

While new move-ins are given callings within 1-2 weeks of moving in, it took 3-4 months for us to receive callings... which weren't even really callings.  While others in the Core Group have 2-3 callings each... we were given about 1/2 of a calling each, and the Bishop explained that he just didn't "have any more callings to assign."   There is no fellowshipping.  There is no socialization. 

Teachers are chronically unprepared and clueless.  All the young men have their Eagle by 12, so that leaves my 16 year old out in the cold.  No activities for him, and no chance of him ever advancing here.  He's lost interest, and he can't stand the other boys in the ward because of their hypocrisy... a common complaint in Utah/Idaho.   It's really shaken his faith.  My 14 year old daughter is just beginning to make friends... but it's been a rocky road for her, too. 

What's worse?  After talking to several people, we discovered that we're not alone.  There are a surprising number of members in the ward who feel exactly like we do.  Disaffected.  Isolated.  "Frozen out."  But no one in the ward really wants to hear it.

It's becoming more and more difficult for me to be positive anymore.  It seems like all of our "Rah! Rah!" has been sucked out of our souls.  You know something's wrong when you love General Conference, you love the gospel, you love the scriptures, but can't STAND to go to church.  It's very uncomfortable.

Should we take yet another "Mental Health Sunday"?  Go on a spontaneous road trip?  Explore somewhere we've never been before?  Stay home and watch sessions of the last Conference again?  I don't like feeling this way.  I wish it were different.  I feel like I'm losing what has been the most important thing in my life, after my family. 

What do you do when you love the gospel, but hate your ward?

Monday, October 7, 2013


I arrived here in Albany, NY a couple of days ago to photograph a brand-new Residence Inn hotel for Marriott.  When I got my rental car, I decided to do some exploring (since the hotel wasn't ready), and look around, since I'd never been to Albany before.

Bad idea.

After having just moved to Twin Falls, ID from Virginia less than a year ago, I've been enjoying the fact that my wife is so happy with her new job, as well as the lack of humidity and the beautiful sunsets.  My teenagers, however, have been long-suffering, but unhappy.  Mostly because music was such a huge part of their life in VA, and was something they both took pride in, especially my very talented 15 year old son, who plays the French Horn.

As I drove the tree-lined streets of Albany, admiring the brilliant colors of fall and the stately old homes, a flood of memories of growing up in Michigan and rural Pennsylvania washed over me, and I immediately felt a cocktail of nostalgia and homesickness envelope me, bringing me to tears.  This feeling was exacerbated, of course, by passing the local high school, and watching the marching band practice out on the field... which was crushing, knowing the my kids' new high school doesn't even HAVE a marching band.

Now... I have to confess that I ran out of my anti-depressant a couple of days ago, and so I'm "cold-turkey" unmedicated, which doesn't help... but it made me wonder, if just for a few minutes, if we really made the right decision to move out west, especially considering the housing nightmare we encountered once there.

We miss the rain.  We miss the history.  We miss the colors of fall.  We miss the music.  We miss the fireflies.  We miss the thunderstorms.  We miss having all of our favorite restaurants right there where we live.  We miss everything, I would venture, but the humidity.

My family likes the East... loves the East... but to me it's deeper... even though I spent my later teen years in Utah, my childhood and early teen years were spent back here... and it dawned on me as I drove the streets of Albany... that this... the East... was "home" to me.  And I realized just how homesick *I* really am.

Does this change anything?  Not really.  We still live in Twin Falls, and probably will for some time.  But every so often I suppose it's helpful to remember... and cherish.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

How To Get A Job... For The Hiring-Impaired

This is off the beaten track for me, but I seem to get a number of questions about it from time to time, so perhaps it might be valuable to impart some sage advice from a senior executive on what, exactly, employers are looking for... and how to land that awesome job you've been drooling over.  And just for those who don't exactly comprehend the subtle nuances of normal, articulate speech, I'm going to put this in terms that anyone can understand.

