Pre-Review Survey: Is Parenting Easy and Fun?

Bryan Caplan, an economist, blogger, and owner of the world’s ugliest website, has written a new parenting book (Parenting ideas! From an economist!) called Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think. The book is available for pre-order on Amazon.com here, and will be released in mid-April.

I plan on getting a copy and doing a full review later, but before doing so, I am curious to see what the gut reaction of BCC’s readers is to the simple statements found in the title: Parenting is a) less work and b) more fun than conventional wisdom indicates. As a father of two children, I struggled all weekend in trying to decide if I agree or disagree with either statement, and am still not sure of myself. If forced to make an unqualified, un-nitpicky decision, I would probably say that a) is false and b) is true in my experience.

If you have children, are these statements true for your experience? What were your expectations of the hardships and enjoyment of parenting before children? Has your perception of these things changed with time? Do you think that your religiosity affects your perception of how easy/enjoyable parenting is? [Read more...]

Big Love Report

So I’m watching the end of the Jets v. Steelers game last night, and it’s about 8:50 p.m., when I realize I’ve missed the second episode in Big Love’s new and final season. But then it dawns on me that HBO repeats the new episodes immediately at 9:00 p.m., so I was able to watch it. (The first episode last week was mainly about all the blowback the family experienced after Bill publicly admitted to being a polygamist.) There were four aspects to this episode that I found particularly interesting, which I wanted to highlight here. (Spoiler alert for anyone who hasn’t seen the episode yet and is still planning on it.) Also, please note that my characterization is based on my hazy memory, I don’t have a transcript to consult or anything like that. [Read more...]

Boggs-Doniphan Gentile of the Year Award 2010 – WINNER!

Voting is over, and the 2010 Gentile of the Year is Judge Vaughn Walker!

Judge Vaughn Walker

Judge Vaughn Walker. (Photo credit: Mike Linksvayer for WikiMedia Commons)

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God The Wife

Women are endowed with special traits and attributes that come trailing down through eternity from a divine mother. Young women have special God-given feelings about charity, love, and obedience. Coarseness and vulgarity are contrary to their natures. They have a modifying, softening influence on young men. Young women were not foreordained to do what priesthood holders do. Theirs is a sacred, God-given role, and the traits they received from heavenly mother are equally as important as those given to the young men.
—Vaughn J. Featherstone, October 1987

This past year I was asked to give a talk on the value of motherhood in our Mother’s Day sacrament meeting service. As I prepared the talk, I posed two questions to a number of women and mothers I know, including my wife.

What is the thing you most enjoy hearing in talks about motherhood?

What is the thing you most dread hearing in such talks?

The answer, it turns out, in virtually all cases, was identical. For both questions: [Read more...]

Let There Be Light, If Only We Could Agree on What Light Was

“The assault on moral principles and religious freedom has never been stronger…. there are also people who are determined to both destroy faith and reject any religious influence in society….” Quentin L. Cook, Let There Be Light, October 2010 General Conference.

It is hard to understand what Cook, as well as other Mormon speakers in recent years making similar arguments, means when he refers to “religious freedom.” I am, as always, tempted to ask what is happening today which limits our ability to worship more than the conflict between the church and the US government over plural marriage, when the church was disincorporated and lost most of its property. But restraint on ability to worship seems not to be central to what Cook has in mind in referring to religious freedom. Instead, the operative issue here involves a perceived rejection of “religious influence in society.” Let me allow Cook to elaborate: [Read more...]

The Church Responds to HRC Petition

The Church has just issued an official response to the petition offered by the Human Rights Campaign. Article from the HRC here; full article available from the LDS Newsroom here. Text of the official response below:

My name is Michael Otterson. I am here representing the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to address the matter of the petition presented today by the Human Rights Campaign.

While we disagree with the Human Rights Campaign on many fundamentals, we also share some common ground. This past week we have all witnessed tragic deaths across the country as a result of bullying or intimidation of gay young men. We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty, or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation, or for any other reason. Such actions simply have no place in our society. [Read more...]

Thursday Morning Quickie #20

[Note: The following text was taken verbatim from the M Men-Gleaner Manual, "Love, Marriage, and You" used in 1956-1957. Previous entries in this series can be found here.]

Lesson 9

Becoming Well Acquainted

ABOUT a year ago a young man, age twenty, met a girl in Salt Lake City at a church social. He danced with her twice that evening and then made a date for the next afternoon. They went out together every evening for the next five days. At the end of that time they both thought they were madly in love and agreed to get married, which they did. [Read more...]

