Does hiring a housekeeper or gardener harm your soul?

American GothicThe Wall Street Journal reports today about the business of online micro-service clearinghouses, where customers put out requests for household and other takss (hat tip Rosalynde Welch‘s Facebook wall). The article mentions jobs like taming an out of control muck of a compost pile, purchasing and delivering various items, and fishing a dropped set of keys from a sewer. The conversation on Facebook turned to debating whether or not there is something distasteful, or even morally wrong, about hiring help to perform domestic work (for the purposes of this conversation, let’s consider gardening, housecleaning, housekeeping, personal shopping, meal preparation, and the like. We’ll leave nannies/childcare for another day). My first reaction was an emphatic “No!” there is nothing wrong with it, but in trying to articulate the reasons why, I realized I am much more ambivalent than that.
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Monday Morning Theological Poll: “Reproductive Wrongs?” Edition

Two polls this time. Answer both please.

Please justify your comments below. I promise I won’t turn you in to the bishop for anything you say. [Read more...]

Testimony

This guest submission is from Morris Thurston, a friend of BCC and the Mormon Studies community.

Last Sunday my wife, Dawn, and I were the Sacrament Meeting speakers in our ward, assigned to speak on “Testimony.” For inspiration, we were directed to the sermon given by Cecil O. Samuelson, Jr. in the April 2011 conference on the same subject.

This was a challenging topic for me. It isn’t that I don’t have a testimony; it’s just that my testimony is a bit different than those we typically hear during fast and testimony meeting. After reviewing Elder Samuelson’s excellent talk, and after much thought and prayer, I decided to try to be honest in discussing the underpinnings of my testimony. While the thoughts I expressed would not have been groundbreaking had they been expressed in the nearly-anything-goes sphere of the bloggernacle, they were unusual in the context of a sacrament meeting in a conservative Orange County, California ward.

It is likely there were some in the congregation who disagreed with aspects of my talk; if so, they were kind enough not to mention it. What gratified me were those members who talked to me afterward and seemed genuinely touched and thankful that I had been able to express what so seldom is expressed in Church. The members of my ward do not read the bloggernacle (I took a poll in my High Priests Quorum and not a single brother was familiar with By Common Consent, or any other blog). For some of them, apparently, these thoughts provided great comfort. If only a few were spiritually touched, I had accomplished my objective.

———————

UNDERPINNINGS OF MY TESTIMONY
Morris A. Thurston
Anaheim, California, Sixth Ward Sacrament Meeting, October 30, 2011 [Read more...]

Monday Morning Theological Poll: “But…what will the neighbors think?” Edition [Edited]

Consider the following statement and whether you, and other Mormons, believe it.

Give your answers below. If you have more than one, we understand.

Bonus Poll: I was told that I got the first poll slightly wrong. Here is another, related, possibly corrected poll. [Read more...]

An Open Letter to My Son

Dear A. ,

Fourteen years ago today your father and I were married. Not much the sealer said before the ceremony has stuck with me. However one thing has stayed with me,  “Don’t fritter away your time.”

I’m proud of you. You worked really hard and saved to help buy your iPod. I notice you‘re pretty attached to it. Yesterday while inspecting it I noticed you recently added more games and other apps beyond Angry Birds. [Read more...]

Self-Assessment and Babies

Casual listeners* to general conference may have come away with the impression that the Church, as represented by Elder Neil L. Andersen, really wants us to have more babies. There is plenty of reason for this, but I’m going to suggest that Elder Andersen was making a subtler and more nuanced point. The target of the post was not childlessness; it was selfishness. [Read more...]

Mormon Familiolatry

In a recent conversation with several friends, I was unfortunate enough to hear the following accounts:

“My daughter has a friend she loves to play with. Her mom has been great about taking her if I’m traveling out of town or in childcare pinch, and I thought she and I were friends, too. My daughter wanted to play with her daughter recently, and I said ‘We’d really love to have her over here today–I feel like I’m always imposing on you.’ And she said, ‘Well, it’s nothing personal, but I don’t like to let my kids play in homes where the parents are divorced. I just don’t want them to feel that spirit.’ [Read more...]

Time to meet the parents!

This morning a fellow BCC perma brought this Meridian article to my attention:  “Discussing Pornography with Your Future Son-in-Law” by Geoff Steurer, a licensed marriage and family therapist and founding director of a treatment program for those impacted by pornography and sexual addiction.  With those credentials, one might imagine that Brother Steurer would know what he was talking about.  However, without even looking at the article, my visceral response was, “Ew!  Ew ew ew ew ew ew EW!”

But I knew I should be fair, so I clicked on link and read the whole thing.  Then my response was…well, do you remember that old Saturday Night Live commercial for Bad Idea Jeans[Read more...]

Thursday PM Marriage Poll

For this extremely important poll, please make the following assumptions:

1. An able-bodied husband
2. An able-bodied wife
3. At least one child
4. Children cannot feed themselves, and scream continuously unless someone pays attention to them.
5. Sacrament Meetings begin at 9:00am on Sundays

Explain your vote–the facts and assumptions you make which lead to your answer–below. [Read more...]

