Though I was raised Mormon, yet no longer consider myself a religious man, I still very much have Mormon thought patterns, no matter how hard I try to break them. And my patterns see an irony, a hypocrisy when it comes to the state of Utah’s air and environment.
I have played basketball on every continent across the globe, save Antarctica, which I am hoping can still happen, someway, somehow. I have seen some beautiful countries and landscapes in my nine years as a professional basketball player. Think: Spain, or New Zealand, where the sun winks at you, it is so damn happy.
Conversely, I have also played in a few armpits that one could dare to call a “city,” from Valencia, Venezuela, to Guangdong, China, to Monterrey, Mexico. Hellholes, laden with poverty, litter and pollution. And it is bad. Like stay-indoors-all-week-despite-there-being-no-internet-or-tv-in-your-shoddy-hotel-room-bad, because you just don’t dare to step outside lest you tempt a respiratory/sinus infection.
But of all the smog-infested places I have played the game of basketball, there is one that stands out above the rest. A clear winner. My hometown: Salt Lake City.
Wherever I travel, when people ask me where I am from, I am always proud to say “Salt Lake City, Utah.” And I quickly have a fantasy of the future when I retire and return home. But then a creeping anxiety always lurks into my consciousness: winter... inversion... smog.
In my junior year at Weber State, I punctured my windpipe in the middle of a coughing fit following a game, such was the severity of my bronchitis. Every winter as a teenager, a safe bet around Christmas day was that I would go down for the count with either bronchitis or a sinus infection. It was just a given, just as Christmas day coming on the 25th was a given. The only thing I deigned to ask Santa for Christmas during my moody teenage years, was an illness-free one, but the wish obviously never came true, because Santa doesn’t exist, nor does a clean aired-Utah.
Following my collegiate career, entering the life of a professional vagabond, I have been cursed with missing nearly all of the holiday seasons with my family the last nine years, but on the same token, I have also been blessed in that my job has kept me away from Utah during those very same winter months of inversion.
But now that I am 33 years old, I am nearing the last phase of my basketball career, and so with it, comes the time for planning, the time for logistics as far as where home is going to be. I am married now, nearly two years. My wife and I have a beautiful 5 month old baby boy, my pride and joy. And we want him near our family in Utah, both mine and his mother’s, within a support group to help raise him. Family is everything. But at this juncture, I can’t even see my family through the damn smog.
More concerned than I am for my own health, I am terrified for my son’s. How, as a father, provider and protector, can I in good conscience, move my son to Utah and knowingly put him in harm’s way? Sure, he won’t likely be mugged or shot in a drive by shooting, but I will be risking the longevity of his unique, individual life by having him breath the most polluted air in America, winter after winter.
Growing up as a Mormon, I would attend my father’s gospel doctrine class, in which he would discuss the Word of Wisdom. My father’s stance on the doctrine, contrary to common belief that living the Word of Wisdom simply made you a good or worthy person, was this:
“We practice the Word of Wisdom, not because it somehow makes us good or better people. Rather, we practice it, so that we may possibly live longer, healthier, lives on this Earth, wherein we may continue to perform even more good deeds throughout further years of life.”
Made sense at the time. And as such, was my approach to the Word of Wisdom during my days as a member of the LDS Church. Granted, there are many Mormons who won't share my perspective of the Word of Wisdom in this light nor how it simply is a basic gage for a temple recommend to see if one can follow basic rules, but rather, many will hang on to the belief that they are just awesome people because they never had a drink in all of their life, and they are automatically going to heaven.
Even then, let's go with that path of logic.
I have had many teammates over the years, non-Mormon, who would unknowingly be practicing the Word of Wisdom, just for the health benefits they believed allowed them to feel they were performing their job on the court with better consistency. The fact that they were living the standards of the Word of Wisdom, no smoking, no alcohol, in no way made them somehow more “worthy” or better people. But they will likely live a longer, healthier life than those who consume processed foods, caffeine, alcohol and other substances in excess.
