Sunday, March 28, 2010

Amorality

I am a little perplexed. In a previous post I wrote about how a seemingly harmless TV show didn't seem very harmless to me. I know, after speaking to a couple people (namely my husband) not all people share this "extreme" view point. I used to love Will and Grace. I don't remember why, and honestly I can't remember one single episode, but I know I used to watch it pretty frequently. My first year at EFY (14 yrs old) a speaker spoke on media and how it effects us. I remember he said something like we show our support on certain subjects when we take part in them. For example, we as a church do not support gay relationships but when I watch a show that is all about gay relationships I am showing that it is not that big of a deal and in effect I support it. While "preparing" for this post I also came accross this quote by Elder M. Russell Ballard:

"The choices we make in media can be symbolic of the choices we make in life. Choosing the trendy, titilating, the tawdry in the TV programs or movies we watch can cause us to end up, it we're not careful, choosing the same things in the lives we live. If we do not make good choices, the media can devastate our families and pull our children away from the narrow gospel path. In the virtual reality and the perceived reality of large and small screens, family destructive viewpoints and behavior are regularly portrayed as pleasurable, as stylish, as exciting, and as normal. Often media's most devastating attacks on family are not direct or frontal or openly immoral. Intelligent evil is too cunning for that, knowing that most people profess belief in family and in traditional values. Rather the attacks are subtle and amoral- issues of right and wrong don't even come up. Immorality and sexual innuendo are everywhere, causing some to believe that because everyone is doing it, it must be all right. This pernicious evil is not out in the street somewhere; it is coming right into our homes, right into the heart of our families..."

From this quote, I don't think it is wise to take part in TV shows, jokes, or movies which portray marriage and the obligations which come along with it as anything other than sacred. I have written about being joked at work for being married so young and plenty of people in our lives have had their say, but those same people also tell me that PJ and I are different. I even had a lady at work say she wanted what we had. We are not perfect and I don't want to portray that we are, but we do work hard and to let any filth from Hollywood or any other recording studio influence me/us to jeopardize that is not a risk I am willing to take.

The general advice given at church is to not watch rated "R" movies and be careful about which PG-13 movies we watch as well. As a teenager, after watching a lot of rated "R" movies, I realized there wasn't much to them. A lot of sex and cussing and violence and maybe a storyline here or there, so I made the conscience descion to rule them out. I cannot impose that belief on even my husband, but there is a huge spiratual difference when we don't take part in them. Even so, we have discussed some rated "R" movies which are rated such simply for a mature theme that a younger audience probably wouldn't understand such as: Frost vs. Nickson, The Matrix, and The Gladiator. We wouldn't not show them to our children because we'd be afraid of the influence on them, but simply because they wouldn't understand or appreciate the themes involved. Too many other movies or even TV shows do present marriage and sexual relationships as "amoral". A current movie I can think of right off the top of my mind is "It's Complicated"; a woman cheats on her husband with her ex husband. While it may be written very light and cute and funny it is not a message I would like to embrace especially within my home. I've heard things about the TV show "Modern Family" which depicts a gay couple and unless it is showing that that kind of family dynamic is outside of God's plan I would deem that as an amoral show. While these are guidelines within my own personal conviction, I do still want to "bend the rules". I love Queen. Freddy Mercury was gay. Should I not listen to their music because that's saying "You lead a lifestyle which I don't support but you made great music so I'll allow it..." Obviously the best we can do is try and among many things I am trying to only fill my mind with spiritually uplifting themes. I have found the day go much better when I listen to church hymns on my ride into work rather than radio gossip morning shows. I have found it much easier to love my husband when we read the scriptures together every morning instead of seperatly. I have found it easier to choose better media to come into my home with pictures of Jesus Christ and the temple in my home.

Finally PJ and I watched The Soloist today and it was a good movie. Any music lovers I think would love it. The theme is mature in that it's about a homeless guy so the younger audience probably would not enjoy or capture the message of the movie which we aren't exactly sure what the message of this particular movie is, but it does speak about how God is our friend and wanting to be there for us to help us and not particualarly boss us around. We also watched Old Dogs and that was hallarious! I would really reccommend it and it is a family friendly movie. It's also Disney :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Life? Liberty?

