Police Beat Roundtable #22 – Halloween Edition!

No Candy Here.

Sorry, kids!

The 22nd installation of our ongoing look at that most charming column of the Daily Universe. Previous installments can be read here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
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MicroMormon vs. MacroMormon

I am an economist, both by educational background and by profession. However, when people ask about my work or education, I have found that referring to myself simply as “an economist” results in almost universal confusion. This confusion manifests itself in the typical responses, most of which are variations on “So, you look at the economy and stuff?” At this juncture, I generally explain that I am not “that kind of economist”—I am not a macroeconomist. Rather, I am a microeconomist. A common misconception is that most economists care about GDP, unemployment rates, and monetary inflation–topics studied by macroeconomists. The truth is, most of us economists not only don’t care about those sorts of things, we actually dislike them and actively seek to forget everything we learned about them in grad school.[1] [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...]

Sunday AM General Conference: The “No, I Will Not Attend Your Brunch” Thread

Welcome back to By Common Consent’s live coverage of the 180th Semiannual General Conference. We appreciate your willingness to reject your neighbors’ brunchly advances this Sabbath day in favor of staring at a computer screen. Don’t forget to check out our minute-by-minute coverage on Twitter in addition to coverage on the blog. We also encourage you to (if you’re not already doing so) watch Conference live, streaming from LDS.org.

(On site today are Kristine Haglund, M Miles, and the Crawdaddy himself, John C.)
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The only thing better than 3 hours of Church on Sunday is 4 hours of Church on Sunday! Who’s with me?!?
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Saturday PM General Conference: The Hanging-By-A-Thread Thread!

Welcome back to By Common Consent’s live coverage of the 180th Semiannual General Conference, as the Saturday afternoon session is about to get started. Don’t forget to check out our minute-by-minute coverage on Twitter in addition to coverage on the blog. We also encourage you to (if you’re not already doing so) watch Conference live, streaming from LDS.org.

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Only 8 more hours to go, folks. [Read more...]

Derrida, Institutions and the Unforgivable

Discussion abounds of late on Institutional apologies.   Using Derrida’s work on forgiveness I think it is possible to argue that the Church should not ask for forgiveness.  Most often such calls are contextualised around the Priesthood ban or Homosexuality.  From the outset I want to be clear that I am not taking any position regarding the inspiration of the ban or Prop 8 nor that the discourse to support these positions is correct.  In fact I am assuming the opposite simply because most ‘calls for an apology’ come from people who accept that these actions/decisions were mis-guided. [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...]

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:
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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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Why placing the computer in the living room doesn’t work

When Mormon women are asked how they can protect their families from pornography, a common reply is that the computer should be placed in the center of the room.  The strategy is essentially that of Foucault’s panopticon.  The assumption seems to be that the best way to protect families from pornography is to live in a bubble.  But while placing a computer in the center of a room might have prevented children from going to certain websites ten years ago, we now live in the age of handheld devices. [Read more...]

Female Leadership in LDS Missions

Recently a friend expressed some anxiety over the possibility that his daughters might serve missions for the LDS Church.  He was concerned that such an experience might lead them to internalize too much of the intensely sexist rhetoric and behaviour that is observable among some LDS missionaries.  The following day, while meandering on Temple Square, two sister missionaries intercepted me and began trying to obtain a referral.  In that conversation I learned something so obvious that I am ashamed it had never occurred to me before, but which I think could influence the ‘missionary culture’ if it was universally adopted: Sister missionaries, in that mission, hold leadership positions. [Read more...]

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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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...]

Mormon theories of freedom

Over the past few weeks, I have been discussing with friends the merits of a case where the DOJ is prosecuting a pornographer for distributing obscene material—regular old pornography without children, violence, or anything else to make it especially objectionable.  In the minds of most people I’ve spoken with, this case is easy: It should not even have been brought to court. [Read more...]

