A (Secular) Turkish Delight

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...]

World Cup Knockout Round Open Thread

And thus it continues.

THIS IS A THREAD FOR BLOGGERNACLE WORLD CUP FOOTBALL FANS. HATERS GO ELSEWHERE. [Read more...]

Zane Grey, Arthur Conan Doyle, the Associated Press, and the Resuscitation of the Avenging Angels

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.[1] Religious freedom and all that. [Read more...]

World Cup Group Stages Open Thread

And so it begins!

THIS IS A THREAD FOR BLOGGERNACLE SOCCER FANS TO DISCUSS THE WORLD CUP. HATERS GET LOST.

Mission Soccer Football Stories

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 World Cup Predictor

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…

Can a Good Mormon Make Over $100,000 a Year?

[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...]

“Mormon” is Back (and Just as Confusing as Ever?)

A few weeks ago when I was in Salt Lake City for General Conference, I overheard a conversation between a couple of journalists for the SLC media discussing an article from the Salt Lake Tribune about the proper use of the LDS Church’s name in media publications or transmissions. The title of the article, written by Peggy Fletcher Stack, is “The Name ‘Mormon’ Is Back, Thanks to Its Internet Popularity” and describes how, after about a decade of Church statements discouraging media representatives and Church members alike from using the term “Mormon” to describe themselves or the Church as an institution (while still desiring to steer the use of the term “Mormon” to itself and away from schismatic groups), the Church appears to have backed away from that stance and accepted its “Mormon” self. [Read more...]

What if they actually listened to us?

I was captivated when, in October of 2004, Jon Stewart took his media criticism behind enemy lines, telling Paul Begala and be-bowtied Tucker Carlson to “Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America,” to their faces, on their own show. Those on the left, and many who just value intelligent commentary instead of inane partisan bickering, were cheering. There was even more victorious jubilation when it soon became clear that CNN would actually listen to Stewart’s pleas to cut back on the political hackery and theater. In a recent column, Ross Douthat summarizes CNN’s response to Stewart, and the surprising results: [Read more...]

Religion Without Culture: Self-Identifying as a Mormon

Since the results for the Pew Forum’s Religious Landscape Study (RLS) were released, there has been fairly little attention paid in the Bloggernacle to the outcomes as they pertain to LDS belief and policy–a few posts here and there, mostly reporting a particular outcome: As a Church, we are more effective at retaining life-long members than any other of the major religions included in the study. However, an eye single to this stat robs us of a more curious one: the LDS Church is the only major religion in the United States in which lifelong members exhibit higher degrees of religiosity than converts. Julie Smith at Times & Seasons provided a link to a summary article on this topic last October, and I recommend reading the comments in her thread, as they touch on the key purposes of this post.[1] The full paper can be found here and contains considerably more detail.[2] [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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Especially For Glenson — Covered Wagon Feminism

Brother Lars Glenson is a good, though misguided and simple-minded soul who shows up hereabouts from time to time. He holds the study of Mormon history in special disdain and refers to it as Mormon Minutiae. Our Christian duty requires us to bear with Lars in his difficulties and to shed as much light as possible on his darkened path. It is in this spirit that BCC announces it will provide from time to time a new feature as a public service called Especially For Glenson. This service will be carried out in the form of short, inspirational posts, much like the format of Especially For Mormons. However, the BCC iteration will be better because the stories will actually be true. Please enjoy our first feature, which we will call Covered Wagon Feminism.
[Read more...]

The Biggest Loser Makes Me Cry

Every time. It’s embarrassing. I only ever see it at the gym, so I’ll be galumphing along on the treadmill with tears streaming down my face. I suspect this is mostly leftover ugly-kid-jr.-high-school trauma, but there might be a Mormon element, too, in the stark conflict between the “natural man” and the will. The communal aspect of the struggle resonates somehow, too–a small (er, in numbers) band of the righteous fighting together against the powers of evil and donuts, casting out the wicked from their midst as necessary (but afterwards showing forth an increase of love!).

I’ve probably overthought this. But it’s Friday–seems like a good day to talk about TV if you want to.
[Read more...]

Recession, Repression, Secession

Word is floating around the internet that, following a statement by Texas Governor Rick Perry after the Tax Day tea party held in Dallas, nearly half of Texas Republicans are in favor of Texas seceding from the United States of America. Is that patriotic? [Read more...]

Open thread – Day of Service

According to the LDS Newsroom website, tomorrow is a day of service in eleven Southern states, but I have noticed that stakes in other areas are participating too. All in all, the church is mobilizing hundreds of thousands of volunteers to join with volunteers of other organizations for the purpose of community betterment. This thread is an invitation for you to share what is happening where you live. Please give as many details as you can and if you can take pictures, that’s even better. You can email them to bccservicephotos@gmail.com. Ronan, who serves as BCC photo editor, will gladly upload them to the thread.

