Tuesday, January 25, 2011

When my morals exceeded my church's morals

I was sitting on my bed this last Sunday, getting ready for the day, and I started contemplating morals I was taught growing up in the Mormon church versus the morals I hold now.  I'm not sure why that thought struck me then, when I rarely think about Mormonism much on a day to day basis.  It could have been the fleeting thought that I enjoy my Sundays much more than I used to, and that my children will never know the mind-numbing obedience drilling, that directed my thoughts down that path.

A common question to the irreligious by the religious is, "If you don't get your morals from god, where do you get them from?"  I would say I learned some beneficial morals from the Mormon church that have benefitted me in life.  The thing is, those things I learned transcend Mormon dogma and fall within the realm of civilized society.  I've said before that there's nothing positive I learned from the church that couldn't have been learned elsewhere, without a heaping helping of harmful stuff on top.

I learned to care for those different than me in spite of the church's teachings.  One thing that continues to stick in my mind is Constitutional Amendment 3, or the Utah Marriage Amendment introduced on the ballot in 2004.  I was fairly active in the church when that amendment was voted on and I remember being torn.  I knew what the church wanted me to do but it didn't feel right.  

Read that again.  

What my church, the source of my morals and guidance in life, wanted me to do didn't feel right to me and my own internal moral compass.  Who was I to prevent gay people from entering into committed relationships?  But according to the church Obedience is the first law of heaven.  So I voted in favor of limiting marriage to one man and one woman.  (insert polygamous pioneer joke here)  I felt sick about it.

I've since realized that placing such an emphasis on obedience is wrong for many reasons.  I could write a whole other blog post about it.  Maybe I will.  But I would argue that voting against my conscience was one of the first earnest cracks in my testimony.  Why would the holy ghost, supposedly the entity in charge of my moral compass, make me feel awful about doing what the church wanted me to do?

I've come to learn that there is no other intelligence guiding our decisions, only us and our knowledge gained thus far.  Somewhere along the way, even while attending church, I gained the knowledge it was wrong to quash the happiness and legal rights of others just for the sake of getting a gold star for following the rules.

Being gay isn't a sin, it's a genetic, environmentally, and developmentally acquired trait that causes your brain to romantically prefer the same sex.  You can choose to ignore it, and behave straight, and try to marry someone of the opposite sex, and have children.  But that preference never goes away, because it's hard-wired in you.  If you exhort someone to ignore that preference, especially from the pulpit of authority, I believe you're asking individuals to break another one of god's rules.  The one about being honest, especially to one's self.  And I think that's one of the most important rules a person can learn in this life.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My New Second Job

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to draw comics. Telling a story with drawings is something that spoke to me at a primeval level. It's something that's been there in the back of my mind, constantly buzzing, and no amount of ignoring or brushing away would make it leave.

My stint in the mad house brought this desire back under the spotlight of my mind, with the free time and encouragement I received there. I'd forgotten how great it felt to lose yourself and lose all track of time working on a project. When I got out I immediately bought myself a tablet, a copy of photoshop and painter. And then life encroached on my enthusiasm once more.

Not having attended more than a single class of college and getting lackluster grades in high school, I never properly learned the trait of discipline. Of working hard and seeing a project through to fruition, no matter the distractions. This has been a painful lesson that I keep attempting to learn again and again.

Seriously, who wants to work for 8 hours, come home and work more? There is housework, and kids, and after that you just want to decompress. To whittle down the pile of games to play, books to read, movies and tv shows to watch. Is that so bad?

And that's the excuse that I've allowed myself for three years now and it's time to break the habit. To break the me that's been holding my dreams back. I feel like I'm a broken record, looking back over old blog posts, trying to convince myself to finally do it. This may be the answer I've been looking for.

I've decided, if this is something I truly want to do with my life, if I want to pursue art as a career, then I need to start treating it with a level of professionalism I haven't in the past. I will treat it as a second job, something that I come home from my day job and continue working on. I've seen enough success stories to know that a little talent mixed with a lot of hard work pays off. Maybe not immediately but where would I rather be in five years? Five more years of excuses? Or five years worth of work I can look back on with pride.

Nobody's ever laid on their death bed saying, "Goddamn I wish I played more videogames."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Paty Is At My Other Pad

It seems kind of dead here because I'm posting quite a bit over on my other project related blog.

This blog will remain open as an outlet for my personal life, ruminations on existence, new music and concert reviews, and whatever the hell else isn't part of my project. Right now, though, I'm trying to get swept away by my project and complete something for once in my goddamn life.

In personal news, the little man is only sixteen days from joining the human race and I can't wait. Lets see my project live through that life disruption. ;D

Friday, December 04, 2009

So Many Shiny Things

This is what I'm talking about, Internet. In the time elapsed since my last blog post I have a mountain of things I'm considering devoting my time towards. Some are creative endeavors, some are media consumption, all present their siren song to me and I'm torn in a dozen different directions.

I could probably continue with pages and pages of similar stuff. Just today I wondered how much Darkwind: War on Wheels cost per month, like I can squeeze it in somewhere between my thousands of ambitions.