Meet The Polygamists Next Door

MikeInWeHo is an old friend of BCC, and currently serves as our Special Media Correspondent, providing commentary on TV shows we can’t watch because we’re too cheap to pay for cable. His past work can be seen here, here, here, and here.

Sunday night brought the premier of the new series Sister Wives on The Learning Channel. The affable Kody Brown and his three wives have opened their home to the world, and we get a new take on contemporary polygamy. This is billed as a reality series, but are these people for real or is this TV with an agenda? [Read more...]

Damon Linker’s Religious Test


[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

My friend Damon’s new book, The Religious Test: Why We Must Question the Beliefs of Our Leaders, will be published later this month. It’s already attracting attention (partly due to a well-placed précis of the book which Damon wrote for the Washington Post), and it should: it’s an excellent book. It isn’t so much a scholarly work that will fundamentally affect how people think about the history, nature, and role of religious belief in a liberal society like our own, but a thoughtful and scholarly work of argument, one that has the potential to orient much of our thinking about religious candidates for office and religious claims in public life generally. The thesis of the book, in a nutshell? Damon is a liberal, through and through, and he worries about what he sees as all the illiberal ways (some of which are easily recognized, but some of which are not) in which the American electorate, voters and parties and interest groups alike, often fail to ask the hard–even “religious”–questions of those who come before us, asking for a vote with one hand, while keeping their Bible (or Koran, or Book of Mormon) close by with the other. [Read more...]

Thursday Morning Quickie #19

[Note: The following text was taken verbatim from the M Men-Gleaner Manual, "Love, Marriage, and You" used in 1956-1957. Previous entries in this series can be found here.]

Lesson 14

Wedding and Honeymoon

A FEW YEARS ago an M Man who had been president of his ward group and an attractive Gleaner girl were married in the Salt Lake Temple. They had known each other since they were children, had gone together off and on for nearly five years, and were deeply in love. [Read more...]

Interview with BYU student Cary Crall

On Tuesday, BYU’s student newspaper, the Daily Universe, published a letter to the editor from pre-med student Cary Crall about Prop. 8 and the ensuing Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial. Crall noted that many of the arguments that were used during the campaign were never even presented at trial, and those that were presented did not stand up to Judge Walker’s scrutiny. Crall’s letter concludes that, “The real reason [for supporting Prop. 8] is that a man who most of us believe is a prophet of God told us to support the amendment.” His letter has since been removed from the Daily Universe website (the above link is to google cache), with this explanation:
[Read more...]

Compton Reviews Mormon Convert, Mormon Defector

Todd Compton is an independent historian, having published many articles and books. He is perhaps best known for writing In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith. He has two forthcoming volumes; the first, co-authored with Leland Gentry is due out soon: Fire and the Sword: A History of the Latter-Day Saints in Northern Missouri from 1836 to 1839 (Kofford Books). The second volume is a biography of Jacob Hamblin. This review was originally given by him at Sunstone West, March 27, 2010.

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Talking About Talking About Stuff

Sometime married people get themselves into a situation that is hard to get out of.  An issue between them — how to raise the kids, how to spend the money, what to do about the future — becomes so contentious and difficult for them to talk about that they both get tired of arguing, throw up their hands,  and give up.  It’s easier in the short run — no more fighting! — but in the meantime the checkbook doesn’t get balanced, the kids don’t get any clear direction, and the future approaches anyway, whether they are prepared or not.

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How I Met Your Mother, or, A Terrible Basis for Romance, or, God’s Guiding Hand

I have recently been reading some writings from my Mormon pioneer ancestors, especially those related to my great-great-great grandmother, Sarah DeArmon Pea Rich. One of the interesting stories from her journal pertains to the budding romance between herself and her future husband, Charles Coulson Rich. In her own words:

“One of the Elders who had been several times at our house took a great deal of pains counseling me and my sister to be careful and not marry anyone that did not believe as we did, and told us the consequences that it might be the means of our not having the privilege of gathering with the Saints; and once when he called, he said to me that he had recommended me to a very fine young man that he thought would make me such a good companion, and told me his name. [Read more...]

