Sunday, November 30, 2008

Church Time

The Harlem church of the week: Mt. Ararat Baptist Church. This is a no-frills, no fuss kind of church, it looks like. My favorite part is the "Walk with Jesus" sign on the front door, which you can see better if you click the photo to enlarge. This is one of the plainer churches in my neighborhood, and next week maybe I'll contrast it with one of the fanciest, to show the dichotomy of life in Harlem as well as the importance that different sects put on external church ornamentation.

Friday, November 28, 2008


I had to post this picture because I thought it was so funny that they gave me a Delta biscuit as my snack on the flight home. With the way the airlines have been lately, I was just happy to get food at all. The Delta biscuit was a delicious breakfast on my early morning flight. And I don't know what is wrong with me--I finally signed up for a frequent flyer membership or whatever its called with Delta, and I wish I would have done it earlier because I think 90 percent of my flights this year have been with them. Oh well.

Anyway, Thanksgiving Day was great. I spent the morning in the kitchen with my mom and sisters making food. We made some pies, fudge, jello salad, ambrosia salad, deviled eggs, lots of vegetables, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey, stuffing, and some other stuff I can't even remember. And everything turned out so good! When we all sat down to eat, my dad told us about the Mayflower and the pilgrims and we talked about things we are thankful for. I'm thankful for a wonderful family. My fears about coming home were pointless, because even though we may not all agree with each other, my brothers, sisters and parents are all so loving and happy that everything is forgiven and forgotten the moment after the argument. I'm also thankful for my health, for my freedoms, and for all the amazing educational experiences I've had this year. It's been amazing.

I pulled a Garrett Hill and photographed my Thanksgiving meal. The turkey is in there somewhere, buried under everything else. I was so stuffed that I didn't really get hungry again until this afternoon! I'm not used to eating so much food in one sitting. We had girls sitting on one side of the table and boys on the other and none my sisters could finish all their food but my brothers were licking their plates clean and begging for seconds and thirds, and they had taken twice as much food to begin with.

After dinner we all laid around and played some board games and decorated the Christmas tree. We probably won't have a family Christmas this year, so because most of the family is together now, we decided to sort of lump the two holidays together. I'm normally opposed to getting a tree so soon, but it seemed right this year. We spent at least an hour putting the old fashioned tinsel on (25 cents for a pack at the thrift store!) and there are bits of it stuck to everything now. Good times. It's been warm in NC, but we've kept a fire going in the fireplace for coziness. I love it. It's so nice to be home, cozy, and well-fed!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I got tagged by Jennylu. The game is to pick the 4th photo from my Pictures album and write four things about it. Well, this is it, but it's not super exciting...

1. This is a print I made in college, one of the only intaglios I made that actually turned out well. It was made with 4 copper plates, each etched to print a different color. So I had red, blue, yellow, and black. The technique requires inking each plate, soaking a piece of cotton paper in water, then printing it with each plate, one by one, so the colors align and the image turns out all nice and colorful. It was hard! But I had a really good teacher.

2. The image is a hill in Oregon, in a little "town" called Airlie, where I grew up. The hill was surrounded by fields--probably grass, which is a popular crop in that area, but sometimes the fields had trees along their borders, and this particular little road and hill had a striking group of pine trees that I liked the look of, so I took a picture of it with my first camera, which my parents got as the free gift when they bought a new washing machine. I was probably around 12 or so.

3. The image reminds me of Airlie, which reminds me of my childhood, which reminds me of home, which is appropriate for today, because I've come home to my family, although not to Oregon. Sometimes people ask me where I'm from, but I've lived in so many places for significant amounts of time that I find it hard to answer that question. Am I from Oregon because I "grew up" there from age 5 to 17? Or am I from North Carolina because thats where most of my family lives? Or am I from New York City because I get my mail there? I like all those places--how can I choose? They say home is where the heart is, but I've given pieces of my heart out in so many different places along the way. I guess I have a lot of homes, then.

