…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Invisibility

And Other Supernatural Powers

By Rex Goode


Categories: Change,Respect,Tolerance

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Me, Invisible, In Front of Lovejoy Fountain in Portland, Oregon

Me, Invisible, In Front of Lovejoy Fountain in Portland, Oregon

One little know fact about Mormons is that we have certain supernatural powers. We can do things a lot of other people can’t do. One of these abilities is the power of invisibility. We can not only disappear ourselves when we want, but we can make others disappear as well. Don’t believe me? Read on… (more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


Jesus’ Love

My Reaction to the Supreme Court Decision Regarding Same-Sex Marriage

By Rex Goode


Categories: Issues,Same-sex Attraction,Same-Sex Marriage,Tolerance

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Jesus_ChristThose who have read me before won’t need this introduction, but I think that before I write about something that is going to be this controversial, I ought to give some background so you know where this comes from.

I’m a member in good standing of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which makes me in popular vernacular, a Mormon. I am married to a wonderful wife and have numerous and precious posterity. I am also, again in popular vernacular, gay. Yes, I know that some of you will think that these two statements can’t go together, and that is part of the point I want to make.

First, let me say that “gay” is about as useful a word to describe me as “Mormon”, because neither of them say much about the more complex feelings I experience about sexuality and faith. Yet, since people like neat little labels so much, think of me as a gay Mormon who is maybe a little off center of both parts of that name.

Indeed, it puts me into a little world of my own and keeps me from fitting squarely into any known convention. There are people in both the gay community and the Mormon community that wish I would shut up and/or go away.

I’m also a card-carrying Republican, a political and economic conservative, but with a more-than-slight libertarian leaning. I think the government intrudes in all the wrong ways, is not helpful, and regulates our lives too closely. In all of my political thoughts, I occasionally discover a liberal idea that appeals to me. See. I don’t exactly fit any convential political movements either.

Not fitting in is something I do well, and that includes in my reactions to the recent Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage. I have never wavered in my belief that marriage is and ought to be between a man and a woman, in the eyes of God. I have always supported the doctrine of the Church to which I belong regarding the meaning and place of marriage in mortal life and eternity. Not only have I supported it conceptually, but wanted with all my heart to conform to it personally. My desire to be husband, father, grandfather, and ancestor has always been strong and it is the life I’ve followed.

I’ve been writing about my life for many years coinciding with the movement to legalize same-sex marriage, and although it has always seemed a natural thing for me to comment on, my relative silence on the subject has not been accidental. It has not been out of fear of what others may think or how friends might react, in either direction. It has mostly been because I have been fairly ambivalent about it.

On the one hand, I haven’t seen why so many people have wanted it. On the other hand, I haven’t seen why so many people are opposed to it. I’m sure that right now, in response to this, I could get some pretty strong arguments for either point of view. Feel free. I don’t mind the discussion, but the liberal in me says “why not?”, the libertarian in me thinks the government shouldn’t have anything to do with regulating marriage, and the conservative says that we shouldn’t let nine unelected people in black robes make laws for us.

It isn’t what I think about it that concerns me. I have always worked things out my own way and have done my best to stand up for what I believe in. I’ve done this without particularly caring whether it made me popular.

What does concern me is how people treat each other and how things in the news divide people. I have noticed a growing trend over the years, not just on the subject of same-sex marriage, for people to erupt in anger and otherwise good friends to turn against each other over disagreements. Not to say that issues aren’t important, but I’ve always felt that love and friendship are greater than disagreements.

I know it can be hard when people mock and cast stones at the things you hold sacred. I’ve had to put up with people I’ve considered good friends who think nothing of using ridicule and sarcasm to criticize things I believe in. I’ve had to hold firm to my beliefs in the face of people who think that unkindness makes them right.

Just because you can say something in a clever way doesn’t stamp your point of view with the seal of truth. Being good at slinging profanity doesn’t make you a genius, but there are many people that will give your words more credence if you dirty up your language a little.

I especially hate empty and overused platitudes and slogans that are thrown around as if they have any substance to them at all. All they really mean are, “Shut up. You’re wrong. Don’t talk to me.”

A long time ago, before I “came out” to a lot of people, I told a supervisor at work that I’m basically and almost exclusively attracted to men, but that I had decided to follow my conscience and live according to the tenets of my faith. She was a nice woman and I know she meant well, but her response was, “Well, you can’t help who you love.”

That’s one of those slogans I’ve heard over the years, and it is empty and overused. Of course I can help who I love. In fact, I make conscious decisions every day to love people. It is more than just some automatic and goofy feeling that comes over you and you can’t do anything about. It is a choice and requires action to make it come alive. I think it’s because I’ve made it an active practice in my life, but loving people, even those that most people think of as unloveable, is a fairly natural thing to me. I’ve never made a conscious decision to hate someone, and anyone I find myself hating, I go to great pains to learn to love them.

I tried again to share with that supervisor, to let her know a little more about what I felt inside, and all she could do was repeat her slogan. It doesn’t take any thought or effort to wrap people up in a platitude and call it your gift to them. It’s a lot harder to listen and consider things that might expand your thoughts and open your mind a little.

I know it seems like I’m picking on the liberal side of questions here, and I have to say that I see it in its more overt forms when socially liberal people are picking at conservative ideals. I also see it when the non-religious are opposing people of faith. It’s very popular to say mean things about religious people, to defame and insult religious leaders, and mock the faith of others.

As a person of deep faith, it does hurt, but it doesn’t shaken. I’ve heard a lot of it and it still happens, and I’m still as firm in my faith as ever.

In spite of all of that, there is something I hate more than meanness from left-leaning people and that is meanness and lack of compassion from people who claim to be disciples of Jesus. Believe you me, I’ve heard that too, like when someone remarked to me as I came into the temple, “I didn’t know they let your kind in here.”

I might be showing some bias here, but I believe that disciples of Christ ought live up to a higher ideal. A Christian ought to share the attributes of Christ, who had no problem associating with people who are different, those whose standards and values were not equal to his, and even people who didn’t agree with him. His life and death were all centered in love for people who didn’t measure up to him, which includes us all, even his most ardent followers. I hope I am one of them.

According to Jesus, there are two great commandments. The first is to love God with all our hearts. The second, which he said is like the first, is to love our neighbor as ourselves. He also made it clear that our neighbor is anyone who needs our help.

To be a follower of Jesus, we must be loving in our conversations with others, even if we think they’re wrong. It is possible to hold true to a belief without being unkind to people who don’t. It is our duty to be as willing to love and support an unbeliever as it is a believer, perhaps even more.

A Christian can maintain a belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman and still love and support people of the same sex who have married each other. If they can’t accept you unless you change your mind, that is their choice, but the teachings of Jesus have left you no choice but to love even neighbors like them as yourself.

Charity and love are healing;
These will give the clearest sight;
When I saw my brother’s failing,
I was not exactly right.
Now I’ll take no further trouble;
Jesus’ love is all my theme;
Little motes are but a bubble
When I think upon the beam.

(Eliza R. Show, “Truth Reflects Upon Our Senses”)

Why should a follower of Christ care about being reviled and rejected a little? It comes with the territory. It is your calling to endure trials. It is the source of your blessings. Jesus said that “great is your reward in heaven” if you endure such things. We can’t return hate for hate. Jesus commanded us to return love for hate. Remember the question Jesus asked, “For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?” (Matthew 5:46)

Our language must be all about the love of God. As the great LDS author penned, “Jesus’ love is all my theme!”

Most of all, we must take care that “love they neighbor as thyself” doesn’t become one of those empty and overused slogans.