When President Gordon Hinckley was interviewed by 60 minutes in 1996, he mentioned that Mormons live the Word of Wisdom for many reasons, one of those being that it has extended the average Mormon lifespan into the 9th decade, whereas the average life of Americans was around 73 years at that time. In short: Mormons live the Word of Wisdom for the benefits of a prolonged healthier life.
That is pretty easy to deduce: What you eat, what you consume, impacts your health and longevity of life.
With this logic, I must ask the Mormon Culture: How is polluting the very air that sustains our life, with gas-guzzling SUV’s in our status-obsessed culture, along with turning a blind eye away from the shameless refineries along the Wasatch front, living the Word of Wisdom? How is contributing to the condition of the air and breathing the very same said air, treating your body as a “temple?”
This is Irony.
And let this be a lesson to those of you use irony so flippantly these days, in place of words like sarcastic or sardonic. To wear a My Little Pony t-shirt with your mustache, is not being ironic, that is being tongue-in-cheek or sarcastic. Irony, is not a consciously contrived event. It is a cruel or humorous (depending on your perspective) happenstance through ignorance or misinformation. But I digress!
Back to the pollution and the word of wisdom:
What does it matter if you never smoked a cigarette in all of your days, when you are breathing the dirtiest air in the United States, which is far more harmful than a cig?
So, you never had a drink of alcohol in all of your life? Kudos to you, but you are still breathing garbage. I think your body would happily, and probably could, use a drink right about now after breathing in that stuff all day.
From what I learned in my classes as a history major, to take “dominion” over something, in its original intent, meant caretaker. And as the Bible says, my religious readers, God gave us dominion over the earth, to care for it, not beat it up or ignore our humane duty to protect and preserve our home for our children and the other species of this earth that do not have the intellectual capacity to save themselves in our wake. It is our moral imperative, as a community in Utah, each and everyone us, to sacrifice a little of individual convenience, for the greater good of our home, health and future. It will bite at first, but we will adjust.
Having played in Mexico, I saw in many of those cities that every car was exempt from driving one day of the week. If we were to apply that in Utah, truly, it would be a pretty simple change of lifestyle, once you adjust to it and plan around it. If every car drove one day less, would that not arguably mean that they would emit around around 15% less for the year? And then if we put stricter regulations on the refineries, which people say “ONLY” cause 11%, as though it is small number, we could be wiping out nearly 20% of our emissions right there.
Not that hard.
But, I don’t care, bro. Because I just bought a brand new Escalade. I got mine.
But our kids haven’t. And that is selfish. Sorry. Nothing “Christian” about it.
However, I am not the type of guy who just spouts out the problems. I also offer solutions. Some of which, people may not like:
1. Along with mandatory no drive days, we should give overwhelming tax incentives to homes that do not possess a car under their address. Homes that possess only one car, receive no tax break, nor penalty. While homes that possess more than one car, receive a tax penalty, per extra car. Yet, all CNG, Electric and Solar powered cars are exempt from penalty, with first alternate fuel car receiving a tax break. The final caveat: Homes that possess one or no cars, ride public transportation for free.
2. The LDS Church spent 3 billion on the City Creek Mall development, hoping to boost the local downtown economy around Temple Square with a upswing in tourism. But the smog and pollution is keeping tourism away, regardless. If the LDS Church really wanted to follow through on their investment, could they not spend another 3 billion in helping the state build a high speed railway network that ran along all major expressways and traffic hubs: I-15, 215, 80, Bangerter etc...? Trax is good, but still not as efficient or accessible as it could be, and a little too slow. And the front runner is too expensive. They both need to be free for a couple of years to encourage use and familiarity. Imagine a bullet train screaming down I-15, passing all the loser/solo drivers, idling in their cars during rush hour? And then another train screaming by 5 minutes later? How stupid those lone drivers would feel? Shame is the most effective, or at least most commonly used weapon to manipulate someone to change their behavior in Utah Mormon culture, is it not? So, let’s shame them off the road.
3. Salt Lake City, with its square grid, is one of the best designed cities for bicycle use. When I played in Japan for a season, my wife and I rode bikes all year when when we lived in Kyoto, even through the snow and we loved it. Salt Lake can do the same. Plus, it would be good cardio exercise, promoting good health. Again: Word of Wisdom. And with more bikes substituting cars, we get less smog in the air.
