shame, greed, and ego

I have nothing to be ashamed of. I have accomplished everything I have set out to do up to this point in my life. I have no great failures. I have made mistakes - big ones - and I fit no description that could be plausibly attributed to the word "perfect." In fact, I have many shortcomings. One of which I quite enjoy is laughing at farts. Yeah, they're funny. Hardly becoming of someone who aspires to higher things (as we all should).

But, as I get "older" (I have yet to break 30...) I realize how small a fish I am in the puddles, ponds, lakes, and oceans of worldly accomplishments. Boats, jet-skis, home size, income, entrepreneurial success and good looks are some of the things I just haven't acquired yet. The truth is that while I don't necessarily *want* those things, I want the perceived confidence and satisfaction of having led a good life.

I know this is a rambling post. It sounded a lot more straightforward in my head. I had hoped that writing this would make those back-of-your-mind desires for worldly recognition dissipate, but if fixing your problems was as easy as blogging about them I'd be near perfect by now.

I am not ashamed of who I am or of what I've accomplished. I'm very happy with it, in fact. And I often choose to think actively think about that - count my blessings, if you will - to combat the feeling of inadequacy when faced with lack of temporal success when I am compared with those in the upper crust.


No mo' Gitmo


It's time.

"Your families aren't safe." They weren't before Guantanamo Bay closed. Osama Bin Laden is still out there.

"You're going to supply the terrorists with fresh new faces with a vendetta against the U.S." Our foreign policy of simply supporting Israel with money and weapons, of fighting in the borders of Afghanistan/Pakistan, incurring civilian casualties when we launch military strikes in Iraq -- all occupational hazards of fighting wars, we create new recruits for terror camps. They didn't like us before. We've been doing all the things that made 'em hate us from the get go - both right and wrong - for a long time.

Closing Gitmo was the right thing to do. You can't continue to defend who you are and what makes you great (liberty, justice, and civil rights) while running a place like Guantanamo Bay.


rocket science

The other weekend we were at a Christmas play at an auditorium. We had some pretty crappy seats-- we'd gotten interested in going a little too late and most of the tickets were sold out. But, we thought it'd be nice to sit up on the balcony and all the way in the corner. We were on the front row of the upper balcony and the retaining wall in front of us was built a bit too high, so the seats were raised a good 4 inches from the normal height. 4 inches too high means your legs dangle, and your toes barely touch the floor. It's so painful to have the blood cut off on the weight of your legs at your knees, and you have constantly shift your weight so as to keep the blood going and the pain from setting in.

So the comfort far from us, and especially my poor pregnant wife, what else should happen but my nose start to run? It got worse and worse, and like an idiot I didn't bring any handkerchief or tissues to fix the problem. We had about 20 minutes before intermission, and the more I breathed the more I had to sniff it back up. The more I sniffed it back up, the more my nose run... I even had the bubble thing going at one point. It was getting bad. I had to do something. I didn't even care about my legs, I only wanted to relieve my breathing.

As the lights kept turning off so the audience could applaud, I could only focus on my respiratory problems. Then it hit me. It was dark, it was loud: no one could see or hear me. There was also not a single person to my immediate right- not even a seat. So I did it. I leaned over, crushed the cavity of one nostril, blew like the wind, and repeated for the other nostril. I felt the slag of my mucus bouncing off the nozzle of my nostril both sides, and it. was. SATISFYING. I blew so hard it didn't get on the outside of my nose, nor did it touch my arms, hand, or fingers.

I resumed clapping with everyone else and the lights came back on. Not even Mrs. Sixline realized what I had done. The entire ordeal lasted 3-4 seconds. But hey, when you have to blow your nose, and you have no hankeys, you have little options. Given my circumstances, it wasn't rocket science to blow snot rockets.


down for the count

Two weeks ago, Mrs. Sixline and I spent 45 minutes with my family at my house on the way back to ours. From that brief encounter, she picked up a bug that was blazing through everyone in my family. After short exposure time, one was subjected to convulsive stomach cramps, very unenjoyable bowel movements, and feverish body temperatures. Like the husband I try to be, I did the little things around the house but I think I complained too much. Hopefully not too much... Anyway. After about 2 days of this Mrs. Sixline expressed her disgust at how seldom I got sick - even when everyone in my family got it, I did not. I couldn't help but be proud of myself. I never get sick.

