Monday, July 14, 2008

The Good and the Bad

I realize I've been writing a lot of posts lately. Part of it is procrastination from packing, part of it is...well, lots is going on.
There was recently a post on Millennial Star about how evil and satanic WALL-E is.
If Millennial Star were a fringe blog, I wouldn't be concerned. But it's a fairly mainstream LDS blog.
Included in the blog are these wonderful tidbits. "It is unfortunate that companies such as Disney and Pixar are beginning to propogate (sic) agendas of a maleficent nature. Here is yet another example of something good being pushed to an extreme. The Adversary apparently finds it best to start them believing in such perversion while they’re still young."
Yes, that quote was about WALL-E.
Here's another juicy one.
"I believe WALL-E is another card in the deck of fear-mongering tactics employed by our common Enemy to get power, money, control, oppress mankind with false “prophets,” and reign with blood and horror prior to the return of the Savior."
Needless to say, people like this aren't helping the LDS image. Fortunately, rational people started storming the comments section of this blog until, 36 hours after it was first posted, the writer became frustrated enough to shut down the comments section. So that, at least, gives me hope.
On a brighter note, April bought me a year's subscription to the German Liahona for Christmas. They usually have a page where they list all the missionaries that have been called on missions for that month. So far, I've been a bit disappointed...I haven't recognized anyone.
Today was different.
I spent almost a year in the Wetzlar ward--I served in two areas within it. Not only that, but I was an outspoken, senior missionary there. I returned for a visit three years ago. Many of the adults and all of the teenagers remembered me, and were actually excited to see me.
So I'm excited that this month's Liahona features three of these teenagers. Two of them were younger (12-14) when I was there, and the third was older (16). The 16-year-old is one of the coolest people I've ever met (although she wasn't there when I last visited, and I haven't seen her for over seven years). She's now serving in Washington DC North. The other two are serving in Hamburg (Germany) and the Czech Republic. Very cool.


Bryce Haymond said...

What did you find wrong with my post, Tim? Are we concerned more about our "image" than in truth and error?

Brightonwoman said...

I read an interview with the CREATOR of WALL-E. He said that he was NOT trying to make a 'green' movie at all, that the trash-taking-over-the-world was a way to get people off the earth. Rather, the intent of the film was to show how inhuman we become when we lose the interaction (ie, all the people in the movie just talked to screens) and how the robots were actually more human than the people, because they interacted.
Now was there ecological propoganda? Sure, I think there was. BUT, it was certainly not the only message of the film--nor was it intended as the primary one.
And furthermore, I don't think eco-thinking is political anyway...politicians are talking about it, sure, but it's not political. *I* believe it is a moral and spiritual issue. After all, we were given stewardship over the earth, therefore we should take good care of it...if we do not, we are failing Our Father.

JorgenMan said...

Very mature, Bryce. Just insult Tim instead of addressing his concerns - after all, if he disagrees with you, he's probably evil.

I'll tell you what's wrong with the post. The leaders of the church have wisely chosen not to provide a mandate on every single political issue out there.

In the words of Hugh B. Brown: "Strive to develop a maturity of mind and emotion, and a depth of spirit which will enable you to differ with others on matters of politics without calling into question the integrity of those with whom you differ. Allow within the bounds of our definition of religious orthodoxy a variation in political belief. Do not have the temerity to dogmatize on issues where the Lord has seen fit to be silent."

In other words, Tim is worried that people who read your post will see us as the type of people who label anyone who disagrees with us as "satanic". To my knowledge, the prophet has made no direct statement in favor of or opposition to environmentalism. To pit environmentalism against the gospel, or against family values, is a false dilemma. It is perfectly possible to live a righteous life while believing that the Earth could become uninhabitable if we don't take care of it.

Tim said...

Jorg. and BW--
Thanks for your remarks.
Remember the whole "Harry Potter is of the devil" thing?
I guess I see this as the same idea--but much worse.
Worse because WALL-E is a very mild cartoon, and worse because this article was written by a member of the LDS church.
I am very much worried about the LDS image. I am worried that people will see us as crazies (when most of us aren't). I'm worried when people assume things about us that are entirely wrong. And I am worried when members of the LDS church propagate things, in the LDS blogosphere, that 1. I adamantly disagree with and 2. other people, not LDS, may pick up on and take it as being the church's position.

More important than image, of course, is truth...and the article fails on both accounts. Jorg addresses some of this, and much more can be found be going to the original article and reading the comments on it.

