Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Great and Spacious Building

Wow. That's all I can say:

The $1.5 Billion downtown project.

Isn't it great that the Church has the ability to make this much money, apparently without tithing included? You know, screw all of the humanitarian aid that could be offered with $1.5 billion...I mean, real estate, food, shopping--now THOSE are MUCH more vital and should be focused on in this religion first and foremost.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

FLAK Post by Reformed_Egyptian

This post was amazing and summed up many of my own feelings very well:

Take a look.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sunday Report

Although we could certainly have used the excuse that we forgot about Daylight Saving Time (as did at least one couple who walked in thinking the closing song was the opening song), my husband and I went to sacrament meeting.

We sat near the back but in plain sight so the bishop could easily see us and give us "they're trying to be good people and come to church" points, even though we were going to leave before our names could be marked on any rolls. Better than nothing. We wanted to be seen but not talked to, and we sat in a place that allowed an easy escape as soon as the closing prayer ended.

The speakers were from the newly re-organized West Relief Society (yes, we have TWO of them in our ward...the ward is like 90% young married couples). They all spoke about the conference talk from Eyring, I believe. But for me, the highlight of the meeting was a personal story of one of these young ladies. She was talking about how her husband went on a mission when she was like 16 or 17. At this point, she mentioned that she had a very strong "revelation" that she had to marry this guy. At age 17, she KNEW she was getting married to him. All she had to do was convince him that he wanted to marry her, too, when he returned home. 17. Holy crap, ladies and gentlemen. She went on to say that later on, Satan caused her to have doubts about this. Doubts? That's called "common sense," girlfriend. It never ceased to bother me, even when I was strong in the church, that members were always so quick to say that Satan had caused them to do or think something, or was responsible for their sorrow, or whatever. Satan isn't just a scapegoat, you know.

We whispered many a sarcastic remark throughout the duration of the meeting, and were glad when the final "amen" resounded through the chapel. We made our getaway without a hitch and went off to have a lovely Sunday picnic while everyone else was in classes. Ah, that's the life.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

It can't be just a coincidence...

Two Studies Find Depression Widespread in Utah

Study Calling Utah Most Depressed, Renews Debate on Root Causes


March 7, 2008—

The still waters of the Great Salt Lake run deep -- and dark.

Take Wendy, a 40-year-old teacher and mother of three from Utah County. To all appearances, she led the perfect life. Just as she was expected to, she went from high school cheerleader to Mormon missionary to wife and mother.

"But life has a funny way of not being perfect," she said. "Three years into my marriage my husband was drinking, using drugs and stepping out on me.

"I knew I was depressed and needed help, but there is a stigma about depression in this area," said Wendy, who asked that not use her last name. "People think it's a sign of weakness. It means you're not capable of being a good mother or wife or teacher."

Wendy's secret is Utah's secret. The postcard image of Utah is a state of gleaming cities, majestic mountains and persistently smiling people. But new research shows a very different picture of the state, a snapshot of suicide and widespread depression.

A recent study by Mental Health America, the country's oldest independent mental health advocacy organization, ranked Utah the most depressed state in the country.

Another survey released last week by drug distribution company Express Scripts found that residents of Utah were prescribed antidepressant drugs more than those of any other state and at twice the national average.

According to MHA, some 10.14 percent of adults in Utah "experienced a depressive episode in the past year and 14.15 percent experienced serious psychological distress. ... Individuals in Utah reported having on average 3.27 poor mental health days in the past 30 days."

The reason for Utah's mass depression, however, is unknown.

"The truth is, we don't know why," said Dr. Ted Wander, spokesman for the Utah Psychiatric Association.

Neither study was broken down by gender, but nationally women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depressive disorders as men, experts told ABC News.

Psychiatrists point to several factors that could contribute to Utah's high levels of depression: limited mental health resources, restricted access to treatment as a result of cost, poor quality of resources and a varied list of other factors, including an underfunded educational system and a culture deeply rooted in the Mormon faith.

"Availability to resources, a lack of professionals and barriers to treatment, including the ability to pay all drive up instances of depression," said Dr. Curtis Canning, a Logan-based psychiatrist and former president of the Utah Psychiatric Association. "But there is also -- especially when it comes to women and girls -- a cultural factor."

Seventy percent of Utah's residents are Mormon. When Express Scripts issued its first national survey of prescription drug use in 2002, it sparked a heated debate across Utah about what, if any role, the church played in the state's high dependence on antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft.

"In Mormon culture females are supposed accept a calling. They are to be constantly smiling over their family of five. They are supposed to take supper across the street to an ill neighbor and then put up with their husband when he comes home from work and smile about it the whole time. There is this sense that Mrs. Jones down street is doing the same thing, and there is this undercurrent of competition. To be a good mother and wife, women have to put on this mask of perfection. They can't show their tears, depression or agony," Canning said.

"Obedience, conformity and maintaining a sense of harmony" are unspoken but widely recognized behaviors, which all contribute to what he calls "the Mother of Zion syndrome."

When Wendy first started seeking professional help and was put on Zoloft 10 years ago, she felt the sting of shame even from her own family members.

"Marriage and family are so important that there was a huge amount of pressure to make things work. I was supposed to try harder, and buck up and that would make me happier and keep my husband from abusing me," she said.

"There are expectations from the community, but mostly from other women," she said. "It doesn't come down from the church necessarily, but it's passed from mother to daughter. My family was reluctant to see me taking the drugs, but since seeing me at my worst, they now encourage me to take my meds."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints, however, says the high number of prescriptions is a result of people receiving the drugs they need in Utah more than in other places.