I preface this with the disclaimer that not all hiring managers are alike, and just like employees, some don't know what in the Blue Blazes of Glory what they're doing.  Some are wise beyond their years.  But all of them are looking for the same key traits in a new hire, whether it's Walmart, the Gap, or General Electric:

  • Competence
  • Teachability (humility)
  • Reliability
  • Honesty
  • Good work ethic
Master these traits, and you'll never be out of a job again.  At least not for very long, that is.  A key point to understand is that a new hire that exhibits these traits not only makes themselves look good, but more importantly, it makes the person who hired them look competent.  It helps their career and standing as well.  A good hire is a "win-win."

"But I'm the best employee they could ever consider... how do I get past the gate-keeper to show them how awesome I am???"   How do you get past that "first impression," "first interview" thing?  And speaking of "honesty," shouldn't you be honest about "who you are," instead of "putting on a show" or presenting yourself as "someone you're not"?

Let's let common sense see the light of day for a moment, and examine these traits.

Rule #1 of Getting Hired:   It doesn't matter what YOU think.  It only matters what the person sitting across from you thinks.  

Nobody cares what you think.  Seriously.  The simple truth is that you need them much more than they need you, and you need to approach this process with that attitude.  With unemployment in some sectors reaching over 14-15%, it's all about standing out above your peers... without giving them a reason to look at you like you're from Planet Weirdo.  There are a LOT of others out there hoping that you crash and burn.  You would be wise not to help them out.  "But I'm a unique individual!"  Yes, you are.  And we're going to try to get you hired in spite of that.

The Japanese got it right.  They have a saying, "the nail that sticks up gets pounded back down."  Employers, even at the most hip establishments, are still looking for the 5 key traits that I outlined above.  And all 5 of them have significance in how you present yourself at an interview.   Let's take a look at them individually, and see if we can learn how to reflect them from the very first second you walk through the door.

A good paramedic operates by the "15 second rule."  In 15 seconds of walking through the door, they can tell with 95% accuracy what condition their patient is in, and how serious the emergency is.  Hiring managers are the same way.  In the first split second of walking through the door, you have just ended over half of your interview.

"WHAT!!!???" you protest.  "That's not fair."  See Rule #1 of Getting Hired.  It doesn't matter if you think it's "fair."  It's still true.  Your appearance reflects on your Competence.  If you're truly too stupid to know that you don't show up for an interview in grungy jeans and a Nine Inch Nails t-shirt, you deserve to stay in the ranks of the chronically unemployed.  It's Natural Selection at work.  "But I don't have any nice clothes."  Then you better refine your skills at doing recon on the best dumpsters with the most palatable cuisine in the next alley.  Seriously?  Go to Goodwill.  Find something presentable, and fork over the $7.  If you don't have $7, panhandle... borrow... sell blood.  Whatever.

Rule #2 of Getting Hired:   How you look when you walk through the door is one half of your interview.

If  you don't care about your appearance, the hiring manager will assume that you won't care about their values, either.  And for those poor, lost pathetic souls who think they have to wear spiked hair, black fashionista clothes with chains, adornments, and death skull necklaces or dog collars to let everyone know how trendy and unique they are... be careful as you crawl in and out of those dumpsters... they can be slippery at times.  And God Bless You.  You just gave your seat at the employment table to someone with an IQ obviously above yours and probably eminently more deserving.  Save the individual "look" you've been cultivating so carefully for when you go clubbing.  The Donald was right.  "It's not personal, it's just business."  Don't make it personal.  Nobody cares that you're a Goth, unless you're going for a job at Hot Topic... and even THEY have higher standards than that.

Hiring managers want to see "conservative."  They want to see "respectful."  They want to see "business-like."  They want to see "understated."  They want to see "low-key."  They want to know that when it's time to get down to business, you have enough gray cells randomly bumping around in your noggin to recognize that fact and leave the personal expression in your private life, where it belongs.

