Golden Tablets, Butch Cassidy, Mormon Women’s Sex Lives: Mormonism in/by the Academy

At InsideHigherEd.com Thomas C. Terry, an associate professor of Mass Communication at Idaho State University has written a column decrying the treatment of Mormons in the academy, or more specifically academics’ negative views about the Mormon faith. This is, of course, an interesting and valuable subject for discussion and Terry’s overall treatment of the subject matter here is positive and in defense of Mormons. But I was particularly interested in his display of his own knowledge of Mormonism and Mormons. A few highlights that amused me:

“Yes, Mormons do not embrace the cross as a symbol of Christianity, but it is because they consider it representing state-sanctioned execution and intense suffering.”

“Mormons are excoriated in popular culture (see: “The Simpsons”) for the way their church was created by someone who was kind of a con man. And the translation of the Book of Mormon was accomplished with a hat. And the Golden Tablets have been lost.”

“Mormon women are more likely to be employed in professional occupations than Catholic or Protestant women (similar to Jewish women) and more likely to graduate from college than Catholic or Protestant women (but less than Jewish women). One survey indicated Mormon women experience more orgasms and are more satisfied with their married lives than non-Mormons.”

“Glenn Beck is a Mormon, but so is Harry Reid. Other famous Mormons are or were: Harmon Killebrew, Jack Dempsey, J. W. Marriott, Gladys Knight, the Osmonds, Butch Cassidy, and Eldridge Cleaver. What does that tell you about Mormonism? Absolutely nothing.”

“At about 13 million members, Mormons are a pretty large cult. So what is so bad about this “cult?” And a cult growing at almost exactly the same rate, decade by decade, as the original Christian church in the 1st and 2nd centuries. It makes no sense, but then bigotry doesn’t. Who wouldn’t want to be on those lists? Seems like good things to be, even if you can’t drink coffee and beer, wear more than one earring per ear, grow a beard (frowned upon only if you want to move up the church hierarchy), and show lots of cleavage. You can have as much hot chocolate and ice cream as you want, though, and I have embraced this provision enthusiastically.”

Thoughts?

Comments

  1. Perhaps more specifically: What does he get right? How much of this, even if true, would be relevant to a defense of Mormons and their faith?

  2. Christopher says:

    “What does he get right?”

    Not much.

    “How much of this, even if true, would be relevant to a defense of Mormons and their faith?”

    Almost none of it.

  3. Jeremy Jensen says:

    He gets plenty right. Especially his critique of the kind of biased remarks that are acceptable to make only about Mormons.

  4. Really Jeremy? Biased comments made ABOUT Mormons are the only acceptable ones? So what recourse can I take for all the biased comments made BY Mormons?

    His comments were hilarious to me, but that is because I know they aren’t true. For anyone seeking information his comments are actually quite harmful. For a supposed academic they are downright irresponsible. Still, I think if someone were wanting to truly do unbiased research about The Church, and Mormon lives they would go to more than one source.

  5. “Glenn Beck is a Mormon, but so is Harry Reid. Other famous Mormons are or were: Harmon Killebrew, Jack Dempsey, J. W. Marriott, Gladys Knight, the Osmonds, Butch Cassidy, and Eldridge Cleaver. What does that tell you about Mormonism? Absolutely nothing.”

    Actually, I feel it tells us a lot about Mormonism. There is no Mormon Paradigm, even among Peter Priesthoods, Molly Mormons or Jack Mormons. I think this is the difficulty that Mormons and non-Mormons face in writing about the faith: there is no “typical” Mormon. Mormonism is seen as narrow-minded and narrowly imaginable. Correlation and press releases may make it seem that way, but Mormonism is a vibrant and diverse faith with a wide array of cultures and ways of thinking that can fit into it.

    Simply put, I’d like to see someone write an article about how Mormons can fit into different ideologies and cultures, rather than the uber-conservative image that Mormons encounter now. A Church that embraces and is embraced by John Dehlin is the same church by Glen Beck. Mormonism allows for different personalities and understandings; those within and without Mormonism would do well to remember that.