4. I don't know what fourth thing I can say, except that I hope to be able to do printmaking again sometime. My press is in storage, and I don't have a place for it in New York yet. But I'm not selling it--I'm still an artist, even if I'm mostly dormant right now.

So anyway, I'm supposed to tag four other people now, but I know my friends and I know they don't want to be tagged. However, if they want to play the game, it's kind of a fun exercise.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

All My Bags Are Packed

I'm almost ready to go... It will be an early morning flight tomorrow. E and I are waking up at 4 a.m. to make sure we catch our 6:30 am flight. Ugh. But it will be nice to be home in time for breakfast. And the first flight of the day shouldn't be delayed, right? Then again, this is LaGuardia we're talking about.

Exactly one year ago I was going home for Thanksgiving with a broken heart. My ex-boyfriend had found a new love after only two months without me, and I was completely crushed. It made me question everything--should I have come to New York? Could things have been better if I'd stayed in North Carolina? But every time I asked the question, I felt that I had made the right choice. If I had more time right now I'd write the whole poignant story of going back that first time, facing all my fears, fragile as an autumn leaf. But I've got to finish packing and go to bed early, and besides, nobody wants to hear a sad story right now.

Cut to the end. Full circle. My heart still hurts a bit, and its still a little nerve-wracking to go back, but I feel better now. I'm so grateful for this year, for all the experiences I've been part of in New York, and I trust my instincts. I'm not sure what the future holds, but if there is one thing I've learned this year, it is that its okay to step into the unknown sometimes. More than likely, its the best thing you can do.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Too Much

I have too many feelings, and not enough words today.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Church of the Week: Victory Tabernacle

I went to church this morning at the Hammerstein Ballroom, which was amazing. Elder Holland is in town, and he wanted to speak to all the church-members in New York City, and there are too many to fit into any LDS building, so they rented a theater. (Holland made some funny jokes about prayers being the nearest thing to performing on Broadway as he'll ever get.) My sister, roommate, and I sat on one of the upper side balconies, which was fun because we had a great view of the stage as well as a view of everyone in the audience. Besides Elder Holland's talk, which was amazing, the highlight was the children's choir. Two times during the meeting all the Primary children went up to the stage and sang, and it was like the sound of angels. The acoustics were phenomenal.

It's a beautiful sunny day today (cold, though!) so when we got home I wandered around Harlem looking for churches to take pictures of. I found a lot, but Sundays aren't good for taking pictures of churches, because there are cars parked in front of them, and people going in and out. Also, with these narrow streets with tall buildings, you have to plan your photos because of the sun and shadow issues. I saw a lot of great churches that were just impossible to photograph. And I need to figure out how to keep the sky blue. My picture of the Victory Tabernacle turned out great except the sky should be a vivid, deep, cornflower blue behind it. Any ideas?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Nothing to Sneeze At

"The longest sneezing bout lasted 978 days. Twelve-year-old Donna Griffiths of the UK started sneezing about once a minute on January 13, 1981, and did not achieve her first sneeze-free day until September 16, 1983."

I'm worried. I just recovered from a cold, and everything has been great, but yesterday I started to sneeze. I thought it was just an isolated incident because they were rearranging boxes in the back at work, kicking up dust. But ever since yesterday afternoon I have been either sneezing, or feeling constantly as if I'm about to sneeze. It's driving me crazy! I took some cold medicine, but it didn't stop the sneezing--it just made me feel like a zombie. Some friends were having a movie night last night, but I didn't go because they have a cat, and I didn't want to add real allergies to the mix. Instead, I went to the laundromat (I don't think I've done laundry since September), and sneezed in front of a really cute guy. Ugh.

Now I'm at work, trying to get stuff done, but I keep sneezing. It's embarrassing, and annoying. But worse, in a few days I'm going home for Thanksgiving, and I don't want to be sick during my vacation! Also, tomorrow we're having church at the Hammerstein Ballroom because Elder Holland is coming to town, and I really hope I'm not sneezing the whole time. What is wrong with me?

