Friday, November 28, 2008

One of My Graces

Three years ago we welcomed her into our world, arms and forever family. We gave her the middle name Grace. That she might be a woman of grace "elegance and beauty of movement or expression,seemliness; a sense of propriety and consideration for others; a disposition to kindness and compassion" (Dashboard Dictionary). And most importantly, that she might always remember her greatest of gifts, the unmerited gift of Grace from our Savior.

Our celebration of her birth included a day as a Princess, A daddy-daughter date, a Pinkalicious party with friends, some homemade gifts and lots of love and gratitude.

Adelaide is full of faith, ever asking, ever trying, every singing-reading-teaching-dancing-pretending-learning- loving...

She is quick to remind us of divine grace and often prays "please bless us that Jesus can live with us".

Truly, she has graced us with her presence and I am honored to be her mother.

Here's to being three!

I Love you Adz.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another Soapbox: Twilight

Yes, I know what comes out today...the Young Women in my ward have kept me informed... and since I'm already on my soapbox, now might be a good time to admit that I'm not a "Twilight" fan. Dare I do that in the world of women's blogging? :) I hope you don't feel as though I am being self righteous or judgmental in my honest evaluation, my intent is neither, truly. I know many a Molly Mormon who love the series and have kept their testimonies in the process. :) Please allow me to unravel some feelings in an unedited manor...

My husband and I recently had the thrill and honor of speaking about morality and standards with the youth, and I have taken a special interest in the influence of the media, especially on our young people. I have a deep love and concern for the dear Young Women that I serve and pray to be able to support them in their efforts to stand up in a world with decreasing standards of morality. It's safe to say I am on the cautious end, interested and invested in avoiding and recognizing the clever ways the media creeps in and alters our realities.

Onto my review...

While reading the first book, I was surprised at how intrigued I was by the vampire content (which I later regretted reading after some disturbing dreams). I found myself interested in the imagination of the author and the vampire world she created. It was fun to relive the exciting moments of high school and dating, thinking back upon those first stirrings of attraction. Then, I began to be troubled by the relationship. The obsession, secrecy, dangerous passionate desires, and even deceit. The vampire cravings that seemed so sexually charged left me uncomfortable and embarrassed. The unrealisitic and unhealtly way romantic love was being portrayed. I worried about how this book might encourage young women to think of themselves and how love should be. They have enough voices telling them they aren't pretty enough, good enough... more in need of the temporal, pleasurable. Heaven forbid they begin to think that they need to have some Edward to really find themselves and be happy. I would not wish for any of them to feel like they are Bella, whose self confidence and worth, purpose and happiness seem so completely dependent upon another persons love. Surely this is not "accepting and acting upon the values" of divine nature or individual worth.

I felt discouraged by the focus on the physical and hoped that the remaining books would portray a more grounded, tempered, virtuous relationship. However, I was not inclined to continue reading beyond the first book (which I'm told is the least suggestive) so I have only heard the remainder of the story through family and friends. Is it safe to say the relationship continued and even increased in it's suggestive, sexually driven, how "close to the line can we be" format? I don't have an adequately informed opinion since I haven't read all the books (although I think I've heard enough to assume as much).

Some women have said that the hidden (yet stimulating) sexual innuendos came as a welcomed surprise for their husbands. That they had an extra little spark (if you know what I mean) in their marriage. A positive outcome for such a reader. But what happens for our young people who may get such a spark of provoked (even as slightly as it may be) sexual feelings? To what degree do we allow ourselves the entertainment of sexual thought? Although sexual abstinence before marriage is heavenly commanded and to be highly commended, isn't our virtue more than just refrainment? Is not our virtue the very measure of our thoughts and desires of our heart?

Virtue is the chiefest beauty of the mind, the noblest ornament of humankind. Virtue is our safeguard and our guiding star that stirs up reason when our senses err.”(The Virtues of Righteous Daughters of God) ...And most surely our senses can err.

Believe me, I am not embarrassed to speak about the joys of sexual intimacy within marriage. I want all the youth to know how awesome it is and that it should be appropriately anticipated. Sometimes there is an unhealthy silence about this subject than can lead to curious premarital exploration or guilty conscience complex in a marriage. While sexual intimacy is exciting and an important part in supporting love in a marriage, I hope they know that it is not the greatest, strongest, or most needed part of a lasting marriage. (Oh' how I hate the world for trying to tell them differently) An eternal relationship is so different and so much more than that of Edward and Bellas'. Real love is formed on trust, honesty, mutual respect, understanding, communication, service, self worth, and sacrifice. And-Yes, there is exhilarating chemistry! Yes, there is exciting attraction! Yes, there is crucial longing for each other! Heavenly Father made us to be together, to need each other...But not in a desperate, uncontrollable, I'm nothing without you kind of way. But rather in a bridled, eternal, charitable, kind, strengthening, selfless, rest of forever, pure joy way.

Now why can't there be a book about that.

( I guess we have our journals)

Of course I don't think the book is terrible. I'm not naive to the alternatives presented to our youth. Hopefully open communication and involvement with parents in the reading of these books could lead to positive experiences and increased understanding. I am simply disappointed at the influence this book could have on a generation so desperately in need of Heavens' view.