  6. Sorry, the same church EMBRACED by Glen Beck.

  7. Harmful, EOR? How? They *are* inaccurate, but in the same almost-right-but-just-wrong-enough-to-be-funny category as the almost-right-but-funny answers to quizzes that high school teachers compile and post this time of year. His errors aren’t malicious, they don’t paint us as evil, or even unpleasant, or cause anybody to want to march on us with pitchforks and torches, the way so many deliberate misstatements are calculated to create animus. I just don’t see how any of his almost-but-not-quite-right responses could cause actual harm to us or anybody else. If this were as inaccurate as it gets, I’d have much lower blood pressure.

  8. Jeremy Jensen says:

    Really EOR? Everything in that article is untrue? That’s ridiculous. All I said is that there was lots in that article that was correct, and there is. I didn’t say all of it was correct. There are so many articles out there, printed in “respectable” newspapers, that are so outlandishly biased against the church, that to have a small handful that go just a little bit in the other direction is a refreshing change of pace. I wouldn’t recommend this article as the only source of information about the church, but as a contribution to the discussion, it’s worth considering.

    I don’t understand your question “What recourse can I take for all the biased comments made BY Mormons?” That would, of course, depend on the situation. Of course Mormons, like any other group of people on the planet, will make biased comments. I don’t understand what that has to do with this article at all.

    Thomas Terry was 100 percent correct in pointing out that there are things that people get away with saying about Mormons that you couldn’t get away with saying about nearly any other religious group (with the possible exception of evangelical Christians). He was pointing out that knee-jerk criticism of Mormons for things that many other religions do, but don’t get immediately blasted for, is rampant. He is right to point out that many academics that criticize us for issues around gender wouldn’t dream of saying anything like that about Muslims, who, generally speaking, are far more strict when it comes to gender roles than we are.

  9. Some guy named Mark says:

    He’s not doing a very good job at convincing me that there are more than two or three people in Idaho who are not complete idiots.

  10. Some guy named Mark: Pretty much uncalled for, friend. I have a twitchy Evansfinger today. Watch it.

  11. NewlyHousewife says:

    So Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice ties into the death penalty. This guy was being sarcastic right?

  12. Some guy named Mark says:

    That said, his overall point is a very good one, and he makes some cogent arguments in spite of some laughably silly characterizations of Mormon beliefs/culture/whatever.

  13. NewlyHousewife says:

    He seems to be confusing folklore/culture with doctrine more than anything else.

  14. Some guy named Mark says:

    My apologies, Jacob. FWIW, I have enough Idahoan blood flowing through my veins that I should be offended at my own comment.

  15. This is how we treat people who defend us? We make fun of him for calling the Golden Plates “tablets”? We deserve a pogrom.

  16. Some guy named Mark says:

    NewlyHousewife: “He seems to be confusing folklore/culture with doctrine more than anything else.”

    I agree. But that’s pretty standard for members of the Church, as well. I’m not sure there’s a particularly bright line between folklore and doctrine.

  17. I don’t believe that “The Simpsons” makes more than a passing comment about Mormons. I think that the show in question is “South Park.”

  18. Yeechang Lee says:

    This is how we treat people who defend us? We make fun of him for calling the Golden Plates “tablets”? We deserve a pogrom.

    Indeed. An academic decries anti-Mormon prejudice in academia (and not just in a “religious prejudice is bad” abstract way, but by citing specific personal examples he’s experienced) in a well-known academic forum. What do the members here do? Make fun of how this foolish nonmember doesn’t get all our terminology and doctrines right. Stay classy, BCC.

  19. O_O

  20. I’m grateful to see a non-Mormon sticking his neck out a bit for Mormons, I especially appreciate his personal anecdotes of Mormons who have shown him a bit of love. But I don’t buy into the idea that Mormonism is the last acceptable prejudice, or near the last, either, to be frank. Not that he makes that explicit claim, but the general thrust is that Mormons have it worse off than say, Muslims or Jews. To me such comparisons are massively difficult to make anyway, as any accurate comparison hinges on a massive number of situational distinctions, many of which inaccessible to the researcher anyway.

    I think EOR is generally right to point to the sort of stereotypes we routinely describe in Sunday school classes and so forth about “the world,” that mythical evil place where all the bady-bads live, away from our holiness, and rather invite us to say, “hey Mormons, let’s clean our own house before we want to police everyone else so much.”

    Jeremy mentions There are so many articles out there, printed in “respectable” newspapers, that are so outlandishly biased against the church, that to have a small handful that go just a little bit in the other direction is a refreshing change of pace.