Anyway, sorry about the lack of pictures lately. A picture of me sneezing would have been gross.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Top Ten List

When I'm in NC next week for Thanksgiving, I'm going to eat:
-a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich and fries
-a Loop milkshake
-a Carrburritos sweet potato burrito
-a Sunrise Biscuit Company biscuit
-a slice of my dad's pumpkin pie
-banana pudding from Crook's
-green beans from the garden (frozen since summer)
-more pie, which I will make
-turkey, of course
-a slice of chocolate cake at Tyler's (for purely sentimental reasons)

The Curious Story of the Rockefeller Center Tree

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is famous. Every year a huge tree is chosen, erected, decked out in splendrous lights, and honored with a huge party the first weekend in December. Christmas in New York has featured a tree in Rockefeller Center ever since 1931, when workers building the center decided to put up a tree to celebrate the season. That very same year, newlyweds Joseph Varanyak, a recent Hungarian immigrant, and his wife Mary Kemper (pictured), received a 7-foot tall Norway spruce as a gift--their first Christmas tree. When Christmas was over they planted it outside and it continued to grow. It grew so large that Mary Varanyak would often tell her sons that one day her tree would grace Rockefeller Center. However, when she died eight years ago, her dream had still not come true. Then, this fall, as Rockefeller Center tree-scouts were scouring the countryside for this year's perfect tree, they spotted an amazing 72-foot tall Norway spruce. When they approached the owners, they discovered the story of the Varanyak family's Christmas tree. The twin brothers Bill and Bob Varanyak were overjoyed that their mother's wish was finally being fulfilled, and donated the tree in her memory. They feel she has watched over the tree until this moment.

Isn't that a great story? The official tree-lighting ceremony is next Sunday, but I'll have to catch it on TV, because I'll be home for Thanksgiving. But I work near Rockefeller Center, and have enjoyed seeing all the stores put on their holiday finery as the season approaches, and I will go visit the tree soon. In the past few days the tree has been put into place and a humongous star set on top of it, made of Swarovski crystals and weighing something like 550 pounds. Let's hope that thing is securely in place!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Blog Neglection

I don't know when I made the decision to do it, but at some point over the weekend I joined Facebook. You'll notice I've neglected my blog since Saturday, which is a long time for me. I feel terrible! But Facebook is an addiction that I was unprepared to deal with. Ever since I signed up, I feel compelled to log on, and add friends, and check on peoples' statuses (stati?), and fill out that big box at the top of the page that says "What are you doing right now?" Partly out of politeness (I don't ignore questions) and partly out of vanity (you want to know what I'm doing right now, really?) I continuously fill out the box and before I know it I am recording every little thing in my life, from opening my eyes in the morning to turning the page of the book I'm reading. Or, that is how I imagine its going to be soon if I don't watch out. I vow not to become one of those people like I read about in The Post the other day who are divorcing because the husband cheated on the wife in Second Life because they are both always playing Second Life and never spend any time off line together. I know nothing about Second Life, but my sister is already teasing me about Facebook and offering to be a guest writer on my blog so I can devote more time to my new obsession. So I promise, I won't go overboard. I promise not to stalk people from elementary or middle school (or any school for that matter, even though I admit I have tried to find the printmaking T.A. I had a crush on in college...), and I promise not to keep Facebook open all day at work, even though it is so tempting. Also, I promise not to join any silly groups or send people weird Facebook "gifts" that make them have to download annoying applications. And, most importantly, I promise not to neglect my blog. Now I've got to go check and see if anyone else has RSVP'd to the Facebook invite I received for a party this Friday...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I Heart Saturdays

Yesterday was a wonderful New York day. Free Saturdays will forever be treasured by me, after spending six years at a job where I had to work every single Saturday. Now I work every other Saturday, so the free ones are extra nice. And for some reason a free Saturday is so much more satisfying than a free weekday.

