Jun 23, 2009

Caleb

Lois and I are very happy to announce the birth of our first child:

Caleb Raymond S. Sparks

Caleb

Born: 19 June 2009

Weight: 8 lbs. 9 oz.

Length: 22 inches

Both baby and mom are doing great and recovering at our apartment now.  Thanks to everyone for the kind words and well wishes!

May 31, 2009

Separation of Media & State

In the wake of Proposition 8 being overwhelmingly upheld by the California Supreme Court, the crusaders of 'equality,' 'open-mindedness,' and 'progression' have once again come out of the woodwork.  A common cry that I hear as I read through interviews in the media and published blogs is this: 'separation of church and state!'  I would like to address this ubercontradictory statement.

I personally have conversed with many through the internet who say that my moral standard of exclusively classifying marriage as between a man and a woman is invalid since it comes from my religious beliefs.  They hold to the idea that my beliefs, since they come from my religious beliefs, are not appropriate since after all, it's 'just a religion.'  They haven't said it directly, but they suggest that they instead value beliefs that are backed by 'scientific' evidence or that is confirmed by 'experts.'  In reality, many of their beliefs are obtained from much less reliable sources: the media.

Why are we so prone to valuing so greatly the words of talk-show hosts, celebrities, and movie stars?  What makes their words so believable?  How are Ellen DeGeneres, Wanda Sykes, Sean Penn, or Perez Hilton's words any more valid than religious leaders?  Where is their expertise?  You rally around them because their words are 'hip' and 'in' and you wouldn't dare want to be labeled as anything but that.  You laugh at us conservatives because we base our beliefs off of 'just our religion.'  Yet how much more laughable is it to base your beliefs on the wisdom filled words of . . . movie stars?

You cite the ever-increasing acceptance of gay 'marriage' as evidence of progression of thought and increasing open-mindedness.  I cite it as the exact opposite: degradation of morals and increasing intolerance.  Twenty years ago the idea of gay 'marriage' would have been laughed and scoffed at.  Now, you falsely label the change in public perception that has taken place since then as progression.  All that has really taken place is a concentrated attack by the prince of darkness himself.  And now, as years and years have gone by of hearing the irrational arguments of those in favor of gay 'marriage,' Satan's efforts are finally starting to bear fruit.

Please, don't allow yourselves to be fooled by the adversary.  What we are seeing is a clear fulfillment of the prophet Isaiah's words which he spoke inchapter 5 verse 20:
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
The only true and lasting happiness that can be had in this life is by following the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.  He invites all to come unto Him and share in the peace that He offers freely.  No superficial joy we experience can overcome that that He offers.  He is the Wisest of the wise, the Justest of the just, the Kindest of the kind.  The commands He has given are not to suppress or impair our happiness, but to amplify.  I testify that His plan is the most perfect plan of all and for all.  That He loves us and waits patiently for us to trust and come unto Him.
The Lord Is My Shepherd

Apr 20, 2009

Miss California Deserves a BIG Round of Applause

I wandered onto Yahoo.com's website and was intrigued by this headline: "Miss USA judge Perez Hilton says that Miss California's answer to his question lost her the title." I clicked it to find out more.  Here's what was said:
Miss North Carolina Kristen Dalton may have been crowned Miss USA 2009 on Sunday, but on Monday, it was Miss CaliforniaMiss California Carrie Prejean's answer to a question about same-sex marriage from celebrity blogger and pageant judge Perez Hilton that was the night's biggest story.
During the show, Perez asked Carrie, "Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit? Why or why not?"
"Well I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. Um, we live in a land that you can choose same sex marriage or opposite marriage and, you know what, in my country and in, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman," Carrie said to a mix of boos and applause. "No offense to anybody out there. But that's how I was raised and that's how I think that it should be between a man and a woman."
Carrie's answer to the hot button question cost her the crown - at least according to Perez.

"The way miss California answered her question lost her the crown, without a doubt!" Perez told Access Hollywood after the pageant."Never before that I'm aware of has a contestant been booed at Miss USA."
As I finished reading this while sitting in our room, I literally started to clap out loud.  What a solid individual.  Despite all the pressure to be politically correct, she stuck true to her values.  What better person than her to represent the great state of California, which also recently passed Proposition 8 despite numerous attacks from Hollywood.  I searched around a little more, and found these statements from Miss California after the pageant:
"My sister is a second lieutenant in the Air Force and she is a gay rights activist."
Her sister, she added, is not gay. 
"No. She supports gay people, she supports gay marriage. My beliefs have nothing to do with my sister or my mom, or whatever." 
"She was just in my hotel room and she said, 'Sis, I'm not offended by anything that you said. We have two different opinions and I love you because of it. I love you because you stood up for what was right, and it's not a matter of being gay or not gay, it's a matter of you competing for Miss USA and getting a question and answering it to the best of your ability." 
"It did cost me my crown," Carrie told Billy, who co-hosted the ceremony, on Monday. "I wouldn't have had it any other way. I said what I feel. I stated an opinion that was true to myself and that's all I can do." 
"It is a very touchy subject and he is a homosexual and I see where he was coming from and I see the audience would've wanted me to be more politically correct," she added. "But I was raised in a way that you can never compromise your beliefs and your opinions for anything." But her sister has different beliefs. 
"She has her own views," Carrie said. "She's a 22-year-old woman who's in the Air Force who's extremely educated. She debates with my dad all the time about it. That's what's so great about being an American - we're able to have our own opinions."
I know nothing at all about this woman except this one incident.  Regardless, the world needs more courageous people like Carrie Prejean.