    It’s never not been like this, and historically speaking we’re in one of the nicer periods of LDS coverage, despite some of the crappy coverage out there. Moreover, the phenomena of misunderstanding isn’t limited to us Mormons, as you well know.

    that there are things that people get away with saying about Mormons that you couldn’t get away with saying about nearly any other religious group (with the possible exception of evangelical Christians).

    This elides many present manifestations of stereotyping, judgmentalism, racism, sexism, classism, and all sorts of other bigotries manifest by us humans, though.

    Some guy named Mark is a good example of the sort of inanity the author of the original piece is referring to, though. Well played.

  21. Ardis (7) You don’t think referring to Mormonism as a cult, and to Joseph Smith as “kind of a con man” as being harmful?

    Jeremy (8) you can’t see how the fact that Mormons make biased comments about other religions completely debunks any thoughts of Mormonism being the only “acceptable religion to make biased remarks about?” Even taking Mormons out of the equation, it is plenty “acceptable” to make biased comments about Muslims in particular, as well as Jews. Here in NY we went through the knock-down drag-out war of having a Muslim-based community center near Ground Zero. You should have seen the vitriol coming from some people’s mouths regarding those who practice the religion. If you care to look I am sure there are plenty of news outlets who memorialized it for all time.

  22. Some guy named Mark says:

    “Some guy named Mark is a good example of the sort of inanity the author of the original piece is referring to, though.”

    Hey, now.

  23. EOR wrote:

    Ardis (7) You don’t think referring to Mormonism as a cult, and to Joseph Smith as “kind of a con man” as being harmful?

    His use of “cult” was pretty sarcastic; he was mocking the person who called the church that. His point was that any organization that teaches good values and has 14 million members maybe doesn’t deserve the pejorative any more than the early Christian church did. His use of “con man” is less clear in meaning but, given the context of the rest of the article, I am willing to assume his goodwill toward us.

    Jeremy (8) you can’t see how the fact that Mormons make biased comments about other religions completely debunks any thoughts of Mormonism being the only “acceptable religion to make biased remarks about?”

    Not at all. The author’s point, as an academic writing in an academic forum, is that based on his experience, the remarks he reports in academic settings–and, to a lesser extent, outside them–had been made about any other group, they would likely have been denounced or never stated publicly at all. Who are you to gainsay that? Neither the fact that Mormons are not free of prejudices, nor that anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim sentiment still exists, delegitimatizes his message.

  24. #22, Ha, my comment came too late to see your addendum, some guy names mark. All is well.

  25. Yeechang Lee (23) you are willing to read his comments with goodwill because you are a Mormon. A non-member researching The Church coming across this would not read it the same way you do, and give his nuances the benefit of the doubt. Also, my comments to Jeremy were based on what Jeremy said, not what the author of the article said. My comments re: Muslims and Jews ARE referring to comments made in/around/among academia–thus debunking the theory of the long-sufferer and last acceptable bias etc…

  26. themormonbrit says:

    EOR, I may have this completely wrong, but the way I read it, it seems that his referring to Mormonism as a cult is meant to be ever-so-slightly tongue in cheek. Indeed, he draws comparisons between mormonism and the early christian church, as if to point out that calling mormonism a cult is almost as absurd as referring to christianity collectively as a cult.
    Having said that, I totally agree that there are plenty other religions that and cultures that it seems perfectly acceptable to mock, deride and basically make totally biased remarks about. And too often, Mormons themselves are engaged in this attack on other religions and cultures. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims and Catholics spring to mind as three groups that I have personally witnessed church members make ignorant and prejudicial comments about. Thankfully, anti-semitism has generally been absent from the church, but I have even come across anti-jewish comments in a church context.

  27. His calling us a cult was tongue in cheek, yo.

  28. Ardis (7) You don’t think referring to Mormonism as a cult, and to Joseph Smith as “kind of a con man” as being harmful?

    Not at all. Not in the slightest. Those aren’t his words and judgments; he’s quoting others — a professor, The Simpsons (although he probably means South Park). The tenor of his entire article is helpful, supportive, respectful, kind. He is explaining that the reason he wants to be helpful, supportive, respectful, kind is because other people — those who use “cult” and “con man” — are wrong, and he wants to correct the attitude that says it is okay to say those things.