I already wrote about visiting the Studio Museum of Harlem on Saturday morning. It had rained, but was nice and warm, and I was walking around in just a t-shirt and jeans, which was great. I figured it was the perfect day to do some exploring, and headed down to Murray Hill (around 33rd Street on the east side) to a place I'd heard about. Now I don't want you men to roll your eyes when I start talking about girl stuff, so just go ahead and skip to the next paragraph if you want to. I went to place called Thread to have my eyebrows threaded. My Italian heritage has provided me with very thick eyebrows, which I try in vain to tame. Because they have been lately driving me crazy, I decided that they needed some immediate attention, and I'd heard about the threading process, in which the aesthetician goes over the eyebrows very quickly with twisted thread that plucks the maverick eyebrow hairs out very quickly. I was very impressed by the speed and lack of pain and redness. Not to mention that it only cost $8 to have eyebrows that Alisa called revolutionary when she saw them. Needless to say, I'm quite pleased, and have been shamelessly staring at my new eyebrows in subway windows and anywhere else I can find a reflective surface. I should have done a before and after photo--then you would understand!

Emerging from the salon with my gorgeous eyebrows, I headed over to the branch library on 32nd Street and found a couple of books. I'm reading again! And it feels so good. When I left the library with my books in hand, the weather had turned brilliantly sunny but incredibly windy, and little yellow leaves were flying everywhere. Walking to the subway, I noticed a store I'd heard of, but never been to: Cheap Jack's, a vintage clothing "superstore." It was full of amazing items in a very spacious store, so I had fun looking around. But the name was misleading, because I didn't see anything under $25, and most of the stuff was over $75, even though it was stuff you could get in Chapel Hill at Time After Time for $12. And there was a shocking lack of jewelry, though a nice bowtie and belt buckle collection.

Later, I decided that since I had amazing eyebrows already, and plans for a fun dinner with some out of town friends, I would go to Barney's and have a makeover. The first makeup lady to snag me worked for a brand called T. LeClerc, which I had never heard of, but she was incredibly nice, and did a great job giving me ultra-dramatic smoky eyes and glowing porcelain skin. She tricked me into buying a few things, which I probably should not have splurged on... but I will get good use out of them.

Since I still had time to kill before dinner, I went to visit E at her job, and Katie Holmes was there! I did a very good job not staring or stalking, but I did get a good look at Mrs. Cruise. She's gorgeous!! As soon as E saw me, she noticed my eyebrows, and she said they looked fake, but that's just because the makeup lady had darkened them a bit. I told her she should go get her eyebrows threaded at Thread, because it was so amazingly fast, easy, and cheap. Anyway, right before I saw E, Alisa called me with the address for the restaurant in Chelsea where we would meet for dinner, so because I have a horrible memory, I needed to write it down, and I approached the checkout counter at E's store and asked for a scrap piece of paper (it is an art supply store, after all) but one of her boss guys was there and brusquely said, "Absolutely not! We don't want to be any part of anything." I think my jaw dropped, but I quickly realized that he must have thought I was asking for a piece of paper so I could go ask Katie H for her autograph, so I said, "Um, I just need to write down an address--please, can I have a scrap?" He mumbled something and walked away, and E gave me a scrap of paper. It was very awkward, and besides, how did he know I wasn't some richer or more famous celebrity? So I made a point to write down my address and leave the store immediately, without even a backward glance at Katie, who came up to pay for her items at the counter where I had just been standing.

Dinner was delightful. It was great to see Alisa, make new friends (Rebecca and Mark), and reconnect with an old friend (Israel) who has lived in the Bronx since July and this is the first time we've gotten together. We ate at Grand Sichuan, which, according to a passerby, "is always packed." Well I know why, because the food was amazing. We had Rebecca just order us a whole bunch of stuff, and all shared, and talked about everything from Alisa's purchases at Fishs Eddy to Facebook to politics and protests.

It would have been the perfect New York day had I remembered my friend Debbie's birthday shindig down in the Village, which would have just been getting started while I was heading uptown to home. But for some reason (my advancing years) I have been so forgetful lately, and it totally escaped me. (I'm sorry Debbie! Will you ever forgive me? I even made you a birthday present!) What a pity, because my makeup looked so good, and would have been perfect for a night out, even just a quick but glamorous cameo appearance. The uptown trains weren't running because during dinner there had been torrential rain, so that should have been a sign that I was supposed to go downtown. Instead, I walked with Israel and Mark to the 2, walked across 125th Street, got home and changed into my pajamas, checked my email, and suddenly remembered. Ugh! Time to get a day-planner or a Blackberry or something.

