Sunday, September 27, 2015

Religion Greater Than Education and Nutrition In Utah

What does a parent need to provide for raising a well-adjusted child?  If you read the court-ordered evaluator recommendation in a random Utah custody case, it would seem as though “religion” and “morals” are the most important factors.  In fact, the rules for Utah custody evaluations list many other things (with religion being one of about a dozen listed criteria).  Shortly, that list includes: child’s preference, siblings, desire and bond, history, moral character, emotional stability, personal attention, drugs/alcohol use, religion, finances, and abuse.

What Utah rule (4-903) fails to list as important to child rearing is more interesting.  It has nothing on education, nothing on nutrition, nothing on immediate physical environment.  That doesn’t mean a psychologist cannot evaluate those things.  However, the state does not require them.

Let me reiterate here the criteria of Utah Custody evaluation so you can assess that the great state of Deseret, aka Utah, is lopsided on education, nutrition and safety over that of "religious compatibility" and "morals".

Utah State Law, Rule 4-903, includes 15 items: 

(5) The purpose of the custody evaluation will be to provide the court with information it can use to make decisions regarding custody and parenting time arrangements that are in the child’s best interest. …Unless otherwise specified in the order, evaluators must consider and respond to each of the following factors:
(5)(A) the child's preference;
(5)(B) the benefit of keeping siblings together;
(5)(C) the relative strength of the child's bond with one or both of the prospective custodians;
(5)(D) the general interest in continuing previously determined custody arrangements where the child is happy and well adjusted;
(5)(E) factors relating to the prospective custodians' character or status or their capacity or willingness to function as parents, including:
(5)(E)(i) moral character and emotional stability;
(5)(E)(ii) duration and depth of desire for custody;
(5)(E)(iii) ability to provide personal rather than surrogate care;
(5)(E)(iv) significant impairment of ability to function as a parent through drug abuse, excessive drinking or other causes;
(5)(E)(v) reasons for having relinquished custody in the past;
(5)(E)(vi) religious compatibility with the child;
(5)(E)(vii) kinship, including in extraordinary circumstances
 stepparent status;
(5)(E)(viii) financial condition; and
(5)(E)(ix) evidence of abuse of the subject child, another
 child, or spouse; and
(5)(F) any other factors deemed important by the evaluator, the parties, or the court.

Religion and “moral character”  are more important in Utah custody cases than health—than nutrition and a safe physical environment, the latter which do not appear in the rule.  Religion is even more important according to Utah’s 4-903 than education.  The words, "nutrition", "health", "education", "safety", and "environment" appear nowhere in rule 4-903, while "religious", "moral" and other like criteria do appear.

What the hell?  Only in Utah, apparently.  I hope the Utah judicial bar who see so many cases of neglect can persuade the legislature that their idealistic views are not helping families.

Any decently educated psychologist and sociologist knows the importance of good food, physical safety and proper education on the best interest of a child's well being.  Publications at the National Institutes of Health (US) clearly state, for example, that:  
“There is no aspect of our physical or psychological existence that is not affected in some way by nutrition. A profound lack of nutrition would obviously have a negative influence on all aspects of [child] development, and such effects of malnutrition are well documented.”

However, Utah's legislature doesn’t even seem to care.  Education, smeducation—phaw!  Nutrition, shrewmunition—meh!  Utah-Utard!  What will it take for the family courts to encourage their own legislatures to change the code so that education and nutrition have an equal stage with religion and "moral character"?  

Gallup Poll -- Are we due for a new one here in 2015? 
 Let's hope there's a downward trend.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

LDS SECRET Leadership Information System (LIS)

In my October 2014 Exmormon Foundation talk, I told the audience about the LDS Leadership Information System, the LIS.  This is the system that probably vetted the latest candidates for the next three apostles which may be called in just over a week at the October 2015 LDS General Conference.

Here is the slide from that 2014 talk, where I verbalize a lot of information about the information systems the LDS use to vet future leaders. The slide is a fraction of what I said.

  • Around 2008/09 the Q12 asked COB to produce a separate financial/contracts tracking system for contracts, which only Q12 and their assistants could access/monitor
  • COB Insider speculation is that this “Leadership Information System” monitored nepotistic contracts given to Q12 family
  • Another insider:  families and widows of GAs are financially blessed through church finance system

(Slide from the 2014 talk)

In my 2013 novel, I revealed some of what I had already known, but used a fictional form to let the world know, because my sources were anonymous.  Here's the text from 2013.

"Fellow SLCPD officers, including the non-Mormons, fondly referred to LDS security as Sacred Service agents. Over the years, Porter had helped the LDS Church with background investigations of individuals vetted for leadership—all off the books.  Salt Lake City government played nice with the Mormon Church. Most of the councilmen and police attended LDS Church regularly."
"Bradenton showed him the dossier of a few member employees and it had far more information than what he had accessed as a bishop.  It included all the church records of baptism, mission service, temple ordinances, and more. It showed scanned patriarchal blessings, callings held, discipline actions, employment history, background investigations, first generation family genealogy, and a geographical history of all locations the member had attended throughout their life.  Extra fields on one member file Bradenton brought up indicated that church headquarters filed the notes a bishop or stake president had made on worthiness. Porter never knew they filed individual private matters. 
“If you need to know anything about a member, you access the dossier system and search by any relevant term,” said Bradenton. “If further background information is done for employment or higher calling, we put it in here as well.” 
Porter pointed at the screen.  “Why does the church keep so much information members?”
“Wouldn’t you if you needed to know who you can trust to run companies within the portfolio owned by the church?  We need trust so there’s no financial disclosures. Enemies would use it against us.”  "

NOW THE LATEST:  A most recent revelation from an anonymous source inside LDS Church Offices (most of which was posted briefly on reddit) confirms this same information about the Leadership Information System.  The LDS Church keeps extensive background on all members, especially those that rise to be vetted for upper office in its corporation.  And why not?  

I quote extensively, and some of this may be verified in the next 10 days when LDS General Conference is held.  If not, then we have a wee chink in our link at the COB.

