Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mormon Fluff

"When crises come in our lives--and they will--the philosophies of men interlaced with a few scriptures and poems just won't do. Are we really nurturing our youth and our new members in a way that will sustain them when the stresses of life appear? Or are we giving them a kind of theological Twinkie--spiritually empty calories? President John Taylor once called such teaching "fried froth," the kind of thing you could eat all day and yet finish feeling totally unsatisfied" ("A Teacher Come from God," Ensign, May 1998, 25).

So true. The human experience is so deep, complex, individual, yet universal, and somehow we find ourselves up to our teeth in "uplifting" stories that are little more than Mormon Fluff.

Now, I'm not raggin' on uplifting stories, because there are some substantial ones. I guess what I'm criticising are the cute little things I get forwarded (by people who hate me, I'm sure) that don't have any depth and probably aren't true.

I don't have much more to add, I just really liked this quote.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The F-Word

Am I a feminist?

Huh? What? Me? Who told you?

I'll make this short and sweet: of course I'm a feminist. What kind of person isn't a feminist? You don't believe in women's rights?

If you don't want to call yourself a feminist because of the stigma, consider that fact to be evidence of the difficulty in re-defining the status quo. A lot of women, especially LDS women, are afraid to insist on non-traditional treatment because they don't want to sound like "feminists." Non-traditional treatment may or may not be good, but whether or not something is "feminist" has nothing to do with it's worth.

Scared of "Green" Household Products? Don't be!

Yesterday, around 8pm, I found myself in Taber, AB looking for somewhere to buy shampoo. Taber's not that big, so not a lot of places are open past 8pm, but Wal-Mart was. Now, normally I buy bio-degradable everything, shampoo and conditioner included, and I was seriously doubting the likelihood of finding any body care products that met this one, simple criterion. Usually, I go to London Drugs and get Live Clean, which is a little more expensive than your run-of-the-mill shampoo, but it works and it's biodegradable.

So, I got to the shampoo isle and quickly scanned for anything advertising itself as being bio-degradable. Then, I started checking the backs of the bottles that said "all-natural", but still no luck. Then I started checking the backs of anything with any reference to having naturally-derived anything, but I still couldn't find any that were bio-degradable.

Then, with a bit of a smirk, I decided to check the ones that were "Australian" or "European", since those places tend to be more enviro-friendly. I did it more to amuse myself, because I assumed that "Australian" and "European" were just marketing labels and had nothing to do with the values of the people living there, but I was pleasantly surprised to realise that most of the "Australian" and "European" shampoos were bio-degradable! Including some of the cheapest options available. I grabbed the cheapest bio-degradable stuff there, which was $3 for a huge bottle, and tried it this morning. It works just as well as any other shampoo.

My conclusion: there is officially no excuse. Cut the crap and make everything bio-degradable already. When I made the decision to switch to all bio-degradable household products, I braced myself for a price increase and possibly decreased function, but I have found over and over again that there is either very little difference, or that the greener option is actually cheaper. If this hasn't been your experience, perhaps you're a victim of green-washing (marketing to the enviro-conscience, with a steep mark-up of course).

In fact, there are cases where I'm amazed at the high cost, inconvenience, and inefficiency of certain products. Let's take laundry detergent powder. If you buy 240 louds' worth of Tide from Amazon.com, it'll cost you $53.70. If you buy 640 louds' worth of Country Save from Amazon.com, it'll cost you $50.75. Add to this the fact that one box of Tide is about four times the size of a box of Country Save, and that Country Save works better (less residue, better stain-fighting), and you realise that Tide is making you pay for them to fill a box up with a whole lot of inert, useless powder, then charging more because it's a bigger box and looks like it should be a better value. Here's a page on the Country Save website that says that it's even worse - the amount of loads that Tide claims to give you is total BS. Now, I know it's the Country Save website, but it seems right to me, based on my experience when I used Tide before I switched to Country Save. I actually have half a box of Tide sitting in my hallway because I can't stand the residue that all that inert powder leaves on my clothes.

Surface cleaners are another thing. I've started making my own cleaners and find that Borax, lemon juice (or vinegar), and water will clean just about anything at a fraction of the monetary cost, and a much, much reduced cost to the planet. Borax by itself works just as well as Ajax, isn't toxic, and doesn't make you want to gag and die if you accidentally inhale it. If you get one things from this post, get this: Borax is freaking awesome. Get it in the laundry isle. Here's a link for uses for Borax. I make almost all of my household cleaners. If you do a Google.com search, you'll find innumerable recipes for cleaners that are all very simple, very inexpensive, and don't smell like an old lady's perfume.

There are many more examples, and perhaps I will make a post dedicated to inexpensive, functional, green alternatives to common household items someday, but my point is this: A great deal of the environmentally-damaging products out there are completely unnecessary. Consumers need to take a few extra seconds on their shopping trip to check the back of the packaging. Pick products that come in a box rather than wrapped in plastic. Move your hands a few inches to the right and grab the hand soap that's dio-degradable (and costs the same). It's so simple that I'm finding it increasingly obnoxious that people still go for the toxic stuff. Toxins aren't even good for you!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Who and Where is Heavenly Mother?

One thing I truly appreciate about Mormonism is Heavenly Mother. Ah, how wonderful it is to have a divine mother. How progressive and honest is it that we can acknowledge Her and know that She exists.

But what's the you say? We don't know enough about Heavenly Mother? I beg to differ! I've heard the question asked in Sunday school many times before: "Why don't we know more about Heavenly Mother?" to which the teacher usually responds, "We don't know that right now." Sometimes I hear things like, "Heavenly Mother is too delicate and sweet to be exposed to the world, so Heavenly Father hid Her away so that She wouldn't have to see the evil that happens in the world," or, "Heavenly Mother is too sacred, blaspheming against her is worse than blaspheming against Heavenly Father, so we're not allowed to know for our own sake," and many more. I disagree with them all! For one thing, I seriously doubt that the great, exalted, divine Mother is so weak and fragile that she can't handle knowing things. She's a Goddess. Secondly, I really don't see how or why it would be possible to hide things from her. If we are to believe that Celestial sealed couples have an unsurpassed unity, how is it possible that one could hide the other away? As for blaspheming against Heavenly Mother, I think that blaspheming against Her may have caused us to lose many "plain and precious things" concerning her. I do feel, however, that people did once have a broader knowledge of Her.

So what's my take? Plain and simple, I believe that God is not a man who has a wife hidden away somewhere, but rather that God is a married couple and the reason we don't acknowledge it more is because of the time we live in. Worshipping of female diety has long had associations with paganism, polytheism, witches, dancing around the May pole, and various other godless things. The Church is also somewhat patriarchal, and I feel people are more comfortable with the idea of a traditional male God. We are told to pray to Heavenly Father and not to Heavenly Mother - what that means, I don't know, although considering the unity of a married couple, I don't see how it's possible to pray to one and not the other.

Oh yeah, this article is really, really good. Everyone should read it: How to Worship Heavenly Mother (without getting ex-communicated)