P.S. I joined Facebook! I'm probably the last person on the planet to do so, but am loving the part where my friends list grows from 0 to 40 in three days. I probably want to be your friend too, so if you can find me, friend me. And I promise I won't forget your party if you invite me to one ever again.

The Greater Refuge Temple

I discovered this colorful church on my way to the Studeo Museum of Harlem yesterday. It reminds me of jello salad, or the colors of the tiles of the floor in my elementary school, or Necco wafers.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Two Exhibitions

Thanks to Abby for calling me up and reminding me that I live in New York and that there are tons of things happening here that I need to see. For example, she told me about an exhibit of African textiles at the Met. I went and saw it last night, and loved it. It's a small exhibition, situated in the middle of the Met's African section, but it has an amazing group of woven, tie-dyed, hand-painted, and other types of African textiles, both old and new. The show also features contemporary artworks that play on the themes of African textiles, such as a work made from foil wine labels, and a sculpture of a woman whose elaborately patterned dress has become the metal web that is the structure of the sculpture. I was happy to see some Dutch Wax fabric, incorporated into an installation of small square paintings which featured the wax prints both plain and embellished by the artist with layers of painted pattern. Also, I was drawn to this photograph:
The car (an old Puegeot) is amazing, for one thing, but I am also fascinated by the patterns of the women's fabric clothing and the shape created by their combined forms. This is exactly the type of thing that I always try to create in my own woodblock prints. There is just something so appealing to me about a group of figures that become one shape, embellished by vibrant color and pattern. (Man, I miss my printing press!) And it's the same thing that artist Barkley Hendricks tries to capture in his paintings, especially his work from the 1970s. I saw a retrospective of his work in July at the Nasher Museum at Duke, and was utterly blown away. So when I found out that the exhibit is now on view at the Studio Museum in Harlem, just down the street from me, I went to see it as soon as I could. Henkricks' paintings capture the free-spirited fashion of he and his friends and family during the disco era. He creates a pure shape with his forms, situating them on a flat plane of color with no shadows to anchor them in space. The floating figures become icons, larger than life.
There are paintings of both men and women with brightly patterned clothing too, all amazing. Hendricks was inspired by African textiles, but indirectly as they were interpreted in fashion by the people around him. He was also inspired by Dutch, Flemish, and German old master paintings and their emphasis on the human form with exquisitely rendered facial features, against a flat backdrop. Think Hals or Holbein. When you realize that Hendricks is a classically trained artist, who studied at the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy, his man in a bell-bottomed track suit takes on a greater significance, albeit with a humorous touch. I'm completely inspired now. Where are my paints?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Speaking of Dresses

New project alert. On etsy I found some great dresses to crochet:
Love the ruffles!

These patterns are from the 70s, and the crochet booklet was printed in Switzerland. Now I just have to figure out what colors to use, and which dress to make first.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In Support of Dresses

I don't know if any of the readers of my blog remember the days when wearing dresses was the norm for women. My mother was not allowed to go to school in pants until her high school years, and then the wide-bell legs of the 1970s pants were almost like skirts. It's wonderful to wear jeans, and I'm so grateful for the suffragists and the women's rights activists throughout history that have made it possible for me to dress how I like. And yet, I have an enduring fondness for dresses. Even though I don't have to, I wear dresses and heels to work all the time. I have to remember to dress down sometimes, and force myself to shop for T-shirts when I'd rather be looking at sun-dresses. Invariably, someone asks me why I'm so dressed up, or if I've got a hot date after work. The boring truth is that I just like to dress up and and wear feminine things and put together interesting outfits. Its sort of a fun hobby--something I don't have to do, but choose to, and find pleasure in. So it was nice today to be complimented on my dress and told by an elderly lady that more women ought to wear dresses these days. I didn't tell her it was just a thrift-store find, because the advantage is that when no-one else is wearing a dress, yours will always look terrific.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thank You

