Friday, September 19, 2014

What is grace?

There are a lot of definitions for this word depending upon its usage. In this instance I am talking about the Christian application of the word, specifically to the people of the Earth who are Gods children.

We are given agency.

In the bold experiment which is Earth, humans were given the agency to make choices. Those choices allow us to learn who we really are and what we want out of existence. Some choices are good, some are bad and all are our own.

God is perfect.

To dwell with God a person needs to be equally as perfect as God. To follow his laws, to meet the standards necessary to live in heaven, requires an already perfect being with nothing to tarnish their souls. Removing that tarnish requires atonement. As you would expect, this is not a simple task nor are we capable of completing it.

We make mistakes.

Humans are flawed. It was guaranteed that everyone would make mistakes at some point in their life. We would commit some flawed act or our intentions would be impure in a way that would tarnish our souls making us imperfect. This did not surprise God, nor did he fail to plan for it.

Perfection is a long way away.

It is an interesting word: perfect. It means without flaw. In mathematics we play with functions that approach a limit. The function can sometimes reach that limit, but it is impossible to reach it without applying infinity. Perfection of our souls is like this. As we make good choices our souls approach that limit, and though we can see the direction we are headed actually reaching the limit requires an infinite effort. Any number, when compared to infinity is effectively zero. This means that no matter how much work we put in to approaching perfection it is effectively zero.

The Atonement is infinite.

Bringing all of God's children up to snuff so that they can dwell with him is an infinite task. There is no way we could all pay for our shortcomings. To make up for this it took a special person to atone for all God's children and that atonement was infinite.

His grace is sufficient.

Christ made an atonement for our flaws. He did the time when we did the crime. In essence he has created equity by which he can buy our entrance into the presence of God. That equity is grace.

Made perfect.

With all our shortcomings atoned for, we just need to be made perfect. That will take time, a lot of time, but in the meantime we can dwell with God to hash things out.

Be perfected.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Gun Ownership Myths

Many recent conversations on gun control have sparked my need to look it all up. Since most people I speak with are pro-guns I thought I'd collect some data and post it here.

Where do you stand on Gun Control?

To be clear: I like the idea of having the right to own a gun. I just don't want one anywhere near my family or home.

So, you're for and against gun control?

It seems a bit contradictory, but this isn't a simple subject and the people generating the discussion are not helping. Examples include the NRA trying to stop government funding for safety research or Congress creating laws that do not allow the public to see Gun Store compliance records. Here is a list of pro-gun arguments that I think need some looking at:

1. Owning a gun makes you safer.

If you own a gun you have a higher risk of accidental death, suicide and homicide from a gun. In 2011, you were ten times as likely to be shot & killed in an argument than to stop a crime. In fact, for every time someone uses a gun in self- defence seven times as many die from assaults & murders, eleven times as many die from suicide attempts, and 4 times as many die in gun related accidents. Most of which happen near the home.

Of households with kids and guns 43% have at least one unlocked firearm. When testing kids, one third of 8-12 year-old boys who found a handgun also pulled the trigger. In Philadelphia you are 4.5 times more likely to be shot if you carry a gun and your odds of dying are 4.2 times greater. In states with higher gun ownership we have higher homicide rates (see graph above).

Even for women, having a gun in the home make you nearly 6 times more likely to be shot by a husband, boyfriend, and ex-partner than to be murdered by a male stranger. If you're in an abusive relationship you are 7 times more likely to be killed if he has access to a gun. In states with higher gun ownership rates, women were 4.9 times more likely to be murdered by a gun than in states with lower gun ownership.

2. An armed society is a polite society.

This is simply not true. If anything it fuels aggression. Armed drivers are more likely to make obscene gestres and follow other drivers aggressively. Stand your ground laws have led to a 7-10% increase in homicides in the states that have them. Even concealed-handgun licenses make people more likely to threaten other people.

3. Guns don't kill people, people kill people.

This one's my favorite because it assumes that without guns the same number of people would die each year. Guns do have an effect on homicide rates. For example states with the highest percentage of gun owners have a 114% higher murder rate than the states witht the lowest percentages of gun owners. States with gun restrictions tend to have lower rates of death by guns.

4. The Government Is Going to Take Your Guns

The thought here is that the Government is somehow going to pass a law that requires you to turn in your guns. Not only is this unlikely, it is also unconstitutional. We have no idea how many guns there are in the US, but there are approximately 260 million guns here, most of which are owned by private citizens which will outgun all enforcement agencies 40 to 1.

