The Curious Case of Josh Weed the Ho-Mo

HA! Ho-Mo! As in Homosexual Mormon, get it? I thought of that. You can use it, though.

Anywhey, Frank and I have had many conversations on our podcast about homosexuality, and even more about Mormonism, and so it was inevitable that I would at some point bring up my dear friend who knew he was gay (like, totally accepted it without reservation), but was completely devoted to his faith and got married to a woman, who also knew he was gay. And they're fine. Well adjusted, happy, and totally fine.

So, I did bring him up. Last week, as a matter of fact. I didn't use his or his wife's names, and I was EXTREMELY careful not to give any clues that might hint at who they were. I just talked about their situation. Then this week, wonder of wonders, they came out of the closet! On vacation for their 10th wedding anniversary, they posted a fantastic post on his blog all about their marriage and his sexuality. You should click here and read it. Many times.

Well, that shit went viral. Like, front page of Gawker viral. Suddenly, I'm seeing opinions about my dear friend popping up all over my Facebook feed, from friends all over the Country

I totally used this pic without permission. 
Cute couple, no?

who have no idea who he is. Who he is, by the way, is Josh Weed– a brilliant, kind, fantastic human being, who is in the process of completely screwing with everybody's formerly happy and neatly compartmentalized notions of sexuality, intimacy, marriage, and love.

So there it is. A gay guy and a straight woman. Married. A story I've seen dozens of times. A story that happens way-too-frequently in the Mormon community. And yet… not. The thing about Josh and Lolly is that I totally buy it. Unlike literally EVERY INSTANCE OF THIS I'VE EVER ENCOUNTERED BEFORE, I believe in this (Did you read their blog post? Their shit's legit, right?). 

Here's where their thing and everybody else's thing completely differ: they are WAY smarter in their approach to the scenario, and (perhaps out of necessity), they are vigilant about attacking this thing with open-eyed awareness and a dogged commitment not only to each other, but to mindfulness and honesty (it doesn't hurt that he has a Master's degree in marriage and family therapy). It's a way of living in a relationship that few couples, gay, straight or otherwise, have any capacity for. But they do. And it works.

So what will be the impact of this bombshell? Well, I'm of two totally different minds on this.

On one hand, I think this post will actually have a very positive influence on Mormon culture (and eventually doctrine) when it comes to sexuality. This post is so well written, and the story is so honest that Mormons who have persisted in closing their eyes to the reality of homosexuality will finally have a digestible way of understanding that sexual orientation is not about choice, but a fact of every person's life. Because Josh lives a lifestyle that they find acceptable, and is so devout in his religious belief, his words carry far more weight than all those corrupt social and biological scientists out there. That's good. Once Mormons accept that sexuality is not a choice, they'll be a long way toward more reality-based opinions on the subject (and a lot more sympathetic toward their gay brothers and sisters).

On the other hand, as much as I appreciate how this makes the discussion of sexuality and marriage richer, I think this post of his is going to have a disastrous impact on a few lives. Intellectually, I think the Weeds have done a great job of presenting a model for a totally new and potentially viable alternative lifestyle. Practically, however, I worry. I know how Mormon/religious minds tend to work. Logical reasoning works backward- they start with a conclusion, and then bend the evidence to support that conclusion. And the conclusion Mormons start with is that being gay is wrong, and being married is right. That means that many (certainly not all) Mormons will see this and think this is an option for them. Well, for most of them it just isn't. And attempting it will end in tears. Families will be shredded.

I gotta give props to Josh , who goes out of his way to say things like this:

I want to make it very clear that while I have found a path that brings me profound joy and that is the right path for me, I don’t endorse this as the only path for somebody who is gay and religious. I will never, ever judge somebody else’s path as being “incorrect” and I know many people who have chosen different paths than myself.