"I don't think it's clear that there's a crisis in Utah," said Brent Scharman, a psychologist and the assistant commissioner of LDS Family Services, a church network that provides counseling. "You've got one camp that says there is more depression and another camp that says we just have more consumers." Scharman said studies on organized religion and depression found that religious people were generally happier than nonreligious people, and that held true for Mormons.

"It always boils down to the issue of what influence the LDS lifestyle has on the depression phenomenon," he said. "Non-LDS and some LDS people say this is a kind of driven lifestyle and that we push too hard and smile too much. But studies show, and those living it out see, that religion is good support. It creates a positive network and helps people get through crises and deal with long-term problems.

"Are there people who feel 'I'm not living up to the LDS ideal,' or 'I'm not living up to my family's expectations'? Absolutely, there is no question. But having done counseling outside the LDS community, I saw people there, too, who were depressed because of perfectionism," he said. "I wouldn't say it is any worse here than in more diverse communities."

The MHA study evaluated information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., and factored in suicide statistics to determine each state's "depression status."

Liquor law changes = ridiculous

Utah changes already-complicated liquor laws

Adjusts size of shot, bans orders of sidecar if it’s in your mixed drink

updated 8:03 p.m. ET March 5, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY - Bar patrons in Utah, which has some of the nation's strictest liquor laws, will soon be able to get 50 percent tipsier off one cocktail. Be warned, though: no more "sidecars."

The amount of liquor allowed in the standard cocktail will increase from 1 ounce to 1.5 ounces after the Legislature approved the first major changes in years to the state's liquor laws. That's the standard used in most other states and countries.

Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman has said he wants the change so Utah won't appear so strange to the rest of the world. Utah is the only state to limit the amount of liquor allowed in a standard shot, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Story continues below ↓

And while the change is intended to improve the state's image, the bill also makes some alterations that many people may find downright odd.

Utah will become the only state to ban wine coolers and flavored malt beverages from grocery stores. Instead, they will be sold only in state liquor stores.

"I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these alcopops are directed to our kids. It is a gateway drug," said Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab.

Restrictions on wine coolers were almost guaranteed after the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said last month that it supported doing so. Sixty percent of the state's residents are Mormon, but 80 percent to 90 percent of lawmakers are.

In addition, bar patrons' option of ordering an additional 1-ounce shot to pour in their drinks, known locally as a sidecar, is being eliminated. Customers will still be able to order shots while they have a drink on the table, but only if it is of a liquor that's not already in their drink.

In other words, customers drinking a margarita couldn't order a shot of tequila, but they could take shots of vodka.

Frequently, a group of customers will order the same shot to drink together. Bartenders and waiters will now have to keep track of what liquor is already in each customer's drink before they can serve up the shot.

Those who deal with tourists say the changes will do little to improve the state's image and will leave many people just as confused as ever.

"If anything, I think it's going to make things worse because they're mixing alcohol," said Cristin Poloni, a marketing executive for a Salt Lake City ski rental company. "People are going to be completely perplexed, especially tourists."

Residents can take comfort that at least one liquor law won't change: Doubles will remain illegal.

Friday, March 7, 2008

A little humor

To post on FLAK. I love LOL cats...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thoughts of the Day

Things that have come to mind recently:

  • If the Church owns Deseret Industries, then why do they allow "inappropriate" clothing, books and movies to be sold there? They gain make money from these items...wouldn't that be considered wrong? Their members certainly would be asked not to do such a thing. (*and as a side note: does anyone know how much of the money earned from this business is kept and used by the Church versus given to people in need?)
  • If God is the same yesterday, today and forever, why would His Gospel change so freaking often? Some of the changes are pretty serious and disruptive, too!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The List

I have decided to create a list of things that have been determining factors in my 'falling' from the church (inspired by a family member who has done the same). A member reading this might say that I shouldn't have to make a list to convince and remind myself that the church is not true. But it is not like that...there are just so many thoughts a feelings in my head and I want to find them a home. And besides--don't mormons do the same thing once a month, when they get up and bear their testimonies? Well, consider this my "anti-testimony."

-Feelings in the Temple. Before I entered one, I felt very nervous and worried about going through. Turned out I had every right to be--since my first experience within its walls, I felt the spirit drain out of me.

-Temple and Masonic Rituals. Unless the Masons are also God's chosen people and deserved to receive sacred ordinances before they would be introduced into the church, I don't see why the church would lift some of those very rituals word for word. So they knew the way into heaven before the rest of us did?

-Joseph Smith's Lies. The fact that he had over 30 wives and tried to deny it would be a good example of this.

-Polygamy. Enough said. I think this is the main reason mormonism was started, and yet now we look at it as though it is evil and wrong.

-The law of chastity. Not bad in and of itself, but the rigorous enforcement of it is a little too much. Take masturbation for example. And are you really going to tell me that it's better to get married at 18 just so you can finally relieve your sexual tension instead of waiting until a more mature age?

-Tithing. If it were more voluntary, and not a set %, I might feel much better about it. But in order to be a 'card carrying' member of the church you must give 10% to the church, which will be used in ways you will never know.

-The ever-changing gospel. I could almost buy this one if the gospel didn't have such a habit of changing with the times to suit the "ways of the world," which it claims to be so ardently against. Blacks and the priesthood, changing garment lengths and temple ceremonies, and birth control policies are some stellar examples of this.

-Treatment of homosexuals and racism. Not cool. Denying blacks of the priesthood and the experiments on gays at BYU come readily to mind.

-The church is a money-making corporation. Money, money, money. The church can afford to buy so much property, buildings, and, like, a whole street in SLC...if the church were following the teachings of Christ, wouldn't this money go straight to help those less fortunate? And the fact the church actually owns Deseret Book steams me a little.

-Scare tactics. You are literally frightened into staying. Because, you know, if you stop paying your 10% and going to church and attending the temple and having hell with you.

(more later.)