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


Some Things Are Bigger Than We Are

And Some Things Are Not

By Rex Goode


Categories: Abuse,Acceptance,Issues,Perseverance,Personal

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Northern Pacific Class A Locomotive (1938)

Life is often about dealing with things that we didn’t plan. No matter how carefully you do plan, you can always count on some kind of opposition. In Latter-day Saint theology, this is a fundamental part of how we view life. We often quote from one of our scriptures that says, “There must needs be an opposition in all things (2 Nephi 2:11)…”

We believe it strongly because we can all attest that nothing ever seems to be easy. We are constantly battling forces that seem intent on destroying or hindering our plans. It is one of the most annoying things about being human. I frequently find myself asking, “Why can’t something be easy for a change?” (more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


That Lonely, Unfrequented Way

Comfortable versus Comfort

By Rex Goode


Categories: Doctrinal,Faith,Inspiration,Perseverance,Personal,Prayer

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I’ve never been very methodical in choosing my way through life. An acquaintance of mine, an author of self-help books, once told me he thought of me as a flow-finder, someone who doesn’t need to think things through at a minute level. Instead, I get in touch with the way things flow in my life and let that flow carry me to the things I most want and need.

Another acquaintance, also an author of self-help books asked me to come visit him at the Portland Airport while he waited for a connecting flight. He gave me a copy of his book and told me that I was epitome of the kind of person he was writing about, someone who bases the progress of life on principles rather than analysis. (more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


Self-Imposed Ignorance

My Number One Thing

By Rex Goode


Categories: Acceptance,Faith,Marriage,Perseverance,Same-sex Attraction

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ME19Around the time I turned 16, as I have related before, I had a profound prayer experience where I promised Heavenly Father I would turn my life in a different direction. As difficult as it has been, I have kept the promises I made then. My life is everything I wanted it to be, except for financial pressures.

Recently, North Star International, an organization dedicated to serving Latter-day Saints affected by same-sex attraction, announced that their blog, NorthernLights, was reopening after about a year’s hiatus. As one of the authors there, I will have a chance to post some of my thoughts occasionally.

One of my co-authors, Greg Barnett, recently posed a question on his day. The entry is called, “10 Things,” and the question was: “List 10 things you would tell your 16-yr-old self regarding your experience with same-sex attraction if you could.” (more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


Light Thoughts

I Would Learn the Healer’s Art

By Rex Goode


Categories: Acceptance,Change,Inspiration,Issues,Service,Support,Tolerance

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youngsriver As the news media continues to report the events that prompted me to write “Dark Thoughts,” I’ve wondered just how much they can keep reporting the same things over and over and continuing to call them things like “breaking news” and “new information.” I suppose that is the news game, but not tactics I greatly admire.

I’ve had much more that I’ve wanted to say about the tragic shooting at Reynolds High School almost two weeks ago. I don’t have any inside knowledge; I have no new facts to reveal; I am as much in the dark about how things unfolded as anyone. Yet there is still a lot going on in side of me that pulls at my heart over it. (more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


Dark Thoughts

Sorrow That the Eye Can’t See

By Rex Goode


Categories: Abuse,Depression,Inspiration,Pain,Support,Tolerance

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jmpLast Tuesday morning, I heard the news of a shooting at Reynolds High School in nearby Troutdale, Oregon. I didn’t think much of it. People I knew were posting that everyone they knew got out and was safe. Because I was working, I didn’t watch the news much.

On Wednesday morning, I was with a client and happened to check Facebook to see if any other workers were doing something that might interest my client. When I opened the app on my phone, there was a picture of a young man I knew, Jared Michael Padgett, identified as the shooter. I knew from the news that the shooter was dead.

(more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


Oh What Songs of the Heart

Reflections on Eternal Life

By Eric Chaffey


Categories: Faith,Gratitude,Inspiration,Prayer

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It’s been far too long since I’ve written a  blog post on here. A lot has happened in the last nine months. Some things have changed and others haven’t. In the experiences of same sex attraction, changes, anxiety etc. My love of hymns and music remains and I’m so grateful for the comfort they provide.  (more…)

2 people like this post.

Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


Antecedents

Finding Reasons

By Rex Goode


Categories: Acceptance,Change,Family History,Ideas,Personal

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JesseDrone

Jesse Drone

An antecedent is something that came before and had a part in causing or influencing a later thing. Our ancestors are examples of antecedents. They came before us and had a part in causing us and influencing us.  Other antecedents are events that led to other events, or ideas that gave rise to other ideas.

