Saturday, March 29, 2014

Equality Now!

The next general conference of the Church is just a week away. Next Saturday night, a group of women who believe, for whatever reasons, that they are entitled to hold the priesthood will be lining up to demand entrance to priesthood session or will die trying.

Well, whatever floats your boat, I guess, ladies. You're in for a long, pointless battle if this is really the battle you want to fight. There are actually many worthwhile causes you could spend your time taking part in if you weren't so set on this ridiculous crusade. Church spokesmen have already issued a statement on the matter, saying that this particular plan of attack actually detracts from a helpful discussion on the issue.

I've read a lot of blog posts and listened to many opinions on the topic, as I'm sure many of you have, too. I even spent some time today visiting the Ordain Women Web site, the founders of which are apparently "seeking equality and ordination to the priesthood." It's 10 minutes of my life that I will never get back.

For whatever it's worth, this Angry White Loner doesn't know why these women are so concerned about "equality" when women are, in fact, superior to men. I really believe that, and I'm not just pandering here, even though men have nothing that I want. Between the bearing of children and holding the priesthood, God gave the far more important responsibility to women. In the eyes of our Heavenly Father, all of His children are equal, though the genders were given different responsibilities.

Can you imagine what a disaster the human race would be if He had given it to men? I don't even want to think about it, in spite of what you may or may not think of the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Junior.

I also know that, since turnabout is fair play, you won't see men wearing dresses to church to demand the same kind of comfortable chairs in elders quorum that the sisters have in Relief Society, nor will you see men lining up to demand entrance into tonight's first-ever general women's meeting at the Conference Center, because that would, likewise, be a pointless crusade.

I realize that there are some strong feelings on this matter and that I run the risk of never getting another date again after this post. So be it. I'm only stating what Church leaders have already taught, time and again, and what I feel has been confirmed to me by the Spirit of truth. Also time and time again.

For an excellent point-of-view on the entire issue, I highly recommend reading Women and the Priesthood by Sheri Dew, which I recently read. It says any and everything else that matters on the issue and does far better than I ever could.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Sky Is Falling

Confession time: The Angry White Loner, at times, is not all that different from Chicken Littlehe of "the sky is falling!" fame. Or infame.

Infamousness? Infamosity? Whatever. It's late, and I'm too tired to look that up. Not all editors are walking, talking databases of grammar knowledge.

Admittedly, I'm one who tends to think in terms of worst-case scenario when a problem or series of problems presents itself. It's something I need to work on, but it still happens.

For example, car expenses.

With the weather warming up—at least for the time beingI took my car in to the shop yesterday to have the snow tires taken off and the "regular" ones put back on. Like you do.

Only the regular tires weren't really all that street worthy. The nice tire shop employee even brought one of the tires to the counter to show me how the tread, not unlike Joe Biden's sanity, had long since worn away. The new tires they had picked out for me would cost . . . well, far more than I was expecting to pay. Then he probably headed back to the garage to snicker with his co-workers at what a nincompoop I am, actually intending to drive back out onto Davis County roads with tires in such a pathetic condition.

Well, I've certainly got that kind of money right now! I thought to myself, by which I actually meant completely the opposite. Sadly, there was no one around for me to say this out loud to and to entertain with my witty remark. For a small fortune like that, they also better equip the Aluminum Falcon with a flux capacitor and a Mr. Fusion while they're at it!

Even better, I then thought, I've got car registration coming up in April, plus taxes to pay, and then I've just gotta buy the new LEGO Hobbit game when it comes out, then it's Henny Penny's birthday gift, and Goosey Loosey's bar mitzvah, and—I CAN'T STAND IT ANYMORE!!!—they're blinking and beeping and flashing and blinking and


This is the point at which I spontaneously combusted.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Green with Envy

This past week, a good friend of the Angry White Loner's got engaged to be married. It is one of those inevitable things, I've been told, to occur after you've been dating someone for a while and you find out that you like each other a whole bunch. More than a whole bunch, actually.

This will be this particular friend's second marriage. The Angry White Loner has other friends who have been married more than once, including a few currently on a third marriage and even one who has been hitched four times.

The Angry White Loner, however, has not even been engaged once, let alone married once.