"Speaking of competence, how important is education anyway?  Bill Gates didn't have a college degree!"  Very true, except for one very important fact... you're not Bill Gates.  You're also not a genius.  If you were, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.  Sorry, but that's the brutal truth.

Education is extremely important.  The benefits of a higher education far transcend most actual data you may have learned in the process, since (especially in the technical disciplines) much of it will be more or less obsolete by the time you graduate.

That degree is symbolic... that piece of sheepskin you (hopefully) take away from your stint at Whatsamatta U shows that you have commitment and tenacity.. that you can follow through and complete large, long-term tasks.  It shows that you can handle the rigors of stress and following instructions.  It shows potential hiring managers that you completed something more complex than that remedial driver's ed class you had to take last Saturday to get the points off your record for that speeding ticket.  It shows that you think enough of yourself to have invested in yourself.  It also shows that you probably have a mountain of student loans to pay off, and that you NEED this job.  Which is not a Bad Thing.  Advanced degrees simply show that you're a masochist.  Just kidding, of course. (Not really)  They show that you have a thirst for knowledge, and a commitment to being the best in your field.  At least that's what I've been told.

"But I didn't even graduate from High School?  How does this help me?"  Sometimes simply accepting the reality of the importance of something can be valuable, particularly if it motivates you to rearrange your priorities a bit, and do what needs to be done to get ahead.  This is a perfect example.

If you don't have a High School diploma, get your GED.  This is a deal-breaker.  Clean toilets if you have to, flip burgers at McD's, whatever... and commit yourself to that goal over the next year.  Get into a GED program at your local community college at night.  Talk to someone at United Way about community Adult Education classes.  The brutal truth is that hiring managers have no interest in someone who doesn't have the commitment or intellectual capacity to complete an educational program that is dead last in the world in difficulty.  Even the military requires a GED.  If you don't have a GED, get one.  Sacrifice whatever you need to, because without it, you're pretty much done.

"But I don't have time/I'm too old!"  The reality is that at the end of the year, you're going to be another year older no matter what you do... so use it wisely.  You can be another year older, and still unemployable, or you can be another year older and have another strata of better jobs available to you.  It's your choice. You don't have a fairy Godmother, and no one is going to wave a wand over you to make you suddenly desirable to a hiring manager.  You have to do the heavy lifting on that yourself.

"But it's not easy working all day and going to school at night... <insert hand-wringing and tearful whining here>"  Nope.  Nothing worthwhile in life is ever easy.  Grow up, for heaven's sake.  If "easy" is what you're angling for, nothing's easier than crawling in a random dumpster and not bathing.

The question you should be asking yourself is "Is this really how I want to spend the rest of my life?" and more importantly, "What price am I willing to pay to get out of this dump/pathetic train wreck of a life/God-forsaken sewer of an existence?"  It's not going to spontaneously get better at some mysterious point in the future... in fact, it gets harder.  Do it now, while you still have a life ahead of you to live.  You can pay the price now, or you can Pay The Price later.

Another benefit of getting more education is that it has a tendency to make you a bit more articulate.  How you express yourself (and what you say) is the other half of your interview.

Rule #3 of Getting Hired:  How you speak is perceived as a direct reflection of your intelligence.

This may seem strange, but speaking clearly and articulately makes you appear more educated than you probably are.  To a hiring manager, speaking correct English clearly and articulately translates into "this person is intelligent."

Case in point... If an American-born candidate comes into my office, even if they are dressed neatly and are clean and groomed, and wants to "ax a question," or says "aaaaaight."  they're done.  It's that simple.

