Earth to the Evanglicals

I thought the speech was masterfully written, and well delivered.

Today, I’m just a little angry at those who say, “Mitt still didn’t address the “issues” we have with his faith.”

First of all, Mitt said (rather eloquently) that he does not owe it to anyone to justify his faith. He went further to say that discussions of such topics have no place in presidential politics, a sentiment Mike Huckabee echoed when he was recently pressed about his views on female clergy in his own Baptist sect.

Second of all, Mitt, if we didn’t reach ’em by now, we’re not going to reach ’em. There is a very vocal minority out there who simply will not vote for a Mormon. They have been brainwashed by their pastor or by anti-mormon literature to a point where Mormons are the devil incarnate. They will not ever support you, so let’s stop trying to win them over.

Along those lines, I’m going to go out on a limb here…

I just want to ask any Evangelical out there who might come across this blog… why Mormonism? Why must you attack it so vehemently? Mormon doctrines and practices are no more crazy than those of other faiths who disagree with your theology. Why aren’t there scads of anti-Muslim literature papering our public school’s parking lots? Why aren’t you devoting full sermons to anti-Catholic rhetoric? Why aren’t you publishing anti-Semitic films and protesting outside every Synagogue and Diocese?

Why are you so focused on Mormons? You must be afraid of us for some reason. Why is that?

Shifting gears a bit, let me ask you this. Where is Jesus in this video? Where is the Christianity in this?

Please tell me that at least one of you Evangelicals out there is appalled by how this minister would sit there and denigrate such a dedicated, faithful woman. He shrouds his hate speech in a feigned “love” and “reaching out.” His real purpose is to spread the half-truths about the Mormon belief system.

I find this kind of personal attack appalling, ugly, and unchristian.What ever happened to “Love your enemies?” How is this preacher emulating the love of Christ by spewing this kind of hate speech over the public airwaves? How can he honestly look into that camera, say those awful things, and then claim he is a true Christian? (and a Christian leader at that…)

If people and the media were attacking Obama’s race or Hillary’s gender as much they are Mitt’s Mormonism, there would be a fierce public outcry. It would be deemed an unacceptable and immoral attack. People all over the country would just shake their heads…

So why do these hate and fear mongers get a pass? Sounds like a religious test to me.

Holiday Gift Idea 2

Today’s holiday gift is a lovely addition to any family:


Snakes and reptiles make great pets, and children love to receive pets for Christmas.  There’s no greater excitement than going through your presents and hearing a *bark* *bark* or a *hiss* *hiss*.

In fact, if you’re lucky, the snake might be so provoked from your child jiggling the package that the moment the package is opened, the snake will already be coiled and ready to strike!


Holiday Gift Idea 1

I have decided that as part this great Christmas season, each day I will be featuring a holiday gift idea. Some might be serious, some not.

Today’s gift is something old that has now been made new again:

Chia Pet

Chia Pets… I’ve never seen one actually in real life. Do people really buy these things? Is this a constant gift/regift thing? Do they even work?

Please, if I have any chia pet readers, enlighten me as to what these things are…

The Happiest (Most Evil) Place on Earth

I had promised a run down of my recent Disneyland vacation, so I thought I had better get it done before it was totally wiped from the slate of my memory (which we all know doesn’t take much).


Walt Disney was a visionary and a genius. And also an evil sorcerer.

When you leave the public streets and enter Disneyland, you go to an alternate reality. Disneyland is more than the park and rides. Disneyland is the parking, the tram, the ticket booth, and the turnstile to get in. It’s the smell of roasting chestnuts on Mainstreet Disney. It’s the street sweepers, the wandering characters, and even the lines you wait in. Every experience from start to finish is awash with the “disney magic.”

Disney Magic is simply attention to the finest details and the sparing of no expense. It’s a new (sometimes unexpected) discovery around every corner. When you walk through the turnstile at Disneyland, instead of hearing a clunk clunk, you hear a magical wand sound. When they scan your ticket, instead of hearing a grocery store beep, you hear a magical whoosh. This noise must get annoying to the ticket takers, but they don’t seem to let it phase them.

To understand what I mean by the attention to detail, just look down anywhere you are in the park. Even the concrete has been systematically planned and artistically executed. The stamped patterns, textures, and even reflectiveness of it is cohesive with whatever section of the park you are actually in. The illusion is all encompassing. It’s felt from the texture under your feet to the smell under your nose, to the touch and feel of the walls, rails, and barricades.

… And you find yourself unable to keep from smiling and enjoying.

Now, making a leap deeper, I have to go back to my literary theory classes (Thanks Professor Jones!) to make my argument why Walt was also an evil sorcerer.

Jean Baudrillard, a french philosopher, wrote a theory called Simulacra and Simulations which alleges that the original human experience has been replaced by only a simulation (an illusion) of what we perceive the human experience to be like. Wikipedia says it a little better:

Baudrillard claims that modern society has replaced all reality and meaning with symbols and signs, and that the human experience is of a simulation of reality rather than reality itself.

