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...]
Your Sunday Brunch Special (#3). Utah Artist James T. Harwood, 2: Early Utah Economics and Excommunication
Ok, so for this one, you can eat while you read. <grin>
We continue our exploration of the late James Taylor Harwood and his relation to Mormonism. [Read more...]
I’m pretty sure I had never seen anyone with ashes on his forehead until I was in college–the imposition of ashes at the start of Lent just wasn’t part of the liturgical life of the Baptist/Methodist/Campbellite town I grew up in. I was initially puzzled, and then vaguely repulsed by this physical, public acknowledgment of sin and penitence and the messiness of mortality.
Culturally, Mormons aren’t really big on public acknowledgment of sin–we’re optimistic that sin can be contained at home or, at worst, in the bishop’s office. We speak cheerily of the 4 (or 5, or 7, depending on the teacher’s creativity) R’s of Repentance, a discreet process akin to running the dishwasher. [Read more...]
Mat Parke is an emeritus blogger with BCC and all-around great guy. We’re glad he dropped in for a guest post.
You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters are ever flowing on to you. — Heraclitus
Childhood represents an increasingly small piece of our lives but occupies the largest space in memory. A banker’s lamp perched on my father’s desk. Moonlight shining through willow trees. The sun warm on my body as a record plays. My sister sitting in a red-leather upholstered chair looking at pictures in a book.
These things remembered are real. The willow trees are gone and the house long sold, but other artifacts remain. The desk and the lamp, no longer paired, can be found in my parent’s new house. The red-leather chair and possibly the book gather dust in the basement. But even if preserved, almost nothing that saw everyday use some thirty years ago is still part of the daily fray. Instead they sit in the recesses of cupboards and closets where I and my siblings stumble across them when making visits to the unfamiliar house my parents now live in. In their new setting these items act as totems of a family that has also changed into something our childhood eyes would not recognize. [Read more...]
Today, I will press my hands on my son who was born eight days ago and I will bless him. [Read more...]
“The family will be presided over by the father, the priesthood bearer…And he will tie generations together as we go forward. . . . Can you think of a more glorious opportunity than being led by your own father in the eternities to come, and having the opportunity as a father in leading your children as they go forward?” [Read more...]
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...]
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...]
A couple years ago I read this Weekly Standard piece by Joe Epstein. The subject is “kindergarchy”: rule by children. Mr. Epstein’s beef is that parents these days (“these days” starting about 30 or 40 years ago) pay too much attention to their kids, which is bad for both kids and parents, and worse for society in general. This isn’t a new idea, of course. Parents have supposedly been spoiling their kids rotten for, well, at least the last 30 or 40 years; the world keeps getting worse, and still we persist in making child-rearing the center of our adult universe. Go figure. [Read more...]
Voting is over, and the 2010 Gentile of the Year is Judge Vaughn Walker!
I grew up in a heavily immigrant neighborhood in the San Francisco Bay Area. My high school was minority White, with most students being 1st or 2nd generation Chinese and Taiwanese, or one of several other Asian nationalities in the mix. So when I saw this piece by Amy Chua in a friend’s Facebook feed, it really caught my eye: “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior”.
They’re a little “loud” for my taste (I prefer a more Mr. Rogersesque vibe in my children’s media), but I have to admit, they’re pretty entertaining and they do a good job of teaching scripture stories.
I haven’t found any material or lessons I find objectionable, and many have surprised me with how much I appreciate the lessons taught. For example, An Easter Carol confronts the evils of consumerism and commercialization of sacred holidays, without going so far into zealotry the other direction that it makes me uncomfortable. Madame Blueberry is a full frontal assault on the idea that material things make us happy, even not-so-subtly sending up Wal-Mart. And Sweetpea Beauty is a perhaps cliche, but still much needed, reminder for girls that beauty on the inside is what matters. [Read more...]
The following question is posed by an anonymous BCC reader:
You’re the bishop. A 45 year-old member of the church presents himself in your office. He has only recently become active in the church. He stopped attending shortly after he was ordained a priest nearly 30 years ago. He is married with a wife and 3 kids, ages 8, 10, and 12. The wife is not a member, but she is interested in the church, and on her prompting, the family is starting to attend. [Read more...]
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...]
[If you're not into winter, what's better than thinking about summer in the wintertime? Oh, and the only Mormony thing about this is that most of the players were -but not, I am grateful to say, the coach.]
My daughter asked me to speak on “Loving God” for her baptism, a topic that sharpened my focus on themes I had been considering for some time. Though I respect the important contribution of a book like CS Lewis’s Four Loves, I have been drawn to the image of two loves rather than the Greek four. In the dichotomization of love into two, though, I want to draw attention to the need to have these loves in constant dialogue. I call these two loves the love we feel and the love we choose. [Read more...]
A Scary Image of Faith and Devotion
[Two Mormon Elders stand adjacent to a popular thoroughfare, attempting to catch the attention of passersby. On a table next to them are displayed various samples of Church-produced art, most of which depict either families or images of the Savior’s ministry. At the center of the display is a framed copy of “The Family: A Proclamation.” A man approaches, his attention visibly piqued. Elder Q reaches for a copy of the Book of Mormon, while Elder P gears up to speak with man.] [Read more...]
An “Important Strengthening” of Religious Freedom: Temple Recommends in the European Court of Human Rights
Freedom of contract, religious autonomy and the Mormon temple recommend prevailed recently in The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as the Court rendered its judgment in the case of Obst v. Germany (application no. 425/03). More specifically, the ECHR found that Germany had not violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (right to respect for private and family life) when Germany’s highest court, the Federal Constitutional Court, had ultimately upheld Michael Obst’s 1993 dismissal without notice by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from his employment as Public Affairs Director for the Europe Area after he had confessed to committing adultery. [Read more...]
“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 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...]
What I remember about 3rd grade could make up volumes. And every book starts with a first page, so here we go. [The only thing about this that is Mormon centric is that I am one and so were most of the players.]
[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.]
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...]
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...]
This morning, I got angry.
One of my most painful memories, one about which I continue to be embarrassed even now, twenty years later, is of my behavior during a two-game little league baseball championship, in which my team, having never lost a game all year, was beaten twice by a team we had clobbered time and again during the season.
I played catcher, and consequently was involved in nearly every play–or at least close enough that my growing anger and frustration were visible to everyone with each additional run the other team scored. I slammed my mitt on the ground. I threw the bat after striking out. I kicked the dirt and argued with the umpire. I yelled and screamed at everyone–my coach, my teammates, the woman keeping score, and eventually, after my coach sat me on the bench to cool down, at myself. I was one of the best players on my team, but because of my rage, I was unable to help–not even able to participate–during the final two innings of the championship.
After the game was over, and we had lost, I refused to accept my gift certificate for a free shake at the local burger joint, opting instead to glare bitterly at the shiny cases containing the small gold medals which were being handed out to the winning team’s players. I wanted one of those medals.
[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...]
[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.]
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...]
I took my oldest camping last night for her daddy-daughter activity. We ended up in a canyon we didn’t know long after dark, trying to find a place to camp. We finally found an official campground (packing had consisted of throwing random warm clothing and sleeping bags into an old duffle; I remembered a stove but forgot to bring any food), but couldn’t find a tent spot amidst the endless rows of RVs. We ultimately found the camp host, who revealed to us that there was one tent spot that had just become available, and my daughter glowed with satisfaction at a prayer answered, as she revealed to me that she had prayed when we turned off the main road into the campground that we would find a spot. Her satisfaction turned to bemusement when we discovered that the only reason the spot became available was that the prior occupant had broken her wrist. [Read more...]
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: