Monday, January 23, 2012

A Grieving Atheist

A little over a week ago I lost my grandfather. He was a kind and amazing man. It has been hard, as it is with anyone with death, but I wouldn't say it's harder for me than a believer. Over the past week I have had many people come to me with advice thinking it would "help" me. I have also had a lot of people coming to me thinking that through this loss I will turn back to God and they try to give me advice to help guide me back to God.

To me personally I don't see how believing in an afterlife is going to help you get over a loss. It doesn't take away the pain. To me it is just a pacifier for adults. We are meant to show our emotions and through showing them we become stronger, not suppressing them because some guy in the sky promises that you will see him again. It angers me how in religion there is only one emotion: happiness. I don't see how by believing in a God that everything is ok. It doesn't take away the pain you feel. It doesn't just lift your sorrow away. It is a way of not having to deal with the pain and the reality of death.

I don't believe in any afterlife. I don't believe that I will ever see my grandfather again, but I believe he lives on through me and others. Through the people he touched and changed for the better. I believe through showing our grief we are showing our true respect for the dear friend or relative that we have lost. That is what I see when I think back on my grandfather. Just because I will never see him again does mean that I can't celebrate him. I believe in celebrating their lives and having true grief we are glorifying those we lose. We are turning them into the legends they were. They do not have to be forgotten or put on a shelf for later. They were there to inspire us and that is what my grandfather did for me.

He taught me to see the good in people. He taught me not to judge others just because of what religion they are a part or what color of skin they have. He taught me to look into people's hearts and look at their true selves before deciding on what that person is like. He taught me hard work. He taught me how to laugh and joke. He taught me how to help others. He taught me to give of myself. He taught me how to have a good time. He taught me how to love. These are the things I will pass on of my grandfather. These are the ways he will live through me. I will become my own legend to others as Louis Pete LeDuc was to those that he touched in his life.

We can eventually be happy and makes things better, but the way to do so is through our memories of those who have passed away. Live your life better through the good things you learned from those that have touched your life.

You made me a better man, Grandpa LeDuc. I will continue your legacy.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tribute to a Hero

Louis Pete LeDuc may not have been famous in the world. He may not have been a hero to many, but to the lives he touched he was more than a hero. His type of hero came in many names: soldier, father, son, brother, uncle, and grandfather. Which in my opinion are some of the highest honors one can have.

He was kind and gentle. He always had a smile on his face. He never turned down a chance to be with family. These are things I remember from visiting his home. It was always warm and inviting. The bowl of candy was never empty and neither were our pockets. He would always remind us to "fill our pockets!" Followed shortly by grandma yelling at us to "only take one!" Which always brought a smirk of mischief to his face and very low chuckle so that grandma could not hear or see it, but he always made sure we could see it so we knew that we really could "fill our pockets." I am always reminded by my fiance that I get my boyish attributes from my grandpa and that by meeting him she understands why I tease so much.

As kids, as all kids do, we annoyed grandma with our incessant running around or making the dog go crazy with our antics and that's when grandpa stepped in. He knew exactly how to handle us. He knew what to do to keep us busy. I think that comes from the fact that he never lost his boyish attitude about life. He was always laid back. He was the type to always take things easy. Now that doesn't mean he wasn't a hard worker, because he worked harder than most people I know. But he knew how to enjoy life at the same time.

During the summer he would take us out to his garden. Which was huge. It had all sorts of vegetables and fruits. From green peppers to tomatoes to cantaloupe to lemon cucumbers. He would teach us how to properly pick them and how to tell when they were ripe. After this he would bring us inside and serve us the delicious fruits and vegetables that he had toiled over all summer. He taught us that through the work of caring for the garden properly you can have a bounteous harvest of the best produce money can't buy, but what is purchased through hard work and sweat.

A few times after a hard afternoon of work in the garden he would take us to the movies. One such occasion sticks in my memory from when I was about five years old and he took me and my sister to Oliver and Company. Before the movie he took us to the candy store. He let us have free reign on whatever we wanted. I remember going up to him with a bag half full of candy and he told me, "now are you sure that is all you want? You're not with mom and dad you're with grandpa! Get enough to fill your pockets." I ran away excited. Other than on the holidays I had never had so much candy in one day. It was like Halloween or Christmas all over again. He then took us to the movie and bought us soda and popcorn! What a treat! I couldn't believe it and of course when we back to his house all hyped on sugar grandma was in a fit and he just smiled with that boyish grin back at her.

As the years went on we started to do more grown up things together. We would watch football together. He was probably one of the biggest BYU fans there was. (I'm sure it killed him a little inside that I was a Utes fan.) He taught me how to correctly tie a fish hook to a line and properly bait a hook; as I was starting to fish I had these questions. And he told me about how he served in World War II.

