Has religious militantism ever accomplished anything good? I suppose one could turn back to the Old Testament and find the children of Israel destroying cities, especially as they entered Israel. One could certainly argue that that militantism was good–at least as a base line, good in the sense that God was clearly at the head. But outside of the OT, has religious militantism ever accomplished anything good. Mormonism, of course, went through its stage of militantism, though it was muted as compared to some other religious, militant phases through history.
In October Conference 2000, Elder Oaks stated that "The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account." He was explaining that more important than what we accumulate or have is what we actually become. However, I believe his analogy also carries forward to imply that there is no straight, temporal quid pro quo in the gospel. It is not a bank account where we store up good works that equal a certain sum of blessings to be withdrawn when needed. By which I mean, if you pay your tithing you can’t always expect that mystery check to arrive the very next day.
And so are right wingers. The centrist compromise over judicial nominees struck by 14 members of the senate got me thinking: Should Mormons be centrists? I tend to answer that question in the affirmative. The oft spoken Mormon maxim of "Moderation in all things," seems to apply to politics as much as anything else. As Mormons we should be moderate in our politics. We should look for common ground, build on common beliefs, and avoid extremist views. However, this proposition leads to several problems.
Can we be both faithful in the Church and strong analytical thinkers? Here is what I see as the crux of the dilemma for me: I desire more than anything to be faithful to the Lord, the Church, and its leaders. As such, I am prepared to disavow any school of thought, abandon any premise or conclusion, if the Lord, through his prophet, informs me that it should be abandoned. This, of course, is anathema to a good analytical thinker. As a good analytical thinker I should follow the line of reasoning where ever it takes me. In fact, I simply don’t trust academics who have any agenda (any held belief that strongly dissuades them from following the evidence to any destination): it skews their work. They miraculously always arrive at the conclusion that fits their world view.
Or so Malcolm Gladwell asserts in an overall very average book, Blink, containing this little gem: we tell ourselves lies. He explains that we are too quick to come up with explanations for things we have no explanation for. He then discusses several examples. Both examples that stuck with me came from a sports researcher. The researcher filmed and broke down the body movements of athletes digitally. From his many studies he discovered two facts that contradicted two well known popular explanations for famous sports stars’ success. In one, he discovered that Andre Agassi does not roll his wrist when he hits a forehand. Agassi, in fact, only rolls his wrist after the ball has been hit. Yet if you ask Agassi why his forehand is successful, he confidently explains that it is because he rolls his wrist over the ball when he strikes it.
It would be hard to claim that we are NOT one of the most patriotic Church memberships in the country–if not THE most patriotic. Mormons love America. We love hot dogs and apple pie. We support our troops and hang flags from our homes and cars. We LOVE America and we love democracy. We fought the red scare, dismissed communism, and embraced democracy as the government that God wants on the earth–at least right now. But this raises some interesting questions regarding where we came from and whether our 19th century counterparts loved democracy as much as we do.
The recent discovery of the BTK murderer in Kansas raises the eerie question, perhaps best phrased by the Shadow: who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? We are told in the JST version of the Bible to judge righteous judgment (JST John 7:24)–But what do we do when all of us are seemingly fooled, even the righteous? And can we ever feel safe and secure enough to trust those around us (even our fathers, brothers, and sons)?
Can you teach the gospel in a way that appeals to all Mormons? I didn’t think this was possible and so my answer has always been a resounding: NO! However, my wife has begun attending an Institute class in our stake taught during the week at 9:30am. The class fills with mainly women for this reason, but a rather diverse group. From very conservative/traditional women to rather liberal women. All speak glowingly of the class.
As I speak to many of my more conservative-minded LDS friends, one political issue appears to dominate as the number 1 voting issue: Supreme Court Justices. While others like abortion and SSM also seem prevalent, my un-scientific and anecdotal evidence points to Supreme Court Justices as the number 1 issue.
As a prelude to my main point, imagine groups of earnest Utah and Idaho Mormon farmers sent to school and college for the first time in their family’s history. This particular group, you should be imagining, is bright, though intellectually inexperienced. They do very well at the small colleges springing up or gaining root in Utah and Idaho in the early 1900s and decide to attend law school. They apply to all the big shot schools: Harvard, Columbia, Penn (this is the early 1900s after all).
Many of us who blog in the esteemed bloggernacle have profited from the incredibly low cost of a BYU education. Whether we attended ourselves and personally paid the low tuition, or a spouse or child attended. But is BYU tuition too cheap?
I had a very interesting experience this week. An acquaintance of mine who is an artist asked me to pose as his model for Jesus in several scenes he is painting for the interior of a church. My first thought was: I can’t believe this is the first time such a request of me has been made, I mean the similarities are apparent. Ok, so that wasn’t really my first thought. My first thought was: what an intriguing idea. What will it feel like, if anything, for me as an imperfect mortal to pose as deity.
Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites, Iron Rod key chains, Captain Moroni action figures, Seven Habits of Highly Effective Poorly Written Books… & All priestcraft. All of these are objects that take what is sacred, cheapen it, and sell it to the Mormon masses. Members of the Church who take the sacred and sell it for a quick buck. If this isn’t modern-day priestcraft, what is? As McConkie defined it, “when their interest is in gaining personal popularity and financial gain.” (Mormon Doctrine, 593)
Editor’s Note: HL Rogers is a bloggernacle neophyte, but since he’s a mormon lawyer, he should feel right at home. He suggested this as an idea for a guest post, and we’re more than willing to oblige.
I was sitting in my car the other night driving home from work when I heard a story about global warming on my NPR. The story described how the Bush administration has earmarked $6 billion to prepare for catastrophic events predicted by proponents of global warming. Of course my eyebrows shot up: Bush administration preparing for global warming? This story was too questionable to be believed without some fact checking. Of course, I’m far too lazy for that, so instead I began to wonder about Mormons, eschatology, and global warming.