5. We don't need more gun laws we just need to enforce the ones we have.

2 out of 5 guns were purchased through a private seller which does not require a background check. 40% of inmates that used guns in their crimes purchassed them privately. 62% of online gun sellers were willing to sell to buyers who said they couldn't pass a background check. Undercover researchers were able to convince 20% of licensed California gun dealers to sell them handguns. All evidence that our existing laws are unable to properly deter mis-sale of firearms.

Ban Guns?

Heavens no. We just need to figure out a better way to get things done. I'm not sure what that is yet and you can bet I'll make a post about it when I do. Till then, think for yourselves. If you don't want the risks, don't buy the guns or at the very least: make sure the guns you have are hard for even you to get to.

Be safe.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mormons and Rated R Movies

While having a discussion about the Oscars with my brother he mentioned that the Prophet clearly stated that we should not watch Rated R movies. This prompted me to go actually look it up and it turns out, as I previously suspected, this is not true.

You weren't having a discussion with your brother?

No, that the Prophet said we're not supposed to watch movies that are Rated R. I have heard this from many different people over the years and I must have looked into it at some point because I always get this feeling it's not true.

So what did the Prophet say?

I could paraphrase, but why not put the actual quote and reference here:

"We counsel you, young men, not to pollute your minds with such degrading matter, for the mind through which this filth passes is never the same afterwards. Don’t see R-rated movies or vulgar videos or participate in any entertainment that is immoral, suggestive, or pornographic. Don’t listen to music that is degrading." - Ezra Taft Benson, April 1986 Conference. To the “Youth of the Noble Birthright”

He begins that talk with "Tonight I would like to speak directly to you young men of the Aaronic Priesthood." This talk was clearly directed toward the young men of the church which is clearly understood to be the Aaronic Priesthood holders 12-18 years of age. This is the first mention of Rated R movies by a Prophet and with good reason too. In the 80s it was becoming cool to be under 18 and see a Rated R movie. I remember my friends that year trying to buy tickets for Aliens, Platoon, Stand by Me and the like.

What about girls?

He left that out for some reason, but that didn't stop people from believing he meant everyone. All the subsequent mentions of Rated R movies I found fall into these categories:

  1. Quotation - This is where the general authority (Seventies) quotes Ezra Taft Benson's talk often only using the "Don’t see R-rated movies" part and omitting the context (Kofford). This implies that the Prophet has said no when he said no to the people who shouldn't see it.
  2. Personal Preference - This is often stated as "I would never watch another R-rated movie again (Bednar)" or "in our family we have decided to not see R-Rated movies." And I applaud them for using their God given agency.
  3. No Reference - This one is almost as bad as #1. The speaker/writer says "the prophets have told us not to" and leaves it at that. The fact that no Prophet has commanded the people to avoid any specific rating of movie eludes them.

So we all should watch Rated R movies?

No, we should stop saying a Prophet commanded us to do so. This falls in line with saying the Prophet commanded us not to have caffeine, chocolate and doctor prescribed drugs. He didn't and I wish Mormons would stop saying he did. This has become part of Mormon culture and it is not a good facet of our people. We should choose for ourselves the good from the evil. Why else are we given the Gift of the Holy Ghost and the Spirit of Christ if not to discern for ourselves?

So, banning Rated R movies is not a commandment?

Nope, and sad is the day when the Prophet says so. It will mean that the membership of the church is incapable of making good content watching decisions for themselves and their families. "For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward" (DC58:26).

Be discerning.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Homeopathic Remedies & Homeopathy

You have heard these words spoken from time to time, usually to help shore up the validity of some product. "My Naturolpathic Doctor recommends homeopathic remedies." "My kid's teacher suggests Airborne®, it's homeopathic." They have an interesting meaning and I think everyone should know.

What is homeopathy?

Good question, it was created by Samuel Hahneman in 1796. It was during a time when bloodletting and purging were still being practiced. With all this bleeding, sweating & vomiting going on there had to be a better way.

Was it homeopathy?

For a time, yes. We should get more into the explanation of what it is. There are four parts to homeopathy: the preparation, miasms, dilution & the proofing.

Well, if they proved it...

Ludicillin, for all your ludicrous problems.That's not what the proofing means. They would test all kinds of things on healthy people and record what symptoms they developed from these substances. So if Ludicillin turned you green and broke wind often they would wright that down and that is a proofing of that substance.


So once we know what causes a set of symptoms we know that the substance resonates with those symptoms. What this means is that if someone walks in with green skin the doctor should ask "Do you fart a lot." If the patient asks yes then you should give them Ludicillin (you know, the thing that causes those symptoms).

Surely you don't give them the cause.

