Monday, July 16, 2018

To senators re: Putin/Trump in Helsinki

I sent the following to my two senators today, following the disastrous Trump/Putin summit:

"If you continue to support this treasonous traitor of a president and do not pursue impeachment, your are yourself a traitor to your country, a country that won a cold war against this totalitarian state. You will also have to answer to God, humanity, posterity, and history for your complicity. You must give up your insane "loyalty" to a political party that has gone completely off the rails and choose loyalty to country and humanity instead. It's time to do the right thing. God help us if you and your colleagues don't."

Monday, June 25, 2018

Kings: Bad Idea

Last week in Gospel Doctrine class we were talking about the transition from judges to kings in the Old Testament.  There was a lot of humming and hawing about how maybe this was necessary, etc., the judges weren’t that great, etc.  My comment was something along the lines that, taken as a whole, in addition to being a lineage of the Messiah, a secondary overriding theme is how utterly terrible kings and tribes are.  

Yesterday while waiting for stake conference to start I looked through every chapter heading from 1 Samuel to 2 Kings.  It’s just a series of absolute disasters caused by these kings.  And the first three were carefully hand picked, but even they turned out really bad and caused unspeakable suffering.  I know God sanctioned, selected and had these guys anointed, but I imagine it somewhat in the character of providing I.V. drug users with clean needles.  “If you’re going to do this really awful, dumb thing, then at least make sure that…” etc.

Kings and tribes are unmitigated disasters.  And why wouldn’t they be?  If we are children of a perfect and loving god, tribalism, racism, and nationalism have to be viewed as wicked.  Moreover, lifting up one man and his descendants as above the law, better than everyone else, able to boss people around and steal from, enslave, kidnap, and rape them at a whim are likewise wicked.  And yet we have this human tendency to want kings, strongmen, and celebrities.  We are also incredibly susceptible to believing in tribes, races, and nationalities.

I keep coming back the the lyric of the reggae classic from Carlton and the Shoes:

“God made man and He gave them all
An equal share of blessings.
Some men want to take it all and
Keep the rest of the world in
Bondage and oppression.”

The song ends with a hopeful note though:

“But the Father, He’s not sleeping.
He’ll set his people free.
Better days are coming,
Better days for you and for me.”

Sunday, June 24, 2018


So the fact that there is a word for this, demagogue, and that vile strongmen throughout recorded history have taught and preyed on fear of the other to divide the majority or plurality and thus gain power and control; does the fact that history is replete with this ugly phenomenon and that despite our living in the information age, and thus having super easy access to all this history and information, does any of that matter? I guess we really have to look at root causes. About 50 percent of any society are susceptible to fear, easily manipulated, and generally not super smart or able to think independently/critically. This is just simply a given. And these people do amazing and beautiful things in most circumstances. About 35% of people in any society are both smart and have a social conscience. About 15% are smart and are douchebags, and just want wealth or power, at whatever expense. Sometimes the 15% (or a subset of them) get so greedy that they are willing to create/promote hatred to squeeze a little bit more, mostly out of the 50% (getting them to act against their consciences and their own interests). It's really all up to the 35%, and I think we've failed. We failed to educate. We failed in the political process. We promoted a doctrine of moral relativism at the very wrong time in history. We sucked up to mass media and popular culture also at the very wrong time in history. We allowed "wedge issues", tailor made by the 15%, to cause us to succumb to dislike of the 50%. We also failed to shame the 15%, but that is only possible when we sufficiently educate the 50% such that we have shared values with which to shame the 15%.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Avant Vespers

I shared the following on FaceBook today regarding a new series that takes over somewhat where the Locust Salon and Avant GaRAWge left off:

For many years I have been experimenting with different ways to structure time in music.  I’m very excited to present a piece tonight that does this in ways that I’ve imagined but never quite realized.  No Within No is also an exploration of liminality, the space within the supposed borders.  This is something I’ve been fascinated with for years, but I feel like I’m getting further into that groove.  The borders that become continua are those between speech and music, composed and improvised text, intelligible words and phonemes, humor and profundity, heterophony and polyphony, and a few others.  I’m so glad to have two of my favorite vocalist/performers joining me, Hannah McLaughlin and Stuart Wheeler.  And also very grateful to be surrounded with other fascinating music being made by Mr. Wheeler, Gavin Ryan, Devin Maxwell, and the music of Pauline Oliveros, Alvin Lucier, and Phil Niblock, composers rarely heard in these parts.  Incidentally, I share a regard for Sunday as a sacred time and consider this event, in a beautiful and intimate church, a wonderful opportunity for meditation and the celebration of the divine gift of sound, whatever your beliefs or life practices are.