Real polygamist housewives

So last week when Judge Walker issued his decision overturning Prop. 8, one of my friends posted as her status update, “Is polygamy next?” I didn’t know if she was being silly or sincere, but if any of you all are wondering the same thing, let me reassure you: No. Polygamy is not next. That’s just something we conservatives make up to scare people. Ha ha, that was a joke (sort of). You know how I know polygamy isn’t next? Because unlike attitudes toward homosexuals, attitudes toward polygamists haven’t improved much in the last hundred years. Most people have at least one friend or someone in their family who is gay, but not many people know any polygamists. Also, when was the last time you saw a movie or TV show character with a sassy polygamist friend? Never, that’s when. And you’re not likely to start anytime soon. (Not until someone options my screenplay, that is.) [Read more...]

On second thought, never mind

Over the weekend I wrote a post responding to the court decision to overturn Prop. 8. It was very cathartic for me. I took everything that I’d ever thought or tried to write about same-sex marriage and distilled it to its essence, which was 1,841 words–long for a blog post, but most of my blog posts are (too) long, and when you consider the tens of thousands of words I had to work with, I’d call it a pretty awesome distillation. Of course, you will just have to take my word for it because once I had finished writing, I knew that I wouldn’t publish it. [Read more...]

Harvey Unga

July has been a busy, but good, time for former BYU footbal standout Harvey Unga. On July 4th his first child was born. He is getting married today (the 16th) to Keilani Moeak. And yesterday he was selected by the Chicago Bears in the seventh round of the NFL supplemental draft. [Read more...]

Marriage Fine?

Here’s an “outside the box” concept for you. Let me know whether you think we should implement something like this in the modern Church:

“The Lord commanded the first man to take a wife, and the commandment is applicable to every other man, therefore those who do not obey it are living in persistent opposition to the will of heaven. It was suggested at one of our Conferences, that all the unmarried young men over a certain age should pay $200 annually to the P.E. Fund till married. Those young men who are liable to this fine are reminded that the fund needs replenishing, and he would advise those young ladies who are still single through the dereliction of such young men, to stir them up and help collect the fines.” [1]

[Read more...]

Thursday Morning Quickie #11

[Note: The following text was taken verbatim from the "M Men-Gleaner Manual, Love, Marriage, and You" used in 1956-1957. Previous entries in this series can be found here.]

Lesson 20

Preparing for Children

This lesson is to be taught separately to M Men and Gleaners

JACK AND MARY “fell in love” during a period of two and a half years of dating and courtship. They wanted to marry and both wanted children. She was twenty-one and he was twenty-five. How could they get married and have a family and still allow Jack to finish his professional schooling? [Read more...]

Big Finale: Sunshine is the Best Disinfectant

This post will discuss the season 4 finale of Big Love, HBO’s series following the lives of a polygamous family in Salt Lake City.  Enter the spoiler zone at your own risk… [Read more...]

Thursday Morning Quickie #3

[Note: The following text was taken verbatim from the "M Men-Gleaner Manual, Love, Marriage, and You" used in 1956-1957. Previous entries in this series can be found here.]

Lesson 8

Age for Marriage

A few years ago in a southern city in the United States a young man, age twenty-one, was hired to be a “baby sitter” for a family which lived in the neighborhood. The “baby” in this particular situation happened to be a charming young girl, age thirteen. The fellow took his school books along to study. He enjoyed being paid for taking care of this young girl and the parents hired him on several occasions. It so happened that the fellow and the girl became enamoured of each other and decided to get married. They were afraid to tell her parents so they ran away and were married secretly. How long did the marriage last? Only a few weeks, as the girl finally told her parents and pleaded with them to have the marriage annulled, which they did.

Quickie Questions

1. What were some of the reasons why this marriage had very little chance of success?
2. What do you think is the best age for marriage?

________________________

Thursday Morning Quickie #3

Thursday Morning Quickie #2

[Note: The following text was taken verbatim from the "M Men-Gleaner Manual, Love, Marriage, and You" used in 1956-1957. Previous entries in this series can be found here.]

Lesson 4

Marriageable Personalities

A few years ago two girls–we shall call them Mary and Sue–attended the same college in the East. Mary was a beautiful girl with long dark hair, blue eyes and with an attractive figure. She was neat, clean and had a pleasing voice. However, she was not popular with the boys. In fact, she felt inferior to most of her girl and boy friends. Sue was very short in stature, not pretty, but was liked by nearly all. She had a slightly blemished complexion and her hair was coarse and straight. Yet she was constantly being asked for dates by boys. Both of these girls belonged to the Latter-day Saint Church and were living the gospel.

