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Monday, September 3rd, 2012
For the most part, reality TV shows sort of disgust me. I think it’s fair to say that many of them position the viewer to make a judgment call on the show’s participants, dubbing the cast of characters as a collection of village idiots.
In TLC’s Sister Wives, a fundamentalist Mormon, Kody Brown, along with his 4 wives and 17 children, attempt to show the world that despite their untraditional (and unpopular) choice of lifestyle, they’re really not that different after all.
That sounds like the perfect formula for a reality TV show where we “normal people” again get to enjoy the guilty pleasure of gawking at the far less ordinary.
But the truth is, Sister Wives is actually a very redeeming TV show, if I do say so myself. I don’t look down on the Brown family at all. In fact, in many ways, I admire them.
It’s difficult not to have compassion for a man who works very hard to support his wife and kids, multiplied times 4, and makes great efforts to show all of them through his actions and words that he loves them.
I also can’t help but notice that the children actually seem to like each other. The bond between them and the way they care for each other is something I find refreshing on a TV show featuring a family.
Perhaps the best part of Sister Wives is its subtle Libertarian message. Much of the show’s 2nd season is based around the fact that the city of Lehi, and eventually the state of Utah, begin flexing their muscles and baring their teeth at the Brown family; intimidating them from a legal standpoint.
As Kody Brown explains, throughout American history it has not been uncommon for the children of polygamist families to be split up and displaced, while their parents are incarcerated. After all, polygamy (plural marriage) is illegal in our country.
So the family moves to Las Vegas, where their lifestyle is much more accepted and much less of a legal threat as it is in the rest of America.
I’m assuming that most of us don’t morally endorse polygamy. But that’s far from the point.
After making it through the first two seasons of Sister Wives, you can’t help but ask yourself:
Which is worse: For a hard-working man to legally marry his first wife, then “illegally” marry 3 more, or for the state to split up this family over their consensual civil unions?
Marriage is an extremely personal choice; sometimes modeled after a person’s certain religious beliefs, while other times there’s nothing particularly religious at all about it.
Either way, why is it our government’s job to get in the middle of that? (Remember the plot of Braveheart? I bet the first time I watched that movie is when the seed was planted in my brain to eventually become a Ron Paul supporter.)
In the case of the Brown family, their fundamentalist Mormon beliefs teach them they are pleasing God by their lifestyle. I’m having trouble seeing how their polygamist lifestyle is actually hurting anyone else.
(Obviously, we as America don’t seem to be too much against Sister Wives because we keep making it a popular show on TLC.)
Why can’t the Brown family be allowed to practice their religion, and therefore their lifestyle, without the hassle of government intervention?
Is it because kids are involved? Are we fearful that the Brown kids are being brainwashed and won’t be able to make their own decisions as adults on whether or not to continue being polygamists? Should that itself be a crime?
I say what matters more is not that a child has one dad and one mom.
What matters is that a child is raised knowing they are loved and believed in by those who raise them.
And for the record, my favorite sister wife on the show is Christine.
Saturday, September 1st, 2012
If you’re friends with me on Facebook, then you know that A) I talk about my son a lot and B) I love discussing politics.
This election is epic! Here we are, deciding which man we believe best represents our own code of morality and decision-making.
For me, the most interesting part is regarding the discussions I’m hearing about the religious beliefs of the candidates, particularly from conservative Protestant Republicans.
Up until 3 years ago, before becoming your neighborhood friendly Ron Paul supporter, I was a Republican and I voted that way every four years.
Like many other conservative Protestants I knew, I voted for the Republican candidate, if for no other reason, because he was pro-life.
While I am still very pro-life, my focus is no longer on choosing the “better Christian,” or in other words, the most conservative Christian candidate.
Here’s the irony: Many Protestants don’t consider Mormons to be Christians; some of the biggest reasons being because Christians believe that Jesus is equal to God and that Jesus was physically raised from the dead. (My understanding is that Mormons don’t believe those things.)
In other words, certain Republican Protestants are voting for the “better Christian,” though, by their own definition of what it means to be a Christian, the man they will be voting for is not actually a Christian.
Instead, they’re voting for the man who best represents their particular Christian values.
This is the first election in a long time where Republicans don’t have a Protestant Presidential candidate to stand behind.