He is under no delusions that this path will work for everybody. But I would venture to say that that's not going to be the takeaway for most Mormons. I think most Mormons are so woefully undereducated in matters of sexuality (in many cases purposefully so), that they will have no context from which to understand this. They will see a gay man happily married to a woman, and think they have all the evidence they need to prove that their gay son can pull it off too if he prays enough. Or that their lesbian sister has no excuse to continue sinning when it's so clear that you can be happily married in a straight marriage. Or that they themselves can be totally fine marrying their "best friend", and just not worrying about the fact that all they can think about is how hot that Abercrombie model is.

I just don't think that's realistic. In almost all cases, a successful partnership that includes sex must start with at least a mutual sexual attraction. Sex is so fundamental to marriage, that without that initial attraction, most relationships are doomed from the beginning. To overcome that is an exercise that only the most emotionally adept, the truly exceptional, should ever attempt. All others need not apply. These are professionals– DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

So… these are my initial responses. Frank and I will chat about it on our next episode, and I'm sure we'll come up with more fascinating points ("More? Where were the first ones?"). And, for the sake of fairness, I think I'll give Josh an opportunity to respond to this. He won't, of course- he's a big shot now. He's weighing which major network shows to go on, he doesn't have time for nonsense like this. But I'll give him the chance, anyway. 

The Spirit of the U.S. Army

So, in our last podcast I talked about the Army’s so-called “spiritual fitness test,” also apparently known as the Global Assessment Tool / Soldier Fitness Tracker. Unfortunately, my source for info was a little hazy, so I took to the Google-web to try to find more. That’s where I found this site which had these screen-caps of the test itself:

 Don't worry- we're totally qualified to assess your spirit... we're the Army!
 Fitness is very important to an army…

As far as I’m concerned, this represents a whole shit-load of what is wrong with how our society treats religion. It is so revered that when a link is established between lack of religiosity and soldier suicides, nobody bothers to ask why. They just assume that religion itself is the answer, and then red-flag anyone who doesn’t have religion. They completely ignore the fact that, while they have established a relationship between religious practice and not-killing-self, they’re nowhere near demonstrating a causal relationship.

Why is that so important? Because, among MANY other reasons, they’re missing a huge opportunity. HUGE! If they took half the money they’re putting into this ridiculous “fitness” evaluation, and actually looked for what, exactly, was the root cause of the added resilience religious soldiers seem to have, my guess is that they would have some very interesting data on their hands. Data that could possibly be used to design programs that could be useful to all soldiers, not just the ones with extra Jesus.

But that’s not what the U.S. Military wants. They don’t want to be in the business of safeguarding their soldiers’ psychological well-being. They just want to create automatons who won’t embarrass them later by doing something stupid like having mental health issues or killing themselves. They want to make killing machines who won’t think too much about what they’re doing. They want order-followers.

So they evaluate “spiritual fitness” in the hopes of weeding out those who won’t off themselves, rather than creating well-balanced, emotionally ready soldiers. And the suicide numbers go up… and the cycle keeps right on a-cycling.

A Few Things From the Podcast…

Some fun/frightening items for this holy week. First, the vid of "Passover Rhapsody" in all its puppet-y glory. 

 

 
Yikes. I can't believe I've missed the phenomenon of cheese-ball Jewish productions. Here I was thinking that only Christians had the collective dopiness to create something as awful as this. Oh Jewish community, I'm so sorry for doubting your cheese! And just to prove that this wasn't a one-off fluke, TGIA proudly offers this:
 
 
Shalom, y'all!

Racism At BYU?