How do you go about paring down what really matters and focus on it?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Internet, I Have A Problem

Dear Internet,

I know you give so much to me. You give me LOLCats and Pokerface mashups, Fail Blog and Christian Bale Techno. But I need to ask you for something, something that may not be in your normal area of expertise, with your look-at-the-latest-bit-of-funny modus operandi. I know you have your deep areas as well, so I have hope.

Internet, I'm a failure when it comes to seeing things through to the end. Half-finished pieces of artwork, code, game ideas, electronic paper dolls, world-building documents, even saved game files lie littering my drive like rusting chassis in a post apocalyptic ghost town. My mind is perpetually wandering for the latest fun thing to latch onto and I throw myself haphazardly into whatever sounds most fun at the time.

I fear I may end up like my father, with the inborn talent and inclination towards art but without the drive to see it through. My drawings and paintings will end up something I show my children as something I did once upon a time, reminder of a possible future that now seems lost.

Some days I wonder if improving my art is even something I want to pursue, or if it's something I fooled myself into believing I was actually good at. The last few times I've put pencil to paper I came nowhere close to what I intended to draw, and I had even seemed to regress from my previous ability.

All these ideas swim in my head. Ideas that push back at me when I try to focus on them, mocking me that I once thought them in the realm of my possibilities.

Internet, how do I break through that pushback before I'm once again lost again to my creative nomadism? How do I settle in one place long enough to build the house I dream of building? How do I gain the discipline to become the artist I am in my dreams?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

One Impressed KUER Listener

Sometime in the past year I've become an NPR fiend. Instead of listening to local alternative stations or my iPod, I'm keeping up with world politics and news on All Things Considered or The World, depending on what time I'm commuting that week.

Previous to my discovery of the wonder that is Public Radio I had the misfortune of thinking KSL was my only choice for news. KSL runs the Sean Hannity show and oh the months I listened to that idiot, thinking his skewed and dishonest version of the daily news was the only option I had. If I ever hear another one of his listeners call him a "Great American"... *shudder*

But life is better now.

On to the real reason I'm making this post. Back in mid-September Doug Fabrizio ran a piece called Nuture Shock about misconceptions about parenthood and discipline, lying, etc. During one of the bumpers he had this awesome synthpop sounding piece of music. Being the huge slave I am to synthpop I HAD to find out what he used.

I hopped over to the KUER website and looked for a forum discussing the Radio West pieces but didn't find any. I found a contact us link and fired off an e-mail listing the name of the piece and the exact time stamp it started, hoping that would help whomever received my random e-mail. A month passed and I figured they were probably too busy actually running a radio show to respond to a silly question like mine.

Well this afternoon Elaine Clark, senior producer for Radio West e-mails me back apologizing that it took so long to respond. She even went as far to check on the site they pulled it from, the audio section of Newgrounds (which I didn't even know existed, I thought it was all games) and found it wasn't there anymore. She gave me the name of the artists and the title of the song and I was quickly able to find their homepage and the song.

Thank you Elaine, for going above and beyond for a listener. I love public radio.

Here's You Make Me by Blarsa.

Monday, February 23, 2009

To My Friends on Utah's Capitol Hill

(After the defeat of ALL the Common Ground Initiative bills I had some questions for those that were instrumental in their failure.  This is the email sent to the hearing committee, my representative Chris Buttars, Gayle Ruzicka, The Utah Eagle Forum mailing list, and Mike Waddoups)

In your rush to proclaim The Common Ground Initiative a trojan horse for gay marriage did you once stop to think about the living, breathing, feeling people you're disparaging.  In your cursory dismissal during the hearing committees did you ever stop to listen to the gay men and women that showed up to tell you their stories?  Do they register as people worthy of empathy by you?  Do they register as fellow citizens of this state?

Or are they an amorphous nameless faceless group to you?  "Common knowledge" and "tradition" already tell you where to stand on the issue and further introspection and inquiry isn't required?

Even LDS church spokesmen have come out and said they support equal rights for the gay community yet you, our elected officials, are unwilling to even grant them protection from being fired or evicted for the simple fact that they're gay.  It doesn't even matter if you agree that being gay is a choice or not.  Religion is a federally protected class and that is most definitely a lifestyle choice.

Thirty years from now do you want to look back on newspaper clippings with your names listed as those who were on the wrong side of history.  Not so long ago the Utah Legislature was promoting miscegenation and segregation, quoting scripture and church leadership as reasons why we should support those ideas.  We now say Brigham Young and Ezra Taft Benson were speaking as men when they proudly declared racism from the church pulpit.  In thirty more years the church may say Thomas Monson was only speaking as a man when he encouraged members to give time and money to standing in the way of gay marriage.

When Chris Buttars empahtically declares that gay marriage will destroy this country, he's no more prophetic than you or me.  How does he know it will destroy this country?  Did God witness to him the truth of that claim?  What if the rest of us didn't receive that confirmation?  What if some of us went to vote on the Utah marriage amendment four years ago and felt sick when choosing to secure "traditional marriage"?

All I'm asking is for you to consider people.  Not tradition, not scripture, not authority.  Consider the men, women, and families that come to tell you their stories, that live in your districts, that want the same things you all want.  To build a life, raise kids, and grow old with the person they love.