Yes I know Heavenly Father loves me

When I first returned home in April, I was attending my parents' ward. This is the ward I grew up in and, until very recently, was mostly old people. Sadly, a lot of the people who were there when I was young have moved or died, and there's been quite a bit of home building in the boundaries, so now we have a much large contingent of children than has been the case in the last few years. I felt very out of place in this ward. Partly, this was because I'm single and the only one of the folks my age (there were twenty of us or so) still living at home. Oh, and there were guys in the Elders Quorum who were younger than me, happily married and already producing offspring. So, it was awkward.

I considered attending the local singles ward, but had my hesitation, most notably that I wanted to be left alone when not in church meetings themselves. Another drawback to moving was that I really, really liked the guy just called to be the bishop of my parents' ward. Since it seems inevitable that I will have to shrive every so often, I was tempted to stay and just suffer the uncomfortable questions from people who keep forgetting how old I am and/or the generalized lack of integration into my Elders Quorum as an unmarried guy. Then we had a particularly bad lesson about raising our kids properly and I knew I had to get out.

My experience at the singles ward has sort of been hit or miss. The lessons have been illy prepared and not interesting, sacrament meeting is held last, and my records only arrived this week, after letting them know over two months ago that I'd be attending this ward. Oh, and I've been given a calling that dangerously approaches the made-up camp. Despite these bumps and bruises, I felt sort of compelled to stay in the ward. I'm not sure why, and, like all my crazy spirit-driven initiatives, I don't really look for answers.

But I may have found a possible reason yesterday. Remember that ineluctable shriving of mine? It happened yesterday. I met with my bishop and had the standard talk. But his responses were far from standard. I wasn't sure how I felt about this guy. Whenever he's conducting, he's always really funny and since Mormons aren't known particularly for their pulpit humor, this made me furrow my brow a bit (metaphorically and literally). However, yesterday, he managed to put the words "kick you in the nuts" appropriately into the mouth of deity and said a story about President Packer caused him to think, "what a sanctimonious twit". He also gave surprisingly good advice grounded not so much in the spiritual mantle he bears but in his experience as a person, which I really appreciated. Lastly, he swept away one of my greatest frustrations with church policy with a promise to help me get to the temple ASAP.

It's little times like these where I'm reminded that my testimony is grounded not only in graham crackers, cultural inertia, beautiful writings and answers to seemingly inane prayers. I really think God's trying to help me here. Here's hoping I'll allow that help to stick.

how I spend my days

Due to the nature of book vendors, my accounts guy being on vacation, and general institutional inertia, my job right now consists mostly of trolling the web, making lists of magazines and books I'd like to purchase. This leads to some surprising discoveries. For instance, some dvds cost over 4 dollars a minute to purchase! Which makes me wonder, do I really want to spend over 700 bucks on a series that sounds interesting but may be tangential to the curriculum we teach here? And, where, exactly does PBS get off charging so much? I mean, I love PBS (seriously, I'd marry it if it were a person), but the cost is awfully high, don't you think?

I also get to stumble across little tidbits that I think are worth passing along. I'm not sure how I fell into (a premium site for modern gay men), but they have this story about a new levi's tv ad with two versions. In one, the guy pulls up his jeans to bring a sexy woman (and the entire street) through his apartment. In the other, the same actor pulls up a sexy man. Levi sees this as true equality, which may be true. Sex sells both ways, it appears.

On the Details blog (my library was supposed to consider which "men's lifestyle" magazine to subscribe to--answer? none.), there's a wacky, wacky story about an adult male pedophile posing as a 12-year old boy. The strangest turn in the story is that he doesn't seem to have gotten access to any victims through his charade, but he was being kept by two much older men who were under the impression that he was a pre-teen. There are so many freaky things about this. There is also the legal question of these older men. Can they be tried as pedophiles if they only thought their victim was 12? And, how did they not realize he was older? Not to get too graphic, but I feel like there's some significant differences between a naked sixth-grader and a naked 29 year old. But then, I'm not a pedophile. Read the full story here.

This is what I am paid to do. Well, either this or something very close to this.

It's a real profession, honest

So today I experienced what many have called a librarian's dream. And it pretty much was. I got to go to Barnes & Noble and send just over 2k dollars on anything I wanted. Now, granted, what I wanted here means "materials to support the curriculum and students" of the school I work for. You see, I was hired all of three weeks ago and we need something that looks like a library for when students show up. Which is Monday. Yeah, it's a lost battle. I don't even have shelves! I mean, what I am supposed to do, splay my recent purchases across the floor and kindly inform students not to step on them? It's absurd. But then, I feel like I'd really have to screw up to get in trouble. This, dear Reader, is the joy of low expectations. Well, low expectations and my well-trained ability to make others think I know some librarian secrets. But, as most of you know, there are no librarian secrets not a one.

Case in point: collection development. In library school, we make a big deal about how librarians are specially trained to match patrons and information packets. This may be true. However, in B&N today my primary qualification for buying a book was thickness. Yep, how many pages. Preferably a low ratio of cost per page. I got some great cookbooks and some gorgeous interior design tomes out of it though.

How unethical would be to keep some of those books for myself?*

This experience, like many others as I've started getting this library going has shown me just how clearly ridiculous library school was. Nothing useful was learned. Sadly, neither was much interesting. But, the job is good. So, just keep it under your hat that I don't know what I'm doing, ok?

*N.B. That is not a real question. I would like to keep my job (for now).

One score and four

Today is my Membership Day. Exactly 16 years ago, I became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I don’t really remember much about the day, apart from a changing room with dark brown tile, my father seeming really big when he dunked me under the water and some candy dispenser my aunt gave me as a gift. Oh, and my older brother had tried to convince me that the bishop would use torture to get me to agree to be baptized. That, after all, is what big brothers are for. I don’t really remember thinking that it was all that big of a deal to be baptized. I’m not sure I even knew what all I was promising. But I was buried in the stream regardless. I think it was a good decision, but the jury's still out on certain aspects of this whole Sainthood thing.

The arithmetic of this milestone is one reason why I think the year a Mormon man turns 24 should be a much, much bigger deal than it is. For us BitCers, this year marks the point at which we have officially been members twice as long as we were not, as Mormons baptize at 8. Also, at age 24, a worthy male Saint has held the priesthood for exactly as many years as he did not, assuming he was ordained at the standard age of 12. For me, this year is also the point at which Elder becomes the office I have held the longest in the Priesthood (I was ordained back in summer of '03, having been a priest for twice as long as is typical). For certain LDS men, 24 could be the tipping point between years in the Aaronic versus Melchizedek. However, generally the higher priesthood is conferred closer to 19, so that one just an added bonus rather than a standard pattern.

If all these anniversaries were not enough, we also know that 24 is a numerological significant number. It’s the number of hours in a day, books in the Tanakh, the number of blackbirds baked into a pie, and the number of elders who will judge all the world at The End. It’s pretty clear that something big should be done to celebrate the twenty-fourth birthday of Mormon men. The only sticking point is that I’m not sure what that celebration should be. I’m very open to suggestions. I’m sure whatever anyone comes up with will be remarkably better than how I spent my birthday just over a week ago: spending nearly four hours to rack up massive debt in depreciating commodities, attending the family reunion for the descendants of my great-great-grandfather and then narrowly avoiding an intense family fight about whether we could gather to eat cake or not. So, it wasn’t exactly my best birthday ever.

Also, someone needs to designate a traditional Membership Day celebration. Go to.