Except . . . this video showing a love-in between atheist provocateur Bill Maher and anti-Mormon zealot Robert Jeffress makes me feel miserable as all hell. [Read more…]
I don’t know if it’s because of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, or because my part of the country just went through a freak earthquake and hurricane scare in the same week, or because I’ve been watching the market a bit too closely, but the idea of American decline has been on my mind recently.
An article in this week’s New Yorker says I’m not alone. “Decline, Fall, Rinse, Repeat,” by Adam Gopnik, is a jaunt through the long history of American “declinism” (new word?) and the popular literature of the declinist movement.
I haven’t yet read the books Gopnik examines except Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond, but the article grabbed my attention by speaking to some current cultural memes:
- Is America going down?
- Is the Western World as a whole in decline?
- Is such a decline inevitable or can we slow/stop it?
- Why are we so obsessed with envisioning our own downfall?
This is a difficult post to write, not least because people are still trying to come to terms with the damage, and so I hope not to offend; but if I have I apologise beforehand and ask that if you disagree please do so with respect.
Britain is currently reeling from a series of riots that have hit many of the major cities. My local town centre was vandalised and robbed but my family have not witnessed the worst of the damage . Shops have been looted, historic buildings have been burned and innocent people have been attacked.
During my honeymoon violence flared in Paris. Two young men had been shot by police and the youth of the Banlieue’s took to the streets in protest of police oppression. The riots rippled through France but eventually order was restored. London was again fairly quiet last night but riots recurred in various city centres around the country. [Read more…]
Despite the Telegraph’s deliberately provocative title (“Christians are more militant than Muslims, says Government’s equalities boss”), which doesn’t accurately reflect the content of the article, the Chairman of the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission recently raised some interesting points and makes some insightful observations about integration, pluralism and claims of religious persecution in modern society (ht:M*). [Read more…]
Talk about overexposure: Newsweek and BusinessWeek in the same week! Prevailing wisdom in media circles is that once the newsweeklies have picked up a trend, it has reached it apex—so I guess the church’s slide back into obscurity starts now. (Don’t worry, Russell!)
What’s striking to me has been the reaction to the different stories. From what I’ve seen in my own social circles on Facebook and elsewhere, we’re supposed to be mad at Newsweek and thrilled about the BusinessWeek article.
But that’s exactly backwards.
The reasons for the ire against Newsweek seem to revolve around the cover and a few snippets of text within the article. Let me briefly debunk two of the phrases I’ve noticed Mormons getting hung up on:
The LDS Church issued a new statement today regarding immigration policy in the United States. This is not a new topic, of course. However, the statement from the Newsroom this morning is a little bit different from past missives, I think. The full text of the statement can be found here, but here are a few of the main passages, along with my thoughts on them.
Luke 10:31-32: And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
The recent devastation by tornadoes in Joplin, MO has reminded me of one of the finest men I have ever known. He once taught a lesson in a 5th Sunday combined Priesthood/Relief Society meeting. He taught us that the bishop’s storehouse is not just the warehouse on the other side of town where people go to fill food orders. He emphasized that the concept of the bishop’s storehouse extends to the food storage in the homes of each individual member. In a time of disaster or emergency, the bishop can call upon members of the ward to share their food, warm clothing, blankets, and everything else they have with others. I left that meeting with a strong conviction, confirmed by the spirit, that the wheat, canned goods, bottled fruit, frozen vegetables, powdered milk, dry beans, camp stove with propane, and everything else in our basement was a resource of the church to be used for the building of Zion, and to be shared as necessary with my neighbors, LDS or not. A bishop’s storehouse exists wherever a latter-day saint practices provident living. [Read more…]
You should all want to know what kind of moisturizer I use, because a couple of weeks ago, I was invited to participate in the White House Roundtable with “Young” Mormons. You can read about it here. Paul Monteiro, who invited us and chaired the meeting, along with Kalpen Modi (yes, you’ve seen him somewhere before), will be guest-blogging here in the next little while about his work with religious communities. You can also read Chelsea Shields Strayer’s more detailed account at Exponent II. Also, if you’re curious about the background of this meeting and the other work the organizers do , you can subscribe to the Office of Public Engagement’s listserv–write to them at firstname.lastname@example.org with “LDS” in the subject line. [Read more…]
The angst being expressed over whether it is proper for a Christian to celebrate the death of an enemy reminded me of a story from the Book of Mormon. [Read more…]
Imagine, if you would, the phrase ‘neener neener neener,’ sung to the tune of the Hallelujah Chorus…
In response to the devastating events of the past several days in Japan which have resulted from an initial earthquake, followed by a tsunami and several large-magnitude aftershocks, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles gave a press conference moments ago.
With all the respect from the depth of our hearts we ask that the gods hear us, such as the spirit that hears our intent together with the spirits of the Sky and the Land. Take the evil, disasters and sins and purify all.
Chiyo ni yachiyo ni
Iwao to narite
Koke no musu made.
The people at Claremont Graduate University continue to outdo themselves. On March 18-19, 2011, the Howard W. Hunter chair for Mormon Studies is sponsoring this conference.