"To Make Men Free" by Norman Rockwell

Monday, November 10, 2008

This is how I feel today. (I'm the fish that's not red.)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Healing From Heaven

This church has a very unusual structure, which I unfortunately could not capture with my camera from the sidewalk (sorry about the bad photo!). It looks like a cross between an exotic far eastern church, a southwestern mission, and an upside down boat. But my favorite part is the sign, which reminds us that here is "where the power of God falls like rain." (Click on it to enlarge.) However, that power is unavailable to tourists:
This is the sign taped to the Healing From Heaven Temple door. Click on it to enlarge. I'm not really sure what the scripture reference has to do with sightseeing...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Strange Lunchtimes

At work we have a security guard and he's really nice, but... yesterday as I was going outside to eat my lunch he stopped me and said he'd buy me lunch if I'd go get him two slices of cheese pizza. An offer like that I cannot refuse, so I brought him back his cheese pizza and I saw him settle down in the back to eat it. Then, this morning, I was talking to S-Lo, the cleaning lady about how sometimes she finds forgotten 2-day old cups of coffee on her rounds, and she told me that the security guard used to be terrible about stashing food and forgetting about it. "Look," she said, going over to a filing cabinet in the far back corner of my basement office, "this is where I used to find old donuts and..." we both gasped as she opened the drawer and revealed a slice of day-old cheese pizza and the remnants of another on a paper plate stuffed into the cabinet drawer.

S-Lo went and scolded the guard about the pizza, but she couldn't convince him to throw it away. Instead, I watched when he came downstairs at lunchtime, retrieved the pizza, sprinkled it with water, then microwaved and ate it. I was trying to eat my own lunch in the back, and read my mystery novel, but the guard came over and sat down with me and started talking. I really just wanted to read in silence, but he didn't pick up on my body language (staring and my book and not answering his questions with actual words) and kept talking to me about random things like the merits of one frozen food brand over the other, and how to properly cook corn on the cob. Ugh. Why can't it be summer anymore, so I can go outside and eat my lunch in peace with the regular New York crazies?

Or, I have another idea. Maybe I should bring a change of clothes to work and go for a run on my lunch break? A short run then would be better than not running at all, which is what I've been doing because I cannot seem to find the energy in the morning, and at night when I have energy, it's dark and scary on the streets of Harlem. A lunchtime run would solve my exercise need and my desire to not talk to people while I'm on my lunch break. Hmmm. It just might work.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Don't It Make the Red States Blue

If there were nothing else interesting at all about this election, it would still go down in history as having inspired the best campaign art EVER.

And this is just a small sample. Art has power.

P.S. You should have seen Harlem last night! The plaza in front of the state offices was thronged with crowds of cheering people, peppered with police and photographers and general merry-makers. There were fast-food vendors doing brisk business and reporters gauging feelings as everyone watched speeches and poll results on a huge outdoor screen. E and I ran up onto our roof and watched the helicopters, marchers, horn honkers, cheering crowds, fireworks, and other jubilant expressions that lit up the night until the wee hours. This was quite an election!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Did You Vote?

I voted! I went by the polls early in the morning, but the line was down the street, so I went back after work and there was no line at all. My theory is that everyone in Harlem was so eager to vote that they all did it as soon as they could. In New York we have the huge old-fashioned machine with the big red lever and all the switches. I know some people think its confusing, but I love it. Now we just have to wait patiently, as for Santa's visit, the results!