His stories were compelling. Him going on the B-24 Liberators as the top turret gunner. The danger and peril he faced every day. Kicking the bombs out if they were stuck because he was the closest to the bombing bay in the plane. Fearing for his life while having to take down others as they came at him. He said he always felt bad for having to kill people, but knew he had to do it to rid the world of the evil he was facing and fighting for freedom.

While I was living in France I was able to speak with a lot of the older people; who remembered the war. They thanked me as an American for what we had done for their freedom. I told them, "I will tell my grandfather thank you for you. He served in the great war and risked his life for you. He will appreciate this." We would always stand shaking each others hands in tears for the sincere thanks they gave him through me.

I will always remember the day I came home and told him personally of the many people that thanked me for what he did and how I told them I would tell him personally. We both started to cry. He knew people appreciated him, but he was probably never told by many that were as sincere as the people I had come in contact with.

But the one thing I will miss most about my Grandfather was his support for me. He never wavered. He didn't care about my religious beliefs. He never once made me feel that he felt any different about me in any way. He only cared about who I was inside. To him all that mattered was that you were a good person inside and he knew religion did not dictate that. He always told me to follow my dreams, to not give up, and to do what I knew was best for me in my heart. In many ways he was one of the most supportive people in my life.

This goes out to you Grandpa LeDuc. You will be missed, always loved, and never forgotten...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

State of Deseret, Land of Theocracy

So just a little bit of history of where the State of Deseret comes from. Way back in the 1800s when the Mormons settled the now state of Utah, they originally wanted to name it the State of Deseret. There is even a hymn about it (I apologize for the version, it was the only one I could find):

They proposed the state name and applied for statehood and were rejected several times before finally succeeding in 1896. So as I mention State of Deseret remember I am just referring to what the Mormons would want the state to be called.

Today's blog stems from an article I read today in the Salt Lake Tribune. Would LDS Church Influence Romney if President? If you care to read the article here it is:

I thought about this awhile and came to the conclusion I believe the faith would influence Romney quite heavily. In the article several times it quotes Romney saying he wouldn't let the leaders of his faith sway him in any way, but then why does he want to completely get rid of gay rights? Why does he want to make it so no more people that are LGBT have their human rights taken away from them? When you think about it he did say he didn't like that he allowed pro-choice and gay civil marriages in the state of Massachusetts while he was governor for four years, because he said:

“I believe that in our state allowing the sale of alcohol on Sunday is good for the consumer and therefore I didn’t oppose it. That isn’t saying that I disagree with my church. I simply did what I thought was in the best interest of the state, which I was elected to serve.”

But that brings up another point. If he was so interested in the common will of the state of Massachusetts why is it that he is now opposed now to what the majority wants? I understand that the majority of Republicans are against women's rights and equal rights, but the national majority wants both. So why fight against it so hard? They will be left on the wrong side of history just as they were with the Women's Suffrage and Civil Rights. Which brings me back to Utah. Are our politicians really doing what the majority of the State wants? I flat out declare: NO! Not by a long shot.

Now I hear the naysayers saying this is a Mormon State, but is it really anymore? I have read several articles and seen several polls where the percentage of Mormon in the State of Deseret ranges anywhere from 53% at the lowest to 58% at the highest. Now you say there, the majority is Mormon, but I still say no it's not. I would put it more around 40% at the highest of people who are actually Mormon and go to Church 75% of the time. It would drop even lower if you only counted the staunch Mormons that go to Church every week and regularly attend the temple. Technically I am still counted in the overall Mormon percentage because I have yet to remove my name from the church records (another story for another time).

When you think of all the inactive Mormons, Jack Mormons and less active Mormons in the state do our politicians really speak for the majority? Again I say no. I am fed up, as are all the others just like me living in this state having to be controlled by a complete theocracy. Too many times I have read news articles where politicians have blatantly admitted that they were waiting for the Faith's stance on a certain law before they say whether or not they want to back it.

I am always speaking what I have to say. I write my politicians on a regular basis and I am on The Salt Lake Tribune weekly voicing my comments as LeDuc64. But alas it is to no avail. Yes we do have some democrats out there, few and far between. We do have some that really listen to the majority, John Huntsman (one of the few Mormons that doesn't really listen to the theocracy). He is responsible for changing our liquor laws so we don't have private bars anymore. Unfortunately Waddoups is trying to destroy that yet again.

So I say to these Mormons where is Agency? Where is Jesus in your politics? Did Jesus really care? Did he have anything to say? Well he did actually Mark 12:17 "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God." The Mormons preach day and night about agency, but they don't follow it. They want to control everything they can. Which is taught to be Satan's plan.

I ask the politicians of Utah: Who are you following, Satan or Jesus?