(The only Catholic President in American history was JFK, who he was a Democrat.)
What if Mitt Romney was a conservative, pro-life agnostic instead of a Mormon?
How “non-Christian” can a Republican Presidential candidate be and still be backed by the conservative Protestants as the “better Christian” candidate?
Of course, I keep having to put “better Christian” in quotation marks just to be clear that I personally I am not publicly judging their allegiance to Christ; I think if I did, it wouldn’t be very Christian of me.
Similarly, I think it’s unfair to demonize a President just because he’s with the “wrong” political party.
President Obama is not evil. Nor was George W. Bush. They just happened to be the first two Presidents we’ve had since the Internet has been relevant to mainstream America and since blogs have been subconsciously influential to the masses; so these recent Presidents have been much more rapidly criticized.
It can be so natural to call their actions evil when you’re part of the opposing political party. In the process, the whole other political party in that case becomes evil too.
In other words, either half of America is evil; it just depends on which side of the fence you’re not.
Like I said in the beginning, we as a nation, as parents of children whom we are trying to instill our own morals into, are trying to vote for the man we believe best represents our own code of morality and decision-making.
Sure, our own personal religious beliefs should play into that. But at least for conservative Protestant Republicans, it’s not as simple this time around as choosing the “better Christian.”
So, will America choose a Christian or a Mormon for President in 2012?
Top images: US Republican and Democrat, via Shutterstock.
Bottom image: Two voodoo dolls, via Shutterstock.
Categories: Deep Thoughts, Must Read, People, Spirituality, The Dadabase | Tags: 2012 Presidential Election, agnostic, Christian, family, Mitt Romney, Mormon, President Obama
Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
I’ve never called my son “Buddy.”
No, it’s not that I’m one of those parents who takes things too seriously; proclaiming that calling my son such a casual nickname will cause him to respect me less in the long run.
Nor am I bitter that my dad wouldn’t let me get a My Buddy doll when I was a kid in the Eighties, so therefore I just boycott the word altogether.
Ultimately, I just don’t think I have the right personality for it. I watch my good friend (and the most talented photographer I know) Joe Hendricks play with his son:
“Hey there little Buddy! Look at you starting to walk! That’s my main man! What a champ!”
That will never be me. I’ll never talk like that. I could never pull it off.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
It’s just that my friend Joe is more of a Buddy kind of guy than I am or ever will be.
He is the epitome of the nickname “Buddy.” Not only does everyone I know happen to know Joe, but he’s the kind of guy you want to be your friend if he’s not already.
As for me, I’m more an introvert/extrovert hybrid. And I never refer to my own friends by that word. I never say, “Yeah, last weekend me and one of my buddies…”.
I use the much less interesting and affectionate term, friend, instead for my… friends.
So what word do I use for my son when I am talking to my him?
As I unpack my subconscious on this, I realize that I enjoy reminding myself that I am his father. I find a lot of my value as a human being in being a dad.
I suppose I choose son because it makes me feel good about myself. It carries this idea of mentorship, especially when I use it to instruct him:
“Alright Son, pick up your toys, then we can go downstairs and watch Elmo.”
“Son, come with me. We’re going to try out our new jogging stroller.”
“You have a good night, Son. I love you.”
To me, the word carries a lot of emotional and spiritual meaning with it. Plus, it goes without saying that packaged into the word son is friend.
But it’s all personal preference and it doesn’t matter in the end.
The dads who call their son “Buddy” are doing what’s right for them and their relationship with their son, as are those of us who use another name instead.
People show affection and emotion in different ways. And I think all this talk right now about a man calling his son “Buddy” is just simply a reflection of that.
Categories: Deep Thoughts, Growing Up, Home Life, Must Read, People, The Dadabase | Tags: Buddy, dad, daddy, father son nicknames, fatherhood, jogging stroller, nicknames, parenting
Wednesday, August 1st, 2012
I don’t envy new dads.
There’s that token “I’m holding my kid for the first time” picture on Facebook that automatically gets like 53 comments and “likes.” I know, because here’s my version of that picture posted 20 months ago.
And then comes the culture shock and the learning curb.
Months later arrives the anger resulting after someone pulls you aside and tells you that it’s normal for an infant to start sleeping through the night at 3 months old and that “crying it out” is just a natural part of it.
“You mean all three of us could have been getting sleep this whole time?!”
