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pr0n and me

Let me briefly share my experience with porn. I know what it’s like to be addicted. I know what it’s like to abstain. I know what it’s like to be free.

My first memory of porn was when I was probably 6 or 7 when the neighborhood kids found a stash. I already knew that my parents considered it forbidden, and it was fascinating. By the time I was a teenager, my religious upbringing and my church leaders convinced me that I was addicted to porn.

I spent many painful, sometimes suicidal, years of the ups and downs of acting in and acting out. I pled with God to forgive me for my perversion and to deliver me from it. I would get my hopes up only to have them dashed. Over and over the cycle continued.

I eventually learned to manage my behavior and had several years of sobriety, but deep down I was ashamed to be an addict. I couldn’t publicly admit that I was an addict, and my shame isolated me.

I had learned to manage my behavior with the help of books like Out of the Shadows by Patrick Carnes which taught me to recognize the root of my sexual addiction: shame and fear.

As I patiently uprooted the causes of self-shaming and fear, I came to realize that all those years I had believed that I was defective for being attracted to porn, but the truth was that my shame for being defective made my attraction to porn unmanageable and pathological. Let me repeat that. My shame for being attracted to porn made my attraction to porn a problem.

That was a revelation and a deliverance.

Once I accepted that I had never been defective, that my addiction was only a vicious cycle caused by my shame for being addicted, I began to notice all the messages I was getting from every direction that caused my shame. I refused to accept the shame the world wanted to put on me, and I was healed.

I hope this will shed light on some of the reasons that I try to calm the moral panic that surrounds porn. In my experience, panic and fear is a large part of the problem.

Spreading fear hurts people.

A Case for Ordaining Mormon Women

[A comment of mine on Facebook that I wanted to save.]

I think a strong case can be made for ordination of women from Mormon history and from within a Mormon framework.

During the first century of Mormon history, women often laid their hands on the sick and anointed their heads to give them a blessing of healing, something that is currently understood as a power of the priesthood. Church presidents from Brigham Young to Joseph F. Smith affirmed the propriety of this practice though many expressly separated this practice from the priesthood.

In fact, women often stood in priesthood circles with Melchizedek priesthood holders. Church policy has only within the last generation changed so that women are no longer permitted to stand in the circle when naming their child.

Second, women currently administer saving ordinances in the temple. Women acting in authority wash and anoint each other in preparation to becoming priestesses. They clothe each other in the Garment of the Holy Priesthood which they wear throughout the rest of their lives.

If they are privileged to receive the ordinance of the Second Anointing, they will be appointed a priestess (they had only been prepared to be such during the first ordinance of anointing). The woman will culminate this ordinance by laying her hands on her husband’s head preparing him for his resurrection and pronouncing a blessing on him.

So women are appointed priestesses and act as such in the temple though their exercise of this authority has become strictly circumscribed in modern Mormonism.

Regarding God deciding whether or not to openly ordain women to the priest(ess)hood, it seems that many revelations were received only when church leaders were motivated to ask for them: the Word of Wisdom and Official Declaration 2 are two such examples. Perhaps by faithful and long-suffering persuasion Mormons can motivate their leaders to knock on that door.

Caveman Chemistry

Idiosyncratic and irreverent, Caveman Chemistry is like no other chemistry textbook that I know of. What textbook that you’ve read quotes regularly from the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trimegistus? It is authored not only by Kevin Dunn but also four figments of his imagination representing the classical elements who have leapt from mind to mind down through history and do their best to make the leap out of the book and into yours. You learn the history of chemical technology through a series of hands-on projects that demand that you get your hands dirty making things from scratch: fire, paper, glass, soap, batteries, photographs, polyester, and others. The book does not shy away from potentially dangerous projects like making gunpowder, alcohol, and chlorine gas, trusting that readers are capable of all due caution.

The book gave me a greater appreciation for the sources for the products that I use on a daily basis. Rather than being conjured out of thin air, the stuff in my life has its origin in the natural world. ★★★★★

Do we owe gratitude to the universe?

Gratitude begins with the recognition that something we value or enjoy could have been different. For a practically infinite number of reasons, I might never have been born, ranging from cosmic circumstances like if the Earth had formed a little farther away from or closer to the Sun, to details like if my parents had decided “not tonight.”

Gratitude begins with the ability to imagine the world counterfactually.

I can easily feel this kind of gratitude when regarding the cosmos. I feel “lucky” that I’m alive, but is that gratitude?

