Babylon or Zion? (part 1)

Growing up an innocent toe-head in Northern Utah, I (naively) assumed that everyone went to the same church as me on Sundays.  We all just "went to church."  When Dave Johnson asked me--in the 2nd Grade, mind you--what Church I went to, "Lutheran or Mormon?" I remember thinking Lutheran sounds cooler, "Lutheran."

Dave's response?  "Huh.  Cool."

That was that.  Dave and I continued on with our puzzle (it was a She-Ra / He-Man crossover puzzle, for what it's worth). 

Life was fine.

It was only later that my Mother found out my answer and informed me that I was definitely Mormon. 

This didn't really come as news to me, as I recognized the name.  I just figured that Lutherans liked Luther more than Mormon.*  No big deal; I had bugs to catch or castles to build.

Nowadays, my innocence is gone.  How you answer the question of religion--"You Mormon? You Christian? You Muslim? You Atheist?"--apparently pigeonholes you into something you might not be. Look, I get pigeonholing; I grew up in Utah, where everyone thinks polygamy still thrives (it doesn't) and dancing is outlawed (damn you, Footloose!).  And it's not just from the outside "gentile" population; many Salt Lake City folk will treat you well until they find out you belong to "That Church" or that you're a "blind sheep," or "close-minded," or some such pejorative term.**  Then you get condescending or patronizing stares that simply ooze "Oh, you poor, poor village idiot.  I'd talk to you in my grown up voice, but I worry you wouldn't understand me." 

Pigeonholing pisses me off, though.  When I get those condescending stares, I try to glare back with my "I'd talk to you too if you weren't so convinced that your own world-view was superior to my own, hedonistic hypocrite!" glare.  Judging someone largely on your broad, superficial, and usually wikipedia-based knowledge of their beliefs is like attempting to paint over a Van Gogh rather than appreciating it.

That said, however, some of the finest, most decent people I've ever met in my life were Catholic, Baptist, Muslim, and Bhuddist.  These are still some of my closest friends.  And, in general, we all maintain a healthy respect for each other regarding our spiritual and ideological beliefs.***  

All of this serves as a backdrop to my confessional. 

I belt "Ki-Yi" for the University of Utah.


I also rise and shout for the Cougars of BYU.

Go ahead, gasp.  In college football terms, I keep one foot in Zion and one in Babylon.  The ultimate sacrilege.  That which is worthy of a spewing out by the three-headed deity of JoePaBoBear.

If this were Sodom & Gomorrah, I'd be a two-hundred pound pillar of salt by now.

I think a lot of my friends see me as a fair weather fan.  Or truly a Utah fan or truly a Cougar fan, underneath that smutty veneer of the "other team." 

I understand, though, that being able to entertain ideas that are at odds with each other is a sign of psychological health.  I suppose the same could be said of teams.  At least, that's how I'd like to justify it.  But that's for another day.

Part 2: Will explore the deeper meaning of "The Holy War", why it's ridiculous, and why I love both teams but hate what they're doing right now. 


*Which is, I suppose, true.

** I think I might have sussed out the difference between "open-minded" and "close-minded" people.  Seems to me that neither group can tolerate the other, where one openly embraces its label and the other remains blissfully ignorant of its own.

***Yes, most of my friends are probably LDS.  Part of that is demographics, part of it is self-selection.  I see the same group of people every nearly every Sunday, and we are working towards several common goals, not least of which is community building.  We try to watch out for and take care of each other (some more than others, and some more judgmentally than others. Sigh.).  When it works, it's inspiring.  It doesn't always work well, and as in life, there are road bumps. No matter the outcome, though, you tend to forge fast friendships and long-term relationships.


Does Anyone Else Get...

Weird comments from supposedly Asian readers with ellipses links to what I'm sure are some type of Avian Flu-Computer Virus?

Yeah.  It's annoying. 


Everything's Coming Up Vogeler

I've been thinking it over.  I need to post more often.  Life is busy, of course, but there is time to be made.

One of the reasons I keep this blog, aside from pointing out funny Mormon / Blogger / Utahn / American idiosyncracies, is to keep a lot of you updated about my life.  So here's an update.  A run down of, perhaps, the best year of my life. Ever.

One year ago this time, I was just finishing up the bar exam, trying to figure out how to convince the love of my life that she should remain the love of my life forever, and wondering just how I was going to make money to support myself (let alone the soon-to-be-permanent love of my life).  It was stressful, and I was adrift on the tide of a bad economy.

And then miracle by miracle started to pop up.  Here are some of them:

1.  August 21, 2009:  A job I'd interviewed for with a judge I didn't hear back from in May suddenly opened up again.  And they offered me the job!  How long did it take me to accept the offer?  The measurement for a period of time that small hasn't even been imagined yet.

2.  August 22, 2009:  Riding the euphoria of a job and knowing that, at least for a little while, I could afford to keep eating and maybe even live somewhere, I asked erv to marry me.  In an incredibly sappy, kitschy way that she just ate up.  And it totally worked!

3.  September 2009:  Find out from facebook that bar scores are up--somewhere.  Find out from friend where to find my score.  Find out from internet that a lot of people passed and a lot of people failed.  Frantically try to find my exam number.  Find out from my email what my bar exam number was.  Find out I passed.
I nearly hyperventilated in the ten minutes it took me to figure all of this out.

Later the same day, find out from letter that I passed with way more points than I ever needed to.  Curse myself for having studied too much.  Cross myself for having studied enough.

4.  September 2009:  Find an amazing apartment at an amazing price in downtown on Craigslist.  We close the same day we see it.

5.  October 2009:  Sworn in as a licensed attorney in the State of Utah.  Get a raise for becoming an attorney.  Lose a lot of money towards bar fees.  Still, I feel I came out better for this deal.

6.  October 24, 2009:  I married the girl that makes me still feel all twitterpated inside.

7.  October 25, 2009:  Relieved to see that the girl I married didn't run off in the night.  Still hasn't (crossing fingers).

8.  January 2010:  Made it through tryouts and into an amazing chamber choir.  Did we sing complex latin requiems? Of course.  Were we snooty? You bet.  But did we sound fantastic? Every time we warbled.  (The band broke up in April, sadly.  Probably in order to get rid of me. :P).

9.  May 2010:  Visit my little brother in Seoul Korea.  One case of Kimchi poisoning aside (and it burned!), we had a fun, culturally enlightening visit.  I have to admit, however, that having to order my food based on pictures in the menu is not my favorite activity.  Nor does it always produce the tastiest food.

10.  July 2010:  Longtime Professor, mentor, and good friend, Tom Lee becomes the latest Utah Supreme Court Justice.   Among such cool things as watching him get sworn in by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and later meeting and conversing with the same, I was humbled when, a few weeks after being approved by the Utah Senate, Justice Lee called me and asked me to come clerk for him in 2011-2012.

Pause. Blink. Blink.

I stammered out "yes" in about five different ways and five different languages, rambled on for a few minutes about how "awesome...I mean awe-inspiring...I mean...Yes!" it was.  And when I finally composed myself enough to say, "it will be an absolute honor" and hung up the phone, I squealed like a little girl for at least two minuets.

*Quick primer on judicial clerkships:  law clerks have a lot of functions in a judge's chambers, but perhaps what Justice Thomas told me is the most succinct way to put it.  "[]Our job is to make the judge's job easier."  We research, write, debate, and basically make sure the judge is prepared in hearings and that his opinion sparkles with brilliance and accuracy.  A judicial clerkship often opens professional doors that wouldn't open otherwise.

And, at the end of the day, it's just fascinating, invigorating work.  Needless to say, I am completely stoked to get in there, roll up my sleeves, and work hard.

TODAY:  And today, well...today I'm just grateful to be alive and kicking.  I have a job that pays me money, I have friends I love spending time with, I have the greatest family in the world, and perhaps most importantly, I have a wife who absolutely loves me.

Things really are coming up Vogeler.

It's at these times that I usually brace for the incoming crap storm, but at least for right now, I'll enjoy it.

A lot.