Sleeplessness

Thoughts of fasting last month have turned me to other forms of physical deprivation that have been used in religious communities to great effect. During the Kirtland holy season (1835-36), the Saints occasionally held portentous meetings, familiar from broader evangelical culture, in which they stayed up all night praying and singing and worshiping, waiting for the endowment of power that would attend their earnest pleas for the divine presence.[1] [Read more...]

A Chieko Okazaki Sharing Time Lesson


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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My ward is going to be translated for this…

This week our Relief Society lesson was combined with the Young Women in the ward. On the table stood three large, framed photographs of our three recently graduated Laurels. Next to those were three identical stacks of books, each tied with a ribbon. On the side table were many platters of sliced sweet breads ready to be served. Ladies, welcome to the awesomeness that is Relief Society. [Read more...]

All they knew about them was that they were women

There seems to be a wide-spread belief, and one that my personal experience would tend to confirm, that the Relief Society runs more smoothly than its equivalent priesthood quorums.

In the current issue of Atlantic Magazine is an article called, ‘The End of Men.’ Its premise is that men are not navigating the new realities of modern life and modern economies well. It discusses how women are becoming more and more the primary earners in households, are graduating with 60% of university degrees (both masters and bachelors degrees) and 50% of all professional degrees, with men’s percentages falling and women’s rising. It then explores the question, “What would a society in which women are on top look like?” [Read more...]

Making Lemonade from Assigned GC Talks

Yesterday my wife mentioned that she had to give a talk today. That was the first I had heard of it. When I came home from watching the UFC fights, at about midnight, she was still up working on it. I felt bad for her, because I know how much she hates speaking, and she has vowed never to give another talk. But as agonizing as it is for her, she always does a wonderful job. [Read more...]

Query: sexuality in 19th-century polygamy

My wife and I recently agreed to write an essay on “embodiment and sexuality” in Mormonism and as I have often confessed to many of you I know very little about the Utah period of Mormonism. I suspect that, other than being a little tired of the constant fights about the status of Joseph Smith’s dual wives in Nauvoo, many others are curious about how participants in polygamy might have talked about or understood sexuality, how the Mormon family system might have resisted or intersected with trends in the broader American society. Any of you out there have any primary or secondary sources that you strongly recommend for someone interested in understanding more about sexuality in 19th-century Mormon polygamy? I think it’s fair to say that the Victorian polygamy romance novels are not at the top of my interest list, though if there was one you thought was absolutely exemplary it might be interesting.

A Sort of Homecoming: Segullah Turns Five

Summer, 2003: I was a wreck. My sixth child was six months old, and I wasn’t even close to recovering from his birth and the trauma that followed: For him, lung failure and three weeks in the NICU. For me, a profound emotional and spiritual crisis. The combination of outward and inward events shook me hard. My testimony was intact, but I felt disconnected from it. Unmoored. All my usual connection points failed me: church meetings, scripture reading, even prayer. [Read more...]

Angela Hallstrom’s Dispensation: the Fulness of Mormon Fiction

Angela Hallstrom


A confession: before 2008, I didn’t care much about LDS fiction. To me, that genre meant overtly inspirational stories of mediocre literary quality that barely skim the surface of what it means to be Mormon, not to mention what it means to be human. Friends recommended a few better-than-average titles, but saying a book is “very good for Mormon lit” is a half-baked compliment at best (like the time someone told me I was “in great shape for someone with seven kids”). Angela Hallstrom’s novel-in-stories, Bound on Earth, was my first encounter with unconditionally excellent fiction written by and for Latter-day Saints. So when I picked up
Dispensation, the short story anthology she edited for Zarahemla Books, my hopes were high. And I’m pleased to report that when I finished the volume, I was thoroughly satisfied. The quality of writing in this collection exceeded my already-high expectations. Its stories engaged me so completely that I felt fully gratified as a reader—even blessed. And taken as a whole, its artistic and spiritual potency leaves me deeply impressed by the talent of our very own fiction writers, not to mention excited for the future of this genre. Today, BCC welcomes Angela Hallstrom for a conversation about Dispensation and its significance in the realm of LDS fiction. (I was gonna post a photo of the cool book cover, but Steve already did. Besides, Angela is even better looking.)