" Here's what I can tell you. There are enough people privy to this information that it won't be possible to identify me through this disclosure alone. 
Basically, whenever new General Authorities are being proposed, the names are submitted to our department to do a final "background check"--you can think of it as a kind of "vetting" that is done in politics when Presidential candidates select a VP running mate. We get information consents from the candidate and check everything imaginable: financial, employment, educational, resumes, church callings, political involvement, criminal (never had an issue with this one!), disciplinary councils the candidate has been involved in as a leader. We write up a report flagging any possible areas of concern. For the most part, there are no issues, except for occasional ones that might "look bad" from a secular media perspective. 
They never tell us that these people are being proposed as General Authorities--we just get a generic request for the vetting--but when the next General Conference roll around and we see the people we vetted called ... well, it doesn't take long to figure out what your role is in the machinery. 
Anyway, when an Apostle dies things get a little bit "obvious". For one, the request comes shortly after the death of the apostle. Secondly, rather than a bundle of names as is common to receive, we receive just three names. Thirdly, the submitted names usually contain one or more CURRENT General Authorities. All three of these are red flags to me at least that we are vetting the new Apostle. My suspicions in this regard were confirmed when we vetted Elder Anderson as one of the three candidates in late-2008, shortly after Joseph B. Wirthlin died, and he was subsequently called as the new Apostle in April 2009. I assume that the three names are submitted by the President of the Church, or possibly the First Presidency together, I don't know. 
I'm not exactly sure why we do a second "vetting" in this situation for someone who is already a General Authority and has undergone the process previously. I guess it's probably meant as a type of "fail safe" procedure, to catch anything that was possibly missed the first time around. We also do review what the person has done as their time as a General Authority and flag anything potentially problematic. 
So basically, what I can tell you is that we've recently received a fresh submission to do background checks for three men and we've mostly completed the process. All three are currently General Authorities and are in the Presidency or Quorums of the Seventy. The three are James J. Hamula, Ronald A. Rasband, and L. Whitney Clayton. Clayton's report sent up a few flags [2 & 3], definitely more than the other two, so I would bet against him being called. The reports for Hamula and Rasband were clean and we basically gave them both the thumbs up.  
[While others at the office could be vetting many candidates not listed here...]  At this stage, I see [it likely] that at least one of Hamula or Rasband is called. Since we have another vacancy in the Twelve, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Hamula and Rasband are BOTH called. I'm not sure if we are going to get another three names to vet for the second vacancy, or if they are just going to be happy with having done these three. 
So there you go. Oh--lastly the issue of timing--we won't find out for sure who is called until General Conference in October. I think that that is pretty well understood and accepted by the membership now. In the past, some Apostles have been called in between Conferences, but the last few First Presidencies have thought it best to wait until General Conference in order to maximize attention on the event. 
I find the process a little bit ridiculous and I have often felt like it's weird that the Prophet and First Presidency need us to flag issues of concern for them when they are considering inspired callings. Are the calls inspired? Well, Elder Clayton was being considered [for something], but now I can basically guarantee that he won't be called because of the work I participated in. Can it hardly be said to be inspiration when the decisions are based on paid workers doing research? "

You read it back in 2013 in my novel, and heard it again in 2014 in my talk.  The LIS of the LDS church help them to keep the LIES going.

Now is the day of their power.  They rule reign from the rivers to the ends of the earth. There is none who dares to molest or make afraid.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Monson Vs. Francis -- The Pope and a Prophet

Pope Francis arrived in the US, riding in a Fiat 500L car, priced around  $20,000.

On the other hand, Mormon Prophet Monson rides around in Utah (at the 2011-2014 Days of '47 parade) in much much fancier transportation, including an armored security edition Audi A8 that with full upgrades runs over half a million dollars to buy new.

Pope Francis speaks to human rights, humbly asks leaders to help the poor, and takes selfies.

Monson cuts ribbons at super-malls and kicks off condo-high-rise developments, while only letting professional, LDS photographers take his likeness.

Pope Francis encourages the US government and the world to improve the environment, releases a 40,000 word official statement/encyclical on global climate change, and has proclaimed the environment is just as important many moral issues facing the world

Monson buys up land to develop into profitable industry, lobbies Florida counties for permission on a development at LDS owned Deseret Ranch  "for accommodating a half-million residents on an enormous piece of ranch east of Orlando [that] has triggered an environmental dispute that could be tough for even the state to solve.... The development plan for the 133,000 acres..."

Confidants involved in an environmental impact independent study of the Deseret Ranch fiasco tell me that the part of Deseret Ranch that they want to reclassify as urban is beyond the borders of the urban growth line for Osceola County, and that they "petitioned the county to extend the Urban Growth Boundary into their property so that they can convert this land to a curated cityscape."

Ecologically speaking, Deseret Ranch is a huge piece of the proposed Florida Wildlife Corridor which would provide a movement corridor for imperiled (and un-imperiled) species throughout the state (including black bear, Florida panther, etc.).

Florida counties, probably seeing dollar signs from the potential tax dollars, have been reviewing the LDS corporation proposal. It would seem that it is pretty much set to go.  However,  one of the county commissioners is rumored to have refused to sign off on it until an independent review is conducted.

Pope Francis, in ecumenical cooperation, could you tell Thomas Monson to stop his destruction of the environment?


***That being said, I should update that I just saw on the news that Pope Francis took a military helicopter from JFK in NYC to Manhattan. I suppose chartering a plane would have been about as costly, and if he had flown coach, the plane would have been mobbed and a security disaster. But who paid for it?

Addendum:  A reply below is point on.  Neither Pope Francis nor Thomas Monson are anything close to the persona that they claim to worship and desire to emulate.  The character of Jesus Christ as described in the bible didn't ride in gold-plated chariots (the meridian times equivalent of an Audi A8 L or a military helicopter).  Jesus didn't lay his head on silk-spun pillows in elaborate church-owned Vatican cities, nor have multiple homes including an upscale SLC condo near a billion dollar mall he commissioned.

The hypocrisy of both is telling.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Neurosurgeons Are Going To Hell

In seminary this year, some students are learning about Noah's flood.  One student asked the seminary teacher why God killed all the wicked of Noah's time and told Nephi to kill Laban, but spared genocidal mass murderers?