A Chieko Okazaki Sharing Time Lesson


This was originally posted one year ago. It is being re-posted in honor of Sister Okazaki, who passed away this week.

Continuing with the theme of how awesome I am at my callings, I thought I would share one of the more successful Sharing Time lessons I’ve done in my current calling in the Primary presidency.

The theme for Sharing Time was “Family members have important responsibilities” (last year’s program). I was to do a week on mommies’ responsibilities, a week on daddies’ responsibilities, and a week on kids’ responsibilities to the family. Sis. Okazaki gave a great talk about the Japanese word kigatsuku, which means being aware of one’s surroundings and doing good without being asked, which fits perfectly with kids’ responsibilities in the family.
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Radical Homemaking, Radical Enrichment

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

I first heard about Shannon Hayes work through Laura McKenna’s blog nearly two years ago. I was already disposed to like the sorts of localist, agrarian, and traditional causes that Hayes urges us to consider when I first read about her (after all, Melissa and I vaguely aspire to that sort of lifestyle ourselves), but it was Laura’s concluding line–“There is absolutely no reason that feminism should mean a devotion to capitalism”–that really pulled me in. When I finally got a copy of Hayes’s book, Radical Homemakers, I confess it wasn’t what I expected–rather than a serious, theoretically grounded critique of consumer culture, family life, and the structural obstacles that often stand in the way of adopting a simpler, more communal lifestyle, I found an often sloppily researched but nonetheless impassioned instruction manual-cum-rallying cry. A cry and a manual for what? Very simply, for rejecting the economic demands which insist of dual-income households (p. 17), for relearning how to grow and preserve your own food (pp. 78-83), and for refusing the economically and environmentally devastating materialism of modern American life (pp. 93-94). And I thought to myself: now, wouldn’t this make for a great Relief Society lesson?

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Thursday Morning Quickie #24

[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 25

Enhancing Family Solidarity

Tom and Jane had been married three years and were getting along very well in most respects. They had had a successful courtship and engagement and had married when he was twenty-four and she was twenty. After their marriage he had gone to school for two years and she had worked as a stenographer. Now they were settled down and were starting to establish a family of their own. [Read more...]

Thursday Morning Quickie #23

[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 19

Living Your Religion

IN 1933 the World’s Fair was held at Chicago. Among the many excellent displays by the churches was one by the Latter-day Saints. Thousands of visitors learned about some of the principles of the Gospel and had an opportunity to ask questions of capable young men who were in charge of the “Mormon” booth.

One particular day, two businessmen, who possessed little firsthand knowledge about the Church, visited the display. As they approached the booth the following conversation was overheard:

“Say, Jim, I’ve heard that the Mormons are the only people in the world who really know where they are going. Let’s find out something about them.” [Read more...]

Sitting on the stand

I’m in the bishopric, and have been for six years. Every Sunday, I sit on the stand, and it often feels ridiculous. I can see my wife and four sons in the congregation, and she is in constant motion, never really listening to a talk, doing a stellar job of keeping everybody happy and reasonably reverent. And I sit.

My most important job on the stand is to do nothing. I find that every time I move, everybody looks at me to see what I’m doing. So I sit still and wear an expression of interest in the speaker, occasionally doing something that looks like taking notes or reading a sacred text. And I wear a suit. Wearing a suit is an important part of sitting on the stand.  [Read more...]

Thursday Morning Quickie #22

[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 16

Keeping Morally Clean

AFTER a sumptuous dinner had been served, several young, married couples were relaxing leisurely around a glowing fire in Helen’s front room. Most of the group had been married two or three years. The conversation went from children to “projected satellites” and back to children again. Soon a serious discussion developed about what each couple considered to be the most basic values in life. [Read more...]

Church-Hacker #2: The Romper Room

This is the second installment in our new series of tips and ideas for optimizing the three-hour block of Sunday meetings. The first installment (and the full explanation) is here.

There exists a state of limbo for children who are too young to attend nursery, but too old to sit quietly in the adult classes. These pre-nursery children and their parents are neither here nor there; they’re lost in the fog of the foyer, the parents chasing their toddlers around and sympathetically rolling their eyes at the other parents in a similar state.

I was recently one of those parents. Once Sacrament Meeting was over, if I wasn’t responsible for teaching a lesson, I had to decide between ducking in and out of class with my rambunctious daughter, roaming the halls with her, or just going home. Church was at 11, so most Sundays I headed home after Sacrament Meeting and put my kid down for her nap. And why not? I wasn’t going to be in a class anyway.

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Thursday Morning Quickie #21

[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 17

Young Marrieds and Recreation

MARTHA and Joe were different-at least in many ways. They had been married for three years and were still going to dances every two or three weeks. Some of their young married friends criticized them for they had two young children. Shouldn’t they stay at home all the time with their little family? What was their explanation? [Read more...]

Couple Things

Last night, my wife and I crossed a devastating threshold–a veritable point of no return. Around 10:25pm, she said she was tired and wanted to go to bed, and I objected and suggested we watch the next episode of the TV show we’ve been watching lately. An argument ensued, and I did something that I’m ashamed of–because I promised myself I would never do this–but which nevertheless cannot be undone.