    Sometimes we’re just so ready to take offense over the silliest things that we end up spitting on the people who would be our friends. Who’s going to want to stick his neck out for us next time, when we’re so ungracious as to reward good will with anger over minor vocabulary differences?

  29. themormonbrit I think you’re right that it was tongue in cheek which is why I thought it was funny, but like I said I “get the joke”. If my mother read this she would think he was serious, as I can imagine others would.

  30. Ardis (28) you’ll find that I am virtually unable to be offended. As I said in my original comment my concern is for those who are researching The Church and their lack of insider knowledge that renders his winking approach harmful. If you enjoy that kind of “help” you’re welcome to champion him, but his unwanted helping hand does not inspire gratitude in me beyond the initial chuckle.

  31. It might be wise not to challenge me to offend you, EOR. I’m itching to return the favor.

  32. Peter LLC says:

    Stay classy, BCC.

    We’re just waiting for someone to show us the way, Brother Lee.

  33. PS- Bother Lee, go check out my book review from earlier today here at BCC and stay classy! Or hey, check out Jacob’s 5-part meditation on suffering, twins, God, and atonement from last week. Or Kristine’s reflections last week on an incapacitated man who soiled her shoes and grabbed her hair, and also somehow taught her about charity. Stay classy.

  34. Yes, I don’t see any of this as “harmful.” I was simply amused by some of the particulars–Mormons explaining the ubiquitous absence of the cross as opposition to state-sanctioned execution? (I wish). Harmon Killebrew a Mormon? (I didn’t even know who he was). Mormon women experience more orgasms than other women? (Citation please). Etc. I hardly excoriated Terry in this post. I see it as a curious phenomenon that even defenders of Mormons (may they ever increase) though not necessarily Mormonism (why would a non-Mormon defend Mormonism per se?) portray so many of the details of Mormon life in ways that are foreign to me. But then, perhaps Mormonism really has become less parochial than has usually been the case in its history, meaning that its meanings and interpretations and lived experiences have really proliferated. I doubt that Terry is making any of this up. He’s probably heard all of it from Mormons themselves, likely Mormons he personally knows. This is compounded by the fact that we’re always in between and in the middle of deciding what we all believe, an on-going and probably never-ending process as a people.

  35. Ardis (31) you cannot because you have no bearing on my life. I don’t know what all the “return the favor” business is about, but if you’ve suffered some imagined slight at my hand you feel free to scratch that itch.

  36. themormonbrit says:

    Not sure if this constitutes ‘thread-jacking’, but I never really understood why the church is so against using the cross as a symbol. Is it an opposition to state-sponsored execution? That really doesn’t make much sense, given that capital punishment has such a firm stronghold in Mormonism. I’m just interested to hear your thoughts, everyone.

  37. The “more orgasms” claim is entirely plausible, mostly due to the extra time that Mormon women spend leaning against their clothes drying machines.

  38. Mommie Dearest says:

    I read the entire article in the link, mostly because it was well-written, but also because I could see that he was doing me and my fellows a great service. I mentally categorize him in the spirit of Doniphan, and the small errors he made in describing us are easily forgivable, and already forgotten. Except that Simpsons/South Park one.

    The comments have been entertaining, as usual. Thank you all for being brief today!

  39. No. 37 gst FTW.

  40. Mark B. says:

    You don’t know who Harmon Killebrew was? Completely inexcusable. Heck, a friend of mine who never watches TV and probably couldn’t explain the difference between SportsCenter and the Center Place of Zion (actually, they’re pretty close to being one and the same) knows who Roy Halladay is, what team he plays for, his current church membership and reported activity level. Probably couldn’t give you an update on the shoulder injury that shortened his last start, though.

  41. Who’s Roy Halladay?

  42. Jeremy Jensen says:

    “This elides many present manifestations of stereotyping, judgmentalism, racism, sexism, classism, and all sorts of other bigotries manifest by us humans, though. ”

    The difference between anti-Mormon bias and race, gender, and class bias, is that, while it does exist, it is condemned by smart people for the most part. Not so with anti-Mormonism. People are out in the open about how horrible Mormons are and are not, for the most part, condemned by the larger society. At least not nearly to the level that someone who engaged in racist, sexist, classist, anti-Gay, anti-Muslim, anti-Catholic, or anti-Jewish rhetoric would be. You can be out about your problems with Mormons and be fine in the society. Not so much with many of those other groups. Especially galling is the double standard that many liberals (and I say this as a liberal myself) have when it comes to Mormons. They would never dream of anti-Muslim remarks but engage, at the drop of a hat, in the kind of rhetoric detailed by Professor Terry.

