Tag Archives: Obama

“Now with 100% More Context (as long as it supports my views)”

This will probably be the most political thing I’ve written on this blog. I’m not sure how I feel about that (I’m guessing it’ll be a one-off). Evidently I didn’t make enough people angry with my last post.

Either way, you’ve been warned.

Caution Tape

Speech Anger and Speech Anger Anger

A video surfaced of part of a stump speech our Campaigner-and-Chief gave on Halloween day. The video went viral and everyone lost their minds. Continue reading “Now with 100% More Context (as long as it supports my views)”

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“I Wish You Could Open Your Mind”

Gelett Burgess said,

“If in the last few years you haven’t discarded a major opinion or acquired a new one, check your pulse. You may be dead.”

This post is about checking our views, and how we discard old opinions and acquire new ones. In it I mention controversial subjects, including the 2008 financial crisis and Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day. Make not mistake, this post is not about fiscal politics or social issues or Republicans and Democrats. I only ask that, should you disagree with my positions on these controversial subjects, you look past your disagreement to the principles I’m trying to demonstrate with real-life examples.

Where does this fit in a religious blog like this? We’ll see if I can pull it all together at the end.

Evil Republicans and the 2008 Financial Crisis

Mitt Romney recently announced that his VP running mate will be Paul Ryan. The Obama-nation has already started pounding the pavement in their political mission to bury him. An ad released the same day as the announcement ends with a condemnation of Ryan for supporting “the top-down policies that crashed our economy.”

(Before I continue – in the interest of full-disclosure, I myself am a Conservative.)

I know, I know, this is politics. I can’t really expect better than for each side to spin our collective woes for their own good. Still, this drives me nuts. Do you know why?

Because the 2008 meltdown had far less to do with partisan politics and far more to do with the pesky habit mankind has of acting in our own self-interest.

It’s not my intent to detail the issues here. If you want to delve into the quagmire that is sub-prime mortgages, credit-default swaps, systemic risk (“too big to fail”), and moral hazard, that fringe right-wing organization PBS did an outstanding piece on the cause of the financial crisis. I also enjoyed this (significantly) shorter YouTube video on the crisis.

But the moral of the story is that the crisis was not the result of “top-down policies,” nor was it Romney’s or Ryan’s fault. It’s as simple as powerful company leaders making risky bets than ended up not paying off.

“I Wish You Could Open Your Mind”

I felt passionately enough about the subject that I posted on Facebook about it, and shared the two links above. That day, I received the following message:

“I would be laughing my head off if you were on my Facebook page and saw some of the posts from friends and family on the “other side of the aisle”….. Especially from women who believe so strongly that Mitt and Paul… your “guys”… are so against what they believe to be their “rights”…. I wish you could at least open your mind and see the reasons other people believe what they do.

“I personally welcome reading your posts to get the “right wing” perspective because it helps me to understand and learn. I wonder if you have any friends or family that do not agree with your ideas and beliefs. It is so good to think “outside the box”… just for intellectual challenges. Please do not be upset with me for expressing myself. Again… I admire your passion and your ability to express it. Lots of love…. A Democrat for Life.”

Does anyone else see the irony in having the self-proclaimed “Democrat for Life” exhort me to open my mind and think outside the box?

But that’s beside the point. What concerns me more is that when I post something almost completely unpartisan (whether the catalyst behind posting was partisan or not is irrelevant), it is largely ignored because it does not jive with the partisan message coming out of the Left – that Romney and Ryan (and Romney’s kind – i.e. bankers – as if that should have any bearing on his presidential fitness) are to blame for the financial meltdown.

I repeat myself – my rational, non-political message backed in logic and data was completely ignored, even dismissed, because Obama-ites said that the Republican candidates were to blame.

That’s disconcerting.

Self-Awareness and Chick-Fil-A

What of the suggestion that I need to open my mind?

For the record, I actually try very hard to check my opinions. I ask myself if the thoughts I run so quickly to are right and ethical, if they are backed by any kind of empirical data or if they are simply born out of tradition, and if there is not a fuller, more accurate view I could embrace.

I’ll even give you an example.

A few weeks ago was Chick-Fil-A appreciation day. For those who live under rocks, the short story is this.

  • Chick-Fil-A’s CEO, Dan Cathy, is Christian, and the chain is known for being closed on Sunday in observance of the Christian Sabbath.
  • Cathy was asked, for a Christian publication, what his view on marriage was. He said that he favored traditional marriage.
  • Chick-Fil-A got some heat from the political left for this “hate”
  • Mike Hucabee suggested that conservatives rally behind the restaurant and eat there on a specific day to show support

Thus Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day was born.

But Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day was not a day only for friends to voice their support, but for detractors to voice their discontentment. One such detractor was Adam Smith, who went through the drive through and badgered a young girl working at the window. He even video-taped himself and posted the video to YouTube.

He was subsequently fired.

My first thought was, “What a jack a**, he got what he had coming.” I cheered a little inside.

But then I thought about it.

Chick-Fil-A was getting heat because Cathy had exercised his right to free speech. The massive support for the restaurant was not, as some might have assumed, at all about gay-marriage. It was about how important free speech is. Scare tactics and bullying are despicable attempts to stifle that right.

Yet here I was, celebrating the termination of Smith’s employment, a termination that was the direct result of Smith exercising his right to free speech. He really was an a** to that young girl, but since when has niceness ever been a standard for exercising free speech? Yet here I was, rejoicing.

Double standard much?

Then again, liberals were so vehement in their condemnation of the way that Cathy shared his opinion. Certainly they must rejoice that similar action was taken against such an insensitive jerk! It doesn’t matter that they likely agreed with him, right? (This is sarcasm, and hopefully you see my point).