What's my point in bringing up this little tidbit? Because anything and everything I know about marriage is certainly limited and is from the point-of-view of one who is, to this point, merely an observer. That is acknowledged.

Another tidbit: All of the Angry White Loner's siblings are now married, including his four younger siblings. Years ago, when the first of these younger siblings announced his engagement, the parents approached the Angry White Loner, somewhat as if they were walking on eggshells, and asked: "Are you mad?"

Having been put into this situation for the first time, I was certainly caught off guard by the question. I wasn't aware I was supposed to be anything but happy for my brothercertainly anything but mad. He and his fiancĂ©e were very happy together. Fortunately, I could honestly answer that no, I wasn't in the least bit mad. In fact, in the years since then, I would say that my relationship with this sibling has only improved.

Have chick flicks, as well as such plays as Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew, taught us that siblings are supposed to get married in a certain order? Perhaps that is what factored into the parents' view of it all.

In writing this post, I am also reminded of the moment, years ago, when a female friend of mine mentioned that a friend of hers was getting married for the third time andwhether this was in gest or not, I'll never knowuttered:

Why can't I get married just once?!

Another way of saying it might be: When is it my turn?

It's a rhetorical questionI didn't dare attempt an answerand one with, to be sure, no simple answer(s). I have also found that it is a query that is very present in the minds of many of the mid-singles I associate with on a weekly basis but is not often one that is discussed out loud. In fact, I wished we discussed it more often at our class.

The best answer I have come up with to that $64,000 Question is this: I don't know. I don't know why things work out the way they do. I don't know why, to borrow a couple of musical metaphors, Rod Stewart once sang that "some guys have all the luck," while others "still haven't found what (they're) looking for," going well into their 30s and 40s and beyondor not at all in this lifetimewithout finding someone else with whom to share this mortal journey.

There are a few simple lessons, however, that I have learnedagain, stated as an outsider and an observer. Principally: Envy, whomever or whatever it is directed at, is not a healthy emotion to have. It can fester and infect the soul like a foul disease does to the body. It is also not an attractive characteristic in someone anyone would want in a spouse. Neither is moping or being caught up in your singleness.

In addition: You stand a much better chance at meeting new people, ones who want the same thing you do, if you put yourself in situations or places where these people congregate rather than playing hard to get, Osama bin Laden style. Kindness is attractive, as is knowing how to say "please" and "thank you." If I knew what the Young Women values were, I would list them here, because they are all attractive qualities, too.

Along this same line, an encouraging piece of information was shared with me today at church by my home teacher: His 50-something sister just got married for the eightheighth!time. The difference between this marriage and the other seven? It was her first temple marriage. What he conveyed, in a Sunday School lesson about Rebekah and the importance of marriage in the covenant, is that you have a better chance at attaining a temple marriage if you date temple-worthy people, or those who are working to become such. Also, some things are worth waiting and sacrificing for.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Romeo and Juliet, Unchained

Last night, I found myself watching William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, which had arrived earlier in the day via Netflix. Why Romeo and Juliet? It's still better than watching "2 Broke Girls," for example. In some foreign countries, in fact, people are strapped into chairs and forced to watch a marathon of "2 Broke Girls." So far, no one has made it through more than three episodes in one sitting. The last I heard, the United Nations considers this to be an even worse form of torture than waterboarding.

When I mention Romeo and Juliet, I do not refer to the 1968 version, which I saw in eighth grade and which had to be censored by my English teacher. Nor do I mean the math-friendly Romeo + Juliet 1996 remake, which starred future drowning victim Leonardo di Caprio as Romeo. No, the particular version of the film I refer to, scripted by Julian Fellowes of "Downton Abbey" fame, came out last fall and was just released on DVD. It stars Hailee Steinfeld, who was also in the 2010 remake of True Grit, as Juliet.

Girl appears in a lot of remakes a lot of movies, apparently! Am I right?

At any rate, the film, in case you were wondering, is a pretty decent effort, in spite of some extra dialogue added in there by Mr. Fellowes that, I'm sure, the Bard did not mean to be there. It has all of the elements that a Romeo and Juliet movie ought to have: a whirlwind courtship, eloping, family feuds, fighting, murder, and the like. So, in many ways, it is much like a "2 Broke Girls" episode, only with likeable characters, a coherent plot, clever dialogue, and none of that annoying laugh track.