When Nephi was commanded to kill Laban, that it is better that one man perishes than a whole nation “dwindles” in unbelief, God traded the brain of Laban for the brains of a nation.  You see, God could have, in his omnipotent manner slightly, just perceptibly altered the brain of Laban, when he was drunk on the street, so that he forgot all about Nephi and his brothers coming for the Plates of Brass. God can change brain cells.  Easily.

But no.  Free will—the altercation of a few brain cells—was far more untouchable to God than the actual life of Laban.  Nephi had to kill Laban so that God didn’t have to touch Laban’s brain  Yes, he could have eradicated Laban’s memory in his drunken state.  But tinkering with his memory and free will is apparently a bigger line to cross than murdering Laban and completely eradicating his future free will.  As long as Nephi did it.  God is in the clear!

When Noah asked God to spare humanity, it repented God (or if you’re Joseph Smith, it repented Noah to ask God) of thinking of eradicating a billion humans.  (We can safely assume that if in the 6000 years since Noah we went from 8 persons to almost 8 billion, that in the 2000 years of Adam to Noah, there were probably a billion nomadic, sinful, Sodomy filled humans ripe for destruction.)  God would never tamper with so many free wills, so he had to eliminate them.  Lest they sin more and more and become so intellectually godless that they never allow a soul to be saved.

So God killed them all. 

There is no tampering with free will.  Neurosurgeons be warned.  Don’t tamper with those brains. Alter those personalities. Change those temperaments.

For that matter, psychiatrists, psychologist, psychics, sociologists, and even bishops beware.  Wait, bishops are okay to judge and alter members' thinking.  Bishops, seminary teachers, deacon advisors, Miamaid instructors, primary leaders and the like—you’re all fine.  You can alter free will.  You can dive right in and tell a toddler that Joseph Smith was inspired while hiding his polygamy.  You can exact ten-percent of tithing while not declaring that the LDS church is a corporation.  You can send them on "soul saving" missions while knowing that Africans are starving, bone-thin skeletons.  That kind of brain tampering is okey-dokey.

God, however, cannot cross a line of taking away a memory, such as with Laban.  God cannot tinker with free will, such as with a pre-flood billion of humanity.  He must kill them instead.  Hitler too.  Stalin and Mao as well.  Let them kill the masses if their free will gets out of bounds.  Laban—deserved to die.  Stalin, Mao and Hitler, well, they had free will and God couldn’t supersede to have them killed before nations upon nations dwindled in bloody unbelief.  He couldn't intercede to subtly change the mind of mass genocidal murderers.  You understand his godly omnipotence, I’m sure.

But wait, hasn’t God changed memories already?  Isn’t there a verse that says something about the Holy Ghost helping you to remember all things, to “bring all things to your remembrance” (John 14:26)? 

There’s also that story about the Nephite prisoners held by the Lamanites in Alma 55.  Moroni’s guys brought them wine and “they did take of the wine freely”.  Freely—free will.   Shame shame.  Word of wisdom be damned.  The righteous can tempt the evil.   Then the guards in their drunken stupor and deep sleep were unable to stop the escape.  Laban was drunk. Maybe Nephi hadn’t brought the wine, but he found the sword.  With Moroni’s men, however, “the Nephites could have slain them” yet Moroni didn’t want that. 

So wait, God got Nephites to use wine to get the Lamanites stupid.  Surely there’s some kind of free will breech here.  The Lamanites were pretty forgetful about what happened and never really succeeded in winning against the Nephites who were “slow to remember” their past.  The point being, God helped inebriate Lamanites to free Nephites who were slow to remember God.  WTF?

What about the righteous?  Does God play with their free will and memories?  You bet.  It’s a part of the LDS Doctrine that if you ponder on something false, that’s  “not right you …shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong” (D&C 9:9).  In other words, God makes the righteous stupid.  He plays with the free will of the righteous all the time.

Laban—you’re dead dude because you’ll remember to do bad stuff. 

Nephi—you’ll just forget false stuff.

The saying goes, God doesn't play with dice.  Apparently not with scalpels either.

Neurosurgeons, psychiatrists and psychologists who play with memory, you better be a damned good judge of who’s righteous and who’s evil.  You may end up in hell.  God doesn’t play loosely with this stuff like you do.

Hitler, you’re in the clear, apparently, unlike Laban.  At least, that's the message one student got in seminary.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The 21st Century Rediscovery of the Seer Stone and the Second Latter-day Restoration


In mid 2015, LDS archivists found the original printer's Book of Mormon manuscript and the brown striated seer stone used by prophet Joseph Smith in the early 19th century to translate the divine record inscribed on the gold plates delivered to him by the angel Moroni.  Members prior to this commonly believed the Urim and Thummim which came directly from God and have an aura of divinity about them were the only instruments used in the translation process.  However, the brown striated seer stone which came from a well Joseph dug before receiving the gold plates, was documented quite readily to have been used for various non-spiritual activities before he employed it to translate the Book of Mormon.

LDS Historian at the time, Richman Bushard, had stated that the seer stone "hadn't been taught in church curriculum, institute or Sunday lesson material--only found in scholarly references…Just as with the general membership, LDS general authorities knew little or nothing about the seer stone before its rediscovery."

President Yuma S.B. Kidden, the 18th LDS prophet used the seer stone to receive many revelations, including sections of the New Book of Laws, which outlines celestial sealing equality for heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual and polysexual couples, and several sections on new investment strategies for the Zion wetlands in the state of Deserwet (formerly Florida).  Until the 21st century rediscovery of the seer stone, there is no historical evidence that any prophet, since Joseph Smith, used it or any other instrument to receive revelation.  The seer stone’s last known location prior to this was on the altar of the Manti temple at its dedication,  and where allegedly President Woodruff used it as a paperweight to hold down drafts of his Manifesto.

Once revealed again in 2015 (found in the Granite Mountain in a long lost well that was covered by the patch blanket woven by Sisters Sheri Dew and Wendy Watson, the first sealed LDS gay couple), the seer stone caused many members to ask whether or not it would be used to infuse the prophets with new revelation.  Rediscovered, the stone led to the Second Latter-day Restoration and a plethora of new revelations, starting with President Kidden in the 21st century, and is the first indication of using the seer stone since Smith's martyrdom.