"But that's an incredibly racist thing to say!" you protest.  No, it isn't.  It's reality.  I don't expect my clients to have to learn Ebonics or decipher the subtle nuances of a Farsi accent to communicate with my company, and neither will your hiring manager.  Harsh?  You betcha.  True?  Absolutely.  If you can't speak your native tongue fluently and articulately without resorting to street slang, Ebonics, profanity, vulgarity, an accent thicker than the Great Wall of China, even colloquialisms, etc., you are not a candidate that I will ever hire for a position involving contact with my clients.  The good news is that you don't even have to speak English to be a grillman at McD's... much less be articulate.  But to land a job over minimum wage, you'd better brush up on the way you come across verbally.  Not exactly "politically correct," but very little of this guide will be.  If you're passionately into political correctness, do us both a favor and STOP NOW.  Spare yourself the PTS that will inevitably come with having to face the harsh realities of business... and life.

And profanity?  Don't even go there.  Instant rule-out.  Anyone that has to resort to profanity to get their point across, especially in a job interview, screams "This person is terminally unable to effectively communicate," or worse, "This person is dumb as a bag of hammers."

Don't mumble.  Speak clearly and distinctly.  Speak respectfully.  Make eye contact.  Don't stare into space, look around the office, or examine the carpeting for stains.  Eye contact exudes confidence and honesty.

Keep a respectful "distance" from your interviewer.  The hiring manager is not your "buddy," your "friend," a "dude," your "bro," or your "homey," no matter how much you think you've bonded in the last 3 minutes.  They're more than likely your future boss, and are watching to see how respectfully you would treat them and their bosses, should they be deluded enough to hire you.  Some languages carry this to an extreme to emphasize its importance in their culture.   For instance, in Japanese, there is a whole strata of language called "honorifics," whose soul purpose is showering respect on the person being addressed... a show of humility, respect and deference.  Too familiar too soon is a huge red flag.  Back-slapping is closely related to back-stabbing.

Spend some time brushing up on your vocabulary.  Read the newspaper or a non-fiction book.  Look up the words if you don't know them.  Listen to others speak.  Look up the words you don't recognize.  Chances are that if others use these terms, so will your hiring manager, and it doesn't make you look like a stellar candidate to give them a blank stare after they ask you how you feel about the recent resurgence in ancillary revenue inherent in non-negotiable debenture instruments.  OK, so that was an extreme example, but you get my point.  By the way, some truly mean-spirited hiring manages will pepper their interview with certain words to see if you understand them... and if you're honest about whether you understand them.  Snowing them is what they want to see... it's a rule-out.  It makes their job easier, and the decision to round-file your application a no-brainer.  Be honest (see Point #4 above).  Stop them and ask them what they meant... explain candidly that you're not familiar with that term.  This seems contrary to common sense, but to a hiring manager, it's pure Gold.  Someone who's willing to admit what they don't know, and ask for clarification is a "Keeper."  If someone tries to snow you in an interview, they'll try to snow you on the job, where the consequences could be disastrous.

For those who are eagerly awaiting the rest of this blog... I have both good and bad news.  The good news is that you'll be able to read it soon... in eBook format, with illustrations.  The bad news is that I decided to write it after I started this blog, so this is kind of a teaser.  Sorry.  :)

Stay tuned.  The best is yet to come.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tiptoeing Through the Minefield of Gay Marriage

Gay marriage is a very hot topic right now.  Lots of emotion on both sides, completely polarizing the country.  And, to a lessor extent, my church.  To add fuel to the bonfire, I have several close friends who are gay.  It is with them clearly in mind that I share my thoughts.

At the heart of the matter of gay marriage, what are the real issues?   And what important truths are we forgetting when considering this issue?  I have a lot of thoughts, so please bear with me. 

While many believe that truth is relative or transitional, I disagree.  Our understanding of that truth may vary and change from time to time, but truth itself is absolute.

As a man of faith, and as a Latter-day Saint, personal weaknesses notwithstanding, I believe in God.  Deeply.  No matter how fallible and "fallen" of a human being I am, I have an abiding, unmovable testimony of not only the reality of God, but of the fact that He speaks to us today through living prophets.  And I believe, as a man of faith and as a devoted father, that I owe it to my children to help them understand why I feel the way I do.  Especially about this issue.  I don't expect everyone to agree with me.  I'm sure that my gay friends will not.  Of course, just being a Latter-day Saint may immediately separate me or alienate me from many who might stumble across this blog, but it is what it is, and I make no apology for it.

