My First Foray Into Mormon Twitter

It’s been a busy semester, but know summer is upon us and I have all the time in the world to be productive, unwind or whatever I feel like doing. In this case that means repeatedly going down the Mormon Twitter rabbit hole.

Folks, it’s a weird place down there. I’m not going to try and explain all of it because I think it wouldn’t be possible to cover the whole thing in a blog. That’s much more of a topic for a book… or several. Also I’m not equipped right now to write that book, maybe someone else is though and they really should, because I guarantee it’d be a fascinating read. It’s such a weird place, theres like an alt-right section of Mormon twitter, a far left section, influencers who are trying to parlay their faith into a career and endless memes, it’s so bizarre and fascinating.

Again, not going to try and deconstruct all that, rather I wanted to take a specific look at one take I saw whilst roaming the wilds of Mormon twitter.

I’m not trying to bash the guy, but I see this take not just from him but from people all over the church and it’s always bothered me a little bit. I’ve cleaned up his grammar a bit for the sake of readability, but haven’t changed any of the words written.

I want to break this up into two parts, first that bit towards the end where he mentions how uncontroversial it is to be evangelical, catholic, agnostic, or atheist, but it is controversial to be a member of The Church.

First off, no. That’s not true. Depending on where you live, and who you speak with and a whole bunch of other factors it’s totally possible that it is controversial to be Evangelical, Catholic, Agnostic, or Atheist. If someone was a devout evangelical and lived in an ultra secular and liberal neighborhood here in the states you don’t think they would get bashed at all? What about someone very open and vocal about their atheism at BYU? Do you think in some Evangelical or Baptist circles Catholics get bashed on?

That’s just taking into account the religions the tweet brought up, I’m sure some of you are like me and noticed that there was no mention of eastern religions like Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. How about being Muslim? You don’t have to look far these days to figure out that being Muslim is pretty controversial in a lot of circles. How about those of the Jewish faith? Jehovah’s witnesses? Scientology?

The list goes on and on, whatever faith a person might have you can pretty much guarantee that somewhere there’s a group of people who will ridicule them for their belief, and thanks to the internet it’s super easy for those that hate you to let you know that they hate you and just how much they hate you. Isn’t it wonderful?

Seriously though, insinuating at any level that faith in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only controversial one is either dangerously naive, downright stupid, or deliberately misleading thinking. Any of which is deeply concerning for someone with any amount of public influence. This was a thread of tweets so you can’t hide behind the limited number of characters thing. You had the space to put many different religions into your tweets and you opted to only mention a couple sects of Christianity, the denial of the existence of God, and those who just don’t know for sure.

Ok, now that I’ve got that out of my system allow me to move onto the bigger point of these tweets. The point Thekwakue is trying to get across (at least what I read) is that people shouldn’t give up hope and faith when they face discrimination as Latter-Day Saints, that because of the mocking, ridicule, bashing, and other various forms of discrimination they face they can know that their faith is real and their religion true. The world fears this truth and that is why they seek to tear it down.

This point makes way more sense if you honestly believe members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are the only people facing religious discrimination. We’re not though, so this doesn’t make any sense. Should everyone who is ridiculed for their belief take it as a sign that they are on the right path? If you apply this logic to the extreme then members of groups like ISIS can take heart in the fact the rest of the world hates them, because they must really be on the right path. Same for a group like the Westboro Baptist Church. Opposition doesn’t prove true faith.

This narrative that because members of the Church are ridiculed that The Church must be true is one that is very common in the LDS faith. I’ve never been a big fan of it. I’ve always felt that it was horribly divorced from a greater context of world religion. Every faith is mocked, every belief is mocked, that doesn’t make any of them any more valid or true necessarily. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are not special in this regard. It sounds like I’m just bashing really hard on my own religion, but I think it’s important to be able to be critical of those within your own “group” so to speak, otherwise the discourse will inevitably become an echo chamber and you’ll be left with a bunch of morons patting each other on the back. No one wants that.