President Kidden has said, "The Lord took away the Urim and Thummim, in order that the saints have faith, while giving them the actual seer stone used for nearly all revelations, in order that they might have blessings both then and now."

Much controversy surrounds the early use of the seer stone by founder Joseph Smith.  Many members, including leaders felt embarrassed and shocked by it due to its connection to the early 19th century supernatural and magical culture of up-state New York surrounding Smith, and Joseph's use of stones as an instrument of picking up polygamous wives in LDS taverns.  Despite its mortal foundation and common practices by Smith who used his large stones for treasure and wife hunting, God never repudiated the use of the seer stone and its employment in translating.  This shows that by natural methods, and by small and simple means does the Lord bring about his great work and purpose.

Hence the great Second Latter-day Restoration catalyzed by its rediscovery allowed reformation of the LDS Church.  In the process of revelation, divinity is mixed and melded with humanity.  The culture of the prophet is as much a part of the revelatory word as is the divine message sent directly from God to his prophet. Since it was re-revealed, knowledge of the seer stone was absorbed in the standard lessons and curricula of church education.

That the seer stone has been installed in Church History museums within a year of its rediscovery has led some to question the Second Latter-day Restoration since the prophet did not actually hold the seer stone during the revelatory process.  However, just as Joseph Smith did not hold the gold plates or use the Urim and Thummim, but rather placed the seer stone in a hat and put his head into its brim--proximity to the plates or other instruments are unneeded.  Furthermore, with the advancement in technology of modern culture, the Lord may use new devices and methods that far exceed a 19th century stone to reveal modern revelation to the most recent prophets.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Early 21st Century Financial Secrecy, Speculation and Salvation


(Hello, I am a guest writer on this blog.  David T is out on sabbatical for personal reasons.)

During the first half of the 20th century, the Church endured financial hardships that encumbered the church monetary means and required revelations on tithing by Presidents Lorenzo Snow and Heber J. Grant.  President Snow increased tithing reserves by maintaining a ten-percent on income (instead of increase) and President Grant renewed Church Sole ownership by chartering the Church as a Sole Corporation in 1923.  Since that time, the Church enjoyed prosperity and return on investment that allowed it to invest excess tithing into non-profit land speculations and business opportunities that overall, on average, yielded a net increase of over 15% annually. 

Critics have often complained that the Church is more about money than about increasing its talents as the Lord counsels in the parable of the talents (See "Parable of Talents").  One of the most beneficial investments happened in the last quarter of the 20th century and through the first quarter of the 21st century with investments in land in Florida, including the Deseret Ranch and Panhandle Forestry Reserve, of Property Reserve, Inc, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Corporation of the First Presidency of COJCOLDS (The Sole Corporation of all incorporated businesses owned by the Church). 

At the opening of the 21st century, the Church held approximately $60 Billion in assets and $15 Billion in liquid cash.  (See this news article for historical context.)  This value nearly tripled in value when development of the Deseret Ranch turned to residential estate management, which was pushed through by revelatory edict and proper inspired management in the Lord’s quorums.   

Media of the time declared that, "The biggest development ever planned in Florida would cause no ‘adverse impacts’ to water, wetlands and wilderness in an enormous part of Osceola County, according to a brief statement by the state's top environmental agency." Further that the development would bring,  "...rise of a Central Florida metropolis of a half-million residents within a 133,000-acre corner of the [Osceola] county."  Premature complaints that a " of concerns about water supplies, transportation routes and population densities proposed ..." were ill advised.

The investment and management by Church financial advisors tripled the Church assets in a mere decade by 2022, from $60 Billion to almost $200 Billion.  The increase represented to most members at the time evidence of inspiration of the Lord’s anointed, but had been the subject of concern for many members of the US LDS congregation.  This investment also marks the turn of membership increase to high levels of third world members (as the US membership diminished) which turned the tide of membership overwhelmingly to other nations outside of Americans. 

Critics had predicted such shifts in profit and wealth, suggesting it would lead to a reduction in Church membership.  Their prophesies proved false given the dramatic increase the Church saw worldwide due to its rapid rise in wealth and small increase in percent dedicated to humanitarian aide (from 1.8% to 2.6% in a decade of the first quarter of the 21st century), which attracted a vast influx of members in foreign lands.  This abundant global wealth is in fulfillment that the word of the Lord would spread to all lands, tongues and people.  Money, and investment, is necessary to spread the word of blessings to all lands.  The Lord provides.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

20th Century Leaders and Gay Rights


(Hello, I am a guest writer on this blog.  David T is out on sabbatical for personal reasons.)

In theology and practice, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints embraces the universal human family, loves all of God’s children and facilitates salvation to all diverse races and ethnicities while esteeming them all equally.  As the Book of Mormon puts it, “all are alike unto God.” (See, 1.2 Nephi 26:33; Acts 10:34-35; 17:26; Romans 2:11; 10:12; Galatians 3:28.)

The structure and organization of the modern Church encourage gender neutral integration and acceptance.  By definition, this means that the sexual, economical, and demographical composition of Mormon congregations generally mirrors that of world communities.  The Church’s lay ministry also tends to facilitate integration: a gay bishop may preside over a mostly heterosexual congregation; a lesbian woman may be paired with a straight woman to visit the homes of a martially diverse membership. Church members of different gender identities and sexualities regularly minister in one another’s homes and serve alongside one another as teachers, as youth leaders, and in myriad other assignments in their local congregations.

Despite this modern reality, for most of its history--from the early and late 20th century to early 21st century—the Church did not accept homosexual members to its temple sealings or allow gay members to lead in priesthood or auxiliary functions, such as scouting or young men/women organizations.  Even leaders of the late 20th century were misled to declare “A Proclamation to the World” on “The Family” where gender distinctions and prejudice were not just common but customary among faithful white Americans, and influenced all aspects of members’ lives. Under such cultural weight, the LDS leadership made personally misleading statements in so-called “Proclamations” as, “Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose,” and “Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.” 