Cougarg said...

Here's the thing, the church is concerned with BOTH its image AND the distinction between truth and error. For so many, perception is reality. If they weren't, they wouldn't care what missionaries wore, what the outside of the temples looked like, that church grounds were clean and orderly, etc. WE know what is on the inside is important, but if the exterior is not inviting, no one will want to come and find out for themselves.

I agree with Bryce's call to watch for subtlety in media, though I disagree with his conclusions in regards with Wall-E, but that's just me.

The thing that struck me about the article and then all the comments afterwards was how contentious it sounded. I agree with Jorgenman's quote from Elder Brown. We are agents unto ourselves, but that does not give us the right to put down others just because we disagree with them. I felt many posters on both sides of the argument in the comments section were guilty of that.

Bryce Haymond said...

"It is the most foolish thing that people ever attempted to tell us that if we were to do so and so, take such and such a course, that we should not be persecuted. Men who make such assertions do not know this Work; they cannot comprehend it; they know nothing about the characteristics of this people, nor the work which they are connected with; if they did, they would know that the world would love its own, and that it would hate everything that is not of the world, and that comes in contact with religious popularity in the world, and that everything of this kind is hated by the world and by him who is the master of the world." -Elder George Q. Cannon, Tabernacle, May 6, 1866

We're not looking to save our popular "image" folks. We're interested in doing what's right.

Tim said...

The question is, what is right?
Some of what is right we know through the gospel.
Some we reach on our own. We have to search our own souls.
I remember reading "Screwtape Letters" and thinking, "I don't agree with that." Then I I not agree with it because it's not doctrinal? Or do I not agree because it would be hard for me to accept, or it would require too much of me?
Thanks, Cougarg, for the comment. "Contention is of the devil," and I get carried away sometimes, especially when confronted with people who have strong opinions that are vastly different from mine.
Hopefully I can tone down my approach but still defend what's right.

Bryce Haymond said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bryce Haymond said...

Agreed. Same here.

Woodine said...

Have you seen Wall-E Tim? I think you two would enjoy it. We loved it! Clever, sentimental, yes, environmentally friendly, and a reminder that life without human interaction is a poor life at that.

caron said...

Wow. I haven't seen it yet, but I'm highly intriged. Especially now.
On the subject, though, I agree that we do need to defend truth in whatever way we can. I may be totally off on this, but I think that if we dig a chasm between us and the rest of the people in the world, we will be written off as unreasonable and not listened to at all, which doesn't hurt my feelings in the least, but does hurt our porgress in our stewardship of teaching truth to the other people of the world. I think we need to return with a soft answer on things that are not directly pitted against the teaching of the church. I liked how Tim said it, that there are different ways to find truth, and if it's personal we need to be careful about how we handle things. But if it's something that is aimed at the destruction of us as children of God, ie anti family legislation and taking God out of the innerworkings of this country, toss the soft answer out the window and give them something to whine about. I guess it all comes down to deciding what needs to be defended and what can be overlooked. Pick your battles, or you will get tired too quickly.

The real reason I started a comment is to say bon voyage to Tim and April. I'm sorry I couldn't come to say good bye yesterday, I had a class. But I hope that the move goes well and you settle quickly. And that you have a nice ward. :)

John Robinson said...

What an interesting discussion! I can't help but weigh in just a little bit.

I think the modern environmental movement (I'm talking lobbyists here not lovers of songbirds and blue skies like Tim and Alison) invites some of this hysteria on itself. In a more perfect world people watching WALL-E would realize rather quickly that trash overwhelming the earth is not a practical way to destroy the planet. It is literally impossible to run out of places to bury things; it's just not reasonable. So, the film's message must not be "throw away less stuff" but something more abstract, and picking an unrealistic doomsday scenario would be smart to do purposefully so the audience is not distracted from the real theme.

The problem is, the EPA issued a pamphlet saying exactly that (we are going to run out of landfill space) in the 70's. And consequently we have a bunch of legal requirements to recycle things from the ensuing panic. The scientific basis for running out of landfill space? The guy typing up the pamphlet at the EPA felt like putting it in.

So there are a lot of people who don't really appreciate being jerked around by environmental policy of dubious benefit and consequently become a little hypersensitive about it. And so the logic goes "obviously this is not about saving the environment because this makes no sense, therefore it is about having power to make me do stuff, i.e. Satan"

Now while the link between "don't throw away plastic bottles" and "don't have any babies at all" is obviously VERY tenuous, I felt it deserved a better shake than what Bryce gave it.