If you’re thinking, “He went to bed without resolving the argument,” then you’re correct–but what we’re talking about here is much, much worse. In fact, it’s so terrible that I hesitate to post this publicly, and understand if you don’t want to read further. [Read more...]

I don’t have to be Mormon: A Mother’s Day Post

I grew up in Northern Florida, which is effectively Southern Georgia. In other words, I am Southern in the cultural sense, not just the geographical one. It is not the easiest thing to be Mormon in the South. [Read more...]

BCC Zeitcast 68: Thomas Parkin

In this episode, Scott B. is joined in the virtual studio by Thomas Parkin, one of the Bloggernacle’s greatest personalities.


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The One and Only Myth

In the early 1840s Joseph Smith proposed to Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner. Elizabeth recorded “Joseph said I was his before I came here and he said all the Devils in hell should never get me from him.”  Joseph further told her, “I was created for him
before the foundation of the Earth was laid.”
(Todd Compton. In Sacred Loneliness pg 212 italics added) This may have been the
early beginnings of a pre-existence forming in Joseph Smith cosmology. His words were similar to some of his other wives. For instance in 1841 Joseph made it known to Zina Diantha Jacobs (Huntington Young) that the Lord, “had made it known to him that Zina was to be his wife.” (Ibid. pg 80 italics added)

Perhaps these and other 19th century marriages helped plant the idea in the Mormon psyche that people met and fell
in love in heaven, promising to marry once on earth, foreordained if you will.

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On Being a Single Mother in the Church

This being a single mama in the LDS church is turning out to be a lot harder than I thought it was gonna be. Don’t get me wrong- this is my church, and I know that I belong here– but boy, if I didn’t come into this thing with a rock-solid testimony, this whole new world might have broken me. It’s no secret we are a family-centered church- I suppose a lot of churches are- maybe all of them try to be. I don’t know. We may give lip-service in random talks or conference addresses to non-traditional families, but when it comes down to brass tacks? It’s just lip service. The actual facts of being a divorced woman with three kids in the LDS church are hard and sharp. And I’m tired. [Read more...]

Leave Them Sister-Wives Alone!

Now that Big Love is over with, I’ve started watching Sister-Wives on The Learning Channel. This is a show about a polygamous family: One husband, four wives, 16 kids. It’s actually very interesting and I’ve been enjoying the show. [Read more...]

Friday Night I-have-nothing-better-to-do-than-this Poll

Check all that apply.

Reframing Parental Roles in the Proclamation on the Family

Among other ideas, The Family: A Proclamation to the World, emphasizes the importance or gender identity and roles. For the purpose of this post, I will focus on several sentences that relate to the responsibilities of parents within the family as they rear children.  

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. ‘Children are an heritage of the Lord’ (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations…By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation…

In 1990 Relief Society General President Elaine L. Jack and her counselors Chieko N. Okazaki and Aileen H. Clyde met to decide their priorities for Relief Society. They outlined five points that would become the hallmarks of their presidency. The fourth read:

Strengthen families. Many types of families are part of the church today. All families need strengthening. 

Women of Covenant. Page 402  [Read more...]

“It’s up to you”

My son Scott was baptized on Saturday. A year ago I did not expect this to happen. Scott has autism, and although he has many good skills–mowing the lawn, making French toast, playing Joe Danger–his ability to understand abstract concepts and motivations is limited. At eight years old he still does not ask “Why?” questions, and he can’t answer them, either. He communicates mostly in rote phrases, which don’t necessarily indicate anything substantive about what he is trying to express. They are just the phrases he knows. You can usually tell by his tone of voice whether or not he means them literally or whether he is frustrated (about what is not always clear) or just feels like making conversation, and these are the words that are easiest for him to access. When he was seven, I thought that unless he made a huge developmental leap, there was no way we were going to have him baptized the next year. What would be the point? Even if he understood what he was doing, how would we know that? He wouldn’t be able to tell us. [Read more...]

The Reciprocity Resolution

One of the significant memes from this past General Conference was a concern that so many of our people are not getting married. As usual, men just aren’t getting with the program and need to shape up and hop to it. [Read more...]

Do We Still Teach Homemaking?

The title of this post isn’t a snark; it’s an open question, about which I am genuinely curious. (I’m also giving a presentation on this topic next week at the Midwest Sunstone/Restoration Studies conference, so my ulterior motive is a fishing expedition for anecdotes from the Collected Saints of the Bloggernacle.) [Read more...]

Starting the Book of Mormon, All Over Again

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

Today, Monday, April 4, 2011, the Fox family finished reading the Book of Mormon together, a project we last began in August of 2006. Tomorrow, assuming we maintain our usual habits, we’ll be starting it once again. [Read more...]

For R* in Miserable Days

As a close friend has suffered a particularly difficult miscarriage recently, I want to pause from the usual vocations of life to express solidarity to and love for the many women who have similarly suffered. [Read more...]

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