Well, actually you don't. One of the things homeopathy was trying to fix was doctors giving poisonous agents to their patients to hopefully cure them. So good ol Hahneman said the medicine should be diluted. And he said the more diluted the medicine was the more effective it would be.


Well the patients didn't need to know how it worked, just if they got better or not and since it was much more effective than poison, vomiting & bloodletting, people thought it was a good idea.

How dilute?

If you take a gallon of the Ludicillin and put it into 9 gallons of water you get what is called a 1 solution. If you put 1 gallon of the 1 solution solution into 9 gallons of water you get a 2 solution. 1 gallon of 2 solution in 9 gallons of water, 3 solution, etc. So a 1 solution is 10 gallons, 2 solution 100, 3 solution 1,000, etc.

What kind of dilution are we talking about?

For homeopathy, they want 28 solutions and 30 solutions. I've even heard of a 32 solution. So, for a 30 Solution you would have 1 gallon of the Ludicillin in 999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999,999 gallons of water.

That's a lot of water.

You probably need an image of how big that is. A 30 solution would make a sphere with a radius of 966,811km (1,611,351 miles). That's a ball of water 70% the size of the Sun or 2.5 times the distance to the Moon. Now imagine dumping 1 gallon of your medicine into the ball, shaking it up, and pulling a cup of that out. How much of the medicine do you think would be in that cup? Avogadro put a limit on that.

Avogadro's Limit?

Yes, if you take a 1 part of a 23 Solution there is a 50% chance there will be 1 molecule of the substance in it. So a 30 Solution has 1 chance in 20,000,000 to have 1 molecule in it.

Is homeopathy a sham?

In not so many words, yes. It's fine when people are trying to fix a runny nose or a headache. The placebo effect should help them. It becomes a problem when they claim to fix more serious issues. Homeopathic remedies will never fix any ailment.

Be healthy.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Too Many Mormon Infographics

They keep churning them, so I'll keep posting them: Another installment of Infographics created by the Mormon Church.

Mormon Youth SeminaryYouth Seminary

Teenagers in the LDS church attend Seminary. Where I grew up we would go to seminary before school from 6:15-7:15 am. We'd get out just in time to start High School at 7:50 am. Kids in areas that have a high percentage of LDS people will often get "away time" so they can attend Seminary during school hours. Our High School does just that, and there's a Seminary building right next door. Crazy.

Mormon Missionary ServiceMormon Missionary Service

People always love the missionaries. I know, because I was one. Surprisingly everyone loved me anyway. This infographic covers some cool statistics about missionaries.

The difference between Mormon Temples and ChapelsThe Difference Between Mormon Temples & Chapels

There are a lot of people that have seen our Temples and seem to think that's where we all meet on Sundays. We don't. This oddity breeds a lot of speculation of what we actually do in Temples that ranges from the offensive to the obscene. The truth would disappoint you all.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Marriage Does Not Define Same Sex Unions

This term is what is used to define a union between a man & man or a woman & woman. It is being incorrectly used and I think the gay community should be offended.

Here we go again.

Maybe. It's been on everyone's mind more than it probably should. It has been discussed on this blog more than once. Mostly because this is where I put my possibly offensive political and religious opinions.

So what's different?

Marriage does not define same sex unions.

Nothing, everything. I'll start with quickly defining marriage. It is used to define a union between a man and a woman. The word marriage actually includes both man and woman in it's etymology. The latin "matrem" means mother and the latin "monium" means the action, state or condition of. Together they define the creation of a state where the woman becomes a mother. The word actually defines traditional marriage.

But the world has changed.

Not really. 95% of women on the planet have been married to a man by age 49 (1). That means 95% of women know what marriage means. By sheer volume of understanding, the definition of marriage stands.

But the laws & rulings?

There have been laws passed and rulings made in the last decade that have been trying to change the definition of the word. We can all vote to change the meaning of water, but water is still two hydrogen and one oxygen in a chemical bond and no amount of money and lawyers will change that.

So gay folk can't get married?

Yes. Society has bombarded them with the idealism of marriage their whole lives. Why shouldn't they want to add that label to their unions? They love each other, they want to start a family, they want to be just like everyone else...but they're not.

How rude!

Stop right there. What is wrong with not being like everyone else? They go on parade celebrating their differences. They fight in court to have rights applied to them as a seperate protected group (and rightly so). They have gone out of their way to point out how they are proud to be different.

But they're not?

This argument is much like a stereotypical Feminist demanding to be a man. Not demanding the same rights as a man, but demanding to legally be a man. Not a sex change, that's a whole other discussion. She demands to have her birth certificate say man, her employment records to say man, her tax returns to say man, legally a man in every way, but she's still a woman. A true feminist would find this idea offensive. What is wrong with being a woman that you would need to legally be a man? Fight for the rights not the label.