Honorable Enforcement

With the creation of the @honorcodestories Instagram account, there has been a ton of talk around the honor code office of Brigham Young University (BYU). In the last 72 hours or so the account has surged from 80 followers to over 12,000 (15,000 at the time of posting) and the owner of the account has been interviewed by a number of news channels and is preparing to give interviews for newspapers including at least 2 out of state papers. Suffice to say it’s quickly grown into quite the topic of discussion here in Provo and may become a talking point to even larger audiences as the week continues. I obviously want to get my two cents in because I’m just an opinionated punk who can’t help himself. It’s also something that I feel very strongly about.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about the ins and outs of the honor code. You can read it for yourself here if you’re curious. All I’ll say is that most of it is already in line with teachings and practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and with the vast majority of students at BYU being members so most of that stuff shouldn’t be all that controversial. I don’t have a real problem with the honor code itself, if it were up to me I’d tweak a few things but nothing major. My beef is with how the honor code is enforced and the office that does that enforcing. So let’s remember that going forward. Honor code? weird but OK. Honor code office? Terrible and in desperate need of change.

Let’s also get something clear, one of the central ideas, in fact, the central idea of The Church is that Jesus Christ suffered in Gethsemane and died on Calvary so he could atone for the sins of humanity. This means that we can all repent of sin and be forgiven. Forgiveness and mercy are what’s emphasized in Church teaching. It should follow then that an institution like BYU and its enforcement of their honor code should emphasize forgiveness and mercy, but forgiveness and mercy are not what is emphasized by the honor code office. The honor code office is one that seeks to mete out punishment and what they view as justice at every opportunity. It is not a place where merciful solutions are sought out. This massive difference in approach is at the core with my problem with the honor code office. Nothing about what I’m reading feels like they have any love for the students they’re supposed to be helping.

I should also mention that I have no personal history with the honor code office. I’ve never been asked to come in. No punishment has been given to me or anything like that. I’ve been somewhat aware of the absurdities of the honor code office, but never in a direct way. It was just this week where I started to learn more about the specifics and these stories are what’s really got my stomach turning.

One thing about the honor code office that honestly just boggles my mind are the stories of students who have done things before they attended BYU (and therefore before they signed the honor code) that would be considered against the honor code and the punishments handed out for such actions. We all get why this is backwards right? How it’s totally unfair to punish someone for doing something BEFORE they agreed not to do it? Right? So we can all agree that’s messed up.

Another frightening practice I see in these stories that very much bothers me is how honor code office will call mental health clinics and demand confidential information about students who have used their services.

That is beyond a yikes from me. It’s disgusting.

It’s just a horrible thing to try and violate the confidentiality of a patient and their therapist. For some students, their therapist may be the only person they feel like they can trust with this sensitive information regarding deeply personal and potentially traumatic events in their lives and the expectation of confidentiality is one of the things that can help these students feel comfortable enough to talk about their traumas and begin to work through them and heal. I can’t imagine how much of a setback it could be for someone working through trauma to not only find out your therapist gave away your secret but you now have the added stress that you may be kicked out of university for trusting a therapist. Not OK.

Then there’s the difference in enforcement by the honor code office between women and men. A horrific theme that emerges is of women who get assaulted by their boyfriends or guys they’re on a date with. They (The women) then report themselves to the honor code office and are punished whilst the men get off Scot-free or perhaps a slap on the wrist. It’s totally unacceptable under any circumstance. Even if you think the honor code is totally backwards you would agree that the insanity should be applied evenly to all who agree to it no? If there is was even a single instance where this has happened in a place like a corporation or other professional environment heads would roll for something so terrible.

I don’t want to just sit here and complain about all the things I think are awful about the honor code office. I want to try and offer the bare bones of what a solution would be for them. It’s really rather simple. You need a dramatic culture shift within the honor code office. Remember earlier when I pointed out that The Church preaches forgiveness and mercy through Jesus Christ and his Atonement? The honor code office needs to reflect those teachings, not strive against it.

Students who make honest mistakes should not worry about whether they’ve jeopardized their entire academic career because things got a little hot and heavy with their girlfriend/boyfriend or they let peer pressure get the better of them and had a few drinks. When students feel this way their instinct is going to be to hide from their actions, and this develops a culture of secrecy that can only lead to worse problems.

Students who break the honor code rules should not be immune to consequences for their actions, and I would never suggest that, but those consequences should be structured in a way that reminds these students that even though they’ve fallen down that their school is there to help them back up, not kick them while they’re down. Shaming those who are trying to do good has no place at the Lord’s university. People in need of help should be directed to their church leaders who love and care for them, and if those leaders aren’t able to show that love for them we need to find the leaders that will. The Savior taught with an unending love for all of mankind, sinners and saints alike. If BYU really is his university the people who watch over the students need to go forth with that same love.

