Friday, March 16, 2012

HCO Strategy

A friend of mine and I have been discussing recently the inactivity of the Honor Code against the USGA group at BYU. After much thought I figured I'd write my thoughts on it. 

First, there must be some basic assumptions described and some basic questions to ask before continuing into my theories. 

What is the purpose of the BYU Honor Code? I believe that the BYU Honor Code Office exists not only to help enforce the Honor Code but to assist in creating a community of students particularly homogenous morally. By achieving this, it destroys most discussions that would take place on a typical college campus. It also works to create dependence upon the university and to create an atmosphere of obedience and (for some students) fear in the face of disobedience. But I believe the reason the BYU Honor Code exists is to provide an atmosphere wherein the Church's PR machine can actively promote the Mormon lifestyle and ideas to the world at large.

Does the Honor Code particularly despise or dislike gay BYU students? I do not believe so. I don't think that the HCO staff dislikes anyone so long as they don't upset the carefully created atmosphere at BYU. If the gays toe the line, the HCO is fine. They do not care one way or another about gays, in my opinion. They are not there to provide true counsel or help students achieve a higher level of understanding about the Gospel or complex moral situations. They are simply the foot soldiers of the BYU PR machine. 

So why hasn't the HCO acted against USGA? I think the HCO is being held back from doing so in this climate of heightened awareness and favor for LGBT causes. The high profile involvement of the LDS Church in Prop 8 has not been forgotten. The ongoing PR efforts of the LDS Church to cast themselves in a kindlier light has bound the hands of the HCO. The HCO can't be seen attacking nice gay kids. That would be a horrendous scandal on the Morg and BYU's hands. No. Rather, they are being forced to wait.

Another thing to consider is this: USGA offers the HCO the golden opportunity. Prior to USGA's existence, the HCO had to be hyper vigilant about the activities of those bad gays. They had to seek out a minority that could practically be invisible amidst the student population. USGA has members proudly proclaiming their sexuality for the whole world to know. Take a casual stroll through USGA's meetings and after social gatherings and one could easily assimilate information about which members are in same-sex relationships. Pry a little further and knowledge of those intimiate aspects of the relationship will be known. It isn't hard. USGA is full of friendly and happy kids. They aren't afraid of the HCO, ironically. The HCO's silence has emboldened the students of USGA and created a little utopian world where the gays can live in peace and harmony. All the HCO has to do is sit and wait for the USGA group to become louder and more pronounced about their lives and their relationships. 

Also, the longer the HCO waits, the more politically active USGA becomes. The USGA is becoming more activist in their activities, a normally good and typical thing. But BYU's obsession with political neutrality creates a potentially tense situation for USGA. The more it creates a climate of activism, the more the HCO can document and create a long list of violations USGA has done. USGA's unique situation of not being officially recognized on campus means that they don't have to follow the neutrality requirement of BYU's clubs. However, this doesn't shelter them either for there is no legal or bureaucratic protection for USGA. Should the BYU administration or the HCO ban USGA from campus, there is no recourse. USGA stands vulnerable to the favorability of their message to the administration and powers that be on campus. 

Essentially, I propose that the HCO waits to act because they don't have to research that extensively. If they are smart individuals, and I assume they are, they just have to wait for USGA to mess up. And it will. The desire for freedom is too tempting a prize to avoid. How could you not want to be treated equally? And that is where the HCO lies in wait. USGA members at BYU forget that while the HCO does not hate or dislike gay students, they also do not see them as equal to their heterosexual counterparts. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Thoughts on Family

Anyone who has ever read my blog or previous blogs will know that I can't stop talking about my parents. The weird relationship (those I realize it's entirely normal) swings between love and frustration seems never ending as we create friction between each other as we grow older and more apart.

That's the reality.

My attempts prior to try and avert this situation have been met with disapproval, arguments, and eventually throwing of hands up into the air in surrender to the inevitable. All I can do now, it seems, is to accept the current and ongoing trend of us growing apart and hope that maybe in the future something will stop that or, miraculously, reverse that.

I was raised like any good Mormon boy on the promise by Church officials and God that families "can be together forever" someday. That somehow family was the most important thing. Nothing would come between us and family. I read the scriptures, the talks, and the declarations made by holy men and women of my childhood faith. I listened to testimonies given by people in the different ward I've attended, words from my own parents, and so on on this very promise and its validity. I have listened to it all and believed.

I believed without question.

But belief hardly ever coincides with reality. The two have never been mutually exclusive. Even now as I write this I can still hear the Primary hymn, "I Have a Family Here on Earth" whispering softly in my mind. But it seems that such promises, talks, and testimonies were all shared and given with an asterisk next to them. The asterisk seems that children like me are not actually part of the family. We are merely apart of the physical, biological family here on earth, but we will no doubt be cast aside in that mystical Mormon heaven known as the Celestial Kingdom.

This life must be endured, it seems. This life must be lived in but not lived completely. Such ideas, it appears fade in the promise of eternal salvation and life that goes beyond the grave. We sell our time on earth for cheap, untested virtues that lie beyond the impenetrable veil of silence, total silence. Where is Hades guarding that gate or Hel or Pluto or so many scores of deities that have marked the passage of those halls with hallowed footsteps? What difference does it make that some new god has undertaken the role of these gods? What difference does it make that this god has reconstructed all of the afterlife into some new order? It doesn't matter, really.

God fits so little into this world or the next. The promise of families being together forever is so bizarrely believed to be fact based on some mystical spell of belief. The reality, in my opinion, is that if you want to be with your family in the "afterlife" try getting to know and loving them now. You aren't going to like them anymore in the mythical millenniums to come. You might even like them less.

What difference does it make who I love? It matters not. That has always been my plea. A religion so fixated on dividing families over the issue of attractions between two consenting adults is no place where families can be together. Instead it is an organization not in the business of love and mutual understanding but one that promotes a false worldview that encourages hatred, division, and suffering. Such a group is one I want  no part of.

Maybe without Mormonism my parents would be where they are now. Maybe it is just their nature to not want to accept their own children for their various deviations from what they have been told is "normal." Maybe. But the fact that I have lost my parents to this faith and that some illusory god matters more than our relationship tells me only one thing: I will hate this and every other religion out there for this one fact. I may be tolerant of faiths, I may be tolerant of individuals of faith. But I will forever hate their organizations that promote hatred, fear, and misunderstanding towards their own children and communities for the fact that it divides, destroys, and kills.