Monday, November 3, 2008

In Search

After work today I wandered over to Borders, because I'm craving a book to read. I haven't read a real book in ages, and I'm dying to! But I haven't had a chance to go to the library, and I have a hard time spending $15 on a book that I may or may not like. So I wandered around the store aimlessly, searching for a good cheap book, but coming up short. Maybe I can go to a library on my lunch break tomorrow. But it would have been nice to have something to read in the long lines at the polling station tomorrow morning... And guess what? I actually feel like reading fiction. It's been a while.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Response

I don’t want my blog to be a place for political or religious controversy, but I recently heard an interview on The Story (American Public Media, “Faith Versus Duty,” air date October 30) that made me want to speak out on the behalf of Mormons. Dick Gordon interviewed Andrew Callahan, a Californian who has been very vocal in his stand against Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriage in that state. Callahan is being ex-communicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The interview started out with Callahan saying that the Mormon support of Proposition 8 (which is very strong) is a continuation of bigotry that has always existed in the church, and that Mormons are hypocrites because this proves that they don’t practice Jesus’ command to love one another. “It seems mean-spirited,” says Callahan, who seems shocked that a church which has always maintained political neutrality would suddenly urge its members to donate money to such a cause. While I actually agree with Callahan that the church should not urge members over the pulpit to donate money to pass Proposition 8, I disagree with his comments about the bigotry of the church. When Callahan says that the church is taking an “us against them” stance, I feel he is misguided. If church leaders are telling church members to support Proposition 8, then they are doing it with the intent to support the traditional family; they are not saying hate gay people. Whether or not same-sex marriage is legal in California, LDS people should still show all people love and kindness and let them be judged by God for their private behavior.

Ultimately, I was not disappointed in Andrew Callahan for his stance against Proposition 8, but for his lack of a real reason for his stance. On the surface it seems that Callahan is being excommunicated from the church for his opposition to Prop 8, but from listening to the interview, I learned that Callahan’s reasons for supporting gay marriage are unknown even to him. “All people should be treated the same” is his best excuse, but then he goes on to say that he doesn’t “feel the Mormon understanding of God is the correct one” and that “I feel I’m right” and “the prophet is wrong.” His only argument for gay marriage is that homosexuality is banned by the Mosaic law, and if the Mosaic law isn’t practiced anymore, there should be no ban on homosexuality. His statements show a lack of understanding of LDS doctrine, a lack of willingness to learn it, and a lack of humility. Surely Callahan shouldn’t be surprised or upset that he is being excommunicated from a church that he admits to not believing in.

I guess what seemed most ridiculous to me was when Callahan said that opposition of gay marriage is just an example of church leaders acting in their own self-interest. But he doesn’t explain this, either. Surely if the leaders of the LDS church were acting in self-interest, they would want to support all lifestyles so as to gain the most converts possible. What selfish interest could President Monson have for wanting to ban gay marriage in a society that, it would seem, mostly supports it? That’s as preposterous as the time someone told me that the reason my church wants converts is so the leaders can get rich off the members’ tithing money! No, the church leaders are acting in the interest of righteousness, standing for what the scriptures say: that we must love one another but not condone sinful behavior. A true prophet does not stand by silently and watch as a society falls into iniquity. Despite our modern desire for a separation of church and state, it has always been a prophet’s job to warn secular societies against the dangers of sin, and this time is no different. Wouldn’t it be more hypocritical for the church to take no stand against practices that go against its doctrines?

Yes, Mr. Callahan, the church leaders are just human, but so are you.

126th Street Church

This is a typical Harlem church: very humble and unassuming yet full of personality.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween! A day late, but oh well. I was busy yesterday. I didn't really dress up, but if I had, I would have wanted to be this woman from an Erte painting. I did wear a wig to work, which was pretty fun. I think I look good with white hair with silver sparkles. It would have looked good with a little space suit dress like on the Jetsons, but my closet is lacking. Disappointingly, no trick-or-treaters came to my door, even though there are lots of kids that live in my building. I guess I don't blame them for not wanting to knock on strangers doors in Harlem, but I've had an unfulfilled dream since childhood to be the one who hands out tons of candy to trick-or-treating children on Halloween. I've just never lived anywhere where the kids go on Halloween. Someday. E and our roommate S and our friend J all went to the dance at the stake center, and their costumes looked pretty great:

From left: "Self-Absorbed," a girl toy soldier, and Pam from The Office.