Quickie Questions

1. What are some of the possible reasons why Sue was popular with the boys and Mary was not?
2. Is physical attraction the main attribute sought after in dates?

________________________

Thursday Morning Quickie #2

You Make The Call: Marriage Counseling

You just moved into this branch 3 months ago and last Sunday they made you the branch president. During the week  sister X(*), a woman in the branch whom you barely know, made an appointment with you and shared some sad, shocking news: her husband has been unfaithful to her and broken his marriage vows. She offers as evidence the fact that she observed him entering a “house of ill repute” (her words) twice during the past week. She even has the dates and times written down.

[Read more...]

2010 or 2012?

Yesterday, the largest organization involved in 2008′s failed campaign to defeat Proposition 8 in California announced that it would be waiting until 2012 to make another attempt at legalizing gay marriage. While some other groups, such as Courage Campaign, have indicated that they will continue to push for a ballot measure in 2010, this decision by Equality California, which was based at least in part on feedback from many of the largest donors/contributors to the No on 8 campaign, could determine what actually happens, and for the purposes of this post, I assume that it does. Because I live in California, I personally am grateful for the possibility of not seeing this fight again next year. However, there are implications of this delay for everyone with a stake in this issue, politicians included.
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God Only Knows: A Conversation with the Creators of Big Love

MikeInWeHo is an old friend of BCC.

Last Sunday at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles a panel convened to discuss the HBO series Big Love. Sponsored by Outfest, the event promised an inside look at how a drama about polygamy made its way to television. [Read more...]

Is There a Trade-Off Between Rights for Women and Acceptance of Homosexuality?

BYU political scientist Valerie Hudson recently published a now much-discussed LDS feminist argument against same-sex marriage.  The central thrust of her argument is that there is a trade-off between gender equality and acceptance of homosexuality, and that Mormons should favor gender equality by opposing same-sex marriage and acquiescence toward homosexuality more generally.  The normative part of this argument depends on the empirical claim: that there is indeed a trade-off.  Can this assertion survive empirical scrutiny?  If not, Hudson’s entire essay basically fails. [Read more...]

Same-Sex Marriage Debates in 2009 and Beyond

This is not a post about whether we should have same-sex marriage.  Rather, it is an exploration of the ways that strategic options for same-sex marriage proponents and advocates of traditional restrictions on marriage are evolving.  What kinds of arguments are likely to be meaningful to persuadable people? [Read more...]

In Defense of Passive Aggression

David Heap’s temporary BCC reign of terror continues.

But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father?

(Matthew 21:28-30)

I first learned of passive aggression from K-Lynn Paul’s article in Dialogue, “Passive Aggression and the Believer.” K-Lynn Paul’s article is excellent and, I daresay, timeless. I commend his piece to you. I do not think a lot has changed since then. [Read more...]

Big Love: Res Publica

Here’s another post from the Dialogue editorial board. Many of you know Matthew Bowman from Juvenile Instructor. He is a graduate student in History at Georgetown, and is a member-at-large of the editorial board because he knows about everything. Also, he’s a very good sport about playing Monkey in the Middle with small, unruly children, even in freezing weather. This is his thoughtful take on the Big Love debacle.

Big Love: Res Publica

Last week, for probably the first time in history, TV Guide broke controversial news. And this week, it came to pass; Big Love showed a portion of the LDS temple ceremony; specifically, a fraction of a prayer circle and a portion – probably the most sensitive portion – of the veil ceremony. The consequent and rather predictable Mormon uproar has taken the form of a rally to protect the temple; tiresome email petitions and facebook groups and YouTube videos abound. But what, beneath the surface, is this debate really about? Big Love is a complicated show, and deserves an interpretation that scratches below the surface. [Read more...]

Liveblogging Big Love

I’m watching the episode now. The bishop and SP just came to visit Barb at home. They mentioned that she and Bill haven’t paid tithing for seven years. She says yes, they’re “inactive now,” they went through a bad time, and she was very sick. So the bishop just comes right out and asks if she’s living in a polygamous relationship. She’s shocked by the question, but after a pause acknowledges that she is. She explains that Bill got a testimony of it. She didn’t at first, but she thinks she does now. They informed her that they were there to determine whether they needed to take action regarding her membership.

I’ll post this now and then in the comments describe the further developments as the episode unfolds.
[Read more...]

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