    “Jeremy (8) you can’t see how the fact that Mormons make biased comments about other religions completely debunks any thoughts of Mormonism being the only “acceptable religion to make biased remarks about?”

    Yeechang Lee nailed it, EOR, though I would extend the realm where anti-Mormon bias is acceptable to non-academic liberal circles as well. And you say you’ve heard anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish rhetoric in academic circles? I don’t buy for a second that such rhetoric would be widely acceptable like anti-Mormon rhetoric is.

  43. #36, we don’t use the cross as a symbol because our focus is on the resurrected Christ, not the dying Christ:

    President Gordon B. Hinckley explained the reason in a talk delivered in general conference. He told about talking to a Protestant minister following a temple open house. The minister had asked why there were no crosses anywhere if we say we believe in Jesus Christ. President Hinckley answered, “‘I do not wish to give offense to any of my Christian brethren who use the cross on the steeples of their cathedrals and at the altars of their chapels, who wear it on their vestments, and imprint it on their books and other literature. But for us, the cross is the symbol of the dying Christ, while our message is a declaration of the living Christ.’

    “He then asked, ‘If you do not use the cross, what is the symbol of your religion?’

    “I replied that the lives of our people must become the only meaningful expression of our faith and, in fact, therefore, the symbol of our worship”

    And back on topic, I thought the article was a well written approach with a tinge of humor. The logic he displays in the article strikes me as typical Midwestern sensibility and I welcome his defense of our faith. We need more people like him. I expect that most of his subtly wrong answers were due to conversations with members and things he has read about us. It’s hard to keep the facts straight even if you are talking with a member of the Church sometimes.

    My experience tells me that Mormons are typically more informed about the basic doctrines and practices of their faith – at least the correlated version of it – but you still hear plenty of inaccuracies being spouted over the pulpit or Sunday school or even Elders Quorum meeting. If this wasn’t the case then half the content of this blog probably wouldn’t have reason to exist.

  44. Jeremy Jensen says:

    “A non-member researching The Church coming across this would not read it the same way you do, and give his nuances the benefit of the doubt.”

    Of course they would, given that his second use of the word “cult” is in quotes and the fact that the rest of the article is very pro-Mormon.

  45. Jeremy my mother is a non-Mormon. She is getting very interested in Mormonism (not to become a member, but because unfortunately Mitt Romney is her candidate) I printed the article and had her read it without saying a word, I even left the room to avoid questions or faces. My mother is a woman of reasonable intelligence and above-average reading skills. She is 58 years old, has had 6 children, and has been married for almost 40 years–she is practically Mormon-like. She did not get it. I can try this experiment several more times with others if you would like, but I have a feeling that no amount of me telling you flat-out that there are in fact non-Members who do not get it, and believe it to be saying (at least somewhat) harmful things about The Church will ever convince you that anyone would not take this article as a God-send. I am ignoring your #42 comment because I am speechless with wonder at it.

  46. We don’t use the cross as a symbol because we prefer a statue of a guy shooting a gun at heaven.

  47. I’m pretty sure that Johnny Hallyday is a Mormon.

  48. Actually I think it’s a .62 Big Bore Blowgun. But point taken.

  49. Left Field says:

    According to a biography of Harmon Killebrew that I read many years ago, he once received a fan letter addressed to “Harmon Killebrew, USA. If you don’t know where he is, you ain’t livin’.” I guess Jacob needs to get a life. But maybe I’ll give him a pass if he’s under 12 or not from the Americas, Japan, or Antarctica.

  50. I can assure you that my need to get a life has little to do with Harmon Killebrew.

  51. And a professor At Pennsylvania State University wrote an entire book on how Anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice in America. I’ve heard and read (I’ve read really really anti) some very anti-Catholic “quips” and misrepresentations from LDS (even in LDS general conference) so apparently the Penn. State guy is right, or just maybe it depends on location. I hear bigotry addressed toward Muslims here more than any other group, Catholics are second,. LDS? Never comes up, other than the general annoyance at being disturbed by the “religious pests” and even then the Jehovah’s Witnesses prompt more antipathy. Also it seems rather strange to confuse The Simpsons with South Park, particularly in a “communications” setting.