Two birds. One stone. I love killing two birds at once, makes me feel efficient.
4. As I learned in Japan, if using the high speed rail, Utahns would learn to buy 2 bikes, one for the trip from home to train station where they can park their bikes for the day and then another from train station to work, if the distance deemed necessary.
But it is too cold in the winter to bike. Tell that to our pioneer ancestors that we as a culture love to lionize, the very ones that crossed the frozen plains in the dead of winter, for days on end. They would turn over in their graves to here us complaining about biking in cold weather for half an hour, let alone pulling a handcart.
P.S. Governor Herbert's proposal to upgrade to Tier 3 gasoline is simply a short term solution, a lazy band-aid to a big problem, as fossil fuels are a finite (dirty) resource and eventually, today or tomorrow, we are going to have to adapt and transition off of fossil fuel dependency, before or after we run out entirely of those resources is up to us. May as well be today.
“The experience of same-sex attraction is a complex reality for many people. The attraction itself is not a sin, but acting on it is. Even though individuals do not choose to have such attractions, they do choose how to respond to them.”
That's not just my opinion, it's also the church's. And it is very offensive to me that you would put gays into the same category as murderers, kidnappers, pedophiles, and rapists. People do not choose who they are attracted to, but they can choose to be ignorant. I don't have to change church doctrine because it gets changed all the time anyway. The blacks getting the Priesthood has overwhelming parallels. I think it goes without saying that individuals can't choose their color, just as they can't choose their attraction. Here are just two, of many, quotes from Church doctrine.
Prophet Brigham Young:
"Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volume 10, page 110.)
Apostle Mark E. Petersen:
"No person having the least particle of Negro blood can hold the Priesthood" (Brigham Young). It does not matter if they are one-sixth Negro or one-hundred and sixth, the curse of no Priesthood is the same. If an individual who is entitled to the Priesthood marries a Negro, the Lord has decreed that only spirits who are not eligible for the Priesthood will come to that marriage as children. To intermarry with a Negro is to forfeit a "Nation of Priesthood holders.”
The church has always been playing catch-up. Good thing too, or else nobody would be a part of the outright bigotry. Please don't try and tell me that God has a plan and he has a reason for everything. Or that things will be explained in the next life. Or that man is flawed and sometimes simply gets it wrong.
What moral authority does Mormon scripture have concerning other matters if it contains oppositional ideas about race? Upon what moral authority does our current prophet speak if revelations made by past prophets are no longer valid? Blacks were not allowed to have the priesthood until social pressure became so great that Mormon leaders got a revelation that is was suddenly okay. That's not ongoing revelation. We call that changing church doctrine because of social pressure.
Also, you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts, the founding fathers were not Christian. Knowing history matters -- it can safeguard us from repeating our mistakes and help us value our rights, won at great cost. You are regurgitating an aggressively promoted version of our history and heritage in which America is called a "Christian Nation."
--”Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.” -Thomas Jefferson
-- In 1797, with President John Adams in office, the Senate unanimously approved one of America's earliest foreign treaties, which emphatically stated (Article 11): "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion..."
--Jefferson’s skepticism of traditional Christianity is well known. Our third president did not believe in the Trinity, the virgin birth, the divinity of Jesus, the resurrection, original sin, and other core Christian doctrines.
The Bill of Rights and our constitution is setup to protect the minority. You don't have the people cast a vote on the inalienable rights of the minorities. An example from history is the right to have interracial marriage. A majority vote would have kept those rights from these people. Imagine if we would have had a majority vote on slavery. Real basic rights are something that should not be voted on. Equality is not something you vote on.
There he was-
Spinning around in my wife’s uterus as though he owned the place. He wasn’t just shifting around aimlessly as we watched him. No, He was giving us a little attitude, I could tell. Probably due to the invasive “crotch shot” we had just taken like a paparazzi does on the red carpet when a celeb trips in her dress.