As I watched the movie, I found myself going off on a tangent and thinking about an idea I hadn't previously considered: What if Romeo and Juliet hadn't died so young? What if the friar's note explaining Juliet's "death" had reached Romeo like it was meant to and they, in fact, had survived the whole nasty ordeal? What would the rest of their lives together have been like?

Hollywood would have demanded a sequel, for one thing. And this follow-up effort might show some good times but also depict the two star-crossed lovers growing distant and apart after actually getting to know each other for longer than, say, the two or three infatuated, twitterpated days they spent as a couple in the film. Romeo would eventually grow tired of Juliet's incessant nagging to stop leaving his dirty tights lying all over the cottage and would be annoyed at the Capulet family's many attempts to get her to divorce him and marry someone of a higher social standing, while Juliet would get unnerved each time Romeo murdered yet another member of her family over some petty argument as, say, the proper scoring method in a game of Scattergories.

Would it have lasted even a whole year? A month? A week?

This sequel would, unfortunately, also have a tragic ending. Because if there's one thing movies and TV have taught us, it's that you can't tempt fate, nor can you change it! Juliet, now in her late 30s and sick and tired of the whole sordid affair, confronts Romeo for one last time to see if he really loves her or not before she leaves him forever and runs off with some other guy, probably played by either Mark Ruffalo or Paul Rudd—whoever's cheaper. Unshaven and unkempt, wearing a wife beater, with a beer gut hanging out, and sitting in front of the TV, pretending not to hear her as she pours out her soul, he instead is intently focused on what's on TV.

Naturally, he is watching "2 Broke Girls."

Monday, March 3, 2014

Hero's Welcome

The Angry White Loner's cousin returned from her mission abroad late Saturday night. Where she went is not importantat least, it's not relevant to today's post. But an important fact is that she came home after serving for only a handful of months rather than the 18 months usually served by sister missionaries. The reason? She had aggravated an old injury that was making it physically impossible for her to continue in the day-to-day labors of missionary work.

I joined with several other family members in greeting my cousin at the Salt Lake City airport, giving her a hero's welcome. Those people watching usincluding BYU football coach Bronco Mendenhall, who was also on the flight!were none the wiser that she had been out there for only about seven months. It was great to be a part of, and it was also fantastic to sit back and watch.

Earlier in the week, I reviewed some old mission photos of my own and remembered that this same cousin, at age 6, was there when yours truly walked off his own plane coming back from South America.

I wish the hero's welcome were always the case for missionaries who are forced to return from the field due to a physical or mental condition. Sadly, it is not. I fear that far too many people incorrectly judge these missionaries as being unworthy, unmotivated, lazy, or cowardly when they don't know all of the facts. Few of these RMs get the hero's welcome that my cousin did.

To this end, I recently read an article about a support group called Sick RMs, which was recently organized to help people such as my cousin. It was a very eye-opening piece. For one thing, I learned that missionaries who return from their fields of labor early often fail to receive proper treatment for these very health issues both during and after the mission and needlessly go on suffering for months or years. As a result, one of the goals of Sick RMs is to push for more doctors, psychiatrists, and other medical professionals to be made available to missionaries currently serving and recently returned. (Yours truly would really have benefited from this.)

A few other facts I picked up from the article: Only about 50 percent of Sick RMs end up giving a "homecoming" talk in their wards/branches. Seventy-three percent feel like they have been a "failure." And more than a third of them end up becoming inactive in the Church.

Add to all of that the stigma associated with being someone who reappears before crossing the so-called finish line, and these RMs are put into a very difficult situation through absolutely no fault of their own.

A good friend of mine had to return early from his mission a number of years ago. I remember him expressing a lot of the same frustrations shared by Sick RMs that were mentioned in the above article. A part of him also feared no girl would want to date him because he had served for only a few months and not two years.

It's been a decade since that time, and this friend, as far as I can tell, has been happily married to his wife for over six years.

This is just to say, cousin, as well as to all of those other unheralded and unsung Sick RMs, that you are not a failurefar from it, in fact. You have fought the good fight, you have finished your course, and you have kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). In the Lord's eyes, you are no different and no less appreciated than those who serve for 24 or 18 months.