Just dessert’s much?

And so here I stand, still undecided about how I feel regarding Smith’s firing. There are much deeper ethical issues at work here beyond the firing of someone who I fundamentally disagree with.

How many of you put that much thought into the situation?

Perhaps you didn’t, and that’s alright. We can’t examine so closely every event we are privy to. This just happened to be one that I closely examined. Hopefully there is something similarly recent that you can point to as a time you checked your own opinions, and searched for a fuller truth beyond your own paradigms.

Bringing It Together

So now here we are, with me having to pull it all together and relate it to religion. Why does this matter?

First, in answering the question of how we can keep an open mind, I offer that the best solution is to ask “why”. We are all influenced by everything around us, and often without our conscious consent. It is so beneficial to ask ourselves, for example,

  • “Why do I believe that Paul Ryan was at least partly responsible for the financial meltdown?”
  • “Why is it just that Adam Smith be fired for his comments?”

You may find that, after examining your reasons, you still believe that it was completely just that Smith be fired. On the other hand, you may find that the only reason you believe Ryan to be responsible for the meltdown is because Obama said so. Either way, you’ve come to a place where it’s possible to have an open mind because you are now conscious of the reasons behind your support.

Can we ask this of religious matters? Of course! For example,

  • “Why am I Christian?”
  • “Why am I Mormon?”
  • “Why do I believe in The Book of Mormon?”
  • “Why do I support traditional marriage? Why do I believe that it’s important to legislate my support of traditional marriage?”

These, and hundreds of other questions that you could ask, allow you to have an active faith.

Second, in answering the question of how we can reach out to people when they so often reject ideas that don’t conform to their worldview, I offer that this is why it is so important to make sure that the Spirit is involved. Cognitive dissonance is a tremendous obstacle to overcome, and it’s just one of many! We can’t have any expectation of success when we share the gospel if the Spirit is not present. The Spirit is one of the best ways to reach beyond the walls that people naturally surround themselves with.

Those are my thoughts. I encourage you to join the conversation. What do you think of all this – open minds, cognitive dissonance, asking “why?”, and teaching with the Spirit?

Christians, Muslims, Mormons, and the Press

Man, that title sounds like the start of a bad joke. If only.

Eliza Wood recently authored an article on the Huffington Post, a news outlet that tends to stray farther left that right (but that matters little for Latter-day Saints, who have trouble finding allies on either end of the political spectrum). Her question was this:

“Are Mormons any closer to Christians than Muslims?”

And her thesis?

“Short answer: No.”

A Few Problems Up Front

There are a number of things in this article that make me wonder, including why we are asking the question in the first place. Why are we looking to tie Mormons to Muslims?

I would wager that it’s based on the fact that Islam creates a knee-jerk reaction of fear and distrust in the American public. Tying Mormonism to that same knee-jerk reaction, however illegitimately, is something that will prove problematic for Mitt Romney and his candidacy for President (not to mention it’s impact on Latter-day Saints in general). I wonder why anyone would want to achieve that, especially given the fact that there is little to no unique connection between the two theologies.

Another problem is that Wood never really defines what Christianity is. It seems difficult to answer the question she poses without examining such a fundamental question as what makes Christianity Christianity. I’ve done a far better job at examining this question, and I don’t even get paid for it (see my posts “Calling us Cultists”“Mormonism and Robert Jeffress”, and “Mormon Observations on Mere Christianity” for starters).

The Motive

Wood gives explanation for this important investigation as such:

“As the media shapes our understanding of the Mormon faith, now that we Americans consider electing our first Mormon presidential candidate (Mitt Romney), it might be wise for us to better understand the similarities and the differences among Christianity and these two faiths.”

I’m not sure why any Presidential race merits examination of the candidates’ religion. I know there are some who believe that Obama is a closet Muslim, but were that the case I’m not sure I would have a problem with it. As a Latter-day Saint, I’ve never had my faith represented in this political office, but that’s not really an issue for me. I’m concerned that it’s an issue for Wood and those of similar disposition.

What’s more, why is Christianity our yardstick? Or rather, why is Wood’s version of Christianity our yardstick?

Awful Journalism

There are a number (read: not a few) of blatant errors about Mormonism in the remainder of the article. In pointing them out, I will defer to Daniel Peterson’s post. While I am pretty savvy on catching the Mormonism wrongs, Peterson is a professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic at Brigham Young University, and is quite qualified to speak on the subject. I agree with his assessment that Wood is

“attempting, in a not very subtle and not very ethical way, to demonize Mormonism and to damage Mitt Romney by linking them with Muslims and terrorism.  Which, if true, is both disingenuous and irresponsible.”

Backing up this asserting are a number of comments Wood makes on her own article, including one that says:

“Readers may enjoy other research and perspectives on this subject”

And then she links to a number of other sites, including the Christian Research Institute (which constantly, constantly bashes on the LDS Church) and Wikipedia (do journalists not use primary sources anymore? I couldn’t cite Wikipedia in high school…). It’s tacky at best, and more likely (as Peterson suggests), incredibly unethical.

But Peterson’s analysis is more than sufficient, and since my post would be more or less a copy-and-paste from here on out, I commend his post to you.

Find it here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2012/07/are-mormons-closer-to-muslims-or-christians-by-ms-eliza-wood.html

I will be the first to admit that Latter-day Saints sometimes have a persecution complex, but can you always blame them, especially when you encounter drivel like this?

Eliza Wood, you should be ashamed of yourself.