Thursday, March 22, 2012

You do what with the dead?

I did give up Hatchlings, and still struggling to find writing time. Unfortunately, the other big contenders, work and sleep, refuse to budge. I have had some good journal sessions, and letter writing, so it’s not that nothing is happening, but I still hope for more.

Here is that first hard topic I mentioned. It’s religious, and one thing that makes this more difficult is knowing the amount of context to provide—how much is necessary? Where my weakness is the tendency to provide too much exposition, and to not have enough time to finish, well, there’s a vicious cycle in there somewhere.
Anyway, there has been some news recently about Anne Frank being baptized posthumously by someone in the LDS church, and protests against that.

Here is where I try and give a brief background, as someone who is not in any way a spokesperson for the Church, official or otherwise. If you believe that baptism is necessary, as the Bible says, and that God is no respecter of persons, as the Bible also says, and you know that not everyone lives and dies on Earth even has a chance for that, it can seem very wrong, and it leads to weird theological explanations and disbelief.

What we know is that there is more than this life. People can continue to be taught and to make covenants after they have died, in the spirit, but someone physically needs to go through the ordinance of baptism for them. Christ preaching to the dead and baptisms for dead are both mentioned in the Bible (1st Peter 4:6 and 1st Corinthians 15:29).

Something that we do is research our family history and do this work for our ancestors, allowing them the opportunity to be baptized and binding the generations together. We believe that the promise in Malachi, chapter 4:5-6 is about this:
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smith the earth with a curse.”

One thing we definitely believe is that it is each person’s choice. If they don’t want to accept the baptism, it does not matter how many times we do it, it does not count. Something that also logically makes sense is that we believe this is true, and that it matters, but if we are wrong, then what we are doing is really meaningless. My point there is that no one is becoming Mormon against their will.

Obviously, we are supposed to be doing this for our family members, but other people have had projects in the past where they have focused on Civil War dead or so on, and what really created the controversy is when some people strongly objected to Holocaust victims being baptized. After all, they were killed for being Jews, and some felt it was demeaning to detract from that. I do not agree that it is demeaning, but I understand the sentiment, and besides we are supposed to be working on our family lines.

Since 1995 the Church has routinely published reminders on that (we just got another round), and at first I found it somewhat irritating that it was necessary. I felt that anyone who was going outside of the norm was doing it out of ego—like it was not special enough to find great-great-grandmother like everyone else; I’m going to save Marilyn Monroe! (Seriously, I remember one person who was very proud of having baptized Moliere.)

With this last story, I ended up feeling differently, and what made the difference was reading that the latest time happened in a temple in the Dominican Republic. I started to feel like maybe it was not someone who knew the boundaries and just did not want to stay within them, but maybe it was a newer member who found this and thought it was great, and had read The Diary of Anne Frank and felt a connection to her (how can you read it without feeling a connection?), and just wanted to offer that gift.

I’m not saying that the restrictions should be raised, but it reminded me that people aren’t always just being bone-headed. There can also be kindness, and affection, and a desire to do good. And really, there is nothing wrong with this particular desire—we’ve just agreed to hold off on it because some people get offended by it.

I do have more to say about this at some point, both about discovering my own family, and doing work for a friend, which is its own story, but for now my point is just, hey, my church is made up of people. Yours probably is too. Even if you have no religion, and are atheist or agnostic, you are probably affiliated with other humans. It is worthwhile to have some understanding for that, and to have some compassion for good intentions and a desire to serve.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Change I Wish to See in the World

I have been meaning to blog a lot more than I have actually been blogging lately. This is kind of always true, but less true in some ways. I have definitely had periods of less blogging activity than now, and I also have two posts started on two different topics, but I can't seem to finish, and in general I am feeling stalled. I am still dealing with the usual lack of time, but there are two other issues.

One was simply a matter of timing. I wanted to write about the move away from intellectual honesty--actually, any kind of honesty--in contemporary politics, but the news of Andrew Breitbart's death broke that same day, and posting that would have felt like I was dancing on his grave. If Shirley Sherrod can be classy about it, so can I. (That's another problem with procrastination really. I could have covered that months ago.)

Another issue has been a feeling of pointlessness, amplified by a recent blog post by Paul Krugman:

In a nutshell, facts and logic do not penetrate ideology. This is especially true on the conservative side, but that's usually the one that I'm pecking at. Okay, my post on the occupy movement would be more anti-liberal (though it isn't, really), but generally a lot of what I want to write about is stuff that would not be believed by those who need to believe it, even if they were going to read it, which cannot realistically be expected. So why do I even bother ever writing about anything but shopping or weight loss or cute things my dogs do?

Well, because I can't give it up. I do care about music and television and movies and boys and cooking, but I also care about politics and education and psychology and environmental issues. And I'm glad I care. I should care. There's not just a great big world out there--there's an enormous universe! And it's interesting and important. There are no excuses for boredom or apathy.

I have still been debating about whether I should do anything differently, and I don’t really know, but here are a few thoughts that have been floating around.

1. I’ve seen this quote written different ways, but I will go with the one I like best, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Ghandi

I want people to be able to speak courteously and open their hearts and minds to good things. I am still ardently pro-thought. So, I should keep learning and thinking and pondering. Does that mean I need to write it though?

2. “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.” Albert Einstein

Possibly I do need to write it, just to know that I actually am making sense. Writing is still how I work out the buzzing thoughts crowding my head.

A friend was considering starting a new blog, but was wondering if people would read it, and I said it doesn’t necessarily matter. I get an average of six hits per post. That is not a lot (though I appreciate them all, and I love comments), but even if no one ever read it, I still get benefits from the mental process of organizing my thoughts and finding the proper words, and from opening myself up enough to put my words out there for the world.

3. Every now and then I get comments from people who agreed with me already (See?), but found my phrasing helpful. Maybe that’s the sort of thing that can eventually matter for point number one.

And again, I can’t give it up. I may never make a cent from screenwriting, but I can’t just stop it either. I must write.

So, the next two posts (I think), will be some really hard and controversial topics, and then they will be followed by other hard things, and then by some fairly trivial things, and then probably more deep stuff. But I need to quit procrastinating because then there is all this ground that I have partially written in my head, and I could have referred back to it if I had gotten it out of my head earlier.

I’m afraid that just from a time perspective I am going to have to give up Hatchlings.