I have thought a long time about what it is I'm going to say about the infamous healthcare bill being passed on Sunday. There's already a lot of negativity (and rightly so) about the bill and I think there are already great resources to find more information on it if one so chooses. So I am going to pull from what I know and think and approach this post from that. Here goes:

My mom did not have dental insurance for me/us. I never thought it was a big deal. I went 10+ years with out going to a dentist and I still had teeth which chewed my food effectively. One day while I was in high school I was pigging out on some peanut M&M's and felt a sharp pain in my mouth. I felt for a second and then looked as my finger revealed a part of my tooth which chipped off. I could still eat, so I didn't really worry about it. It wasn't until around college/ after I moved to Georgia that it brought me to tears to so much as chew gum on that side of my mouth. I started to look for dentists to find someone to fix it (I figured it was just a cavity). I couldn't justify spending 90+ dollars on a filling so I just left that side of my mouth alone and went on my way. When PJ and I moved down here he got a job with benifits so I scheduled my first dentist appointment in 10+ years and scared as a kid went to the dentist. They couldn't even treat my teeth with a regular treatment because they were so "dirty". I had to schedule another appoinment for them to do a deep cleaning and fillings on the left side of my mouth. When I came to do this and the dentist opened up my "cavity" I came to find I had to have a root canal done and set up another appointment. I still have to have the right side of my mouth done (another root canal) but we were going to wait for our insurance benefits to replenesh. So in the meantime I had another routine cleaning done but at the end of this visit they told me my insurance had run out. I looked at the nurse dumb founded and said "no it didn't". And she started asking me routine questions like "Did your husband loose his job?" "No..." "Did you switch insurance companies?" "N... Oh! Yes we did!" I handed the nurse my card but she said "It's Saturday, I can't verify this until Monday" So I proceeded to write her a check for $204 which she said (and did) she would hold until she verified our insurance and send it back to me in the mail. Once I realized how expensive a routine cleaning was I realized why my mom never took me to the dentist after my "big girl teeth" grew in.

I say all this to say I know health care is most likely over priced. I realize that people who don't have a job with benifits is expected to set aside 200 dollars twice a year per person in their family just to get their teeth "cleaned". I realize that having a baby costs over $10,000. I also realize there are insurance agencies who try to help with these costs. I realize insurance agencies can also take advantage. I also realize there are those who do not mind paying out of pocket for their medical bills and enjoy the freedom to do so.

SO! With all that said: I can understand the argument that because the Preamble states we have a right to Life, Liberty, and the Persuit of Happiness some may say we have a "right" to healthcare. I can meet someone that far. We do not, however have a "right" to insurance (defined as: security against loss or death in exchange for payment). Is the government going to start providing us with car insurance, flood insurance, fire insurance, life insurance? Under this new bill anyone who doesn't have health insurance will be fined- is that freedom? Let's not confuse health insurance with health care. Secondly the only way to finance something like this is by taxes. The government already has a debt of trillions, social security is bankrupt, and so "they" are going to pay for our health care? With what? With tax payers money. Just as a side note there is no language for protection against abortions being covered by this government healthcare. Lastly even if the people of America did want to adopt a government run health care system it should have been the responsibility of the state's to set that in action. There is no need for the Federal Government to enforce such a huge burden among it's people and deny the states' right to choose if they want to enact these laws. I would be O.K. if New York wanted to try out a government run health care system, and if other states saw it was a good idea, it spreading that way, but to enforce such a thing on state government and in effect their people is taking away a lot of Liberty. I am looking forward to next week's General Conference to see if the General Authorities are going to say anything about it; although they hold true to encouraging us to choose for ourselves.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I Forgot!

I totally forgot to let the world know what I thought about Alice and Wonderland! We saw it in 3-D and it was... good... There is not really anything I can complain about or say was bad and it held my attention and the story line was clear. I can tell the costume designer had a lot of fun especially with Alice's dresses as she grew taller and shorter. All and all it was cute. It was not very Tim Burton-esk in story line. In cinematography yes, very Tim Burton, but the story line was fine for all ages (as long as you explain stabbing people's eye balls aren't allowed) and had a very strong message of making your own choices. All in all- 3.5 stars. I wouldn't buy it but I would watch it again.