Now for a real world example! Global warming; look kids, it's real. The temperature of the Earth had been going up until 10 years ago and may still be; it's a wiggly graph. There are good reasons to think we might be causing it; computer models of climate with elevated CO2 levels have higher temperatures, it's a greenhouse gas, etc.

One possible solution is to reduce CO2 by using a cap and trade system where the total carbon emissions allowed in the US are converted into certificates and bought and sold. This has the advantage of allowing the carbon gains to be made in the easiest locations through the market mechanism. So the free markets work their magic and we save the planet.

At the same time, however, we just chose to let someone else (or at least a regulating body appointed by elected representatives one of which may have been voted for by us) decide how much we get to breathe .

So we have a balancing act, combining the strength of our conviction that human CO2 warming is real, the size of the danger if the problem is ignored, and the cost in lost liberty if it is not.

And as a random aside, for a piece claiming fear-mongering is Satanic influence there was lot of fear-mongering, wasn't there?

I think the problem with "Wall-E: the religion of environmentalism" that has touched a nerve is the same problem the climate lobby has; rigid intolerance.

It is possible to disagree that WALL-E is propaganda and still be a good Mormon. It is possible to believe we need more nuclear power plants and be a good environmentalist. When Bryce Hammond or the Sierra Club publicly suggest otherwise, I think it becomes reasonable to start worrying about what "image" these self-appointed spokesman have created.

Bryce Haymond said...

There is global warming on Mars, in parallel with that on Earth. Did we cause that too?
Mars Melt Hints at Solar, Not Human, Cause for Warming

I just received my August 2008 issue of Scientific American with the headline article reading, "Running Out of WATER: A six-point plan to avert a global crisis." The inside title read "Facing the Freshwater CRISIS: As demand for freshwater soars, planetary supplies are becoming unpredictable. Existing technologies could avert a global water crisis, but they must be implemented soon." I can't believe that there are people that buy into this fear-mongering propaganda. Do we really believe that someday it's going to stop raining? Common sense seems to make me believe otherwise.

Cougarg said...

Bryce, I read a similar article about the avalanches observed near the martian poles. I agree that it suggests that our sun is releasing more energy, causing higher temperatures on our world and on mars. But to say that it categorically refutes human-induced global warming is a bit of a jump. In fact, the article you provided a link to punches holes in the proponent's theory. At the very least, the article provides a view of both sides of the discussion. And that, I think is very important.

I am by no means "green" in the modern vernacular. In fact, based on a description you gave in the comments section of your original article of how you and your family conserve, recycle, buy second-hand, and so forth, you are more "green" than I am. But I do not dismiss out of hand that mankind contributes to global warming.

Jorgenman, brought up a good point. He mentions that the prophet has not given a public stance on environmentalism. If there is such a statement, I'm sure you will be able to find it, and using it will strengthen your argument against the environmentalist movement. But you seem the type to have done your due diligence in finding anything that bolsters your argument, and the fact that you have not provided a quote or cited a talk of that nature, suggests to me that there is no such statement to be found.

In your comments on your blog, you suggest that people that do more to "save the earth" than you do are looking beyond the mark. And this very well may be, or it may not. I think there are excessive measures being taken in the world. There are many knee-jerk reactions that people make without thinking about the consequences.

I don't know anything about you, besides what you have said yourself, and how you respond to peoples comments on this and your own blog. But I do know Tim, John, I believe I have met Jorgenman, but I have heard a lot about him. I don't know if I know Brightonwoman. Regardless, We are all educated adults, and any information you provide will help inform our opinions. However, I doubt that any number of articles you provide are going to "bring us into the light, and be converted" to your way of thinking.

May I politely suggest that continuing to drag this argument out may be looking past the mark for you? I'm sure you go to church, home teach, pray in your home, give worthy and honorable father's blessings to your children, etc. I would suggest that the rest of us do as well. But it is still possible for each of us to look past the mark in one way or another. Railing against environmentalism when there is no official position on the matter from the church, and feeling the need to have the last word on the matter when our concern is not so much what you believe, but how you express it, that may be your way.

To quote you on July 14th:
If you don’t like it, then you may politely move on.

Something tells me that you can't leave it at that, but I'm done commenting on this thread. It's already taken too much of my energy.

JorgenMan said...

Wow, Tim, I'm jealous. None of my posts have ever led to such a big discussion. You're an amazing blog posting guy.