During the first century of the Church’s existence, a few leaders engaged in polyamorous relationships within marriage, leading to sexual intimacy among men with other men, with women and other women, who were temporally and celestially sealed.  These relationships, while not documented in acknowledged historicity of the 19th and 20th century, have recently come to light by LDS historians who have been given access to documents not-hitherto assessed.  Historians have also re-assessed events surrounding Apostle Russel M. Nelson and his relationships with Wendy L. Watson and Sheri Dew (the first woman CEO of a major LDS corporation, namely Deseret Book).  An interesting dynamic existed among Nelson, Watson and Dew.  Despite that Nelson signed a petition by the “Religious Coalition for Marriage” including "a Letter from America's Religious Leaders in Defense of Marriage" demanding that the Constitution of the United States of America be amended to ban legalized same-sex marriage and define marriage "as the exclusive union of one man and one woman", recent LDS historians have uncovered that Nelson, Watson and Dew were actually secret advocates of same-sex marriage and polyamory. 

Documents deep within Granite Mountain show that Russel M. Nelson was actually in favor of gay rights and believed that they deserve protection and respect equal to that others have enjoyed traditionally.  To wit, Wendy L. Watson and Sheri L. Dew had been “best friends”  for well over a decade in the last decade of the 20th century. In fact, in October, 2000, the women bought a vacation home together in Heber Valley (where the prophets of that era, Monson and many of the Apostles, had second or third homes).  They were granted a warranty deed as “Wendy L. Watson, an unmarried person and Sheri L. Dew, an unmarried person, joint tenants” and later, in 2002, refinanced it together for $245,800, paying it off in 2007 and rearranging the ownership until at nearly 2020, they are both still listed together as co-owners, when Dew passed away after Nelson was recently deceased as well. 

There were some leaders that spoke out against gay rights in that same era, but were regarded by members and leaders as distorted and opinionated in ways not congruent with high LDS standards.  For example, historians have admitted that Boyd K. Packer spoke insensitively, and is quoted:

"The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals." (BKP. Talk to the All-Church Coordinating Council, May 18, 1993).

"That young man with gender disorientation needs to know that gender was not assigned at mortal birth, that we were sons and daughters of God in the premortal state.' ” (BKP, Case Reports of the Mormon Alliance. Volume 3, 1997. Salt Lake City, Utah: Mormon Alliance, 1997, chapter 9.)

 “We've always counseled in the Church for our Mexican members to marry Mexicans, our Japanese members to marry Japanese, our Caucasians to marry Caucasians, our Polynesian members to marry Polynesians. The counsel has been wise. You may say again, ‘Well, I know of exceptions.’ I do, too, and they've been very successful marriages. I know some of them. You might even say, ‘I can show you local Church leaders or perhaps even general leaders who have married out of their race.’ I say, ‘Yes--exceptions.’ Then I would remind you of that Relief Society woman's near-scriptural statement, 'We'd like to follow the rule first, and then we'll take care of the exceptions.' " (BKP, 1977 BYU campus speech) 
There are many other statements attributed to Boyd K. Packer about homosexuals during that era.  At that time, news abounded that the LDS Church was involved in California Proposition 8.  The passage of California Proposition 8 during the November 2008 election has generated a number of criticisms of the Church regarding a variety of issues including the separation of church and state, the Church's position relative to people who experience same-sex attraction, accusations of bigotry by members, and the rights of a non-profit organization to participate in the democratic process on matters not associated with elections of candidates. The proposition added a single line to the state constitution defining marriage as being between "a man and a woman."  The Church was alleged to have spent over $25 Million USD in its fight against same-sex marriage, but this was highly speculative and no evidence was ever uncovered in court to account for such charges.  In fact, the Church in the 21st century since 2025 has spent twice as much, around $50 Million in support of gay rights in third world countries, where gay marriages were not accepted until decades later. 

Today, however, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that homosexuality is a sign of divine disfavor or sin, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that gender disorientation or same-sex marriages are a sin; or that gays and lesbian unions are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all prejudice, past and present, in any form.

The 21st century Church today proclaims that redemption through Jesus Christ is available to the entire human family on the conditions God has prescribed. It affirms that God is “no respecter of persons” and emphatically declares that anyone who is righteous—regardless of sexuality—is favored of Him. The teachings of the Church in relation to God’s children are epitomized by a verse in the second book of Nephi: “[The Lord] denieth none that cometh unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” (See 2 Nephi 26:33).

Monday, May 18, 2015

They're all about Christ?

Paul wrote in an epistle that you could be a world-class general conference speaker.  You could prophesy the Higgs Boson, God Particle and end-of-days calamities.  That you could unlock secrets of immortal life.  You could be a billionaire philanthropist.  You could build bombs that destroy evil nations that usher in the millennium...

But if you don't have the love of Christ, called charity, you really suck at Christianity.

Here's the actual KJV quote from Corinthians:

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing." (1 Corinthians 13: 1-3)

You heard it at my blog in 2013, based on personal communications I've had with other developers in my area.  The LDS church truly wants money.  They want to take their so-called charity ranch in central Florida and turn it into a hundred billion dollar development for their future benefit.

My hometown paper, the Orlando Sentinel, is reporting what I essentially said two years ago.

"[LDS Owned] Deseret Ranches and Osceola County's vision for accommodating a half-million residents on an enormous piece of ranch east of Orlando has triggered an environmental dispute that could be tough for even the state to solve.

The development plan for the 133,000 acres..."

See this Sentinel pay-per-view link.

But don't worry, no animals were harmed in the making of this money, nor direct tithing used to make a fortune.

Really?  So let's think about the cycle of LDS monies investment.

When they receive donations--whether tithing, fast offering, missionary, humanitarian or whatever--they explicitly say they have a right to use your donation however they want.

This is written into their incorporation documents and bylaws.  The second article says: "This corporation shall have power, without any authority or authorization from the members of said Church or religious society, to grant, sell, convey, rent, mortgage, exchange, or otherwise dispose of any part or all of such property."

They take your donation, invest it into interest or investment bearing accounts.  Scoop the excess interest or investment cash and put that into for-profit ventures.  They pay themselves from that so they can tell members the GAs do not steal tithing money, and then they use the excess for other investments which yield profits that are "donated" to LDS charity so the for-profit venture has little tax burden.  The laundry cycle begins again.

What to do with all that excess, tax-free investment cash?

Put it down on huge developments that will rape the environment and yield a boatload of surplus they can use when the members wise up and stop donating.