Bookmark Open Thread - Day of Service

Male Recession

In a couple of short articles that combine two major themes of recent BCC posts, employment for women and unemployment due to the current economic climate, the Financial Times is reporting that our economies are experiencing a “very male recession”. [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...]

Don’t believe the (happiness) hype

Will Wilkinson, commenting on Catherine Rampell’s “The Happiest States of America” article on the NYTimes’ Economix blog, suspects “a skoche of culture-driven upward inflation” is at play in the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which puts Utah at the top of states reporting a general sense of happiness (HT: Greg). More specifically, he states:

I’ll vouch for the fact that Utahns are exceptionally chipper. Though perhaps it should be noted that some Mormons are almost ideological about the idea that they ought to be happy.

Just some Mormons, Will? Happiness is inherent in our ideology. [Read more...]

50 Conversations About One Thing, Part III (Updated)

This is Part III of three. Part I of this conversation, including a brief introduction, is here. Part II is here.

32. I just wanted to mention what I think is the most striking aspect of this conversation: [Read more...]

50 Conversations About One Thing, Part II

Part I of this conversation, including a brief introduction, is here.

17. There seems to be a generational shift at play. [Read more...]

50 Conversations About One Thing, Part I

A few of us had the pleasure of overhearing an internet conversation the other day. Here are 50 of the more interesting things we heard, which we have boiled down and made anonymous for presentation purposes. Note that this discussion is for mature audiences, and will appear in three parts. Certain words may appear a little funny as we attempt to keep the original wording intact but permit those with internet filters to enjoy the conversation — the post requires images and may not read well in RSS feeds. Comments are closed on these posts; we encourage you to talk about this conversation with your families and on your own websites and blogs. Please email us with any questions. [Read more...]

Irreducible Complexity Power

So in the late Middle Ages there was this twisted group of clerics (and entire underworld of them it turns out) who wanted information from God. But they felt the Deity was being a little cagey about dispensing with his almighty power and wisdom, so they put on their thinking caps and pondered, ‘How can we get God’s knowledge when he won’t tell us any of the really useful info we want to know?” Well, they came up with a creative albeit malevolent solution that didn’t even involve God. Ask demons! [Read more...]

Boggs-Doniphan Award 2008: WINNER!

Update 3.1.09 [Read more...]

Monday Mid-day Theological Poll: Pre-existent sinnin’ edition

Excepting the sons of perdition, is it possible for a spirit to have been less valiant in the pre-existence? [Read more...]

SLC Event: Ann Braude dinner and lecture 19 Nov 2008

My wife engineered this coup for the Salt Lake area. Dr. Braude is a wonderful speaker with a sharp mind, and her lecture should be great. [Read more...]

Who I’m voting for (and why)

If you’ve been waiting for someone at BCC to post an opinion of the current election, here it is. [Read more...]

Almost-seen in Provo

A scene from the check-out stand at a local Macey‘s grocery store:
Sept_2008_clay-aiken-people-obscured-450-px

I assume that behind the blue rectangles that decorate our local magazine racks there usually lie images that are thought to offend buyers because too much flesh is exposed, or too explicit a reference is made to this or that technique.

Not so this time. [Read more...]

Police Beat Roundtable #5

The fifth installment of our ongoing look at that most charming column of the Daily Universe. Previous installments can be read here , here, here and here.

This time, a special guest: Adam Greenwood.

A male was seen disposing of a cup out the window of his truck at Wymount Terrace on Jan. 16. A female witnessed the act and returned the cup to the owner. She asked him not to litter, and while driving away, the male threw the cup out of his window. A second witness called the University Police and reported the act. The male, a non-student, was cited for littering.
[Read more...]

Navigating Treacherous Waters, Part I

This is the first of a three-parter dealing with the current financial crisis. Part I deals with the causes and origins of the crisis. Part II addresses the issue of what, if anything, us lowly consumers should be doing with our money. Part III will focus on longer-term issues of investing and reforms.

Lehman Brothers is gone. Morgan Stanley may be bought by a Chinese concern. Merrill Lynch has been taken over. Bear Stearns — bought. AIG is the subject of a massive bailout. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are in conservatorship. IndyMac was shut down. Overseas, the crisis has taken its toll on Northern Rock and other banks (most recently the Halifax Bank of Scotland). Now it is clear that we are in the midst of a truly global economic crisis.

Over the last few weeks, I have been receiving increasing numbers of emails from people wondering about the financial problems in the U.S. markets. Questions I have heard range from “should I move my savings account away from X Bank?” to “which political party should I blame for this?” [Read more...]

Police Beat Roundtable #4

The fourth installment of our ongoing look at that most charming column of the Daily Universe. Previous installments can be read here , here, and here.

In late December police received a call from a man who claimed he was being stalked by a woman he worked with. Police said the woman believes she is supposed to marry him and won’t leave him alone. Officers advised the woman about the possible consequences of her actions. The case is pending to see if there is any further activity.
[Read more...]

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