Faith vs. Self-preservation with a side of South Park

Yesterday turned out to be a lazy, yet quietly productive day. It was a mix of South Park (I’m watching the whole thing for the first time) and admin type work for the blog and a group I belong to. It was pleasant, in a way, ticking things off my to do list, while also making some impressive progress on my South Park quest. A quest which I’m enjoying immensely, I have no idea why it took me so long to watch this show. I’m currently on season 9 and it’s still going strong. I can almost imitate Cartman, so I feel accomplished.

Want to know what else I made progress with? My reading. I spent a few hours today curled up on my couch, just me and an indecent number of Mormons. Which, mind you, isn’t too far away from the truth. The author is chronicling different situations that take place within the Fundamentalist Mormon religion through different people. He speaks of one such woman’s family tree and describes it as something that looks like a complex engineering blueprint. She married her stepmother’s father and became, not only her stepmom’s stepmom, but also her own step-grandmother. That’s pretty crazy, right?

I don’t have issues with polygamy, in general. I believe in the idea that adults should be able to have multiple partners, whether in an open relationship or a plural relationship between 3 or more people, if they so desire. However, reading these accounts of Mormon polygamy was bothering me and I finally understood why when I read this line: ” Girls are led to believe that such a relationship is the one way to salvation”. These girls, because some of them are as young as 13 and 14 years old, are brought up to believe that the only way to make it into Heaven is by entering into plural marriages and being fully obedient to these men.  It’s either polygamy or damnation.

The motto for the Bountiful community in Canada, a Fundamentalist Mormon town, is “Keep sweet, no matter what”. It sounds innocent enough, but when you take into consideration that this is a community where disobedience is discouraged and severely punished, it takes on a more sinister meaning. It stops being just cute a saying to keep posted on fridge doors and it becomes something much more threatening. Keep sweet, no matter what….or else.

The same woman who became her own step-grandmother is quoted as trying to “unravel where God stops and man begins”. That’s a question believers of every religion ask themselves at some point. People often forget that members of the clergy and church leaders are just men, even if their intent is to speak in god’s name, sharing what they believe god would want. However, they don’t have a direct line to heaven, they’re just working off History and scriptures written by men like themselves. This becomes especially problematic in the Mormon religion because they believe their leaders are actually prophets who speak for god. It means these men are given a divine license to do as they wish and place it all under god’s name.

I had the good fortune of being raised by a family that taught me that I had a right to speak for myself. They taught me how to identify abuse and what healthy relationships looked like, even if they didn’t have perfect relationships themselves. Reading this book I’m surprised by what these women go through for their religion and I can’t help but wonder how they cope. I don’t doubt that there are good times the author doesn’t show because it goes against the point he’s trying to make, but some of the accounts he shares are really baffling, in a way. He tells of women raped, men who marry both mother and daughter, young girls pulled out of school only to be married off and impregnated, it’s intense. I understand these women strongly believe that is the only true path to salvation, but I wonder where their sense of self preservation is? Is their faith so strong that it completely overpowers it?

What do you think, readers? Does faith trump self preservation? Let me know what you think. Until next time, stay classy!

Mea culpa!

Blogger faux pas, I fell asleep yesterday without posting. It’s terrible, I know. “When will you learn to schedule your posts beforehand!”, I hear you cry. You’re right, nameless, disembodied voice. You’re right! Attempts will be made to better organize myself.

On the bright side, yesterday was a pretty productive day. I’ve been working on fixing up an old table for my room, I’m still on the sanding stage because doing it without power tools takes forever and a day. It’s shaping up though, which makes me happy, especially because it means I’m getting closer to spray painting it! In the mean time I’ve been spray painting a few other things in my room partly because they needed it, but mostly because I’m a little bit obsessed. The sound a spray paint can makes when you shake it is oddly satisfying!

I’ve also been learning how to make stencils on Photoshop and Illustrator, to further expand on this whole spray paint thing I’ve got going on. I have a huge space on my wall and I’m thinking of filling it with one or two of my doodles.

Check out my first efforts. I give you Phone Head and Awkbbit (he’s still a work in progress).