In grammar, an antecedent is a noun or name that tells us what pronouns mean. Consider, for example, “Jimmy picked up a toy. He gave it to his sister.” “Jimmy” is the antecedent for “He” and “a toy” is the antecedent for “it.” (more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


The Platitude Attitude

Vaunted Strength

By Rex Goode


Categories: Inspiration,Personal,Poetry

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platitudeThey’re all over the internet, especially FaceBook—little sayings that have the masses nodding their heads in agreement and sharing them with others. They come in all flavors, but one kind that asserts itself a lot is the sentiment summed up in Frank Sinatra’s famous rendition of “My Way.”

The idea has its roots in secularism and bias against religion, asserting the supremacy of individuals over all external forces, even God. The problem with most platitudes is that they have a ring of truth to them and may even seem profoundly religious.

They seem to be consistent with scripture and religious doctrine, but the main flaw is that they leave out of morality anything that God has revealed. I remember one Sunday when I was a youth. I had come across and memorized the poem, “Invictus,” by William Ernest Henley. I was supposed to give a talk on “free agency” as understood by Latter-day Saints. (more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


Because He Lives

I, Too, Shall Live

By Rex Goode


Categories: Acceptance,Gratitude,Inspiration,Perseverance,Personal

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jesusartI take my title and subtitle from a favorite Christian anthem of mine, “Open the Gates of the Temple.” It is an invitation for all people to open their hearts to the Savior, comparing our bodies to the temple. The end section borrows from the Handel’s Messiah aria, “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth.”

The final line of “Open the Gates of the Temple” declares, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and because He lives, I, too shall live!” On this Easter morning, I want to declare my faith in that same promise, but with a twist.

Often, Christian faith is about the promise of heaven, salvation in the life to come. As thoroughly and completely as I believe in this, I would find life too discouraging to think only about that eventual benefit of faith. (more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


In Nameless Ways Be Good and Kind

The Core of Latter-Day Saint Theology

By Rex Goode


Categories: Doctrinal,Faith,Gratitude,Prayer

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A few days ago, I had a conversation with one of my morning swim buddies. He’s a Ph.D. in biochemistry, a thoroughly scientific fellow. He’s not so scientific as to rule out the existence of God, but is often critical of organized religion. He doesn’t really reveal much about his own view of God and spirituality, but is always inquisitive and respectful about mine, when we talk about it. He also happens to be a client of mine for whom I do contract software engineering, so we have gotten to know each other pretty well.

On that morning, he began a conversation with me asking if I communicate with God. I replied that I did and he wanted to know how I do that. I talked about kneeling in prayer, which he interrupted right away and made the statement that he thought that was unnecessary. I explained to him that I realized that God would hear me regardless of my position, but that it creates an attitude in me that I find makes my prayers more effective. I also admitted that I’ve taken to sitting for prayers because my knees just can’t handle kneeling anymore.

(more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


Why Should We Mourn?

Or Think Our Lot Is Hard?

By Rex Goode


Categories: Acceptance,Faith,Family,Issues,Perseverance,Personal,Same-sex Attraction,Tolerance

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I’m not Mormon Pioneer stock like a lot of Latter-day Saints. My grandmother was the earliest convert, although one ancestor before her was married to a Mormon. Yet, as all Latter-day Saints, I owe gratitude to the pioneers who fled persecution in the east to settle in the Salt Lake valley and establish a refuge for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to allow it to gather strength and become the beacon of faith it now is.

Like most of my faith and generation, I grew up hearing and singing the great anthem of the Church, “Come, Come, Ye Saints.” Out here in Oregon, at least in my area, it doesn’t get sung that much, but I remember it very well.

Obviously, there is much that attracts me about the Mormon faith, else I wouldn’t have made such a great effort to remain faithful to it. Even though I am not the descendant of Mormon pioneers, I have a deep admiration and respect for pioneers. My wife is the descendant of Oregon pioneers and I have done a fair amount of reading about them.

(more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


The Ghosts of Christmas Past

Memories

By Rex Goode


Categories: Abuse,Change,Inspiration,Personal

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ME6In the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is show some of the Christmas times of his past in an effort to soften his curmudgeonly attitude towards Christmas. Depending on whether you read the story or watch the multitude of dramatizations of it, you begin to see how the old miser got the way he is. He suffered from neglect by his family, perhaps even abuse at the hands of a cruel father, and many setbacks related to his own poor choices.

