Here’s a computer science lesson and craft activity that speaks to my geeky heart. I do it with groups of all ages, and it would be perfect for Activity Day girls. It could also work for Cub Scouts, perhaps with a hemp cord for a masculine look. It was inspired by the Code.org-sponsored “Hour of Code” event last year. The lesson plan by Thinkersmith is excellent, and covers everything you need to know. It is comprehensive enough for someone without any computer science background to run the activity successfully. I’ll summarize a few points here, but you should go read it. The necklace craft was my own addition. My daughter is modeling her necklace in the photo at left.
I was asked to give the faculty address at Stanford’s annual LDS Convocation, held in Stanford Memorial Church. This is the text of my remarks.
October 9, 2014
In Computer Science, our traditional greeting is, “Hello, world” So, “Hello, world!”
My task this evening is to join our identities as scholars and saints, and so I want to explain what I think is a particularly Mormon moral obligation we assume as members of the Stanford community. [Read more…]
I understand some of you spent last night watching some game where guys run around carrying a ball that isn’t even spherical, when you could have been watching an epic Giants-Nationals game that ran the longest in MLB post-season history: 18 innings for the Giants win. The game clocked in at 6 hours 23 minutes, shattering the previous playoffs record by over half an hour. And here we gather for hours 7 and 8 of the general sessions of General Conference weekend….
As a reminder, all comments on this thread will be moderated by me. Giants fans only, please.
Is it just me, or has the LDS library app become a bit cumbersome to navigate? If I preload the Screens with one screen each of Hymns, Old Testament (or current Sunday School scripture book), Teachings of Joseph Fielding Smith (or current RS/PH manual), and Children’s Songbook, then it’s more manageable. But if I ever stray away from that structure within a screen, heaven help me try to go through layers and layers of library menus to get to the hymn we’re singing sooner than about verse 3 (yes, our ward enjoys wonderfully at tempo Sacrament meeting chorister and organist!).
As I was sitting at the back of the overflow in Stake Conference last Sunday, without a program, struggling to identify and then pull up the hymn we were singing, I had the Eureka! moment: my phone should just be able to hear the organ’s opening notes or measures, and pull up the corresponding page of lyrics. Shazam for Hymns, if you will.
Julie M. Smith has a thoughtful and measured look at some comments by Elder Ballard (clip or full) that have been garnering some attention. I’m inclined to be forgiving of a man who has consistently spoken out in favor of council-based decision-making that includes women, and I agree with Julie that several interpretations are possible and it is unclear if he was attempting a joke. However, whether a joke or serious, clearly there is some feeling that “too much” is a threshold that could be crossed, or he wouldn’t have said it. So, either way, the interesting question is, how much is too much?
A common complaint of recent decades, from both within and without the church, is that the church leadership culture is too corporate. Complainants say there is too much of an MBA aesthetic, as opposed to, say, some ideal of religious leadership that exudes a more Zen, ascetic, or monastic sensibility. Not me! I wish we took the MBA theme just a little bit further! Case study: a flyer for a Europe area “Sisters’ Meeting” featuring photos of three headline speakers, all of them male.
I dearly hope we can yet step back from the brink, but assuming Kate Kelly and John Dehlin are excommunicated, I predict it will have no effect on Internet Mormonism. There will be anguish, bickering, and loads of clicks, but the world of Internet Mormonism will go on unchanged. The Bloggernacle vs “Nothing Wavering” vs anti-Mormon lines were etched in stone long ago; we’ve long since self-sorted into a stable system, and that system isn’t going anywhere. Neither will there be much of a chilling effect, because there is simply no way the church can discipline every blogger, and it’s not going to happen. But don’t call me a Pollyanna. My prediction is that the outcome will be much, much worse than the loss we would suffer if Internet Mormonism were damaged in some way.
Instead, the outcome will be great damage to bricks-and-mortar Mormonism. [Read more…]
Last week, Karen wrote a wrenching and important post about her observation that many women she has always known as faithful, devoted Latter-day Saints seem to be throwing in the towel on formal activity. It wasn’t a post about rumored statistics or surveys. It was a personal post about her friends, about women she loves.