I would venture that most of those who share my faith also share my testimony of the reality of God's existence, as well as the reality of the fact that He speaks today through living prophets.  Yet, it seems that occasionally some may want to "compartmentalize" that belief out of convenience... believe it when it's "safe," and then turn and question it when public pressure (or their own arrogance and pride) convince them that they actually know better than the Creator of the Universe.  To me, it's very simple.  God either is or He isn't.  He either speaks through living prophets or He doesn't.  End of story.

For those of faith; for those who share my faith particularly, this issue should be cut-and-dried, but as with all passionate issues, from time to time the sophistry and artificial intellect of the world may cloud our ability to discern truth from error. Sometimes we may even wake up to realize (hopefully not too late) that we enlisted in the wrong army.

As I have pondered this subject, the issues (at least to me) boil down to the following, in order of priority:

1)  What has the Lord said on the matter?  It is abundantly clear that the world simply doesn't care anymore.  We used to.  The Word of God used to be the core of our convictions as a nation.  Now, many (if not most) of those who advocate for gay marriage deny the existence of God altogether, opting instead for the convenience of moral relativism or the hedonistic comfort of secular humanism.  Their priority lies with carnal adult desire rather than divine sanction. 

But for a person of faith... of whatever faith... aren't the pronouncements of a loving, omniscient God ultimately the only reliable litmus test for any temporal or moral issue?  Sometimes we allow ourselves some leeway when the Lord has been silent on a particular matter, presumably watching us as a parent watches his or her child grapple with a specific dilemma, to see on which side the child will fall.  Sometimes this divine silence is misconstrued as implicit approval, or at the very least, divine apathy or non-commitment.  This is not the case with this issue.  God has been very clear... both in scripture and through the pronouncements of living prophets, whom we profess to believe.  The question is, "Do we?"  Those in Jesus' day were soundly condemned by the Savior because "they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."  Could that not be the same situation today with those who profess belief in living prophets, but then turn and reject the pronouncements of God that come through them? 

Unfortunately, some may even allow their own arrogance and pride to take priority over the very clear pronouncements of the Divine, even bowing so low as to begin second-guessing and questioning their own faith in their own belief system, and ultimately the reality of God Himself, in order to rationalize their own worldly leanings and convictions.... and their own arrogance.  Instead of standing strong as the Armies of Helaman, they instead lovingly nurture the seeds of apostasy, cowering in the hills of sedition and treason against the Divine... presumably because, at the end of the day, they honestly believe that they know better than God.

It certainly begs the question as to on how "firm a foundation" one stands when in direct defiance of God... regardless of whether or not one could intellectually "win the debate"?  Some of us seem to believe, as we are mesmerized in the thralls of our own self-adulation, that eloquence and sophistry equal being "right."  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  Lucifer "won the debate" in the minds of billions...  a full 1/3 of the host of heaven...  and he was as wrong as he was hopelessly selfish and arrogant.

God has declared both that homosexuality is a deep moral sin and that marriage should be between one man and one woman.  At different times throughout history, that definition has been [temporarily] expanded to include one man and more than one woman at the express instruction of the Lord, to "raise up seed unto Him."  At no time, however, has God condoned homosexual relations.  Ever.  In fact, many of the bloodiest, most brutal judgments of the Almighty have been because of the sin of rampant homosexuality.  Ask the former residents of Sodom & Gomorrah how tolerant the Lord was with them, and how much weight their arrogant arguments carried.  God has taught us very clearly that there is no "live and let live" complacency where this practice is concerned.  He has taught us that it is wrong, and it is evil.  Perhaps being omniscient, He saw the damage that it would do to society in our day.

