Monday, May 19, 2008

More on Gay Marriage... Again

There’s a lot of people talking about gay marriage again. It goes in cycles, it seems, on the ‘net, and it appears that it’s cycling back into the bloggernacle. The question that many seem to be asking of late is, “Why would allowing gay marriages threaten or even diminish my hetero marriage?”

Most of those that deal with this issue (that claim to be opposed to gay marriage) try and justify their responses by saying that “Gay marriage isn’t going to hurt hetero marriages, but it’s just morally wrong.” or any number of flimsy rationale.

Here’s why I oppose gay marriage: I have to draw the line somewhere.

For me, it’s a matter of religious freedom. I, honestly, wouldn’t have any problem allowing gays or any other minority the right to do whatever they want to do, if they would leave me alone and allow me the same right. The problem with most movements is that once they start to carry momentum, they’re hard to stop. And as a result, often they end up crossing the line from oppressed to oppressors.

Anti-discrimination laws are very interesting. Often, they are the very tools that turn the tables. Take the case of the Boston Catholic Charities. This was a private social services agency, designed to provide services, particularly adoption, to catholic children. They didn’t receive federal or state money. But in order to retain their charter, they had to comply with the state’s anti-discrimination laws, and place children in gay homes. Rather than do so, they closed their doors. Thus, a private religious institution was forced to either accept principles contrary to the practice of their religion, or stop its practice. What of their religious freedom?

Let me paint a picture of the “slippery slope” that others seem to mock so much:

  1. One state in our great nation allows same-sex marriages.
  2. Other states are then forced to recognize those marriages as valid
  3. Those other states, now recognizing externally performed marriages, are then pressured to allow same-sex marriages to be performed within their borders.
  4. Religious groups who refuse to perform same-sex marriages are subsequently ruled as discriminatory.
  5. The state then refuses to recognize the hetero marriages performed by the "discriminatory" religions.

Suddenly, hetero religious marriages no longer carry the benefits of law. What happened to my freedom of religion?

Honestly, if I had any reasonable assurance that it would stop at point 2, maybe even point 3, I could be convinced that we could all live and let live. But the example of the Catholic Charities, and other trends I see make me believe that it’s not likely to stop. Like objects, power in motion tends to stay in motion, until some outside force acts upon it.

That’s why I want to draw the line before point 1.

Mark Hansen

Fifteen Minutes?

I found this article in the LDS Newsroom to be really interesting. It talks about how church members handle fame. It’s come about, of course, by having so many church members, active and not so much, being in the public spotlight.

One of the things that intrigued me about it was that the church would put out a statement about it in the first place. I mean, the church certainly knows that there are members out there living lives in the spotlight. But I haven’t seen the church be so publicly aware of things going on in popular culture. It’s kinda cool. Or maybe I just didn’t travel in the right circles before.

Another thing that I found interesting was how the article acknowledged that many who are members of the church don’t hold fast to their beliefs over time in the public eye. There are a lot of church members who have long abandoned their faith in the road to fame. There are others that left it afterward. The article seems to remind me that they are all human.

What if, for example, David Archuleta, the golden boy du jour, were to leave the church. That would be his choice, wouldn’t it?

It made me think of how I was so judgmental of Tal Bachman when he left. Part of his appeal to me, in addition to the fact that I really liked the songs he was writing, was that he was a staunch church member. Once he left, and left so publicly, I was taken aback. I don’t think I’ve listened to his CD since then. I certainly haven’t followed any of his newer releases since then. I just haven’t felt the same connection I did before.

At the same time, maybe I shouldn’t have thought of him so harshly. I certainly don’t know what led him to abandon his previous faith and find a different path. The same is true of filmmaker Richard Dutcher. I’m not in his head. I’m not in his heart. How can I know what he’s been through?

For those that are in the public’s eye right now, I should pray for them. Not so much so that they can make us all look good, but just so that they can handle it themselves. I know that if I were there, I would want all the help I could get.

Mark Hansen

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Dollmaker

I had an interesting experience as a songwriter the other day.

Some ten or so years ago, my mother-in-law was approaching her 60th birthday. At that time, my wife and her sister (among others in the family) were planning a big celebration for her. They came to me and asked me to write a song for her. I was intrigued by the idea and jumped right to it.

I started by brainstorming a lot of ideas of things that, in my mind, identified her. One of these was that she was very involved in making porcelain dolls. She and her husband operated, at the time, a shop where they not only sold the supplies, but also taught the skills. They poured the slip into the molds, they taught people how to clean the greenware, and how to paint it after the firing. They helped them to assemble the doll bodies, and helped them to get the costumes.

As I was contemplating the song, it occurred to me that the way she worked the dolls was very similar to the care and attention she gave to her kids as she was raising them. So, that became the focus of the tribute song. Here’s the lyric:

The Dollmaker

She cradles the delicate head in her hands with so much care
With the skill of a master she smoothes out the lines in the greenware
Later when she takes it out of the kiln
She'll paint it and bake it all over again
'Cause she knows it's the fires that make the clay strong
And give the doll beauty to make it last long
As she shapes it and turns it and works it all day
In her dollmaker's masterful hands

She cradled the delicate head in her hands with so much love
And she knew down inside that this sweet little child was sent from above
Later when this one was feeling the pain
She smiled and gave laughter all over again
'Cause she knew what it takes to make children grow strong
And help them stand tall and know right from wrong
As she shaped them and turned them from year to year
In her dollmaker's masterful hands

The seeds that she's planted
Have blossomed and grown
Because of her sacrifice
And the love she has shown
Can one life make a difference with the good it imparts
It can if that someone gives straight from the heart
Like she does when she turns you and holds you so safe

In her dollmaker's masterful hands

In her dollmaker's masterful hands

I worked up an arrangement, and the family got together and performed it at her birthday party. I recorded the song and released it on my site at the time. You can download a copy of it here, but only if you promise not to cringe at the singing. It’s been ten years since then, ya know?

So, last week, after a long and grueling fight with Parkinson’s, my mother-in-law passed away. Yesterday, the family gathered again at the funeral and one again sang the song.

Afterward, many people commented to me how beautiful the song was, and what a fitting tribute it was to the lady herself. I might not sell a lot of CD’s, or get a lot of song downloads, or have a screaming throng of fans. But once in a while, I like to think I got a hit!

Mark Hansen

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Et Tu, Disney?

So, when I wrote that posting yesterday, I thought that would be it on that topic for a while. Then I happened to look up some things that I'd been hearing about teen pop sensation Miley Cyrus.

I wish I could say I was surprised.

Mark Hansen


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