Even worse, no one really tells you how to get your baby to sleep through the night, anyway. Meanwhile, the extreme parents try make you feel guilty for even exploring the idea.
Again, I don’t envy new dads.
Hallelujah, I am well past that stage now! I’m no longer a “new dad.” I’m a father of a toddler.
New dads, I am writing you this from the future. It gets better.
A lot better! It took me a while, but I’m finally at that point where I can proclaim, “I LOVE being a dad!”
In fact, I kind of have a man crush on my son.
I add him to my current list of man crushes: Ron Paul, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Bruce Springsteen.
What really propelled me into this state of fatherhood nirvana was probably this past weekend.
There was nothing monumental about it: We took Jack to swim lessons, and on a wagon ride, and just hung out a lot with him.
But the whole time, he was cool. Not high maintenance, not needy in an annoying way, just chillaxed like Jack Johnson.
Sure, it’s easier to feel good about myself as a dad when my kid behaves well the entire weekend. But his 48 hours of perfect behavior which allowed our family to have fun and stay in good moods was largely a result of my diligence with him.
I love to see those moments of “it paid off!” in parenting.
What topped off this perfect weekend was when my wife handed him over to me to put him to bed for the night. He ran right up to my face as if he was going to awkwardly kiss me like Paul Rudd or something.
Instead, he gave me an “Eskimo kiss.” (My wife has been working on teaching him to do that.)
I can’t explain it. But that somehow melted my heart… but in the most manliest of ways, of course.
Categories: Deep Thoughts, Must Read, Nostalgia, People, Storytelling, The Dadabase | Tags: bromance, Bruce Springsteen, father and son, man crush, my son, Ron Paul
Thursday, July 26th, 2012
Rainbow is the new pink. Literally.
I’m not against raising money and awareness for cancer, but for the past couple of years now, I feel like I’m one of the only people willing to point out the irony of buying junk food with a pink ribbon on the package.
Yes, some of the money goes to find a cure for cancer. But also, eating junk food doesn’t help prevent cancer. Quite the opposite.
Even if it’s pop culture heresy, I’m willing to say it: Pink sells. It’s a convenient marketing strategy that most people aren’t willing to criticize.
Turns out, selling cancer awareness with the color pink has inspired a new trend that’s starting to pop up: Gay-friendly ads.
They’re perfect because they create a lot of buzz among the exact demographic they are going after:
Eighteen to 34 year-olds; most of whom are Generation Y, a group of young adults who likes to be known for being open-minded and accepting.
Sure, there are those who are personally offended by seeing JC Penney’s “Gay Dad Ad” or Kraft’s Oreo ”Rainbow Cookie” ad.
But the percentage of those who are upset enough to actually not buy the product is evidently irrelevant in comparison to all those who will either deliberately or subconsciously prefer a brand or product because of a gay-friendly ad.
Somewhere between 1% and 3% of Americans are gay; about 4 million people. But that’s enough to culturally divide the rest of us over it.
Here’s where it gets tricky. It’s gotten to the point now where it’s clearly politically incorrect to not support gay marriage.
What does gay marriage have to do with chicken? Ask the people banning Chick-fil-A.
The funny thing is, I can’t find where Chick-fil-A’s President Dan Cathy actually even used the phrase “gay marriage” in an interview. (Will someone please link proof of it in a comment for me?)
Yet Chick-fil-A is apparently being banned by the Muppets and the mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino, over this.
I find it extremely ironic that people are banning Chick-fil-A in the name of accepting others when they are not accepting of those who do not endorse gay marriage.
At the same time, I’m cool with gay-friendly ads. Nor do I oppose gay marriage; as recognized by the State.
But let’s be honest about what this really is.
These gay-friendly ads are a marketing strategy. That’s why more brands are using them. And they are evidently working.
What can we expect in the future? More gay-friendly ads.
Especially advertising products to parents who do the shopping for food and clothing for the household.
Will you buy your kid Oreos because you saw their rainbow ad? Kraft thinks you will. Same thing with JC Penney.
I predict that it’s only a matter of time before we see a gay-friendly diaper ad. I give it until the end of the year.
Instead of a faux denim diaper, why not a rainbow diaper?
Update since original publishing…
Here are two links that give more background on what Mr. Cathy actually said: