Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Superman: A Hero In Real Life.

Superman has always been one of my greatest heroes. And I'm not talking about comic book superheroes (although he is that, too). You see, I grew up without a father in my life so, like an increasing number of kids in the world today, I had to look to other sources for an example of what a man should be. I was lucky. Instead of falling prey to the many poor examples that are out there in the media and real life, I latched on to two wonderful role models: He-Man and Superman.

Now, before you roll your eyes and start typing in a new website address to surf, hear me out. For any of you that are even marginally familiar with either He-Man or Superman, this might ring at least a little bit true. Both He-Man and Superman are heroes in their fictitious worlds. Both are driven (and at the same time morally restrained) by a strong ethical code from which they (almost) never deviate. And both of them have sacrificed their own personal desires in order to serve the good of mankind.

To me, that sounded like the qualities of a real man: someone who is a hero in their own small world, whether it be to their kids, their wife/girlfriend, their coworkers, their friends, or their neighbors; someone that has a strong, consistent moral foundation to which they adhere; and someone who is willing to sacrifice their wants (and sometimes even their needs) to help other people.

Sacrifice. That's the mark of a hero. The sacrifice can come in the form of time, means, even money. But a hero is willing to give it to help other people. And a real man is (in my eyes) a hero. And the world could use more heroes. The world could use more real men.

So why am I calling Superman a "real life hero"? I came across an article on the Internet today about how the character of Superman was used in the 1940's to fight the Ku Klux Klan in real life. You can read the article by clicking on this link:

The point I originally wanted to make is that popular culture and the media can be used to do good in the world. So much that is undesirable and (at times) even evil has come from movies, television, books, magazines, comic books, the Internet, and radio that it is easy to forget or never even notice the times that good has come from them. And (as in this case) it came from cartoon characters!

However, the point that I hope to make even stronger than that is that I hope we're all living lives that will make it possible for us to be heroes in someone's eyes, that we're actively looking for ways to make a positive difference in someone's life. We might not be able to almost obliterate a fraternity of grown men running around at night in their bed sheets, but we might become part of a young boy's definition of what a real man (or woman) is.

You never know who's watching.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Proposition 8. Again.

And I'm not the only one who thinks so! (If you just jumped in, I'm talking about my last post about Proposition 8 and people's biased attacks on the LDS Church for supporting it.)

Go to the link for a story on the latest protests held at the LDS Salt Lake Temple. Notice, especially, the last few paragraphs. Even other religious leaders are saying that the singling out of the LDS Church is unfair since there were many other religious and civic organizations involved. The LDS Church was just one of many. (If you'd like to read the statement released by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints concerning the protests, you can find it at

Why is it, then, that the Mormons get the brunt of the attack? Think about it for a little while. Why? Could it possibly be that the Mormons are seen as an easy target? After all, they've been persecuted and singled out for a long time now. So many ridiculous statements have been made and circulated about the Mormons that people will pretty much believe anything they hear about them, no matter how far fetched.

So next time someone whispers a juicy did-you-know about the Mormons (or some other religion like Scientology or Jehovah's Witnesses), take it with a grain of salt and, until you hear it from an actual, faithful member of that church, don't give it much credence. And don't pass it along. Stop the flow of misinformation and rumors. It's the most well-masked form of religious intolerance.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Proposition 8.

It's sad, really. So much bigotry still exists in America. I'm not talking about the (supposed) overstepping-of-bounds by the LDS Church. I'm talking about America's reaction to it.

I was on a national news website today and happened to see that someone had posted a video of an anti-Mormon protest outside the gates of the LDS Church's Los Angeles Temple. The video was sad enough, but it was the comments that were posted in response to the video that saddened me especially. The very people that were decrying the LDS Church's involvement in the effort to pass Proposition 8 in California as bigoted and uninformed were, in the same breath, saying the most horrid, bigoted, and uninformed things about the Church. "Mormons are Unamerican [sic]and need to be removed from the country," said one such commentator.

So much anger. I could just visualize the contorted, red faces of the dozens and dozens of people as they typed out their bitter accusations. And some of the few declared members of the LDS Church who left their reactions on the website weren't helping to cool off the already charged atmosphere. Many of their comments were proud, arrogant, and defiant. Seemed like not too many people on either side of that comment chain were concerned with living the quiet dignity that was demonstrated by their professed leader, Jesus Christ. Sadly, the poor example of a few members of the LDS Church will be the only contact that some people ever have with a Mormon. And so the uninformed, uneducated cycle continues.

Why is it not okay for members of a church to vote their conscience and even support passage of legislation that would protect their beliefs (especially beliefs that they view as a important part of their religion and society)? And why is it wrong for a church organization to ask its members to dedicate their time, money, and talents to supporting that legislation? People seem to forget (or overlook) that Christian pastors, ministers, and preachers have been openly supporting political causes and even specific political candidates for centuries. But heaven forbid that the Mormons should do so. The people on that website are hurling unfair and prejudiced lies about how the Mormons are such horrible, un-Christian bigots. But where is the freedom from religious persecution for the Mormons? Should it matter in the way that they are treated, even if they aren't Christians (which is, by the way, a very erroneous claim)? Here, then, is a recurrence of the very thing that we as Christians (and Americans) the world over have been accused of: not practicing what we preach.

I believe that the bottom line is this: we live in a democracy, and as such we have the right (and responsibility) to vote our conscience. If we do not agree with the voice of the people, by all means we have the right to legally combat it. We do not, however, have the right to resort to petty slander and libel, especially against another person's sacred religious beliefs. As far as other people's religious views and doctrines, I think it is always safe to assume that we know less than we think we do.

So before people start accusing other people (or religious organizations) of being unthinking, uneducated, biased pigs, maybe they should take a look at themselves. How would their own, purest beliefs dictate that they should act?

Seems that we as Americans still have a ways to go before we've removed the beam from our own eye.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Put the Suitcase Down. Let's Talk.

To all of you who are about to pack up and flee to Canada today, I'd like a moment of your time.

Yes, Barack Obama won the election. Was he my choice? Not the point of this blog. The point I would like to get across is that, for all of you who think the world has come to an end and that we have Lenin as our president-elect, calm down!

Many times during the campaigns of both Barack Obama and John McCain, I listened to the promises (and vague platitudes) and thought to myself, "No matter how well-intentioned a candidate is, they're not gonna be able to fulfill all of these promises." The President of the United States is not a dictator (despite what some people say about our current commander-in-chief), because we have checks and balances in place to make sure that he (or maybe she, someday), doesn't run around making laws and passing decrees willy-nilly. Their ideas have to pass through Congress, and even the best, most ideal bills are going to get watered down in the give-and-take of political maneuvering.

The same goes for whatever evil people believe that Obama is waiting to spring on us: it's gonna get watered down. That's what makes our system of government the greatest on earth. We have safeguards in place to filter out the wildest ideas. Do some of them still make it through? Well, yeah, a few. The system isn't perfect, but it's the best there is.

So before you start brushing off your copy of 1001 Ways to Use "Eh" In Everyday Conversation, take a deep breath. I refuse to believe that President-elect Obama is as conniving and dangerous as some people say he is. I'm sure he has a good, patriotic heart and genuine concern for every American. I'm sure he'll do his best. Now let's do ours. At the end of the day, America is still the greatest country on earth.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Become a Fan.

At first, it was just a trite, fun little feature of Facebook. I'd be reading along, checking up on the activity of my Facebook page, and I'd come across an entry that would say something like, "Billy Bob became a fan of Pop-Tarts (or some other object)." That's funny, I'd think, so I would click on the "Become a Fan" option, which would then display on other people's Facebook pages that Travis Ammon Green had become a fan of Pop-Tarts.

Eventually, I noticed that people were now becoming fans of causes. In fact, just today I "became a fan" of "No Smoking." But now I'm seeing people become fans of other people, like David Bowie (Honestly?) and Kermit the Frog (Sign me up for that one!). Those are just fine (although I'm a little surprised sometimes to see who people are fans of), but I'm also seeing people becomes fans of religious leaders (a fan of LDS President Thomas S. Monson? Really?). And today I saw that someone had become a fan of "Jesus Christ the Savior." Now that's just taking it too far.

I understand that most people are just trying to find a way to publicly express their support for a certain person or cause (maybe Facebook should make an application that says "I support [insert cause or person]"), but saying that you're a "fan" of someone that many consider to be a prophet (LDS President Thomas S. Monson) is pushing it. And to say that you're a fan of the Son of God? Sounds too flippant and irreverent to me.

I realize that there are probably a few (or a lot) of you rolling your eyes at this ("Holy cow, Travis. Stop being so up-tight. Chill out. It's just Facebook."), but to see the Savior's name listed as something people are a fan of alongside things like "sour candy" and "High School Musical 3" is too much for me. So I'm sending out a plea to all of you in Facebookland. Let's try to keep certain things sacred and respected instead of relegated to the same level as "swing dancing" and the "New York Yankees."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mr. Mom.

As I was cleaning one of our bathrooms this morning while waiting for a load of laundry to finish drying, I found myself thinking of the movie Mr. Mom starring Michael Keaton. In the movie, Keaton's character loses his job and his wife is able to find a job before he does, so she goes off to work while he stays home and fills the role of homemaker and primary childcare provider. The comedy comes in as we see both his wife's struggles to adjust to corporate life and his blunderings as he learns to raise his children and take care of the home (he's hilariously clueless).

Although his wife makes the transition pretty quickly, Michael Keaton's character does alright for a while but then sinks into depression, wearing the same flannel shirt everyday, never shaving, and watching soap operas while his kids run rabidly through the house, destroying everything. By the end of the movie, he snaps out of his funk and becomes a great stay-at-home-dad teaching us all a lesson in learing to excel and find joy in whatever role we play (Believe me, I'm not doing the movie justice. If you haven't seen it, rent it. It's great).

Even though I haven't lost my job (sorry if I scared anyone) and we have no children, I found myself relating to the movie's character. I wake up for a few moments when my wife says goodbye to me in the early morning on her way to work and then I go back to sleep for an hour or two. Then I get up and spend a couple hours doing maintenance cleaning around the apartment (bathrooms, vacuuming, dishes) as well as project cleaning (wading through mountains of papers and junk that we have unnecessarily acquired throughout the years). I run some errands to the bank, library, and store, then head home to change into my work clothes and then head off to work. Some days I get to see my wife for five minutes when she gets home before I have to leave for work, and some days I don't see her until I get home at midnight, and by then she's already asleep, so I typically see her for about five minutes a day. Not exaggerating.

For a while after my wife changed jobs and her work schedule became the opposite of mine, I went a bit into the doldrums that I described Keaton's character being in. Although I never watched soap operas and I don't play coupon poker with the neighborhood housewives and I did change my clothes on a regular basis, I mostly sat around and watched television or DVDs until it was time to shower and go to work in the afternoon. No vacuuming was done, no dishes were washed or put away and I almost never even opened the blinds to let light in (it's harder to see the filth when there's no light).

In the last few days, however, I've been making an effort to be more up and doing. And what a difference it makes! No, life isn't perfect and that mountain of papers and junk still awaits me (horrors!), but our apartment has a better atmosphere and I feel like I'm accomplishing something on a daily basis (unfortunately, that's a feeling I don't experience at work).

As I mentioned before, I've only just started this making this change, so we'll see if it takes, but I'm hopeful. Maybe someday the junk will be gone and I'll only have to do the periodic maintenance cleaning and we'll have our second bedroom back as an office/computer room instead of a garbage dump.

Maybe then I'll have time to get back to my soap operas.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I was on the website just now and found this interesting article about the highest-resolution photos ever taken of the planet Mercury. If you'd like to see two of the photos, go to

Why am I putting this on my blog? I don't really know. Something about the photos blew me away. I had always thought that, being the closest planet to our star, Mercury would be rusty red like Mars (red = hot). But it's not! It's gray and looks a lot like our moon with a scarred, pock-marked surface.

Anyway, the images were haunting in a way. I'm reminded of the grandeur and immensity of God's creation anytime I see clear, hi-res images of planets, asteroids, comets, stars, etc. How small we are in the universe. And yet God is aware of every sparrow that falls.