Hey y’all… I mentioned this vid on the ol’ podcast. I hesitate to post it, actually, because the taste level of the makers of the video is almost as questionable as that of those being “exposed”. But I talked about putting it on, so… here you go:

 

Here’s the thing: Having interacted with this kind of Mormon my whole life, I can attest to the fact that these are not isolated cases at BYU, they are the norm. HOWEVER, I want to come a little bit to the defense of these poor, deluded dipshits. As we said on Episode 17, to some extent, their racism is more benign than it might seem. In most cases (there are some notable exceptions), their racism is born out of ignorance and lack of exposure rather than hatred.
I don’t say this to excuse them. Truly, this video makes my skin crawl. Its just that I know this culture, and at their root, I believe them not to be hateful. For the most part, they simply haven’t been taught ANYTHING about what is and isn’t ok when it comes to people of other races. Actually, the same applies when it comes to other cultures, or other religions… they’re pretty much terrible at anything that could be considered “other”. When you live in absolute confidence that yours is the “correct” life (they “know” their church is true, and they “know” that their prophets speak to God, they “know” how life is supposed to go), everything that differs from that is, well… wrong.
This stance keeps people like these BYU students from ever exploring beyond what they know and are extremely comfortable with. After all, if they don’t know it, it could easily be “evil”. Better not to take the risk. Unfortunately, BYU students grow up to be adults who pass on this tradition of avoiding all outside influence. Some of them even become BYU professors, who then go on to come up with the worst racial theories of all time.
Ugh. BYU really creeps me out.

It’s Delightful And Informative!

I realize many of you have seen this, but I realized that I've never linked to it here, so I thought I'd better clue you in!

 Jesus Plastic-Brick Christ on a Cross!
 As always… for a good time, click on Jesus!

It's the Brick Testament, and it… is… awesome!

Enjoy!

VOTE FOR US!

Hey, y'all! So this nice local weekly paper does a yearly round-up of the "Best of Utah," and one of the categories is best local podcast! And we thought "Hey! We have a local podcast!" And then we thought "Hey! People have to vote for us if we're going to win…"

So… We're asking you to vote for us.  But you don't have to do it alone- we're going to help!

Listen to this VERY SPECIAL mini episode– we'll take you on a delightful journey through the wacky state of Utah, and you get to help some local guys get some attention! Win/win, baby!

Once you have the episode going:

CLICK THIS TO VOTE!

It's as easy as that! Be sure to vote for at least 10 categories in order for your vote to count! 

Voting ends Feb 29, so don't delay!

'Preciate'cha!

FAIL!

Oh… my… GOD!!!

We failed you! In spite of all our BEST efforts, we were unable to cobble together a podcast for this week! Mea Culpa! 

Humbly, we are chastising ourselves, appropriately flagellating and scourging our bodies, and looking into systems that we can put into place so this doesn't happen again (maybe next time, we'll just run an episode of Touched by an Angel backwards and see if you guys hear any hidden messages…).

So… until late Wednesday night, which is when we usually post our little show, I'll have to leave you with this bit of wackiness (middle-aged white guy nuttiness begins at about the 0:30 mark). There's a prize for anyone who can understand more than three words this guy sings…

Slight Delay…

So, sometimes folks get sick. Or a family emergency occurs. Or somebody hits his head really hard on something.

If one of these eventualities occurs (let's say the last one, for example), and you run a two-man operation, it can mean that you have to postpone your podcast release for the week. So no podcast today. Sorry. Look for it Sunday evening!

(If I were you, I'd start building my excitement now about it… then when you finally get to listen to it, you'll be so stoked that it will blow your mind!)(Or you'll be hideously disappointed. One or the other)

In the meantime, here's this. You're welcome.

 

The 80s Could Be So Cruel

I guess I only have two questions:

1. If it is true that "since time began, he remains the same", then how is he managing to "do a new thang"?

2. Where can I get those pants? Seriously- I want them!

 

You Know What’s Funny?

Mrrrf. [That’s a grunt. A disgruntled grunt. I put the “grunt” in disgruntled.]

 “I finally found where I belong…”

I feel like I have failed you, my reader(s). I feel like a bum of a father who left his wife, and now only comes out to see the kids every couple of months and then wonders why they don’t get more excited to see him when he does show up, and then gets discouraged and comes even less frequently, and the horrible cycle keeps spiraling until finally he’s sitting in a bar in Galveston, Texas crying softly to himself because he’s now 52, and he hasn’t seen his kids for six years, and they don’t want to see him because they think of him as the guy who abandoned them and their mother (which is, of course, not really fair, because they only have their mother’s side of the story, and she neglects to tell them that the divorce was her idea and that he was actually pretty cool about it), and the bartender won’t even come over to try to cheer him up because he does this at least once a week, and it’s getting kind of old, but he could just really use a friend…

That’s sort of how I feel. You, know… about how I haven’t been writing much here.  So… sorry.