Yes, the move to a for-profit venture per the "winding up" and "dissolution" clause of the LDS corporation article on incorporation is in full swing.

I began telling you this in 2013.  The Orlando Sentinel is now telling you again.

Stay tuned to see if the Mormon lawyers can force FL counties to let them bankroll a hundred billion dollar development.  Of course, this is because they're such a charitable church.

Through Fasting and Praying comes...

Ok, it's true, that last blog was an attention whore post.  I'm not re-taking the missionary discussions.  Not exactly -- I am re-visitng them (see below).  I didn't actually write that I was re-taking the discussions (I just used it in the title of the blog).  I implied it, and yes, it was misleading, so I apologize.

It was a trick--a short lived one.  So are the emotional tricks of Mormonism that fool people everyday. Such is the parallel here to what I have done -- to show how "conversion" is an emotional manipulation trick. The LDS missionary discussions use a build up and an emotional tug to trick people into buying their story.

No, I'm not reconverting to Mormonism or to any religion.  Yes, I had a very emotional experience a few weeks ago.  But I know, and most of my readers know that this is physiological and it is explicable.  Transcendent or not, it is still biology.

To illustrate the point I am making, I am re-visiting my missionary journal.  This is an act of vulnerability.  I was a silly, immature, caught-up in the MTC moment kid.  And I'm embarrassed by how loopy I was then.  Perhaps I still am.

To wit, here are the first few entries of my own missionary journal.  At the end, I talk about a very specific spiritual experience you might find interesting.


9 Agosto - El Jueves
Well I can't believe it's finally here! My mission has just started and the MTC is going to be great. It was a long day full of orientations and meetings. It would all wear me out except for the terrific spirit here keeps me going. This whole day has been one big spiritual experience. My district is all going to my same mission. ...
We met our teachers and branch president. They all seem nice, and I'll say more about them tomorrow it's going to be hard to learn and study everything that needs to be done. I know I can do it with the help of the Lord! They might make a missionary out of me yet!

12 Agosto – El Domingo
In branch meetings today, we had a short testimony meeting and some of the elders who are getting ready to ship out bore their testimony.  I felt a spirit, but not as much as I thought I should.  They seem so sure of what they are about to do in the field, and I want to.  I don’t know if I can speak with as much power as some of them.  They’ve had spiritual experiences that proved the church is true.  While I believe and feel the spirit, I don’t have that same experience.  It makes me worried I won’t make a good missionary.  Then after meeting, our branch president, Elder P___ interviewed our distrito and he heled me on some personal problems I had.  He also told me to be patient with my full testimony.  That if I fast and pray, it will come.  I plan to do a long fast soon.

16 Agosto – El Jueves
I can't believe it's been a week. The time has gone by so fast. It's surprising how much I have gotten done. I started the baptismal commitment discussion today and learned it real fast in about 2 hours. I passed it off with two mistakes with pronunciation, but I got every word in. That's a great feeling.  We’re supposed to get the investigators to commit to baptism after the first discussion or by the second.  It feels fast to me, but I know the Lord has blessed me and helps me with Spanish and my testimony so that I can be a powerful missionary.  I started a fast last night and continued all day today.  I’m looking to have a spiritual experience like the ones I heard the elders leaving the MTC told us about on Sunday.  I’m already feeling a little weak and praying all the time is harder than I thought.  

17 Agosto – El Viernes
I'll tell you today was one big experience! I woke up really tired and cranky probably because I have been fasting. Today the district was falling apart. We all went our separate ways during P-Day. And we quit doing things together. I switch companions to get a haircut and the spirit about us was terrible.  I think the whole district lost it. We could sense something was wrong in our night class. During scripture study after the teacher left, we talked for a little and decided to pray to get the spirit back together. After praying the spirit was better in the room. Then our teacher Elder M___ returned and was showing us how to present a discussion. He did it in English, and at the beginning he mentioned that by the end of the lesson we would feel the spirit very strongly. I was worried because I felt like my testimony was wavering even as I was fasting and praying so much. Near the end of his lesson I felt a little something strange I thought maybe I was tired or something because it felt like the light in the room had gotten a little brighter.  My head then cleared.  Like I could think faster.  And then I felt like I was floating above my chair, and I was happy.  Like the world was so beautiful. At that point Elder M____ turn to me and asked me if I was feeling something. And I barely got the words out that something was happening when I felt consumed or like my whole body was taken over by the feelings that had started.  I was floating I knew right away what I was feeling;  it was the spirit.  It was almost as if I had left my body.  Light headed and very pleasant, comforting and peaceful.  It lasted for many minutes. I’m not sure how long.  When I came back down, tired and I expected to be hungry, but I didn't feel like I needed to eat.  I knew the Lord had answered my prayers.  I had wanted a spiritual experience so that I could have proof in my soul to take to the mission field. I felt so elated that I just bore my testimony right there in class.


Was I experiencing a true spiritual experience?

The experience on that last entry is probably what some call Fasting Ketosis.  

The process of ketosis is one of the physiological effects of fasting in which the brain (and some other bodily processes) produces and uses ketones produced from fatty tissues as a fuel instead of the usual glucose.  

"Anecdotal evidence links the initial phase of fasting or a low-carbohydrate diet with feelings of well-being and mild euphoria. These feelings have often been attributed to ketosis, the production of ketone bodies which can replace glucose as an energy source for the brain."    See

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

On Bended Knees

In my previous blog post, I described a very personal experience while photographing cypress knees that could be called spiritual or transcendent.  At the outset, I will admit, I do not have the answers, but I feel the same needs that others—believers or unbelievers—have felt.  I ache just like you.  Some accuse atheists and agnostics of being hard-hearted and unfeeling on what others call the spiritual.  It’s not true.  We feel it too, but perhaps we humbly accept that the answer is not yet in focus.
(click on the images to see any of them larger)
(All photos are copyrighted 2015 by David Twede.  Permission must be granted for any use.)

The diversity of human individual experience leads to a diversity of belief.  I find in the cypress knees vast iconic representations of the spectrum of belief.  I wrote before that the uniqueness of these is like the uniqueness of experience each of us has that lead us to where we stand today.  No knee is truly the same, but they are all of the same genus, and in groups they sprout from a common tree. Each knee representing distinct experiences of the one--some growing large, some remaining small.