From the comments section at KSL:
“I went to Tai Pan Trading for the bi-annual Ladies Night they have every conference weekend. The store was full to the rafters with women acting like…well acting like women who rapsodized over plates, wreaths, vases and easter decorations. Many were with at least 3 if not 4 generations of women. Grandmas, Mothers, daughters and granddaughters. They laughed together, asked each other for opinions on home decor ideas, and had a great time. It was a sisterhood of women shoppers, doing only what other women can understand. Any man would have felt like a total fish out of water at Ladies Night, just as I would feel at Priesthood Meeting.
I know a night of shopping for home decor seems trivial, and it is, but what lies behind it has a greater meaning. For most of us, home is where the heart is. We receive our greatest rewards and power within our homes and families.
I’m all for women who want to go for the board room. Do it, if that is what you want, but don’t drag me into by assuming that is surely what I want. It isn’t. I was proud to be a part of the sisterhood at Tai Pan tonight. After getting through the long checkout line, I had to hurry home so I could hang my new spring wreath on the front door. It looks beautiful.”
What’s wrong with this picture? More men in women’s meeting than women in general sessions of conference
I was talking to a friend about these images of gender imbalance in the speaking parts in General Conference. In trying to convey how alienating such an overwhelmingly male meeting can be for women in the audience, I posed this hypothetical: if there were a meeting as female as general conference is male, would men in the audience perceive it as a meeting for them, that related to them, where they felt comfortable and welcome? Or would they perceive it to be a women’s meeting? 
It occurred to me that this isn’t merely a hypothetical. We do have a meeting that is mostly female, the annual Relief Society meeting. Although we understand it to be a women’s meeting, there is actually more male participation in this “women’s” meeting than there is female participation in the meetings that are supposed to be for women as much as they are for men, the general sessions of conference. This is illustrated in a newly updated infographic (click to enlarge):
The Boggs-Doniphan Gentile (Non-Mormon) of the Year award honors the non-Mormon who had the greatest impact on Mormonism, for good or ill, during the year. (See that other blog for Mormon of the Year.) The previous winners are John Turner, Trey Parker, Matt Stone, and Robert Lopez, Judge Vaughn Walker, Stephen Colbert, and Mike Huckabee. There’s no need for nominations and voting this year. This happened:
Marco Petrollini believes in God, family, and country–Italy. He’s an architect and project manager and father of four young children. He keeps bees in his backyard vegetable garden, and finds much to admire in their selfless work ethic. So often in the church we think of the God-family-country trifecta in narrow terms of American exceptionalism, so I loved seeing how Marco proudly and naturally owned those themes as a Mormon and an Italian man. Meet Marco:
We return from summer vacation with a pair of videos about my favorite summertime activity: rock climbing. Meet Matthieu Bennasar, who heads up an IT security consultancy and escapes the pressure of his job by climbing up sheer, vertical rock faces (it really is very stress-relieving, trust me).
You’ve probably heard about dancing, cosplaying, YouTube sensation violinist Lindsey Stirling. Her fanciful creations include enchanting ice caves, Lord of the Rings medley in New Zealand, and Zelda medley in quite convincing Zelda costume. Her live tour recently brought her here to San Diego, to the ecstatic delight of my coworkers, self-described biggest fans of Lindsey. Lindsey’s Mormon.org video reveals how she has battled eating disorders and other challenges in her career. Meet Lindsey:
I’ve always fantasized about living on a farm, going out daily to check on my henhouse with a trusty dog ever at my heels. The lifestyle enables eating homegrown food, and embracing the raw physicality, smells, and textures of the natural world. When Kathy Peterson says, “I’m in heaven,” I believe it. The icing on the cake: to keep her children open to the world, she takes them traveling. Meet Kathy:
Lola is a barrister in training, working in the prosecutor’s office in London. She’s a huge football fan (check out the victory dance at 3:24) whose own career in the game was cut short by a major surgery to treat severe scoliosis just as she was set to accept a soccer scholarship at an American university. Meet Lola:
(Hey, it’s better than the original.)