And then the fever kicked in. Wednesday of last week, before Thanksgiving, I had a fever of 102F. I felt extremely achey, inflammed, tired, irritable, and sore. My fever broke that night and I slept terribly. Thanksgiving Day I was quarantined at my parents' house while they visited my side of the family and Mrs. Sixline visited hers. It was just me, my little poodle, and AMC's reruns of The Godfathers I and II. I was still not up to my best, so I ended up sleeping through most of both movies. Thursday night I thought I was on my way out of it when a disgusting sinus infection took place of the fever and I have been hacking and coughing and generally miserable since. It's tough to sleep when you have a convulsive cough...

Anyway. I did manage to see Twilight with my wife and thought it better than reported. I even read it. It's a fun book about falling in love and thinking that you'd die if you were apart from the person you cared about. I find it to be fairly harmless in that respect. It is nice to use Bella and Edward to vicariously remember the way Mrs. Sixline and I first began to court. But hey -- I've been warned to keep the sappiness to a minimum.

So yeah... Crappy Thanksgiving.


gay marriage, prop 8, and eHarmony

One of my favorite Book of Mormon scriptures comes from Alma 30:

7 Now there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds.

I've mused on it many times, as I'm quite fond of the story of Korirhor as detailed in the same chapter. It's not because I see a drama where an atheist gets punished and the righteous triumph. It's mainly because when I first read this, I found Korirhor's arguments compelling. But that's neither here nor there for what's been on my mind lately. The scripture as it pertains to the current events surround gay marriage, proposition 8 in California, and eHarmony paints the picture of how I feel on the matter.

Not a short time ago I posited aloud in Gospel Doctrine (Sunday School) that this verse gave me grounds for not being against gay marriage. It was not that I was pro gay marriage, or that I condoned it, not the case at all. It was a matter of unequal grounds. I have a hard time telling gay people they can't be married. Specifically, I have a hard time telling gay people they don't deserve the rights and benefits of legally sanctioned union. As you can imagine, the class didn't agree with me. When several of the class members approached me later, quite civilly I might add, I maintained my position that I had great fear of setting a precedent of dipping into morality to support legislation. What happens when it's not my morality that's being supported for legislation? There are a great many Evangelical Christian churches who feel that the Book of Mormon is nothing more than Satan's gift to mankind to blind and deceive. How would I react if a law was passed outlawing the Book of Mormon? Not entirely analogous to gay marriage, but insofar as I can tell, you would have two majorities supporting something that isn't lawful based on their views of morality. Gay marriage isn't legal and isn't illegal because we're still trying to define it.

At any rate, whether or not I was right or wrong in my fears is debatable. I supported the Church's decision to be against it, trusting that (thanks Chance for putting this so well) I raised my arm to the square and sustained President Monson not only as a prophet and revelator, but a seer. Prior to my decision to trust the Church was my coming across their statement concerning the official stance. In short, the Church is not against the offering of all the rights and benefits of marriage, but definitely against defining marriage as anything other than a man and a woman. This relieved me quite a bit. Civil unions never sounded so horrible to me. The reasoning outlined in the official statement explained that if the word "marriage" was to be officially defined as anything other than a man and a woman, then there would be considerable risk to the Church's sovereignty concerning marriage rites and ceremony. Mormons consider marriage in the Temple (not just a church meetinghouse but a Temple to the Most High) a most sacred endowment and a sealing by the power of God that lasts through eternity. Only the worthy from our own ranks are permitted to participate. The Church's right to say "no" to unworthy couples, including gays, would most assuredly be challenged.

Enter eHarmony. According to the LA Times, a homosexual man was upset that eHarmony did not cater to homosexuals and successfully sued the company over it. A New Jersey court ruled that a private business that does not offer essential services must change the way they do business and now allow gay people to search for their matches. The Church's statement seems prescient. I believe this is among the first steps of a -- dare I say it -- scary trend.