(All photos are copyrighted 2015 by David Twede.  Permission must be granted for any use.)

One common element humans have is a yearning for an answer to a question we haven’t yet completely formalized.  I really wish I knew the answer, if there is even an answer.  But what am I questioning?  It seems we all ask, generally—is there meaning in our chaotic and seemingly random life?

(All photos are copyrighted 2015 by David Twede.  Permission must be granted for any use.)

I've studied the various forms of answers.  I found so many and really no answers.  At times I feel beaten by life; at others I find awareness raised as I look across the various forms and shadows we sculpt into meaning.

(All photos are copyrighted 2015 by David Twede.  Permission must be granted for any use.)

Some find meaning in family.  I dedicated my former life to this view.  These build up a philosophy about a blessed mother and perfect child who became the deliverer of meaning through expiation, binding the family together.  It drives at the most essential connection every person has—the desire for comfort and familiarity in the embrace of loved ones.  However, for some, family hurts when human weakness injures their bonds.  They look for self-reliance and abandon the pain.

(All photos are copyrighted 2015 by David Twede.  Permission must be granted for any use.)

Some find meaning in pondering.  In my post-Mormon exploration I have pursued a solitary search.  Seclusion allows an inner-focused practice of contemplating the meaning of self, and sometimes finding the eradication of ego.  Meditation has even found support in factual neuroscience, but by digging deeply into the psyche, it vanishes and meaning evaporates along with it.  For some it is a truth they accept humbly; for many the yearning remains unsatisfied.

(All photos are copyrighted 2015 by David Twede.  Permission must be granted for any use.)

Some find meaning in pleasure.  Each of us has punctuated moments of self-indulgence.  If there is no meaning, then the import is gratification.   Life is short enough to waste, they say, and squander time on meaningless pursuits of elusive meaning.  Hedonism promises instant rewards, and ancient religions and fertility gods such as Min have been devoted to its pursuit.

(All photos are copyrighted 2015 by David Twede.  Permission must be granted for any use.)

Some find meaning in life after life after life.  The impoverished find themselves unable to devote time to philosophical searches or hedonistic paths.  This life has starved them of rewards and peace.  Facts are useless to the hungry.  They hold to the promise of life after life, where we live many different versions to gain a broader and more complete perspective.  

(All photos are copyrighted 2015 by David Twede.  Permission must be granted for any use.)

Some find meaning in facts and science—the field in which I work.  My art is based on my own scientific pursuits in technology to sense unseen light. I have patents in detection of unseen light.  Science delivers, as seen in the exponential burst of technology that even promises to save us from universal hunger, from pain to deliver prime fulfillment, and perhaps even reward future generations with immortality. Facts, however, yield no meaning to the yearning about deeper purpose. 

(All photos are copyrighted 2015 by David Twede.  Permission must be granted for any use.)

And even some find peace in ignoring all meaning, and relaxing like my cat along the lazy river a quiet life provides.  He doesn't need meaning; just a good scratch behind his ears.  Carefree, whimsical,  happy, unburdened and able to just ignore the yearn that irritates the rest.  These happy-go-lucky souls supply an embrace of solace on our journey to wherever this quest takes us.

(All photos are copyrighted 2015 by David Twede.  Permission must be granted for any use.)

Not one school of study, not a single philosophy, nor a particular creed actually has the full gamut of satisfying promises, fact and peace.  Some have peace, but lack extraordinary promises of treasure beyond the earthly.  Some have fact and study, but lack the peaceful answer to the hunger of meaning. Some have promise of splendor hereafter, but lack facts to support their claim.  Many interesting narratives exist.  Diversity of individuals find different narratives satisfying.

(All photos are copyrighted 2015 by David Twede.  Permission must be granted for any use.)

I ache for answers like you.  Why must some claim they have the answer, when they lack some component of the full triangle of human yearning?  Even my preferential bias toward science has left me incomplete.  While I don’t subscribe to any religion, I still feel that science has its biases based on the foundation of incomplete, evolved human sensory organs.  We may have expanded our detection well beyond biology through instrumentation, but we have not come close to the boundary on defining reality.  Our ego tunnel—that narrow cone of what we perceive is real—is still primitive. 

(All photos are copyrighted 2015 by David Twede.  Permission must be granted for any use.)

Religions have just as much bias and narrow-minded ego tunnels, when they claim to have a connection to "otherly plains" and "ethereal beings", but their predictions and factual answers are shown time and time again at odds with well-established measurements.  While they have imagination, they lack grounded facts.  Despite this, they call “hard-hearted” those of us who unpretentiously hold to the limited facts we do have.

(All photos are copyrighted 2015 by David Twede.  Permission must be granted for any use.)

None of us has the answers.  All of us yearn with questions.  Most of us are a combination of all the above approaches.  The terrain tread by humanity is vast.  Each of us needs respect for the sole-wandering, awe-inspiring thirst of others.  My journey of capturing unseen light represents to me the search for unanswered questions.   In promoting this blog, and moving toward an art show (which I call, "On Bended Knees") centered on these topics, I continue building the examples of surreal lit cypress knees that exemplify diversity of thought, uniqueness of individual experience and iconic human narration.  

(All photos are copyrighted 2015 by David Twede.  Permission must be granted for any use.)

There are times in one's life when we are enormously connected with the world, the universe or whatever higher power to which you ascribe, that the simplest thing reveals enormous detail.  You find the weave of a sweater or the glistening light from a plastic water bottle just amazing.  Something as simple and humble as a muddy root can teach us much about beauty, love and tolerance.  We can touch the hand that reaches for us from deep within ourselves, even if just in form of Plato's shadow.
-- my own hand's shadow across the "cypress hand" --
(All photos are copyrighted 2015 by David Twede.  Permission must be granted for any use.)

Sunday, May 3, 2015

I Had a Spiritual Experience Today

Perhaps I should call it a transcendent experience.  

Most of my readers know a few things about me personally--such as I consider myself an agnostic-atheist since leaving Mormonism.  And that I engage in an artistic pursuit using full-spectrum photography.  I post examples on almost every blog I write here.  About 15 years ago I began taking apart digital cameras and modifying them to sense light that is not visible to our eyes.  The camera receives colors in the ultraviolet and the near infrared that exist in abundance all around us unseen.  Then the camera electronically translates the unseen light into a new message of visual interpretation that I have called my Surreal Color World.  