2)  The children.  Those who advocate for gay marriage claim that there is no harm to children by having gay parents.  And in that, they are being flatly dishonest, and deliberately deceptive.  The very best that can honestly be said is that the jury is still out, and that it will take decades to gather solid data with which to prove this premise.  More realistically, one must reject out of hand hundreds of years of social science... and reality.  It is indisputable that children do better in homes with both a father and a mother.  Prominent sociologist David Popenoe wrote:  "The burden of social science evidence supports the idea that gender differentiated parenting is important for human development and that the contribution of fathers to childrearing is unique and irreplaceable."

He went on to explain that:

". . . The complementarity of male and female parenting styles is striking and of enormous importance to a child’s overall development. It is sometimes said that fathers express more concern for the child’s longer-term development, while mothers focus on the child’s immediate well-being (which, of course, in its own way has everything to do with a child’s long-term well-being). What is clear is that children have dual needs that must be met: one for independence and the other for relatedness, one for challenge and the other for support."

Social historian David Blankenhorn makes a similar argument in his book Fatherless America. In an ideal society, every child would be raised by both a father and a mother. ("The Divine Institution of Marriage)

The National Review printed an excellent article on this, titled "Beware the Science of Same-Sex Marriage," in which a mountain of serious and credible points were raised that were submitted as part of the Supreme Court Case on this matter in the form of Amicus Briefs ("friend of the court" briefs).  You can read it here.  I highly recommend it.

The following is but a brief snippet:

"Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife to be father and mother to any children their union produces. It is based on the anthropological truth that men and women are different and complementary, on the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and on the social reality that children need a mother and a father. Marriage has public purposes that transcend its private purposes.

"Marriage predates government. It is the fundamental building block of all human civilization. All Americans, especially conservatives, should respect this crucial institution of civil society. This is why 41 states, with good reason, affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman.

"Government recognizes marriage because it is an institution that benefits society in a way that no other relationship does. Marriage is society’s least restrictive means to ensure the well-being of children. State recognition of marriage protects children by encouraging men and women to commit to each other and take responsibility for their children. While respecting everyone’s liberty, government rightly recognizes, protects, and promotes marriage as the ideal institution for childbearing and childrearing.

"Redefining marriage would further distance marriage from the needs of children. It would deny as a matter of policy the ideal that a child needs a mom and a dad. We know that children tend to do best when raised by a mother and a father. The confusion resulting from further delinking childbearing from marriage would force the state to intervene more often in family life and cause welfare programs to grow even more.

"In recent years marriage has been weakened by a revisionist view that is more about adults’ desires than children’s needs. Redefining marriage represents the culmination of this revisionism: Emotional intensity would be the only thing left to set marriage apart from other kinds of relationships. Redefining marriage would put a new principle into the law—that marriage is whatever emotional bond the government says it is.

"Redefining marriage to abandon the norm of male-female sexual complementarity would also make other essential characteristics—such as monogamy, exclusivity, and permanency—optional. But marriage can’t do the work that society needs it to do if these norms are further weakened. All Americans, especially conservatives who care about thriving civil society capable of limiting the state, should be alarmed.

"Redefining marriage is a direct and demonstrated threat to religious freedom that marginalizes those who affirm marriage as the union of a man and a woman. We have already seen this in neighboring Canada and right here in places such as Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.  What should the Supreme Court do? The Supreme Court should not usurp democratic authority from citizens and their elected officials."

3)  True Equality and Liberty.  One of the most insidious lies that pro-gay marriage proponents put forth is that this is about "equality."  Contrary to the implicit suggestion of the pink-on-red "equal sign" that has become the icon of gay marriage, the fact is that gay marriage is not a "civil right" and never has been, outside of the mind of its proponents.  Proponents of gay marriage, when asked where those mysterious "civil rights" are defined and declared, can only bluster and obfuscate.   They simply don't exist.  The reality is that gay marriage proponents need such rights to exist in order to bolster their arguments and give them [artificial] credibility... so they fabricated them and then continually referenced and referred to the fabricated "rights" as though they were real.  The entire concept is a fraud of monumental proportions, invented to prop up an immoral agenda and perpetrate a massive scam on the American people.