The recent events in Egypt have kept me thinking about our history of non-violent protest in the United States. Between the observance of Martin Luther King day in January and Black History month, I’ve tried to make a formal study of the speech that King delivered in Washington, D.C. in August, 1963. You can read the text of the speech or watch it online. I found that my appreciation grew the more I studied the speech and the events leading up to it. In particular, I’ve come to appreciate how important it was for King to emphasize “the fierce urgency of now”, because at that time we still lived under a regime of racial segregation. We see August, 1963 as a watershed moment for civil rights in America. It is hard for us to now imagine how deeply our country was divided by racial hatred and ignorance. King and the others in the SCLC displayed enormous personal courage by their actions — it could not have been an easy thing to stand in the street as mounted policemen rode towards you, swinging lengths of rubber hose wrapped with barbed wire — but it is also important to remember that others before them also exemplified moral courage, sometime at great personal cost. This post is about one of those men. [Read more…]
Voting is over, and the 2010 Gentile of the Year is Judge Vaughn Walker!
Another Image of Faith and Devotion
One of our All-Time Favorite politicians and made news this week.
“Former Idaho gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell has been charged with poaching an elk in eastern Idaho.
“Idaho Fish and Game said Rammell was in illegal possession of an elk on Dec. 8. When an officer asked Rammell for his hunting permit, he produced one for a different zone that expired in October.”
Republican Senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell appeared on Politically Incorrect many years ago, and opined on honesty and the moral imperative to avoid telling lies:
Does the Park51 Islamic Community Center in Lower Manhattan (also known by the misnomer “Ground Zero Mosque”) present an opportunity for Mitt Romney to assume and evince leadership in the Republican Party, possibly even ousting populist Tea Party Anti-Federalist demagogues based on fundamental Federalist principles in the process? [Read more…]
At the recent FAIR conference in Utah, some interesting data were shared. Guess what? People don’t like us. No, let me rephrase that: people really don’t like us. According to the polling firm which gathered the data, LDS people have an unfavorable to favorable rating of 5 – 1. For every person who thinks well of us there are five who do not. To compare, notice that Jewish people have a favorable rating of 7 – 2 (seven likes for every two dislikes) and Catholics have a favorable rating of 2 – 1. Where are we going and how did we get in this handbasket?
Any general arguments against the safeguards provided to all religions by the maintenance of a secular public sphere should take into account whether it is better to live as a Christian in Saudi Arabia or Turkey. [Read more…]
And thus it continues.
THIS IS A THREAD FOR BLOGGERNACLE WORLD CUP FOOTBALL FANS. HATERS GO ELSEWHERE. [Read more…]
This is 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 the Associate Editor of Dialogue.
Related article at Dialogue
If there’s anything that, in comparison, might normalize polygamy to that vast majority of Americans for whom Mormons are but cultural curiosities, it’s probably blood atonement. I’ve earlier written in this space about the ways in which representations of Mormonism in HBO’s Big Love reflect a certain religious ethos on the part of the producers; the show is in a lot of ways a leap forward in the cultural normalization of Mormonism precisely because it is capable of imagining its Mormon (and by ‘Mormon’ I mean followers of Joseph Smith; this strikes me as a more useful definition of the term than any other) characters as basically normal people, who take their SUVs to the hardware store and have kids with part time jobs. And indeed, this normalization of people in previously exotic marriage relationships is in all likelihood the producers’ agenda. If their ratings are any indication, they may be succeeding; indeed, it appears that members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, can come into the very heart of their adversary, to the shadows of the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City, and garner sympathy. Religious freedom and all that. [Read more…]
And so it begins!
THIS IS A THREAD FOR BLOGGERNACLE SOCCER FANS TO DISCUSS THE WORLD CUP. HATERS GET LOST.
In keeping with our promise of more coverage of the upcoming World Cup, Ronan and I thought it would be fun to invite everyone to share stories from the mish about soccer.
My home town was small enough that our high school didn’t participate in all sports, with
soccer football being the most notable omission. However, when I was a junior in high school, plans announced to field a competitive high school team in a few years, and we started a community league and a club team to develop players. Although I wouldn’t be around to play on the official school team, I had always enjoyed playing soccer football and was eager to join the teams. Though I was certainly no Pelé, I had a decent enough kick and reasonable reflexes and found that I was fairly competent relative to my peers.
About a year after playing my last game in my community league, I was shivering from a chilly breeze in Savonlinna, Finland. I was a greenie missionary, and my companion and I had been invited by the young men from the branch (all 3 of them!) to come play
soccer football at the local pitch with some guys from their school. I stared around the field, wondering how on earth anyone could call this hard, grassless dirt a “ soccer football field” and immediately assumed, in true American fashion, that I was clearly going to be playing with novices who likely didn’t even understand the sport, and certainly wouldn’t be able to compete with me. [Read more…]
BCC’s World Cup festivities begin here, starting with a World Cup Predictor:
Go to the BBC predictor and tell us who you have in the final and who will win.
I have Argentina beating Brazil in the final. Of course, what I really want to happen is for England to win a second star. First we need to beat the Yanks on Saturday.
More events to follow…
[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]
This post is, in a sense, a sequel to two older posts: “Can a Good Mormon be a Meritocrat?” and “Can a Good Mormon be a Socialist?” In case you can’t be bothered to read until the end, the answers to the three questions are: “Probably not,” “Yes,” and “Sometimes, maybe, but seriously, why would you want to take that risk anyway?” [Read more…]