As the ultrasound tech continued to harass him with her insistent prodding to get the best angle for further screen shots, he stubbornly fought back with an amazing sense of entitlement, like a badass, no apologies, no explanation. And I was in awe. His elbow was going to go right there where he wanted, and he was going to kick his way until he could stretch his legs to his own liking, and we would all just have to deal.
I wondered, at first in my own head, but then aloud rhetorically to my wife and lab tech, “It makes you wonder what they mentally process in there when they are awake.”
Granted, he was just turning 18 weeks or so, Chelsea and I guesstimated, due to his conception in Mexico in a shoddy hotel room with not much to offer but our own love and affection, but I could just imagine the many things this obviously brilliant superbaby was thinking about:
“I love this placenta!”
“I am already addicted to protein powder now, thanks to my mom.”
“This fiscal cliff/sequester is some bullshit.”
“If you look close enough and squint your eyes just so, you can see Jesus’ face over there in the lining of my mother’s uterine wall.”
“I am so glad my parents aren’t going to raise me with any silly dogma and inherited guilt.”
At least that last part I hope is correct.
As I sat there, doing my best to not choke up, all I could feel was gratitude. For the first time in years, I felt innocence. I felt awe and wonder. I felt unlimited possibilities. I felt alive again. In a way, I felt immortal. I knew then in that moment why kings celebrated the birth of their firstborn son as I now had my own heir to carry me and my legacy on through the next hundred years, well beyond my death. Before this moment, life seemed so finite, so fatalistic. But now, even when I die, I will continue to live on.
This is immortality.
More so than the excitement of all the things this baby and I were going to do together, (his mother, I guess, is welcome to tag along from time to time) like playing sports, talking history and philosophy, traveling to many exotic places through my basketball career and so on, was the excitement of how I have the chance to give my kid a head start through my own actions and attitude. Not so much my words, but through my thoughts. Kids aren’t stupid. They don’t need us to speak to them. They see right through us. They know who is confident, they know who is weak and timid, they know who is selfish, who is self-absorbed or insecure. Before their brains become molded to rely on words, body language is how they see and observe the world around them.
When my son “sees” me for the first time, I can only hope that he sees confidence without arrogance, integrity without haughtiness, kindness without martyrdom, humility without pride, introspection without self-absorption.
It is impossible for us to NOT inherit our parent’s thought patterns. Kids with low self-esteem, tend to get their inverted, critical self-analysis from their parents. Kids constantly seeking praise, tend to come from parents who need it as well. Anxious and insecure kids, tend to come from anxious and insecure parents who try to control everything. Assholes, come from assholes. And gay people come from straight people, sorry, social conservatives.
Knowing this truth and responsibility is scary when you are about to have your first child.
This question, for me, will be the greatest challenge of parenthood: What am I going to pass on to my child, not only genetically, but more importantly, mentally and emotionally?
What is the legacy that I will leave him and my posterity? What relationship will I have with each of my children? And what will my children value most: Money, Time, Validation from others or Relationships?
Today, is March 13 as I write this journal entry, the day after seeing the ultrasound, and I only just now realized today is the five year anniversary of my call-up to Cleveland.
Five years ago, to the same exact date. March 13th.
Five years. Seems like a lifetime ago.
These last five years have been so full of transition, so much so that I hardly recognize the voice that wrote LONGSHOT. I tried reading it a few months ago, and I really felt as though I didn’t know that person. I can only hope that these last five years, will allow me to prepare my son, the best I know how, for this world, as I teach him to stand and walk with his head held high, always assured in his self-worth.
Five years ago, I received happiness, a fleeting one, dependent on the will of others, the validation of others with my first NBA contract. And like all happiness that is dependent on another, it didn’t last. And today, five years later, seeing my son, a little Lance, for the first time has brought me greater peace and joy than any NBA contract could ever hope to bring me.
And I am grateful.
As a wedding gift to my wife, I promised her I would begin playing the guitar. I was always singing to her anyways.