It is interesting to note that the Founding Fathers of our nation self-admittedly constructed the Constitution and the Bill of Rights under the inspiration of God.  And nowhere within those inspired words do we find special accommodations for special interest groups of any flavor over the rights of the many.

The argument that this issue is about "equality" is nothing more nor less than a composite of several massive, glaring logical fallacies, all designed to appeal to emotion and to advance potential negative implications towards those who oppose it.  This is not the hallmark of a solid argument.  It is nothing more nor less than over-reaching ad-hominem.  When one has to resort to logical fallacy to advance an argument, one has lost the debate from the very beginning.  When one must fabricate a "right" to rally around that didn't previously exist, one has no basis for that position in the first place.

For instance, the argument that same-sex marriage equals "the pursuit of happiness" is a stunning example of carnal rationalization and inventive reasoning... and one that could easily be posited by NAMBLA...the "Man-Boy Love" movement.   They insist that they are merely pursuing happiness too.  The burning question seems to be "At what point do we draw the line?"  "At what point do we realize that our national morality is swirling the drain and make the conscious choice to reverse course?"  "Do we even have that right anymore?"  Many liberals argue that we never had such a right... that "anything goes" in a free society.  They argue that society has never had the right to regulate human behavior... that there should be no societal standards... that such is an infringement of our basic Constitutional rights of freedom and liberty.  But was that the intent of our Founding Fathers?  Even a brief skimming of their writings answers this question with profound emphasis.."No."  They knew the chaos, licentiousness, and havoc that such as society would produce.

What DID the architects of the Constitution feel about this issue?  Homosexuality was certainly not unknown in their day.  Was sexual preference identified as one of those "inalienable rights" that are given by God?  Why did they not specifically identify it as a "right"?  I realize that on one level, this is an argument from silence, but on another it is quite revealing.  The issue of sexual preference is not new.  Why, then, did they not "protect" it?  The answer is very simple.  These great men were guided by inspiration from God to lay the foundation of a Great Nation.  And none of them... not one... is recorded to have felt that sexual preference was an "inalienable right."  Or even acceptable to society in general.  Marriage, which predates government, was not something that either infringed on our freedom or which should be a candidate for "redefinition."  Personally, I think many of them would be spinning in their respective graves right now if they were aware that the Supreme Court of the United States were even hearing this argument.

If anyone has any doubts, consider their own words:

"It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible" - George Washington

"Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." - John Adams

"The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: It connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity." - John Quincy Adams

"I am a real Christian, that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus. I have little doubt that our whole country will soon be rallied to the unity of our creator." - Thomas Jefferson

"We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it, we have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God." - James Madison

"It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great Nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here." - Patrick Henry

Some may argue, however incoherently it may appear, that gay marriage is actually a First Amendment "religious freedom" issue, all the while ignoring the glorious irony in that argument.  The reality is that one of the most insidious challenges of gay marriage is the inherent threat to religious freedom that it poses.  Under the anti-religion philosophy of gay-rights proponents, any form of opposition to their lifestyle constitutes "discrimination."  And, curiously, they seem to believe that only they can truly and adequately define what constitutes "discrimination," and more importantly, that no one else's opinion matters.  As the Church Lady would say, "How conveeeeeeenient."  Such is the attitude of tyrants and despots.