Also as a quick shout out, in a previous blog I wrote about an all you can eat sushi buffet. This buffet is named Fuji Buffet and it's all you can eat all Asian (and some American for the kiddos) food! They even had whole octopus that PJ tried to eat but after much jeering from our waitress (and all present at the table) couldn't do it. But it is good quality food. I do think it has some MSG so if you can't have that stick to the sushi. A part of the all you can eat buffet is also Mongolian BBQ. I didn't take advantage of that one, but everyone else's looked good! Lunch is $5/person and Dinner is $8/person. I give it 4 stars!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Don't You Read?

Now that my reading time has been freed up by finishing Jesus The Christ, I've been wandering what I'm going to start reading next. I thought about Glenn Beck's An Inconveint Book or Adolf Hitler's Mein Kompf but I want to stick with some uplifting subjects for a while. So I've decided on LOST's book club list. LOST has referenced about 90 books in it's 5.5 seasons so far and some I've read, a few I've heard of and most sound interesting so! I'm going to add the ones I've already read to my reading list (it looks pretty pathetic right now) such as Animal Farm, Farenheit 451, and The Holy Bible (yes, LOST references the Bible and yes I've read it). Some that you can look forward hearing my thoughts and possibly reccomendations on are: The Dark Tower by Stephen King, Everything that Rises Must Converge by Flannery O'Conner and the one I'm going to start on right away (because I already have it) is Civilizations and Its Discontents by Sigmond Freud. I'm very excited about becomming a "LOST" nerd! And feel free to suggest any which have tickled your fancy. Please no chick-flick-I'm-going-to-cry-at-the-end-girlie books per my "Love Actually" post. Thanks!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Challenge

I have a confession to make. It has been 5 years since I was in high school and I might have gained a little bit of weight. Let's just say the "freshman 15" hit me once I got married so maybe we'll call it the "newlywed 15". In college I exercised pretty regularly and had dance class so there wasn't too much of a change, that I noticed anyway, but especially once I got married I noticed I had hips! I used to always think hips were exciting and now I wish they'd slim back down again but that's besides the point. So! Finally admitting that I have some extra weight I would like to get off has motivated me to try some OTC diet plans and I have successfully completed the Special K challenge! (well there are two more days until the end of the week, but I got this). Let me tell you! When I first started on this I was hungry and grumpy and everything mean. The 3rd day of the challenge we took the Elders out to an all you can eat sushi bar and I almost threw up afterwards I ate so much. But seriously after the third day it got a lot easier!

The Special K challenge is to have 1 serving of cereal for breakfast, a snack (preferably Special K brand), a Special K protein bar or shake for lunch, another snack (Special K of course) and then a regular dinner. The calories break down like this:

Special K cereal with milk: 160 (but 1 serving is 3/4 C so let's stretch to about 280...)
8 oz Cranberry juice to help with digestion: 110
Special K snack bars: 90
Special K protein bars: 180
Special K snack: (I also tried the 100 calorie bar so we'll put this down too) 100
Dinner: anything!

Compared to what I was previously eating:

Bagel w/ Cream cheese: 460
Nutri Grain bar: 130
Peanut Butter Sand which with Baked Chips: 454
Dinner: anything!

In all fairness I only was eating the bagels for the previous 2 weeks of me taking this challenge, but needless to say my body was hating me for taking the challenge. But after the third day I really did feel so much better! I have started eating dinner slower so now I eat less than I did before. The only down side is that it is my one "regular" meal of the day and around 5:00 every day EVERYTHING sounds good. I don't know if I've lost any weight, I'm not too worried about it (although I'm sure I have after comparing my caloric intake!) but I do feel so much better. I still want to continue on "the challenge" but I want to start having regular lunch food again! But under 300 calories. Here are some ideas I found:

Sushi: 7 peices only 290 (spicy tuna roll- yum!)
Chicken Salad: 334 (Mullins, if you're reading this I would like your recipe!)
Grilled Chicken Salad with apples, feta, Sweet Onion dressing and romaine lettuce: 357 (okay it's a little over but so good! You could always take the chicken out; a whopping 142 cal.)