I’ll say right up front that my childhood wasn’t all rosy. I suffered from abuse and emotional neglect. It was hard being in the Church back then, in the sixties. There were no doubt many broken homes and blended families in America, but there weren’t that many at church. Every child I knew at church came from a fully intact, no divorce involved, family. Naturally, I couldn’t know if they were being treated like I was, but they all seemed so secure and safe. (more…)

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.


Sappy

The Beauty of Transformation

By Rex Goode


Categories: Change,Faith,Gratitude,Inspiration

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kleenexThe holiday season is when I watch a lot of highly sentimental stuff. I’m a sucker for movies that are meant to evoke a strong, emotional response. It runs in my family.

I was always amazed at my mom and her sisters. We all lived far apart, but whenever we would visit, which seemed fairly often, they would get a little snippy with each other. Yet, when it was time to go home, they all started crying. Actually, I was impressed.

It wasn’t really spoken of, but things had not always been wonderful between them all, especially my Aunt Jaquita, my grandmother, and my mom. There had been a falling out in the past but I only learned much later in life that it revolved around me. Still, when they forgave, it was an all-out forgiveness and that is an inspiration to me to this day. I think it is important for families to quickly forgive each other.

At these teary moments of parting, I would get teary too, though as a young boy I was quick to hide it. It wasn’t just the natural reluctance that almost all boys have to being seen crying. My stepfather used to say to me, “If you don’t stop crying, I’ll give you something to cry about.”

The abuser in my family warped that into, “I’m going to hit you until you stop crying.” I learned very quickly to put the brakes on my tears.

In my adulthood, I’ve only grown more prone to crying at emotional stuff. A talk in church, a television commercial or show, a movie, all can make me cry. It’s a little embarrassing, but I’m glad I’m that way.

As I do with so many things, I like to understand why I am the way I am and I’ve thought about this propensity for sappiness at movies. Why do some emotional movies trigger a dam burst and others just a sniffle or two? It seems so strange to me, as I wipe my eyes. I’ll think, “That was really hokey, but why am I crying?”

One Magic Christmas is the story of a woman who has lost the spirit of Christmas as hard times have come to her and her family. A Christmas angel named Gideon is sent to help her find Christmas spirit again. He does this through some encounters with the intervention of Santa Claus in some tragedies that happen.

I recently watched One Magic Christmas, a holiday favorite of mine. It’s Santa and his angel minion, Gideon (Harry Dean Stanton), to the rescue. They do an attitude adjustment on Ginny (Mary Steenburgen) through a series of tragedies and resolutions. At the end, I cry.

What puzzles me about it is that I don’t literally believe in Santa Claus in a direct sort of way. I believe in the possibility of a man translated into an immortal of sorts who lives on earth and does good. I believe that might include helping children have things at Christmas. I also believe in angels and their ministrations to us.

Yet, the story of the transformation of Ginny is far from plausible and highly sentimental, though very well-acted. It seemed funny to me that I would get sappy over it, until it came to me what kinds of things make me tear up.

I get the same way over all of the many versions of A Christmas Carol. What gets to my tear ducts and sinuses is transformation. That’s something I really believe in. When my mother would part tearfully from my grandmother and aunt after some disagreements, when Ebenezer Scrooge shows up to offer to pay for Tiny Tim to get better, when Ginny finally says “Merry Christmas” again, and when someone changes for the better, I find that deeply moving.

I believe it is because of my own transformation from a teenager on the road to death and hell to the confidence of one determined to dedicate his life to the Savior that reached into his heart and changed him. I relate very well to all stories of transformation from someone in the depths of pain to someone in the light of hope. It reaches me. It makes me cry.

My heart strings are tuned to the beauty of transformation, no matter how small or even seemingly trivial. I see it and I want to burst into tears of joy that to me represent the joy I remember at my own transformation.

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Copyright 2017, Inner Vessel Productions.