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Tuesday evening poll: modesty and being tall

As a tall woman whose garments fall about 4″ above the knee (regular, not petite size), am I obligated to wear skirts or shorts that cover the garment well, or that go all the way to the knee?

My thoughts: the church can’t be bothered to manufacture garments to fit too-tall freaks like me (update: see comments #36 and #38), I get that, totally. But, guess what, neither can any commercial clothing company. [Read more...]

The End of an ERA

Sunny Smart returns for a second guest post.

I grew up in the shadow of Phyllis Schlafly and the Eagle Forum. Phyllis was the founder of the STOP ERA movement of the ’70s and early ’80s and is largely credited for the ultimate failure of the ERA. Once the ERA had passed congress and had been sent to the states for ratification, Phyllis, the LDS church–and my mom–went into action. While we lived in California, my mom was heavily involved in STOP ERA efforts. Then, not long after moving to Utah, my mom became the Utah Director for STOP ERA. And how. [Read more...]

BCC Zeitcast 50: MikeInWeHo, Part 2

Part 2 of a conversation between Scott B. and MikeInWeHo. Part 1 is found here. In this episode, we discuss personal politics, the role of the Bloggernacle, MoDar, and the Gay and Mormon subcultures. Download this episode here or subscribe to the BCC Zeitcast in iTunes.

Links for your convenience:
1. Mike’s first post at BCC: The Odd Fellowship of the Bloggernacle
2. El Coyote restaurant

This episode, as well as the first part posted earlier, addresses a broad range of topics related to the LDS Church, its policies regarding homosexuality, same sex marriage, and politics. Please keep in mind that this podcast is not a position paper on the LDS Church or any of its teachings, doctrines, or public policy decisions. The commentary represents exactly what it sounds like: two guys shooting the from the hip about their personal experiences with the events of the past few years surrounding the LDS Church and political movements regarding homosexuality. [Read more...]

BCC Zeitcast 49: MikeInWeHo, Part 1


This is first of a two-part episode of the BCC Zeitcast. In this episode, long-time friend and guest of BCC, MikeInWeHo tells his story of how he found the Mormon Church, lost it, found it again, and has become one of the most recognized and beloved members of the Bloggernacle.

Download this episode here or subscribe to the BCC Zeitcast in iTunes.

MikeInWeHo, Bloggernacle Commenter of the Year

This episode, as well as the second part found here, addresses a broad range of topics related to the LDS Church, its policies regarding homosexuality, same sex marriage, and politics. Please keep in mind that this podcast is not a position paper on the LDS Church or any of its teachings, doctrines, or public policy decisions. The commentary represents exactly what it sounds like: two guys shooting the from the hip about their personal experiences with the events of the past few years surrounding the LDS Church and political movements regarding homosexuality. [Read more...]

Gay Rights Revelation added to the Community of Christ D&C (World Conference Part 2: April 12–15)


Delegates to the World Conference of the Community of Christ taking the historic vote.

This week I’ve been in Independence, Missouri, observing the history-making 2010 World Conference of the Community of Christ. As I mentioned in a previous post, World Conference is made up of delegates elected to represent the church’s Mission Centers (roughly equivalent to LDS Stakes or Regions), meeting together to discuss and vote on the business of the church. This year, two topics have been in the forefront of the agenda: (1) the role of gay members within the church, and (2) conditions of baptism. [Read more...]

More Strange Loopiness

Or, putting some fun into our dysfunctional discourse on gender.  If you haven’t already ready read Cynthia L.’s excellent post, please read it now before proceeding.

This post introduces a new feature called the BCC Puzzler. Consider the following situations and the questions which follow.  If you think you know the answer to any of the questions, please write the answer on the back of a twenty dollar bill and send it in. And if you just paid your tithing yesterday and can’t find a twenty, please write your answer in the comments. [Read more...]

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