I wanted Subway's Sweet Onion Chicken sub but that has almost 500 calories! That's almost what I eat in a whole 1st half of the day now! Previously I had 1040 calories in the first half of the day and was starving by the time I got home so I gourged myself and actually ate more for dinner than I do now so I'm sure it was at least 1000 calories (and even thought they say you're supposed to get 2000 calories a day, I won't be loosing weight with that kind of diet!). My down fall is I love all the bad foods. Pizza, pasta, avocados...

I also have learned that even though the Special K foods have low caloric intake, they're not very "healthy". The protein bar for instance has 180 calories in it with 23g of Carbs (12g of Sugar) and 160mg of Sodium. The snack bar isn't any better with 90 calories 18g Carbs (9g Sugar) and 85mg of Sodium. I think I'm going to evolve "the challenge" into eating more fruits and veggies (especially since it's almost summer and they'll be in season) and beans. Apparently they're good for you! I've also started Pilates (love!) and running with a friend (HOYLE!!). Any other suggestions?

A Year and Counting

In case you have noticed my "reading list" on the right side of my blog, you would have noticed it hasn't changed in about a year. This is because I have been reading a very thick and intellectual 800 page book for about a year now (and only have two chapters to go!) named Jesus The Christ. I first started reading it because PJ was reading it but he's not much of a reader and I found it really interesting so I kept reading. Jesus The Christ takes you in great detail and as close to chronological order as possible through Jesus' life. Now that I'm nearing the end, PJ has asked me what my favorite part is and there are too many thoughts and stories to just choose one. So as part of my suggestion and review to all of you; these are some of the stories and points of this book that have stood out to me:

"Son of Man". I always thought it interesting that God's only begotten would refer to himself as a "son of man". He knew he was not the literal son of Joseph, that He was His father's and His alone. This section of the book helped to define better that Jesus did indeed know from whom he was and that is what He is referring to. To quote the book "...this lies in the fact that He knew His Father to be the one and only supremely exalted Man, whose Son Jesus was both in spirit and in body- the Firstborn among all the spirit-children of the Father, the Only Begotten in the flesh- and therefore, in a sense applicable to himself alone, He was and is the Son of the "Man of Holiness," Elohim, the Eternal Father." Such a truth that is spoken in such plainness throughout the New Testament has sadly been construed by others to denote something so casual and un-profound.

The barren fig tree: In short when Jesus and His apostles were coming back from Bethany, "Jesus hungered by the way. Looking ahead He saw a fig tree that ... was in full leaf though the season of the fruit had not yet come." Once Jesus and His apostles approached the tree and saw there were no figs upon it He declares "No man eat fruit of thee hereafter forever" and then smote the tree so that the next day when the apostles rose to carry on their way they saw the tree had withered away and was no more. I always thought this a strange story of Jesus' possible anger. What I didn't know is that fig trees produce their fruit before they gain a leafy foliage. So by producing a full foliage, the tree was pretending to claim to have fruit on it when indeed it did not. "Were it reasonable to regard the tree as possessed of moral agency, we would have to pronounce it a hypocrite; its utter barrenness coupled with its abundance of foliage made of it a type of human hypocrisy." I think this is now one of my favorite stories.

Jesus' Trials: I have never been walked through the trials like I was with this book. For one I was shocked to find how many times the Lord was put on trial. While reading this chapter I had some personal persecution I was dealing with and I don't think humble can even describe what learning about The Lord's trials was like. First and foremost this chapter helped me understand the laws which were in place at this time. I don't think I can properly sum up this chapter but you can listen to it here. Suffice it to say "Pilate's freshly washed hands could not have been more stained or unclean".

Even though it's taken a year, through reading this book I really have come closer to the Savior. It has opened my eyes and testified to me relentlessly of the divinity of Christ. I now find joy in persecution because of John 15:18-20 "If the world hate you, yet know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also."