I’ve skimmed the last few years of general conference talks, and a clear pattern emerges. We are repeatedly admonished by church leaders to “love and honor”, “reach out the hand of fellowship”, “seek out and befriend”, and “welcome into church” a particular group of people. Our leaders are speaking about gays and lesbians.
I hope you can pardon me for linking to research that is two years old, but I just found it. It helps me explain why some of our conversations, including conversations on blogs, are unproductive.
If you feel like buying a new laptop computer, go ahead and click on the “More” link. You will either laugh so hard the computer falls off your lap, or you will pick it up and throw it against the wall. Your response probably depends upon how you view this, the 249,428th installment in the ongoing discussion of gender in the church.
Forty-five years ago, Americans were shocked at the news reports and TV footage from Birmingham, Alabama.
One of the great things about being a Mormon is that you stand a very good chance of sitting close to small children in church meetings. Over the years, I have made many friends among the under five set by discreetly going cross-eyed, pulling faces, wiggling my ears, and not ratting them out to their parents when they take second helpings from the tray of bread as it passes by. Paper Rock Scissors is a lot more fun when you need to play it so as not to be detected by authority figures.
When it comes to affairs of the heart, de gustibus non est disputandum covers all the bases. If you are anything like me, the suggestion that there is anything rational about the way human beings fall in love and pair off gives you a chuckle, and you will positively split a gut laughing at the idea that our marriage patterns can be explained by formulae such as this: bf i (vi) = ? + vi ? ? 1 +p1 + ?ic(vi ? ?)2 for i = 1, 2. Nevertheless, it is worth suspending your hilarity long enough to read this article. It attempts to explain why all the good men are already married.
You have recently been called to a position in the ward that requires your attendance at ward council. You just moved in six months ago, and one of the things you noticed right away and really like is how people in the ward magnify their callings and go the extra mile in assuring that the work of the church goes smoothly. Your fellow council members are not only very talented people, they are also models of commitment and dedication. This is, hands down, the best ward you have ever lived in.
…for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible.
Joseph Smith History, verse 12
Presiders get their nourishment from cornmeal dusted kaiser rolls. Nurturers enjoy mini-croissants.
In January, when my co-blogger Ronan wondered why, in a worldwide church, we have so many stories about baseball and the lessons learned from hoeing sugar beets in the church magazines, some of us essentially told him shut up and quit kvetching. Now the March Ensign contains a small but fascinating anomaly. On pages 78-79, in the Latter-day Voices section, we read a well-written story called The Savior’s Saving Hand. It is an account of a man who nearly drowned but who was rescued at the last minute, and who, later in life, finds himself drowning in sin and is rescued by the Redeemer. Many of us have similar experiences. The story is accompanied by an illustration depicting a swimmer in distress, a hand reaching towards him from a boat, and in the background, some beautiful purple and gold desert cliffs, stark and barren of vegetation. It looks like either Lake Powell in Utah, or Lake Mead in Nevada. But the story takes place in Sardis, Mississippi. Which one of these is not like the others?
This is a tribute to Wilford Woodruff, on the 201st anniversary of his birth.
On June 5, 1900, Carrie A. Nation walked into Dobson’s Saloon in Kiowa, Kansas with her hands full of rocks in obedience to a revelation from God. She announced to the sad sacks present: “Men, I have come to save you from a drunkard’s fate.” She then began smashing the bar’s stock and bottles with her rocks. She was a leader in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and she and her sisters were arrested over thirty times between 1900 and 1910. They went into bars in Wichita and Kansas City, singing hymns and carrying hatchets which they used to destroy the fixtures and the alcohol they found there. They were the forerunners to the prohibition era which existed in the United States between 1920 and 1933.
My family is in the middle of a job-related move from one city to another, so while we wait for the house to sell, I’m living in a small apartment in the new city during the work week. A few nights ago, there was a knock on my door. I wasn’t expecting anyone, so I checked out the window to see who it was. Two young men in white shirts, ties, and name tags were standing on my steps. As I crossed the room to the door, I briefly considered having some fun, hiding my identity, and pretending to be a golden investigator, but when I opened the door, I was just so happy to see them, I couldn’t do it. I smiled and said “Hello, Elders!”
Hell has officially frozen over.
In the days before the church had a 24 hour hotline, mission presidents from around the world who needed advice after 5:00 p.m. Mountain time would call the phone number at the Hinckley residence. Marjorie Hinckley reported that their family’s dinner and her husband’s sleep were often interrupted by a request for advice from some worried mission president in some remote corner of the world who didn’t know what to do with a homesick missionary, or one who was found to be in transgression. For several years, Gordon B. Hinckley served as an on-call 24/7 customer service rep for the entire missionary program of the church.
Usually an interesting article merits just a link on the sidebar, but due to Pastor Cecil Murray’s visibility, I wanted to draw attention to this interview by means of a regular blog post. Pastor Murray is featured prominently in the documentary Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons, including in this trailer of the movie.