As just one example of this, one of the primary stated goals of gay-rights activists is to force any and all religious institutions to perform gay marriages whether their sacred religious beliefs allow that or not.  Their strategy is very simple... destroy religious liberty through civil fiat.  They intend to accomplish this through manipulating and redefining "non-discrimination laws" so as to legally force all religious institutions to not only perform gay marriage, but to accept practicing gay members as completely moral and acceptable, without exception, and without opposition, and certainly without condemnation or discipline, whether it be in violation of their religious tenets or not.  In practicality, gay-rights activists envision a world where the gay lifestyle is elevated to the point where it is actually illegal to oppose it on any grounds.  Suddenly, this slippery slope would make it legally forbidden to quote certain passages of the Bible, or to preach against homosexuality in any way, or to equate it with "sin."

The LDS Church emphatically commented on the legal threats to religious liberty that are at stake with this issue in its statement "The Divine Institution of Marriage":

"Legalizing same-sex marriage will affect a wide spectrum of government activities and policies. Once a state government declares that same-sex unions are a civil right, those governments almost certainly will enforce a wide variety of other policies intended to ensure that there is no discrimination against same-sex couples. This may well place 'church and state on a collision course.'

"The prospect of same-sex marriage has already spawned legal collisions with the rights of free speech and of action based on religious beliefs. For example, advocates and government officials in certain states already are challenging the long-held right of religious adoption agencies to follow their religious beliefs and only place children in homes with both a mother and a father. As a result, Catholic Charities in Boston has stopped offering adoption services.     

"Other advocates of same-sex marriage are suggesting that tax exemptions and benefits be withdrawn from any religious organization that does not embrace same-sex unions. Public accommodation laws are already being used as leverage in an attempt to force religious organizations to allow marriage celebrations or receptions in religious facilities that are otherwise open to the public. Accrediting organizations in some instances are asserting pressure on religious schools and universities to provide married housing for same-sex couples. Student religious organizations are being told by some universities that they may lose their campus recognition and benefits if they exclude same-sex couples from club membership. 

"Many of these examples have already become the legal reality in several nations of the European Union, and the European Parliament has recommended that laws guaranteeing and protecting the rights of same-sex couples be made uniform across the EU.  Thus, if same-sex marriage becomes a recognized civil right, there will be substantial conflicts with religious freedom. And in some important areas, religious freedom may be diminished."

This issue is so important to the LGBT community and gay marriage advocates that both the well-being of children and the sacred integrity of our nation's religious framework must be forcefully sacrificed on the altar of their carnal adult desires... through whatever means necessary.  No longer satisfied with quietly living the lifestyle they have chosen, they now seek to impose it on the nation as a whole... forcefully... under penalty of their carefully-crafted "non-discrimination" laws.

And those who drink the artificially-flavored Kool-Aid of "tolerance" are unwittingly selling both their civil and religious liberties and freedoms down the proverbial "fountain of filthy water."  When Satan can convince even the elect that the "good is bad, and the bad is good," then the battle has been lost, and we, as a nation, are ripe for destruction.

Someone very close to me, and who I love very much, recently said, "So back off on the whole gay marriage thing. Sure, it's wrong, but it should be legal. It absolutely should be."

This position relies on the assumption that words, principles, and beliefs don't mean anything and that there is no such thing as the boogeyman... or groups that seek to silently and systematically destroy our religious freedom.  After all, it's just a word.  "Live and let live."  "It's wrong, but so what?"  The problem is that it's not just wrong... it will almost certainly lead to the destruction of all we hold to be sacred.  It's a seditious legal issue of the "Ignore that man behind the curtain!" variety.  And yet many of our elect are being sucked into this rationalization vortex in order to appease the gods of Political Correctness.

For those who share my faith, such a position as I related above is unconscionable.  After all, we believe and "solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children . . . The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity." Why then do we even entertain such positions, and intentionally open the door for Satan to stick his foot in?

The bottom line is that marriage means something.  It stands for something.  It is a divinely created institution that we are commanded to respect, honor, and revere... as much as those with whom we enter its sacred bonds.  Perhaps the very simple question we should all be asking ourselves, as some our own elect seek to gratify their inflated sense of self-importance, arrogance, and ego by opining on this issue, "Who's on the Lord's side?  Who?"