I had an interesting conversation the other day. Or rather, I sat there while two of my friends wouldn’t let me get a word in edge-wise in a conversation.  The question at hand was whether, when looked at honestly, the Muslim faith is more homophobic/sexist than the Christian faith.

The answer to that question may seem obvious to you- it may not.  I sat there and listened to my friends battle it out, one on the side of Muslims being more horrible, the other saying it was Christians, and I realized- I really just hate religion.

This may seem obvious coming from a guy who writes an atheist-themed blog, but it shouldn’t.  First off- as I’ve stated before, atheism is not a belief system. There is no set dogma with which you can paint atheists. As a matter of fact, the only thing that all atheists can be said to share is an uncontrollable urge to swear loudly in somebody’s church.

HA! I’m kidding, of course! I’m sure the swearing in church impulse is shared by fewer than nine-thenths of atheists… No, the only common thread that all atheists share is that they don’t have a belief in a specific god. That’s it. Aside from that single lack-of-a-belief, there is nothing that groups us.  Which is why it shouldn’t seem obvious that I dislike religion.  There are plenty of atheists who like religion.  There are actually quite a few who love religion, and wish they could be a part of one.  But they can’t. Because they’re atheist. And they don’t want to be Unitarian.

My point, if I have one, is that the more I look at religion (and yes, I include your religion in this, even though you feel you have several very compelling arguments which clearly demonstrate how much better your religion is than everybody else’s), the more I see how destructive, or at very least counter-productive, religion is.

I’m not talking macro here, though I think it’s pretty easy to make the argument that religions are frequently destructive on a societal level.  I’m thinking here on a micro-scale.  Inside the individual believer.  Psychologically/intellectually.  Religion, without exception, stunts people’s growth. In several ways. In my view. Which I will tell you about. In the next paragraph. Here it is:

First, there’s a fundamental problem with thinking you have the answer to an unanswerable question.  The second you buy in to a system of belief about the way the universe works, you stop looking. And why not? If you have the answer, you no longer need to ask the question.  It’s like continuing to look for your keys after you’ve found them- doesn’t make sense.

The obvious problem with this is that your answer is not only unsupported by any evidence, but is often in direct conflict with what observable facts we do have. That doesn’t make it wrong, but it certainly places a pretty heavy burden of proof on you if you want anybody else to take you seriously. But that’s not what most religious folks think.  Most religious folks feel perfectly free to pronounce their firmly held views with impunity, and get horribly upset if anyone calls them to logical account.  More than that, though, what worries me is that they turn off their brains.  They know the truth, so they don’t have to listen to anybody else.  Anyone who thinks differently is wrong and can just be dismissed.

That brings me to my second point. Religious people are WAY too easy to manipulate. Critical thinking is a skill that must be practiced, and when you’ve turned it off for long enough (or never been trained to use it in the first place), you become very vulnerable to flawed arguments. Couple that with the fact that most religious folks point to some external figure to whom is owed deference and often even obedience.  From popes to bishops to priests to pastors to ministers to imams to rabbis to clerics– everyone in a dogmatic religion has someone that they are used to listening to as some some type of authority.

This sets up a parent-child dynamic, where congregations are asked to submit to the preaching of this authority figure, and are shunned and scolded if they stray from that. Once an adult subjugates his/her intelligence to the preaching of some other person, they’re in dangerous headspace.

Frankly, could there be a better recipe for a dupe than someone who is used to willingly submitting to the will of others, who has also allowed their reason and skepticism to atrophy? Well, other than, you know, like a bunch of robots, or a clone army, or Canadians, or whatever…