  52. #43 “we don’t use the cross as a symbol because our focus is on the resurrected Christ, not the dying Christ”
    If you speak to Anglicans you’ll find that for them the empty cross IS a symbol of the resurrected Christ, as opposed to the occupied cross of the Roman Catholics. I’ve yet to ask a practising RC what the occupied cross means to them.
    It really bugs me that we seem to be so hung up about the use of the cross.

  53. Take two golden tablets, and call me in the morning…

  54. themormonbrit says:

    Kai, I agree. For Protestants the cross is always the Empty Cross. It symbolises Jesus’ victory over the suffering and pain He endured on the cross, and ultimately, His victory over death. While the Roman Catholic Church’s use of the crucifix as a symbol to help focus believers on a remembrance of the suffering endured for them on the cross is certainly (in my opinion) a valid and potent symbol, I can see that it is probably not best-suited to the Latter-day Saint tradition. But I really can’t see why we reject the Empty Cross as a symbol of our faith in the Atonement as overcoming death and our separation ffrom God.

  55. I am glad we don’t deal with crosses.

  56. #55 How superior of you, seems you have a bit of the attitude the Mr. Terry wrote about.

  57. What exactly is “superior” about not liking crosses?

  58. themormonbrit says:

    EOR, can I ask why you don’t like crosses? I’m just curious.

  59. Certainly themormonbrit. It is simply due to a series of negative reactions. I grew up Catholic, and went to Catholic school so I have always been surrounded by crosses. The Catholic school I went to even insisted that we kiss the feet of a mahogany larger-than-life size Jesus on the cross every morning when we arrived at school. Mind you I started school when I was 4 years old. Looking up into that face with its pained expressions of doubt, worry, abandonment, sorrow, mercy, and impending death every day for so long has put me off of crosses. I agree with GBH on this matter and prefer to celebrate the living Christ versus the death that he conquered. I have my Grandmother’s rosary beads, but more out of respect for my Grandmother (she said it every day for as long as she could remember until she died) than due to any wish to be near the symbol again.

  60. I have a newfound fondness for the symbol of the cross, myself, lacking some of that baggage you mention EOR.

  61. I was 15 when I joined The Church, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I was able to process my feelings on crosses and most all iconic symbols of the sort. To be honest, it is such a sticking point for me, that if we ever did switch over to using it I would probably have to leave.

  62. Our non-use of the cross is an historical accident, derived from the time and place of our founding and early years, not a revealed doctrine. It’s only in the mid-20th century that anybody seemed to notice, and then the cottage industry of inventing theological explanations for accidental happenstance, combined with a recent anti-Catholic bias (we’d been remarkably free of that popular prejudice until then), took over. Not that absent that JFSjr- and BRM-fueled anti-cross dogma we would have suddenly started adorning our chapels with crosses, but absent their rhetoric there would be little prejudice against individuals wearing crosses. I love the photograph of one of Brigham Young’s wives wearing her cross, and I wish I could get away with wearing my mother’s.

  63. Ardis, I urge you to consider trying to get away with it. The wearing of it is the getting away with it!

  64. I wonder if there is a taboo if it happens to be due to regional culture. I am now back in the same (NY) ward that I was baptized into as a teenager. Until around the time I got my YW Recognition (late 17) I wore my cross all the time, and I was strictly active at the time. No one ever looked at me cross ways or said anything. In fact, I genuflected for about the first 6 months I was a member, and someone only said something to tell me that we didn’t have to do it. Perhaps since there is such an overwhelming amount of New Yorkers that are Catholic people are just used to it, or maybe because I was a teenager or a convert. I am unsure.

  65. Kristine says:

    Michael Reed has found reams of photographic evidence of cross-wearing in the early Utah decades–it’s as Mormon as singing Amazing Grace.

  66. Kristine says:

    NB: cross-WEARING, not cross-dressing ;)

  67. Oh I would wear it Ardis! how could anyone say anything when it is your mother’s? It’s like a battle between our genealogy love affair and our anti nicean creed thing. I don’t automatically think empty cross when I see a cross…but I know other Christians do.

