Seven Years of Podcasting

Roughly eight years ago, Dan started talking about wanting to do a podcast. It took a while (and a couple of trial runs at different concepts) before I was convinced. So sometime early/mid November 2011, we sat down in a small recording studio at my work and gave it a shot. I remember us discussing “national hats” and can recall little more than that. I’m sure if I read through the show’s description, a few memories might be dislodged from their hiding places, but not much lives on in my active memory.

And I find that surprising… not that I can’t remember the early days of TGIA with great clarity, but because we’ve been doing this show long enough that memories from the first year aren’t easy to access. And don’t even ask me about the middle years… What a blur!

With that, however, I give you our 362nd episode: “Seven Years of TGIA”. (And for you mathy types who will say that the 364th should be our 7th anniversary: we have failed to post every single week only twice.)

TGIA episode 362

What about the “Moderate” Muslims?

In episode 153 “Islam: Take 2,” Dan and I asked the question, “Are there moderate Muslims?” In order to make the point that the teachings of Islam itself are extreme—death penalty for adultery and homosexuality—we played the following video:

One of the things that stood out to me while watching the video is how hard it would be as a Muslim to disagree with the speaker’s position. On what legitimately Muslim grounds could you make your case that a woman who commits adultery shouldn’t be stoned?

The following video from the BBC did shed some light on this question:

What do you think? Is Islam unique in its threat to liberal western values?

Free Advice: Don’t Use the Hitler Quote

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Don’t you just hate it when all you need to promote your Christian youth program is a really good quote, and the only one you can find is from Adolf Hitler? Take the quotation: “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.” That’s a pretty good line, and it totally makes the point you wanted to make. But there’s that whole Hitler thing…

You clearly have only two choices: You could use the quote and not attribute it, but that feels dishonest, like you’re stealing from Adolf Hitler. (Nobody cares about plagiarism when it involves Hitler, right?!) Or you could use the quote, say who said it, and hope nobody figures out that it’s THAT Adolf Hitler. But here’s where you probably feel safe–it’s not like it’s a quote about killing Jews or the superiority of the Aryan race or anything bad like that. If someone asks, be sure to point that out.

Apparently down in Alabama, a youth bible school decided to run an ad on a billboard and they found themselves in the dilemma I laid out above. The only problem is that they didn’t come up with the obvious third alternative: DON’T USE THE QUOTE. They simply decided to throw in a verse from the Bible to balance things out. What do you think? Did it work? Read the story from the local newspaper.

Please support my newest project

I’m running a Kickstarter fundraiser that ends this Saturday for “Pam and Gay Ghost.” If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a crowdfunding website that lets the fundraisers (in this case me) offer rewards to their supporters (hopefully you) in exchange for their support. It’s also an all or nothing model, meaning if we don’t hit our goal, we don’t get the money (and supporters don’t get charged).

I set a goal of $4,500 that would help finish the film and pay the actors. Please visit the campaign page to learn more and to pledge your support. The campaign is running behind and needs your help. Please visit our Kickstarter page.

View the trailer for “Pam and Gay Ghost” here:

A Mother’s Warning

Last Friday morning my Mormon mother called me with a warning, “be careful this weekend.” I was a little taken aback so I asked for clarification. “I was painting out back and had an impression. You were involved.” I acknowledged hearing her warning and–annoyed–ended the call abruptly.

This was not the first bit of “personal revelation” my mother has directed toward me, but it was the first in a very long time. I had almost forgotten that this was a habit of hers. Growing up, mom had impressions from the “still small voice” all the time. In fact, to a casual observer the voice probably seemed large and loud.

Mom had a bumpy road toward family prophetess though. When I was around eight years old, she scraped her leg really bad on the concrete decking surrounding the swimming pool. The “Holy Ghost” had whispered to her not to go outside, and she heeded the warning until she noticed that a planter on the other side of the pool was turned the wrong way. She slipped out the back door, corrected the planter, and while backing up to admire her work, fell backwards into the pool dragging one of her legs across the sharp little rocks embedded into the concrete.

Later that day, she commented that when you fail to listen to “His” promptings the Lord steps aside letting you face the consequences of your actions. I was mesmerized, and over the next decade, I would witness her sharing premonitions about black ice, ladders, river trips, and anything else that would be of mild concern for a typical mother.

Her prophesying probably seems fairly innocent, and my rudely getting off the phone probably seems, well… rude. But her phone call on Friday stirred up old emotions, and I feel like it was violation of the unspoken terms of our almost fifteen-year truce on the topics of faith and religion. I let her tell me about the goings-on at church, and she never ever asks me when I’m going to return to the gospel (or any other crap like that). I keep details about my life to a minimum. Everything works great!

I don’t know if I have any answers about how to deal with this. In fact, I don’t even think I’m asking any questions. My f’ed up relationship with my mother (and father for that matter) is what it is. I guess what intrigues me the most about her warning and the overall effect it had on my weekend is that I did change my behavior. I was more careful. It clearly wasn’t for the reason she had hoped——that I would start trusting her faith.

I just didn’t want to die in a car accident and leave her feeling like she was right.

Frank’s Patriarchal Blessing

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Mormons have a mystical side they don’t like sharing with the world—they know how weird their secret practices make them look—but the secrets have a special power to hold on to people even years after they’ve thrown off their mormonism.

I experienced a good example of this on Wednesday when I stumbled upon my lost “patriarchal blessing.” This weirdo ritual is performed by what amounts to as a Mormon psychic—or “stake patriarch”—who is appointed to do so for his little corner of the church. This older revered man puts his hands on your head, conveys promises from “Heavenly Father” for your life, and provides enough specific sounding generalizations to convince the blessing’s recipient that the whole thing was intended just for them. The blessing is transcribed and filed away at the church offices in Salt Lake City. You get a copy of the blessing (on a very important and official looking form) in the mail a few weeks later.

Like most mission bound young Mormons, I received my patriarchal blessing a few months prior to leaving for my two-year mission. I felt incredibly special hearing God’s pronouncements for my life and worked hard to make sense of the blessing’s vaguer portions. There were promises of “sitting in counsel with the brethren” and an assurance that “a young lady [is] now being prepared for you.” Both presented its own unique mindfuck that would take years to undo. One seemed like a promise that I had the potential to attain church leadership (a great blessing and a signal of righteousness) and the other suggested to me that if I held on long enough, the whole “gay thing” might just go away.

These and other parts of the blessing loomed over me for years, but after accepting my atheism, I was able to slowly shed the control this document held over me. Through the years I have continued to set aside various relics of my religious upbringing.

At some point, I lost track of my copy of my patriarchal blessing and thought I’d never see it again. That is until I found it in a box of old credit card statements. My first reaction upon seeing it was excitement, and then I hesitated to read it. I realized though, that all these years later, I was still granting it some power.

So here you go world: Frank Feldman’s patriarchal blessing! Seeing as how Mormons don’t talk openly with outsiders about patriarchal blessings even in general, I’ve decided that I wanted to share my whole blessing for anyone who might be interested in reading it. A warning though, it’s really not that interesting.

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Patriarchal Blessing (page 1)

Patriarchal Blessing p2_reduced

Patriarchal Blessing (page 2)