Speaking with another friend of mine whose knowledge prowess usually tips in favor of technical knowledge had a not-so-rare moment of logical clarity that so often accompanies a burst of knowledge - when your mind lights up and you say "Yes. This is true. This makes sense. This tastes good to my soul." Defining marriage as between a man and a woman does not deny rights. It simply secures the definition and protects businesses and Churches from conducting their affairs the way they see fit. Allowing legal, probate, housing, insurance, hospital visitation, and other rights to be conferred through the vehicle of a civil union should quell any fears or concerns of same-sex couples.

But it won't.

To top it off, I saw Affirmation - a group of self-declared GLBT Mormons - go on a local news network and claim they would not rest until the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recognized them and their lifestyle as in harmony with the Gospel and teachings of the Savior.

In light of all this, I am permanently against defining marriage as anything other than a man and a woman.


cat's in the cradle...

So he's almost here. February 22nd and he'll be here. I can't wait. I have all these daydreams of showing him how to field grounders, catch flyballs, throw a knuckler, how to putt and chip (I should learn those myself...) and of course, talking to him about my mission.

When I was growing up, I just always knew that serving a mission was something I wanted to do. It never felt like a duty, and it certainly never felt like something I had to do. My dad, despite having a generally positive experience when he was a missionary, never felt like pushing any of me or my brothers into it because he felt like that would be counterproductive. Sure enough, I know I served with a few guys who weren't out there for the right reasons.

I really felt like my mission was worth it. I don't mean that in the "it sucked but it built character and was good for me" kind of way. I'm being genuine. There is very little to the experience that I regret and none of those things were incidental to being a missionary but rather my own shortcomings. There was no one person I did not love. There was no one place I did not call home - truly home. This is all to say nothing of the way I developed my relationship and testimony of the Savior. I know it sounds corny, but often I would just sit back and reflect on the fact that everyone that was around me was a child of God. He knew them: their names, their families, their jobs, their fears, their hopes, their dreams, their concerns, their emotions, their desires... He knew them. It was a healthy dose of perspective to realize that the Lord knew and loved them as much as He knew and loved me.

Clearly, I wish for my son to have the same desires and the same experiences. In fact, I'm convinced that it's the desires and state of one's heart that allows one to have one experience over another. I just want my son to want to go. If I say he has to, then is he going to be one of those kids that wants to do the opposite? (And speaking of such, it's not like saying "I *don't* want you to eat your vegetables! I forbid it!!!" makes them want to eat those vegetables anymore... Why is that? The whole "I do the opposite of what you say" thing only applies to what they want.) I don't want to force him, and I don't want him to go out of obligation. And yet, the Savior recoiled at drinking the bitter cup but did it because He knew it was His spiritual duty.

Here's what I will do: Fondly speak of my mission and speak of it often. I want him to know that I desire him to go, but that he should only go if he feels he should.

And if he doesn't, he's out of the family.


For as many as heeded them, had fallen away.

Sometimes the great and spacious building (GSB for short...) is far away on a hill and you look on it longingly, with the looming and foreboding sense of being left behind. What you really want is to feel accepted, and to feel important. And the more you think about how unhappy you are, the more you drift away from that blessed hill which giveth the fruit of eternal life. The siren's song takes you... warning cries and voices fade with the static and buzz of background and you move almost imperceptibly at first, but move you do and soon you're far from what's most important. You leave to seek what you already had, happiness and joy, in means and methods that cannot and will not produce such.

Sometimes the GSB is in your face, mocking your happiness and insulting your peace. It tries to make you ashamed of your blessings by telling you that you deserve more. The tricky part here is that if you are convinced that you're above you're blessings, then you really do have cause for shame, but not the way you've been convinced to feel it, and definitely not for those reasons.

Both these approaches appeal to your selfish pride, and try to undermine your spirituality by telling you that you are not happy with what you have and that you deserve more. Such suggestions insult the Lord's providence and good will in blessing you with what you need -- sometimes very different from what you want.

But what do you do when you know the adversary's game plan, and you don't move from your spot, but you still feel the emptiness of your position and the desire to be loved and accepted in the way that only the evil one can provide? I don't have the command of my emotional faculties to move those feelings out of the way on a whim. Even Nephi lamented that he too often gave the enemy such power over him and his heart. I suppose you press on, and you ignore the galling calls of the denizens of the great and spacious building.