When I think of gratitude, I usually think of it as something more than just feeling lucky. I think of it as warm feelings for someone else for doing something that I value that they didn’t have to do. They could have done something else, but they didn’t, so I feel grateful to them.

I feel like I owe them something because it is human nature to try to reciprocate good or ill that comes our way. If nothing else, I give them my feelings of gratitude.

My life exists on a razor’s edge. As I mentioned, there are so many reasons why I might never have been born. There are almost as many reasons why I might have died since then. So I feel grateful that I exist at all, but my gratitude is not directed to the universe.

As far as I can tell, the universe is impersonal and therefore indifferent to my existence. The universe hasn’t conspired to give me life and sustain it. Life for me and my ancestors has always been a hard fight against an indifferent universe to eek out a living. If anything, I feel like I have everything I value in spite of the universe.

Yet I wouldn’t have the things I value without the universe.

However unwitting, the universe is the ground in which the beauty of my life has grown. So I feel grateful for the universe, but I don’t give any gratitude to the universe.

This is one reason that even though I can see myself as a pantheist, I don’t see in myself a perfect reflection of the devotion that theists express to their gods.

I feel more awe and fear toward my god than devotion, and yet I still feel gratitude for the cosmos.

Creative Commons License Do we owe gratitude to the universe? by Jonathan Blake is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The banality of collapse

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised EditionCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed: Revised Edition by Jared Diamond

Growing up in America at the end of the Cold War, I should be forgiven for getting the impression that only an act of nuclear-powered global self-immolation stood between us and a glorious future of eternal progress, that only two possibilities existed: a future technological paradise and a blighted Mad Max wasteland. Collapse by Jared Diamond serves as antidote. Its litany of collapsed civilizations proves that only hubris allows us to imagine that our own civilization will go on forever or that it takes something as dramatic as nuclear war to bring it to an end. Diamond tries to shed light on how it will happen to us by examining the history of collapsed civilizations such as the Mayans, the Anasazi, the Greenland Norse, and the Easter Islanders. We may be done in by something as banal as soil erosion or over-dependence on imported resources. He manages to be surprisingly even-handed when he handles topics like climate change that have become fodder for American politics. ★★★★★

Till We Have Faces: A Myth RetoldTill We Have Faces: A Myth Retold by C.S. Lewis

In Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis has created an entertaining, thought provoking reinterpretation of the Greek myth of Cupid and Psyche. The myth, in his hands, becomes a Christian parable and an apologia for a transcendent god who remains unseen and unheard. Like his friend, J.R.R. Tolkien, I cordially dislike allegory. He has some interesting things to say about selfish love and authenticity, but the story drips with self-conscious wisdom and profundity. It left me with an aftertaste of narcissism. ★★★☆☆

Big Five Update

Here’s my new results on the Big Five personality test: O53-C41-E15-A32-N18.

Interesting to see what has changed and what hasn’t. I feel less conscientious and more neurotic this year. In fact, I feel pretty neurotic about my lack of conscientiousness. :( I’m not sure what to make of my increased agreeableness. Perhaps I feel less interpersonal conflict in my life right now.

Stats on Porn

I find porn ever-fascinating. Online MBA put together the following facts…

The Stats on Internet Pornography

(via /r/exmormon/)

That’s My Girl(s)!

“How does life work? How does evolution work? Why are [living] things successful? How did nature make us? Why are we the smartest animals even though we’re related to them? We think we’re smart, but nature made lots of amazing things. We’re like robots, but we’re better. We can heal ourselves, but robots can’t. It’s so amazing!”

That paraphrased (and greatly summarized) monologue came out of my oldest daughter’s mouth.

“We believe that God made everything,” says her younger sister.

“You can believe in both things. You can make a combination,” says older. Then to me, “I try not to talk about Jesus things when you’re around because you don’t believe in it.”

I told them that it’s OK to talk about Jesus, just that I would have a different perspective about the subject than other people. We also talked about trying to figure out for yourself what you believe.

I am interested to watch my oldest start to ask big questions and really think about her world. Most children are natural-born philosophers, coming out of the womb with a need to make sense of life. It is tragic to see children’s natural curiosity and nascent critical-thinking skills crippled by spoon-feeding them too many answers.

(BTW, Don’t get used to this high frequency of posts. I believe it will prove to be a statistical outlier.)

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

Here is my humble entry for Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. (How do you spell the dude’s name anyway.

Friendly Atheist has a compilation (via Meming of Life).

And you know Jesus, he went right for the groin with his submission.