http://omg.yahoo.com/news/perez-hilton-the-way-miss-california-answered-her-question-lost-her-the-crown/21528?nc
http://omg.yahoo.com/news/miss-california-my-sister-is-a-gay-rights-activist/21521?nc

Apr 15, 2009

Mar 11, 2009

Prayer

I was out recently with another member of our ward hometeaching. He said something about prayer that was very profound. In short, this is what he had to say:

Prayer is a valuable tool for us to not only communicate with our Father in Heaven, but to strengthen our faith and testimony in Him and His Son. Consider the people in olden times who did not have personal sets of the scriptures to study and go to as a source of strength every day. Their main source of strength and faith-building was solely through their personal prayers with our Father in Heaven.

I had never really looked at prayer like this before. I do pray daily, and this communion I have with our Father in Heaven is very beneficial. However, I feel that by just including this new perspective in how I view prayer, I will be able to substantially increase the potential benefits of my daily prayers.

Thanks for your message, Brett.

Mar 7, 2009

We watched this video from Fred Thompson in my business finance class. It was amusing. I especially like his "Yes We Can" knock. :)

New Friends

You know those people where you see them all over the place, either at work, school, or near your home, and you always seem to be crossing paths but you never get around to introducing yourself and getting to know them? Then once you do meet them and talk with them, you quickly realize they're someone you wish you would've gotten to know better from the first day you saw them.

There's been a couple new people I've gotten to know much better this semester at school, and they fit that profile to a 'T' that I was just describing. Just friendly, helpful, genuinely good people. I really do wish I would've taken the initiative to have gotten to know them better when I first started seeing them. They encourage me not to 'judge a book by its cover' and be friendly and open to all people I come in contact with.

Feb 26, 2009

Stick to Acting, Sean Penn

What is it with actors and actresses that turns what they say into gold?  What makes what they say so special?  Shouldn't they be considered some of the least educated professionals in America?  Acting school?  Drama classes?

I'm not very familiar with Sean Penn or any of the movies he's done.  And after catching glimpses of the Academy Awards highlights, I no longer have a desire to know any more about this man than I already do.
For anyone who watched the Academy Awards (I didn't), you can probably recall Sean Penn's ridiculous attempt to gain more "I'm progressive" points, when he railed once again on Prop 8 and its supporters:
For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think it's a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect on their great shame and their shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue that support.
The only shame I'll be feeling with my grandchildren is if somehow the liberals in the California Supreme Court overrule the democracy that took place on November 4, 2008.  Then maybe I'll feel shame in that I haven't done enough to continue to raise awareness to the issue since election day.  As of right now, I feel great pride knowing that I was part of a great stand for morals and democracy in California.

I read a post from another blog where the author appropriately responded sarcastically to Penn's speech, "I’m sure your granmother [sic] would’ve been proud sitting in a theater watching her grandson make-out with men on the silver screen for all the world to see."

Stick to acting, Sean Penn.  Apparently, you're good at it.

Feb 8, 2009

"A-Roid" Not Alone

Yesterday, Sports Illustrated shocked the baseball world with their article alleging that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003.  A-Rod is on pace to surpass Barry "Mr. Steroid" Bonds as the all-time home run leader, which all within baseball are were excited for since Bonds is dirty and A-Rodis was clean.
Since the news broke, these are some of the news headlines about A-Rod since the news has broke:
OK, OK, we get it, everyone's disappointed and saddened by A-Rod's involvement, whatever it may be, with steroids.  But how truthful is America being in their denouncement of steroids?  Take a look at this map-graph and decide for yourself:


Hypocrisy?
(Click for full-size image.)

The question posed in a poll by ESPN is this: "If it guaranteed you a $250M contract like Alex Rodriguez, would you take performance-enhancing drugs?"  What was America's response?  A resounding 2/3 responded with "Yes."  

Um, did I miss something here.  Aren't we the ones who are telling our baseball players to respect the dignity of baseball?  To play honestly and ethically?  That 'winning at all costs' does not include taking steroids?  Yet 2 in every 3 people asked said that they would follow A-Rod's example and take steroids if it translated to landing a big contract.