Phone Head Testing (dragged)

Which one do you think would look better on my wall? I’m kinda leaning towards Phone Head, but I haven’t decided yet. I’ll show you the finished product when I do!

In the midst of all these random little projects, I’ve been reading Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. I’m a few chapters in and getting a bit antsy to get to the actual story of what happened with the Lafferty brothers. So far he’s talked about Fundamentalist Mormons, their settlement on Colorado City, apostates, charges brought up against Mormon polygamists, and I’m starting to wish he’d get to the story already. On the other hand, I appreciate this slow roundabout because it gives me context that I wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s insanely helpful because, as I’ve said before, I really don’t know much about the Mormon religion – Fundamentalist or not, so having a bit of background helps when trying to keep things in context.

I’ve gotta say, I like this early morning writing thing. I might use last night’s missed post as an opportunity to switch my posting hours.

Will she change or keep posting at the same hours? What will she end up painting on her wall? Will she ever get over her spray paint obsession? Find out on the next episode of Destination:Reading! By which I mean, as time goes by because none of those questions will be answered by tomorrow.

Stay beautiful, readers. Until next time.

Of Droughts and Mormons

Good evening, everyone!

Today has been an insanely long day and not for any particular reason, the time has just passed very slowly. This was probably aided by the fact that it’s been an entirely uneventful day where all I did was watch tv, do a small amount of work for a group I belong to, and read.

On the bright side, today we got our water back! It’s possible you don’t know this, but Puerto Rico is experiencing one of the most severe droughts in the past decade, at least. Due to the infinitesimal amount of water, we’re smack dab in the middle of a rationing process. Initially, they would turn the water off for 24 hours, but as the water level decreased they increased that to 48 hours. Today marked the end of the latest 48 hour period and, for the moment, we have running water. According to the “experts” the water levels will take months to get back to normal, which means we will most likely be rationing water for a few more months.

If I weren’t already excited to go to Europe, escaping the drought alone would make the trip worth it. I can’t lie though, I’m stoked to finally visit Europe on my terms, without tour guides or a group to determine where I should be. The first time I set foot in Europe my mom and I went with a tourist group where everything was pre-organized. The second time, I went as part of an English course offered by the university; we traveled following in the footsteps of American writers who based themselves in Paris, like those of the Lost Generation and the Beat Generation. As a group we had more freedom to explore than I did with my previous group, but because it was a university course there were things we needed to see and places we needed to visit in order to complete our final project. This upcoming trip is a chance to finally visit the countries that I want, without the hassle of timetables or preordained stops to make. It’s quite liberating, if I’m honest.

As part of my absolutely lazy day, I’ve been getting acquainted with my new book, Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. I usually have a difficult time reading non-fiction because it takes me longer to dig through the facts and find the narrative. I haven’t had that problem so far with this book, it invites me to keep reading and I can’t help but feel excited about that. In the small amount I’ve read it’s already explored a few subjects in a really concise and direct way. I like that the writer found a way to explain things that could be potentially complicated and made them seem simple without dumbing them down. I’ve never read anything else by him, so I don’t know if that’s his style in general or if it has to do with the nature of the book itself. So far, the way he’s approached the narrative works with what he’s trying to say.

One of the first things he touches upon is the difference between Mormons and Mormon Fundamentalists. They both follow the same scriptures and believe Joseph Smith to be a prophet similar to Moses, for example. However, Mormon Fundamentalists firmly believe in polygamy, to them abandoning what they consider to be one of the religion’s pillars means that the rest of the Mormons have strayed from the true teachings of Joseph Smith.

According to the book, only about 1% of Mormons are Fundamentalists and yet, at least in my experience, we have a tendency to equate Mormons with polygamy. I’ve never really been exposed to the Mormon religion, so I’m not sure if it’s a general tendency to equate Mormonism with polygamy or if it’s just me. I’ve been trying to find out what percentage of Puerto Ricans belongs to the Mormon religion, but I haven’t found anything satisfying. It looks like I have homework!

Hopefully I’ll have some information by tomorrow. Don’t miss my continued journey into Mormonism! Until next time, readers.