Ask and it shall be given;
Seek and ye shall find;
Knock and it shall be opened unto you.
This month we feature a violin maker who lives in Vienna. She’s passionate about her craft. She is a loving aunt to her nieces and nephews. Meet Henriette:
This month we feature a pair of videos: Physicist Dr. Ngo, and Geneticist Dr. Livingstone.
This post from 2012 has become topical again due to All Enlisted’s new campaign on the issue. The original comments thread may be viewed here. This is the second in a series of archive posts on the topic [#1].
I really enjoyed working on various reinterpretations the Newsroom’s “Lay Leadership in the LDS Church” infographic. So I decided to try my hand at reinterpreting lds.org’s infographic about General Conference. Here is what I came up with:
From the archives: Let My People Pray: It’s time to consider having women give opening/closing prayers in General Conference
To my knowledge, no woman has ever given an opening or closing prayer in a general session of General Conference. It is time to reconsider this practice of not calling women to share in the giving of these prayers.
The church has been engaged in a sustained effort to identify and end inequalities between men and women that are without doctrinal justification, such as women not being allowed to give opening prayers in Sacrament Meetings and women’s voices not being adequately included in Ward Councils. In particular, the new Handbook and accompanying Worldwide Leadership Training Broadcast explicitly emphasize this theme. In doing so, the church is showing its awareness that seemingly little things, like restrictions on who gives the opening/closing prayers in Sacrament Meeting, can send a big message that “you aren’t important,” or, when working as they should (as under the new handbook), a message that “we really do value everyone’s voices.” These messages radiate from the little things to all aspects of how we treat one another.
Brother Talabi is a native of Nigeria, and recently served as bishop in his ward in Vienna, Austria. His happy, effortless manner is infectious, and I have a holy envy for the members of his ward. Enjoy:
Times and Seasons is preparing to name their Mormon of the Year, and so in keeping with tradition we will condescend to acknowledge one lucky person outside the faith. Yes, it is time for nominations for the fifth annual Boggs-Doniphan Gentile of the Year Award!
The award recognizes the non-Mormon who had the greatest impact–for good (Doniphan) or ill (Boggs)–on Mormons or Mormonism this year. The past winners are:
This year’s voting is now open!
Each Fast Sunday, we’ll feature a video from the Mormon.org website. This month we have a pair of videos featuring Mormons who live in Costa Rica. Freddy is a pizza chef and father to four children, two coming via adoption. Karina is a champion judo fighter and teacher. (Update: To view with English subtitles, press play and then press the “cc” button that appears at the bottom of the video.)
Friday and Saturday, Miller-Eccles study group in southern California will host Bob Rees (LDS, former Bishop) and Caitlin Ryan (psychologist and social worker) for a presentation about their joint work with the Family Acceptance Project. (EVENT DETAILS HERE.) The Family Acceptance Project’s goal is to educate families and communities about research showing that LGBT youth have much better outcomes (in terms of avoiding suicide, drug use, and other harmful behaviors) when their families exhibit accepting behaviors rather than rejecting behaviors in response to the child’s orientation. [Read more…]
It’s not Mitt Romney’s loss. His candidacy was enough to add a crescendo to the “Mormon moment” of the last few years, a moment Otterson rightly says is not so much a moment but part of a long arc of increasing recognition and acceptance. A Romney presidency would of course have been an incredible milestone, but a milestone on a marathon that neither began nor will end with Romney.
No, in the long view, I think there is another election result from last night that will have more pervasive and significant impact on Mormonism going forward. Yesterday, voters in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington voted in favor of marriage equality. [Read more…]
Each Fast Sunday, we’ll feature one video from the Mormon.org website. A few weeks ago, we highlighted Cecile Pelous of France and Nepal. Today, we feature Vanessa, an aerial dancer from London.