Pastor Murray thinks that Mitt Romney has faced more prejudice in this election that Barack Obama. he also says:
. . .if you would find a church as socially conscious as the Mormon Church, you would have done well. The outreach, the worldwide missionary outreach, young adults, youth, volunteering their time, everyone is a minister in a ministry of outreach, that would be a wonderful model for all of our churches to adopt.
This is an interesting inteview. It is always helpful to understand how others see us, and on the day of President Hinckley’s funeral, it is appropriate to hear some Mormon love. Pastor Chip just went on my list of favorite people.
Sometimes the church releases results of internal studies which are conducted to determine what is effective and what is not effective in the effort to help our young men and women live up to church standards and make the transition into adulthood as active members. Invariably the studies reach the conclusion that parents and home life are the major determining factor. Ironically, in our efforts to emphasize the importance of home and family, we simultaneously reduce the importance of the various church youth programs.
If you saw You Make the Call and came here expecting a quality post from my co-blogger Kevin Barney, I’m sorry to disappoint you. He kindly allowed me to move in on a good thing.
You are the bishop of the Outer Suburbia 2nd ward, and your Sunday starts with a 6 ack emma PPI with the stake president. Yes, you are aware that the ward’s home teaching numbers need to improve, and yes, you are aware that the ward’s fast offering fund is in the red. Bishopric meeting and ward council run until church starts at 10. You catch a breather at about 1:30, long enough to eat the granola bar and banana in your briefcase, and then you start in on the long afternoon and evening of interviews. [Read more...]
According to this press release, the Unitarian Universalists have decided to advertise their religion within the pages of programs sold at college football bowl games this season. I admire the optimism behind this ad campaign, but this strikes me as an even bigger exercise in futility than sending 19 year olds door to door.
This story was originally published in a collection entitled “Wake Me for the Resurrection”, and is reproduced here with permission and attribution. The author is Robert Kirby and the publisher is Slickrock Books. The book was published in 1996, and was illustrated by Pat Bagley. In the email Kirby sent which granted permission to use the story, he said: “By the way, this story is 100 percent true. “Larry” and I were office partners when it happened. He’s still a good friend. I just won’t home teach him.” I don’t know what to make of that claim. In order for the story to be true, it would mean that home teachers were out making their visits before the last day of the month. Does that sound plausible to you?
Jingle Bell Rocks
by Robert Kirby
Our teachings on the principle of forgiveness leave us some room for improvisation. We speculate about the nature of the unpardonable sin, and wonder, since we are commanded to forgive seventy times seven, if we are justified in holding a grudge upon the 491st occurrence of the offense. And sometimes we itch to settle a few scores, Old Testament style. This week, I reached the limit of my ability to forgive, and I find myself wanting to call down plagues of frogs and lice and locusts and boils on the bozos responsible for dragging something precious through the mud. I speak, of course, of the owners, player’s union, and commissioner in major league baseball.
Next time Gospel Doctrine class starts to drag, raise your hand and ask: “How do we reconcile our claim to have the fulness of the gospel with the ninth article of faith? If the truth has already been revealed, what is the purpose of continuing revelation?”
I have had this discussion with four different active members, and I’ve heard four different answers. If we think of the restoration as a process, it is worth asking if the process is close to being complete, or if it is just getting a good start.
The assertion is often made by people who are smart enough to know better that modern Mormons won’t vote for a Democrat. The reasons that are usually advanced include party stances on abortion and SSM, and sometimes the sexual adventures of Bill Clinton. If the person making this argument lives in Utah, perhaps the strongest answer is to point out that Jim Matheson, (D., Salt Lake City) is probably his representative in congress.
The name of the church unapologetically announces that these are the last days, but there are questions among us as to exactly what that means. In Evelyn Waugh’s hilarious novel Scoop, Theodore arises from his bed each morning, goes to his window, and, while gazing out on the new day, recites the words from a hymn: “Change and decay in all around I see.” There is a strong strain in Mormonism that tends to this view, too. We are in a state of decline which will continue until God makes a final end to it all. The eschaton is the event where the King of Kings will put an end to wickedness by taking down all who practice it and settling their hash once and for all.
While reading an interesting article in Dialogue about dissent in the church (you can read it here), I came upon an even more interesting statement by Joseph F. Smith:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the most democratic institution in the world.
Improvement Era, December 1917, p. 100
Proceeding on the assumption that it is best to take statements from church presidents seriously, how are we to understand this statement?
I know a man who is a police officer in a small town in Idaho. He told me one of the worst parts of his job is when he gets a call for shoplifting or domestic disturbance or DWI and then finds out the problem involves a fellow church member. In an effort to cheer him up, I joked that he probably knows more dirt about the people in the ward than the bishop. He agreed, but he didn’t think it was funny.
Mormonism takes a remarkably relaxed and lenient view of sin. [Read more...]
Political socialization is described as the process by which people acquire their political beliefs, and there are people who have made the study of this process the focus of their lives’ work. Their research shows that, for a very high percentage of us, our political beliefs are predictable based on a combination of factors such as the political orientation of our parents, the schools we attended and the subjects we studied, and whether we have personally experienced events like long-term unemployment, long-term poverty, or a depression.