I love so many things about BYU, but reading these stories just makes my heart ache and my stomach turn. I hope things get better at the honor code office, I hope they change into an institution that people praise for love and understanding. That’s not up to me though. I’m just one student that believes things can and should be better. Later

Image sourced from BYU, I claim no ownership over it.

Important Q’s About The Bachelor of Provo

So the universe hates me and I wasn’t given a new episode of The Bachelor of Provo to dissect, but I’m determined to keep doing write-ups on this show every Monday. So in lieu of having a new episode to talk about, I’m just gonna ask some questions that I think could have a pretty big impact on the outcome of the show. I’m aware that I’m probably taking a reality show based in Provo too seriously, but what else am I going to do with my time? Something healthy and productive? LAME

Just to prove how way too seriously I’m taking this show here’s a fun fact. The average age of the remaining contestants is 19.3. Am I out of control? Whose to say? (I am)

When we’re introduced to Collin he states that he’s never been in a real relationship, first and second dates only. Combine that with the fact that he’s young and fresh off of his mission this leads me to ask, “Has Collin had his first kiss yet?” It’s entirely possible that he hasn’t right? If he hasn’t that can totally change the game, it would give a huge advantage to whatever girl can grab a smooch from him first. It would also pose a real risk because if a girl tried to force that moment (ya know that’s gonna happen) it would probably spell the end of their run on the show. A huge opportunity just sitting there if someone can navigate it properly.

I’ve also come to believe that another enormous opportunity is waiting for these girls. Collin is a recently returned missionary who hasn’t adjusted back to ordinary life yet, whoever can genuinely make a spiritual connection with him is going to have an HUGE leg up. Despite the use of all caps, the real keyword of that sentence is genuinely. Can they do it though? Can they connect with Collin over the gospel? Much like the kissing thing if someone tries to force a spiritual moment to happen it’s going to blow up in their face worse than that time Dwight used an insecticide grenade. I obviously can’t be certain of this, but I’m guessing that none of the girls on this show are return missionaries themselves. Pretty much because if any of them were then they would’ve brought it up when Collin talked about his mission. (which they all pretty much asked about) Shame, that could’ve been a huge boon for someone. Perhaps it’ll be like this show’s version of a twist, “Gotcha, turns out I served a mission and it was also in Argentina Collin!” *Audience collectively gasps*

Another big advantage these girls could give themselves is to stop chewing freaking gum while on camera. Who thought that was a good idea? Whoever it was fire their sorry butt it’s awful. Hopefully, they fix that in episode 2, but we’ll only know on the 25th when it airs. Until then I’ll just stare at my wall or something. Later!

Photo credit to @TheBachelorofProvo Instagram, check it out!


Thanks

Just giving thanks for some of the good stuff in my life right now.

I had initially planned to take the week of thanksgiving totally off and not worry at all about writing blogs and stuff, but apparently I can’t stay away from this blog for that long now. Interesting.

I didn’t put together a proper Thanksgiving post back in October for Canadian thanksgiving, so I figured I’d take the time now to just mention some of the things I’m really grateful in my life. Some of these are going to be really silly, some more serious, and some will be in between. So basically it’ll be an ordinary list.

First and foremost I’m thankful to be alive, being dead sounds boring and as one Tyrion Lannister puts it, “Death is so terribly final, while life is full of possibilities.”

I’m grateful to Wendy’s and their 4 for 4 meals. You’re the best value in fast food and you keep my belly full and happy. Although if you weren’t around it would probably be a lot easier to eat healthy.

I’m also thankful for the gospel in my life. At times it’s tried me harder than I could ever care for, but it also brought such an immense amount of happiness and joy into I don’t know if I could ever truly put it all into words. Rest assured I’ll be trying to do so at some point though.

I’m grateful to all the movies, games, shows, books, songs, whatever media I’ve enjoyed in my life. The stories you held have become a life-long passion for me and you never get old.

I’m grateful to my family. Y’all are an exceptionally weird bunch, but you have shown me so much love and support over the years I just can’t help but be humbled by how much you all care.

I’m especially grateful in this respect to my parents, I’m also grateful to them for being people I can just have a conversation with, I definitely didn’t realize how nice it is to be able to just have a casual talk with your folks is.

I’m grateful to this dope hoody I’m wearing in the featured photo. Supporting content creators I like is real great when they make legitimately good merch for me to buy.