Three months after buying my first fifty-dollar guitar here in Mexico, I found myself alone in my hotel room too often as the wife has been back home in Utah for the last while. I began to feel the need to write again, as I have not for sometime. But this time the need was pacified through music, which was a whole different challenge. After two weeks, I recorded enough songs to what I would consider to be an album, entitled, "Mexico.", I have released the first single, The Black Sea, now available at cdbaby.com, and soon to be on spotify, itunes and amazon. The album is soon to follow. Thank you all for your support and for helping to spread the word and the music video through youtube.
You can buy the single here: The Black Sea
The only grandpa I ever knew, the one who invested in me, the fisherman himself who helped make my dream of a home in Montana become a reality, passed away tonight on Christmas Eve, 2012. I didn't think I would miss him so much. I thought I had said my goodbyes, as he slowly left this life, choosing to leave at his own pace. Thank you grandpa, for the time you gave to me, and all of us. Thank you for the legacy you left us: to always question authority and our own reality. I wish you so much peace, as well to the rest of my Mosier family this holiday. I will see you in that flicker of light along the river as I cast my line, knowing you are there too waiting for a fish to rise.
July 1st, 2012
I am grateful for the partner I have found, who has chosen to move with me past the "in-love" phase and into the realm of "real love."
Can I get some "real love" up in the piece, CB?
In the midst of a nail-biting dream, in which I leapt from the exploding helicopter, the antagonist caught me in the free fall and began to choke me... and it all suddenly felt very real. A little too real. I began to panic. I couldn't breathe. Turns out, I was actually choking on my own phlegm. As I came back to consciousness I remembered that I was still in the middle of the this week long battle with bronchitis. It is a yearly affliction, one that I inherited from my father, along with other genetic fallacies and thought patterns, but most importantly, my strikingly alarming rugged looks.
I sat up in my bed, and something was different this time from all the 30 earlier birthdays- my fiance was standing in the kitchen cooking me oatmeal. (Yes, oatmeal makes me happy.) Had I not already had a lump (of mucus) in my throat, I would have gotten another one, as I was just full of gratitude. A beautiful woman, who loves me, despite my sickly state, sacrificing so much of her life, her goals and ambitions, just to be here with me in Japan.
It has been a good season. I love Kyoto. I love playing with good people. I love being paid time and being treated like a professional from the front office and staff. I love working people who are true to their word. And once again, for the first time in a long time, I love playing basketball.
I couldn't ask for anything more... Well, the only thing missing, is my dog. But he knows I love him and miss him every day.
Without a doubt: Best Birthday Ever.
My former teammate at Weber, Brad Barton died yesterday, from what is believed to be a diabetic seizure. He was currently head coach at Eastern Utah after leading them to a 23-7 record last year as an interim coach. Brad was one of my all-time favorite teammates, and I only got to play with him during my redshirt year at Weber. I had always wished I could have had an actual season to play alongside of him. I have always said that to this day, if I was in charge of putting together a pro basketball team, Brad Barton would have been my first pick. No one played harder, nor smarter than Brad Barton. By far the most intelligent teammate I have ever had, who understood every little thing about basketball. As well, he was the only man I that I have met, that have never been able to beat in a game of chess.
But more than that, he was the hardest working player I ever saw. It was inspiring.
Simply put, he was the most beautiful basketball player I have ever seen.
Before every game, his senior year, he and I would recite Dylan Thomas' "Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light." It seems more fitting now than it ever has been. Whatever gods may be, took him far too soon. I will miss my friend.
The sequel to the critically acclaimed memoir, Longshot, Lance Allred returns with, Basketball Gods: The Transformation of the Enlightened Jock, where his story left off in 2008, sharing his time and experiences in the NBA as well as dealing with a major publisher for his first book, while life continues to take him around the world through the game of basketball, challenging his dreams and reality at every turn. Much to his disillusionment, he discovers that reality seldom lives up to our fantasies, especially in these hard financial times that have been felt by everyone, even professional athletes.
Basketball Gods is a book about acceptance, about picking up the pieces as you go along, while providing insight into the supposedly glamorous world of professional sports. It is a story about basketball. A story about spirituality, as well as forgiveness. Most importantly, it is a story about life.
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