(click on the images to see any of them larger)
(All photos are copyrighted 2015 by David Twede.  Permission must be granted for any use)

In the past few weeks, after a relationship breakup, I have been focusing my attention on a new subject of Cypress Knees surrounding where I live in Florida, with a new optical filter I recently developed to make more vivid the surreal colorism of my world view that I created well over a decade ago.  Following are a few examples of the scenery, seen in a new light, I encountered in my meanderings along the Shingle Creek banks in Central Florida. 

While I was out today (Sunday, May 3, 2015) and listening to piano music on my headphones, the songs moved from serene piano baroque pieces to contemporary pieces.  Songs like Canon in D, well known to me, played in the back as I snapped shot after shot of lovely scenics.

A popish version of the instrumental song “Hallelujah” played by Brian Crain ("Piano and Light" album)--it's one my ex GF loved--and my thoughts reminisced that about a decade ago the song would have meant more to me.  As the song transitioned to another, I came across a cypress knee that took the form of a hand.  

The song became the theme piece from the movie American Beauty, which when I saw not long after I had left religion and become agnostic-atheist, had a profound impact upon me.  There I listened and took in the surreal beauty around me.  The symbolism of the very present subject took on a direct connection to emotions that were bubbling up inside me.  An unseen hand of a sort touched a chord deep inside me.    

I felt overpowered by the beauty of nature that we can’t even perceive with our natural eyes.  There is so much hidden under our limited experiential abilities, our narrow ego tunnel of squat human sensory bandwidth.  Seeing the colors, shadows, illuminations, dimensions in the viewfinder of my altered camera opened me to the idea that the world is so beautiful and we barely realize it. I started to analyze it, but felt the emotive sensation evaporating as I did, so I stopped and let it flow.  It filled me up, passing through me, and I bodily-felt vision and visually-saw beyond where my eyes could see.  No, I didn’t see anything actually real, but I felt it out there.  I felt that I was with it on all sides of myself.  I wished I could absorb it all, and grow with it.  I yearned to slow down all the feelings that rushed by me.  I heard words in my mind call out, “There has to be more. This can't be all there is to it.”  

Meaning took hold without being defined.  I knew there was a meaning to all of this and while I couldn’t verbalize any of that meaning, it felt logical and real for a transient breath of thought. Maybe, I questioned for the first time in almost a decade, just maybe there is purpose and something beyond, or perhaps higher, than us.  Instinct from many years ago almost took me over—to fall to my knees and call upon something—as I was overcome by this lost or perhaps tossed-away feeling, now returned as an older friend with new wisdoms and insights learned during our separation.

Years ago I would have interpreted this strictly in the religious context in which I was raised.  When I had developed surreal color  photography over a decade ago, I had felt these connections and near mystical insights—seeing the dreamlike world I captured in my camera—back then in Michigan and Colorado.  I knew now, however that it was something else.  Perhaps not mystical or even metaphysical--after all I was feeling it inside my physical body and brain.  These experiences aren't exclusive to the followers of one religion or another.  Unbelievers have them often too, but don't usually declare it from the doorstep or rooftop.  

At that moment I felt this grandeur and expansive connection to the world, gathering even a hope of something larger out there, I also felt saddened by so many losses:  My former life in a black and white delusion that gave comfort without actual fact and truth; the loss of relationship with my children’s mother; the time lost with them as they grew.  I felt the loss of other relationships since then, and the burden of knowing that my youthful dreams hadn’t quite fulfilled the way I wanted. Then I realized what an amazing journey it was.  I couldn’t have planned any of it, but it has brought me to so many places in life that I wouldn’t trade away. 

I recalled something I had written almost a year ago in a blog.  
“You know that moment when you learn something profound for the first time?  Reading a well written blog or novel that fires off all kinds of new thoughts? ... The Newness of the Everlasting Curiosity is exciting...  Tired of your boring friends at church?  Find new ones.  Seeing the limitation of your inherited, family philosophy?  Search for a new one.
“Leaving the LDS [church] is like becoming a child who is merging into adulthood again.  All the fascination of a whole world opens to your exploration, of choosing new directions, of seeking new friends, learning new insights—it’s the candy store that continues to give when you remove the abundant limits placed on you by [religion].”

The words at the end of the movie American Beauty also resonated into my mind.  
“I had always heard your entire life flashes in front of your eyes the second before you die. First of all, that one second isn't a second at all, it stretches on forever, like an ocean of time... I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me... but it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life... You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. But don't worry... you will someday.”

That was how I felt at the moment I watched myself connect with the world through light that is unseen.  It was as if I could see everything literally and metaphorically in a new light through the vision glowing on the LCD of my full-spectrum converted camera.  In a short moment, ages passed and I felt as if I had gain the experience of years, all in a few dozen heart beats. 

As the feeling ebbed, I figured I had primed my emotions with the music and scenery; this concoction of emotions, beauty, peaceful surroundings and seeing in a new light opened me up to experience myself in a way that doesn't happen often enough.  We crave this because it feels so alive.  We feel big and tightly loved.  We feel small and ineffably important.  Contradictory elation and sadness all in the same bottle-opening moment, which overcome and fill us with so much wonder.  The New and Everlasting Curiosity is a kind of spiritual experience even if there is no such thing as a spirit, in the dualism sense.  It is transcendent. 

(All photos are copyrighted 2015 by David Twede.  Permission must be granted for any use)

Cypress knees grow around the tree, from the roots.  While their function is not fully understood, some scientists have thought they may help in oxygenation in the low dissolved oxygen mud swamp through the knee's bald head. I have also read the knees assist in anchoring the tree in the soft, muddy soil.  Each knee is very unique, and they take on iconic forms which I am investigating through my art style.  Like them, we find our anchors in the mud of the world through our own unique experiences. We rise above the mire and breathe new life into ourselves through very personal transcendent events.  

While I do not know what the future will bring--death dark as empty space, or an afterlife of surreal unseen light--I am glad to be alive and having the experiences I have.  May you have new and everlasting curiosity.