Carry on my dear friends. :)

* I received the following review of the Twilight series a few weeks ago and was shocked when I read it! Let me warn you that it is negative, and disturbing . I think it's important to expect morality in our media and to review, question and scrutinize what we choose to participate in. I am inclined to believe that the author of this review, Camille Turpin, was extremely worked up and spent an excessive amount of time reviewing the books to compile an overdramatic list of it's flaws. She's certainly entitled and encouraged to share her concerns and, while I can't say whether I agree with her or not, I post her opinion for two reasons:To stir interest in parents to be informed/involved with the material their children are reading,
and.... because I have to ask- do these events really occur in the books? If so, how are they to be justified? Please don't bother taking the time to counter all her points, just generally speaking, (those who have read the entire series) what validity is there in this review?

"I was a big Twilight fan. It was fun. It was fluffy. It was a nice change from all the heavy stuff I usually read. And the author was LDS. But as the series progressed I became more and more disenchanted. Then came the last book in the series, Breaking Dawn, in which the main characters, a human and a vampire, get married.
I could write all day about the things I didn’t like about this novel– it was poorly written to say the least – but those are the flaws that make me merely roll my eyes. What makes me angry is the sneaky sex stuff, disguised as a contemporary teen romance/fantasy/ vampire story. That’s why I’m now a Twi-hater. All I could think of while I was reading the last two in the series were two questions I often ask myself when presented with something I want to read/watch but I’m not sure I should: What good can come of it? And what bad can come of it? At the very best, the good that can come of the Twilight series is the idea that young people can wait until marriage to experience physical sexual intimacy. At the worst, it introduces girls and women of every age to edge-of-the-cliff sexual 'morality' and unhealthy, extreme, and twisted ideas about sex, marriage, and motherhood. To illustrate, I made the following list of wrong and harmful ideas presented in the Twilight series.
*Dangerous people are sexy (Twilight pg 190/Entire Series)
*Love should be enduring no matter how unhealthy or dangerous it is for you (Twilight/Entire Series—Edward agrees to turn Bella into a vampire so they can be young together forever)
*Some people think it's not a good idea to have sex before marriage, but it's fun to see how far you can go before you cross the line (Eclipse—Edward wants to wait until they are married to have sex, but Bella wants to do it before then. Edward insists he is trying to protect her virtue—which she laughs at—but they are having this conversation on a bed which he has provided while he kisses her neck and puts her leg over him)
*If you use self-control, you can go really far before actually having intercourse (Eclipse/Entire Series—Bella and Edward are constantly trying to push how far they can go physically before he is out of control, which means he may kill her at any moment.)
*Even if you think premarital sex is wrong, sleeping together and sneaking around behind a parent's back is ok (Twilight/Entire Series—Edward spends each night in Bella’s room, listening with supernatural hearing to her father in the next room to make sure he won’t come in.)
*Parents don't know what's good for you in terms of love. (Bella’s mother is very critical of youthful love/marriage because she is divorced. Bella treats her as though she is a child who needs to be taken care of. Bella’s father does not like Edward, but Bella continues to see him anyway.)
*Marriage is something to be feared, and which may ruin your enjoyment of sex. (Eclipse—Bella wants to have sex before they are married because she hates the idea of marriage and wishes they could just have a physical commitment. He wants to wait until after she is a vampire because it could be dangerous for her. She refuses and only agrees to wait until marriage as long as she gets a real honeymoon while she’s human. She constantly complains about marriage—see BD Chapter 1.)
*Sexual intercourse is the best part of love, marriage, and human life. (BD page 482—'Our time on the island had been the epitome of my human life. The very best of it. I’d been so ready to string along my human time, just to hold on to what I had with him for a little while longer. Because the physical part wasn’t going to be the same ever again.')
*If sex is good, it will probably be violent. (BD Chapter 5 and 6. Edward bites pillows, shreds clothing, creates bruises all over Bella’s body, and breaks headboards apart. He tries not to do it again, but Bella convinces him to and downplays her injuries.)
*If sex is violent, it will not hurt you as long as you are really into it. (Bella does not notice the destroyed pillows or her bruised body until she wakes up the next morning. Pg. 89)
*The more violent and out of control the sex is, the better it is. You might destroy things, but that just means it was great. (Bella has dreams about sex after Edward refuses to do it again until she is a vampire. She wakes up and convinces him to do it—page 106-107. He destroys a headboard and they joke about it. Later on they decide to do it again and make a joke about destroying the headboard again—page 117.)
*In a perfect world, we would desire and be able to have intercourse all night long, and wish it would go on longer. The best possible scenario would be for our bodies to never wear out and for our desire to be constant. (BD page 482-483)
> *Sex is more enjoyable if our partner's body is perfect (BD page 482). If you really love your partner, you won't mind if they are in love with someone else too, or that they want them around all the time (Bella loves her 'best friend' Jacob, and desires him physically in New Moon and Eclipse. Jacob is desperately in love with Bella. Edward brings Jacob to Bella and lets them have a dance at their wedding, and then allows him to hang around afterward). In fact, if you really love them, you won't mind if they have sexual intercourse with someone else (Edward, thinking their baby is dangerous and should be aborted, asks Jacob to tell Bella they could have a physical relationship so Bella could have less dangerous children—BD page 180, 181).
*Sometimes people might desire a child to be their mate. It's innocent as long as they don't act on it till they are older (Werewolves often 'imprint' on another person, meaning they have found their mate and cannot control whether they want that person or not. Jacob 'imprints' on Bella’s half-human infant).
*When you love someone, you desire them physically every moment of your life. You will have to distract yourself with daily life in order to keep your mind off of sex, but it always there, in the background, and can be turned on at any moment, blocking out everything else (Bella is constantly losing concentration and forgetting totally about her child when she looks at Edward and thinks about sex BD page 487).
*It is normal and good to picture a person you love naked before you are married (BD page 349).
*As long as the actual motions of sexual intercourse are not described in detail, it is ok to write and read about a physical relationship between a married man and woman--including where they are, what they are wearing, how long it went on, the positions they end up in, that certain motions of their bodies will stimulate sexual desire, and how they felt during the process (BD chapters 5 and 6, and especially page 481-485).
*If you really desire your partner, you might tear each other's clothes off, destroying them in the process (BD page 481).
*You have absolutely no control over who you love and how long you love them. Once you find that person, it is easy to love them and you will do anything for them. If you really love each other, you won't have any real problems (Entire Series—imprinting idea, Jacob and Edward are willing to risk their lives several times over for Bella, and in BD after they are married Bella and Edward never have a single argument or hardship. Their entire life is a happy honeymoon with a perfect child.)
*The pain of losing someone you love is so painful that death is better in comparison. If you really love them, you'll never ever get over losing them. (This idea is expressed several times mostly in New Moon and BD. Edward is going to kill himself when he thinks Bella is dead. Bella wishes she were dead after Edward leaves her, Jacob wants to kill Edward if Bella dies and Edward makes sure he promises to do it, etc.)
*Sexy people are tall, muscular, perfect. Normal people just seem so childish. (Bella doesn’t take highschool boys seriously, and is only in love with vampires and werewolves who are superhumanly strong, tall, hot or cold, etc.)
*Sexual intercourse is the most important part of marriage. (Again see BD 482 and subsequent vampire life.)