Baudrillard theorized there were 4 levels of simulacra that are possible. I will illustrate using a popular Disney ride, the Mark Twain riverboat:

  1. Original: The original riverboats paddled up and down the Mississippi in the 19th century. None of us have ever been on one, so we have no primary knowledge of the exact conditions on one. We understand they were an effective mode of transportation, but like many things of the era were still technologically primitive, dirty, prone to running down and problems.
  2. Faithful Copy: A fully restored riverboat that today sits in a museum where people can experience what it might have been like to be on such a riverboat. Such a display is an attempt to understand and faithfully copy what it must have looked and been like on a riverboat.
  3. Unfaithful Copy: A retrofitted riverboat, which uses modern propulsion techniques rather than the inefficient Steam/Coal/Paddle boat, but which preserves these mechanisms to give the illusion that they are powering the boat. This puts new technology and new comforts above the actual historical preservation.
  4. Unfaithful copy replaces the original: The retrofitted riverboat becomes so efficient and predominant that all old riverboats are forgotten, dismantled, and destroyed. The very perception of what a riverboat is now changes to the unfaithful copy. Children are raised to think of it as the riverboat itself.

So by the middle of day 2 I started to ask myself, where have they fallen on Baudrillard’s scale of simulacra? I think they are somewhere between #3 and #4. For children who have limited world view and experience, they are certainly #4.

This led me to wonder, what is the morality and implications of Disneyland? Is it right and responsible to create such an all-encompassing world view and expect (successfully) for the masses to buy into it (literally with their wallets)? Do they do us a disservice by leading us to believe in their plastic, idealized, pre-packaged world view? Are they generations down the path to simluation #4, where our children’s children will believe that the big matterhorn is only 7 stories tall?

On the other hand, do they do a service by creating a simplified “it’s a small world” escape for people to temporarily suspend their outside problems? After all, people haven’t forgotten that they also have lives and jobs and outside concerns.

I think I agree with some of the philosophers that the “hyperreal” is taking over our human reality. In an era of digital images, and the ease of distorting and changing them, we actually are creating alternate realities, and realities that don’t even exist. (I look happy in this picture, I look skinny in this picture, etc) We become more wrapped up in the perception of ourselves and our reality that we lose track of the actual reality itself.

Where I disagree is that I think there is a core in each human, call it a soul or spirit, that will always bring that person back to the essence of who they are. That even while in simulation #3, in Disneyland, I still can look inside me and find the same hopes, fears, likes, dislikes, and problems that existed before.

Hmm… sorry to get all crazy there. It’s fun sometimes to dabble in that theoretical crap.

But, the real joy of Disneyland is the excitement and energy of the kids who you are with, or people who are seeing it all for the first time. All theories aside, it keeps them happy and entertained, and gives them an experience unlike anything else they have ever seen before. One they will remember (but hopefully not substitute for reality) for a long time.

Mitt Will Give Mormon Speech

mitt-romney-for-president-3.jpg… and it’s about freaking time!

Voters, media, and some advisers have been poking and prodding at him to do this for months. Ever since he came into this race, he has been constantly questioned about his LDS faith. Imagine being him; everyday a new attack, a new ornery attitude. I’m sure there were days where time after time he was confronted with the “mormon” question. If I were Mitt, I be sick of it and would have put the issue to bed months ago.

But the fact that I thought he should have given this speech in August or September is irrelevant. The fact is, he is going to give it now, and here is what he needs to do:

  1. Manage expectations. The temptation of the media will be to compare this to the John F Kennedy speech. That speech was incredibly historical and brilliant, and in an incredibly appropriate setting: a southern baptist leader’s conference. The Mitt Machine needs to lower expectations that this speech will be anything close to JFK.
  2. Over-deliver. After successfully managing expectations, Mitt really needs to hit this one out of the park. This is quite possibly the largest single opportunity he’ll have to convince America (at least the ones who aren’t out Christmas shopping) that he is their man.
  3. Re-think your venue: Why not Iowa? That is where you need to regain your ground anyway.
  4. Get a large Evangelical endorsement to go with it. A big name standing by his side will certainly help seal the deal.

Above all, Mitt needs to laser focus the content of this speech to the anxieties that voters have toward his religion. :

  • Priority A1 is to express that he will not be taking orders, instruction, or even counsel from church leaders regarding the decisions facing the country.
  • Priority 2 is to somehow express how his faith will affect his decision making, and how it informs his thinking. A personal anecdote here will go very far. He should tell how his faith informed a decision made while serving as governor or even share an experience from church leadership that is illustrative.
  • Priority 3 is to continue to refute and disavow strange religious practices and rumors. No need to explain or defend practices of Mormonism, just express the concept that when it all comes down to it, all belief systems defy logic and understanding. It’s something you feel, rather than know. Tell the voters they shouldn’t punish you for feeling and believing in Jesus Christ as you understand him. This is the old “bear your testimony” tactic. No one can argue it or refute it, cause it’s just how you feel.

Above all, Romney needs to dig deep in his soul for this one. An academic treatment of the subject will suffice (Kennedy’s was debatably a very pragmatic, unemotional approach), but I think an emotional approach will gain you more traction with the actual voters. In short, show us this Mitt.