I’m grateful to Lindsay, the most wonderful person I know. You’re the most hilariously awkward person I’ve ever met, but you’re also strong, kind, compassionate, beautiful, fiercely intelligent, understanding, and fun. You’re exceptionally bad at taking compliments (her words not mine) so this is probably bit embarrassing for you, but I would be lying if I didn’t think embarrassing you just a little bit here and there wasn’t kind of fun. 

I’m grateful to Dr. Pepper for being a delicious beverage I can enjoy whenever I want. I guess that also goes along with being grateful to live in the US where Dr. Pepper is available 24/7, though I could without the perpetual chaos that is your politics. (What can you really go through Thanksgiving without some mention of politics?)

I’m grateful to BYU, the most bizarre campus I’ve ever set foot on, but the things that have happened to me whilst attending here have been pretty great and I’d like to at least think you had something to do with that, so kudos to you BYU.

I’m grateful to my roommates, some goofy dudes. Y’all are great to live with and keep things entertaining consistently. I look forward to at least one more great semester with you boys! I should also take the time to be grateful for my other friends. Vine has only been officially dead for a year and a half, but we still quote them every day to the dismay of so many people! Who cares though, they’re just not bougie enough to understand the brilliance of it all.

I’m grateful to be Canadian. I have an undying need to say sorry, an undying love for maple syrup on just about everything, an appreciation for the great games of Hockey and Curling, and a lovely habit of ending sentences with eh. These things and many other good traits wouldn’t be possible without being raised in the great white north. I miss that land. Can’t wait to see it again in about a month!

Ok I think thats enough for this year. This certainly doesn’t encompass everything I’m grateful for, but I can’t literally go through and name everything. Well I could, but I’d be sitting here for weeks trying to do that and that sounds even more boring than death, so hard pass on that. Later!

Belated Birthdays

It’s been a busy couple of days so I haven’t found the time to get a birthday blog post written out.

Ok, let’s talk about my year. When I turned 25 last year the reality was that I was not in a really good place. Turning 25 was a point where I made a realization that I really wasn’t doing what I wanted to be doing with my life. I felt creatively stunted, burnt out, and easily worst of all totally unmotivated to even bother trying to change things.

Luckily this didn’t persist. I got back into writing with a determined focus to find my voice in words. I still think there’s a lot of room for refinement, but I think this whole informal, conversational tone I’ve been doing lately has been a really good fit for me and it’s shown itself in the outstanding improvements to my writing over this past year.  I’m honest to goodness stunned with how much progress I made as a writer in the past year, and also with how much room I still have to grow. I’m really excited to keep improving this blog and the rest of my writing in general.

Life didn’t change just in terms of writing through this last year either. I’ve made it abundantly clear in my blog that my relationship with religion, for the most part, has been pretty casual, there was a brief moment where I took it real serious and it didn’t pan out well so for a very long time I kept it at arms distance. Maybe enough time had passed and my heart had softened, or maybe living in Utah for two years has just worn me down, but religion has taken a much more prominent role in my life again. I’ll never be one of those Peter Priesthood types that really push religion out of every orifice of my body but it definitely matters to me in a real way again. Weirdly enough it was all the little social things the church does that got me actually taking my religion seriously again. So even though I like to make fun of things like FHE, Ward activities, Break the Fast, etc. (sorry if you’re not up on your Morm… Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saint’s lingo)  I have to admit that those things played a big role in actually getting me back to church on a regular basis.

Combining with a newfound sense of focus and pride in my writing and a renewed faith, I also found it in me this year to actually try and be a social human being again. I felt like I actually had the confidence to put myself out there, I mean I’m still pretty introverted so it really worked out more like I fell into a social circle but hey, take those W’s where you can find them. I did actually put myself out there in the world of dating and experienced legitimate success. What the F… That still strikes me as utterly and totally bizarre. Maybe I’ll get used to that at some point, but it’s probably more likely that I’ll continue to be in total bewilderment for the time being.

So long as I remember to take deep breaths and not act like a total weirdo I should be fine. Wait I do act like a total weirdo like all the time… oh boy…

Weird rambling about dating that I’m definitely going to get flak for aside, my 26th year on this planet turned out pretty great. I’m pretty happy with how it all turned out. I’m not satisfied though, I need to build on the successes I had last year and continue to refine myself and what I do. That should be a lot of fun. Later!