Here are some additional disturbing events and images in Breaking Dawn.
* The heroine/mother drinks blood while pregnant and her baby drinks blood from a bottle.
* Pregnancy is portrayed as horrific, involving the fetus breaking the mother’s ribs and pelvis, giving her huge bruises on her abdomen, and the baby sucking the life out of her from within.
* In the childbirth scene the mother vomits blood and is ripped open by her vampire husband’s teeth, the baby bites the mother immediately after birth, the mother dies in the process of the birth, and the vampire bites and licks her body back to life.
* Vampires gather from all over the world to save the vampire/human baby, and the heroine/mother and hero/father do not mind that they are drinking human blood and murdering the local population. In this book vampires are not ghouls and devils but superior beings.
I heard somewhere that Stephanie Meyer had concerns that this last book in her series had content that was too mature for some of her fans and tried to have a warning put on the book, but the publisher wouldn’t allow it. Please. As if a warning would have kept 11-year-olds from reading Breaking Dawn after they had been so cleverly hooked with three previous books. When you begin a series for young people, you have a moral obligation to keep it geared toward young people. We can only surmise that somewhere along the line Stephanie Meyer, our own wildly successful LDS author, sold out. Everybody knows sex sells.
-Camille Turpin

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Soapbox 1: Halloween, Why the Scary?

I apologize to all you Halloween-a-holics in advance, I've read of your enthusiasm and anticipation on your blogs and adore you in your decorative devotion to the event, but I'm just not big on the holiday. Don't get me wrong, I get hugely excited about dressing up, especially dressing up the little people. We had a blast at our ward trunk-or-treat and taking our gals around the neighborhood. I'd be up for a good costume, candy giving party any time of the year! And I love sprucing up the home for the change of season and holiday...I just don't understand the scary factor. Why the little ghosts, witches, spiders, eerie jack-o-lanterns, oozy bloody/dead things, creepy tomb stone stuff? (I can't even do the cutified, nicknack versions of the tradtionally scary.)

I had a hard time explaining the purpose of the holiday to my little Adelaide and after researching it decided I preferred my naive version. Here's where my sister would add in "remember this is coming from someone who couldn't even handle the movies Pirates of the Caribbean or Spiderman", and she's right, I am extreme on my scare toleration monitor. I had to put down Harry Potter in the 4th book because it was feeling too dark and I even fast forward scenes with villains from classic disney movies. I just don't find any thrill in freaking myself out and anytime I have, I'm usually disturbed beyond the moment. Do I sound heated? I'm not really. I just don't understand how "scary" is so popular, when to's just scary.

Now...I know I might scare some of you at my attempt as Cruella De Vil (Addy's request) but our sweet little sleeping beauty and cuddly 103rd dalmatian sure took any scare out of me.

Keep on :)