How does this apply to gay marriage?

They're fighting for the wrong thing. The label does not define them. They will forever be fighting people to agree with their new label when it does not fit them. Just like a the woman above arguing with someone that she's a man when clearly she's not. I think the gay community should be offended.

Well, they are mad.

They should celebrate the virtues that make them who they are. Not try to conform to a label that they can never live up to. The gay community needs to understand this before they find that their victories are hollow.

Hollow victories?

Yes, this is not like slavery. Slavery was about denying human rights to people who are human. Gay marriage is about fighting to obtain a label to define something that label does not define. Many of the rights are already available and more are being won every day without the offending label. So it doesn't matter if you are fighting to call alcohol water, when what you want is the right to drink alcohol.

And can get drunk?

This is not something that goes away with the generations. 100 years from now they will still know the etymology of marriage. They will still know that 2 men or 2 women cannot have children on their own. They will still know that a happy household with a mom & dad produce happier and healthier children. If it looks like a goose, walks like a goose, honks like a goose it's not a duck, but it doesn't mean that geese are lame.

Honk if your gay!

Do not hate your brother's & sisters because they disagree with you. My gay friends are dear to me and I am tired of them hurting over something that shouldn't have hurt them at all.

Be equitable.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Supreme Court Ruling on Proposition 8

This is a quick explanation of the actual Supreme Court ruling on Proposition 8. Unfortunately it is not actually about Proposition 8, it is about the people's right to defend it.

Proposition 22

In California, voters passed a law (Proposition 22) in 2000 defining marriage. The Gay Marriage community threw money at it until they found a loophole they could invalidate it with. The decision by the California Supreme Court was that since the California constitution did not have any words about Gay Marriage in it, a law containing those words was unconstitutional. Proposition 22 was invalidated.

Proposition 8

Insensed at being disenfranchised by money and lawyers the people of California decided to change California's constitution to include the wording defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The Gay Marriage supporters filed suit to prevent the initiative from being placed on the ballot. The California Supreme Court upheld the right of the initiative to be placed on the ballot. It again passed and the Gay Marriage supporters went to task throwing money at the problem trying to find a loophole.

Proposition 8 Upheld

The California Supreme Court upheld the Proposition 8 as voted. The case was then taken to Federal Court.

The People Fight Back

When suit was filed in Federal Court to get rid of the initiative that was passed by the people...again, the people who were supposed to uphold the law decided not to. It is the job of elected officials to defend the laws voted in by the people otherwise laws mean nothing. Governor Schwarzenegger decided to force his opinion on the people by not defending the case and allowing the plaintiffs to win by default. The people who passed the law asked to defend the law they passed and were allowed to be named as defendant in the trial.

The People go to Trial

The case was heard by the Federal Court and Proposition 8 was overturned because it was not in the state's interests to allow the banning of Gay Marriage. This judgement was from a self identified Gay Judge. It was in his own self interest to have Proposition 8 repealed and I'm surprised this was allowed. The people then appealed this judgement with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals the Federal Appellate court for California. They ruled that the California Amendment to its Constitution was Unconstitutional according to the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution.

US Supreme Court Ruling

The appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judgement went to the US Supreme Court and they made an odd decision. But let's recap first:

  1. Prop 22 passed.
  2. Prop 22 repealed by CA Supreme Court.
  3. Prop 8 proposed.
  4. Prop 8 allowed on ballot by CA Supreme Court.
  5. Prop 8 passed.
  6. Prop 8 Upheld by CA Supreme Court.
  7. Leaders won't defend law in Federal Court.
  8. The people defend the law instead.
  9. Gay Federal Judge repeals Proposition 8.
  10. Ninth Court Of Appeals Upholds Gay Judge's decision.

So the US Supreme Court Ruling today was not to repeal Proposition 8. It was not to uphold the California Supreme Court Decision. It was not to uphold the Ninth Court's decision. What was it you ask?

The US Supreme Court ruled that the People are not allowed to defend a law.

What are we supposed to to when our leaders go against the public will? How are we supposed to defend ourselves? We cannot. Or at least that's what the US Supreme Court ruled today. If the Governor at the time, Schwarzenegger, had actually done his job Proposition 8 would have been upheld and would be in place.


The smart part of their ruling is that it has nothing to do with Gay Marriage. They completely skirted the issue. This will not affect states where the laws have already passed. Nor will it prevent future laws from being passed. This only affects laws challenged in Federal Court where the people with the standing to defend them refuse to do so. I can only hope that the case is refiled and the Governor steps up to do his job. For now:

Be legal.