    I don’t know that Mormons embrace pain well. We tend to hide our troubles and put on a smile and go to work..very Northern european. To me the cross is the very midst of the trouble. Even when it’s empty …there is still that horrible time in the tomb. I can associate gratitude with the cross…but not really joy. …the joy for me is the stone rolled away.

  68. Some guy named Mark says:

    #62: Yes!

    And I would point out that many Mormon buildings, including very recent ones and temples, include architectural elements that are conspicuously and intentionally crosses, even if they don’t have a cross ornament on the steeple. The Bountiful Temple and the Mount Timpanogos Temple, for example, are both covered in crosses, from the windows in the celestial room and sealing rooms to the external architectural elements and the shape of the buildings themselves.

    Look at this Google Maps view and count the crosses: http://goo.gl/maps/eoAq

  69. #62 Ardis, well it wasn’t until mid 20th century that the cross was equated with the bible’s satanic “mark of the beast”, maybe that’s why people noticed. If you look up Michael Reed and Banishing the Cross you’ll find a number of articles about his work on Mormons and the cross.

  70. My friend’s a bishop in a small ward in the west–oxymoronic, I know. One of his ward members started wearing a yarmulke after his dying grandfather told him to never forget where he came from. Everyone in the ward referred to him as ‘rabbi’ and there was much discussion amongst the leadership whether anything should be said of him wearing it in the chapel or not. Finally the stake presidency (or higher ups?) decided that the only time he should remove it was when he passed the sacrament. Since he is an elder, it only happens like once a year.

  71. I should clarify that I was talking only about what the protocol was while he was in the chapel. When he was outside the chapel, he was also asked to remove it whenever he performed any priesthood ordinances. It seemed to resolve the issue but the conversations amongst ward members, I heard, were very lively!

  72. I wish head covering during worship was back in for either men or women–or both.

  73. fact: i wear a small orthodox cross on a ring on my right index finger

  74. Pagan.

  75. themormonbrit says:

    EOR (72) – me too!

  76. Some guy named Mark says:

    What is the doctrinal – or even logical – basis for asking someone to remove a yarmulke before performing a priesthood ordinance? (Hint: There is none.)

  77. themormonbrit (75) right on! Some guy named Mark (76) Were I male, and in a similar situation I would wear my yarmulke.

  78. I wear my mitre when passing the sacrament. No big whoop.

  79. Sachiko says:

    #72–me too!! I’ve experimented with head-covering in the last couple of years. I find it very liberating. And I sewed a quilt for my 8yo daughter with a large (empty) cross on it, at her request. She adores it.

  80. #78 gst Ha Ha! Thanks for the laugh….

    I think that the phraseology that was used was something like ‘Out of respect for our sacred ordinances would you respectfully remove your yarmulke’. My bishop friend said his stake prez is very tactful and the manner and tone was such that the “rabbi” willingly agreed.

  81. Stephanie says:

    I was a kid in the Ensign Peak Ward, Salt Lake Stake, in the 1980s when we moved into a new chapel sporting a large, prominent window with a pattern that, while abstract, is unmistakeably a crucifix. (Elders Bruce R. McConkie and Gordon B. Hinckley were also members of the ward at the time.)

  82. #72 Please, no.
    It’s bad enough in the temple. Nothing stays put on my oh so slippery hair, and it is very distracting…
    (Not that I have anything against anyone else wearing a headcovering should they wish to.)
    #62 I have a hankering for one myself, perhaps I could get away with a ring like yours BHodges (#73).
    #64 In my experience, as a teenager you can get away with doing a lot of things that as a temple-endowed adult are suddenly frowned upon, including asking difficult questions, and engaging in debate.

  83. #83 Lovely. Thank you.

  84. All this “empty cross” business; bunch of half-hearted wimps. The ring on my left fist (closer to my heart) has a sort of good luck symbol of four sabres forming a cross, and the one on my right fist has a skull. It’s an old jungle saying that the metal for the skull ring came from the nails used to crucify Jesus.

  85. My impulse is to go all contrarian and enjoy the delicious spectacle of me, a Mormon, ripping some guy for standing up for Mormons.

    But even I have shame.

    This guy is taking on his own tribe and catching a lot of flack for standing up for me and my people. God bless him.

  86. I appreciated his column.

  87. Maybe Mormon women have a lot of orgasms because Mormon guys are hot?

  88. Charly (88) they are? I suppose it all depends on how you define hot I guess.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,484 other followers