BCC Zeitcast 75: Mixing Religion & Politics

With only one year left before the big 2012 Presidential Election, Newsweek and Daily Beast reporter McKay Coppins checks in with Scott B. on the goings-on for Mormon candidates Mitt Romney and John Huntsman, Jr. Later, Scott and Joanna Brooks discuss Harold Bloom’s recent travesty article in the New York Times, and Joanna’s response at Religion Dispatches.

And if that lineup isn’t sufficient, our very own Kristine Haglund stops by to help Scott understand big words.

Episode Content Guide (below the fold) [Read more...]

Depressing Discoveries About My Libertarianism, Part 4

This is the final entry in a 4-part series. Previous entries are found here, here, and here.

I can make an argument that I’m a libertarian because I’m a Mormon. I can also make a separate argument that I’m a libertarian because of my background in economics. Lastly, I can make the argument that I am a libertarian because I believe that individual liberty is vital to economic and social prosperity. But none of these arguments feel very honest to me.

Total honesty, then? [Read more...]

Does Mitt have a Mormon problem, or do Mormons have a Mitt problem?

Historically, I have not been a Mitt Romney supporter.  I’m not anti-Romney.  He just doesn’t float my boat.  (Or should I say he doesn’t punch my ballot?  Or pull my lever?  Or hang my chad?  Or maybe I should give up on the voting metaphors before someone accuses me of unduly influencing the search term stats.)  My opinion of Mitt Romney is that he’s…fine.  You know, he’ll do.  In a pinch.  I’m a pretty conservative voter (as opposed to a pretty, conservative voter) and I’d rather have a principled conservative who gets “the vision thing” than a competent technocrat.  Not that there’s anything wrong with competent technocrats (except, of course, when there is), and not that Mitt Romney doesn’t have conservative principles (I’m just not sure what they are).  Also, it’s always nice when your leader has some charisma (even just a little.)  But hey, no one’s perfect. [Read more...]

Finally Weighing in on the Jeffress-Romney Thing….

[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]

(I’ve no deep interest in the whole current morass of Republican party politics and anti-Mormonism, partly because I’ve gone through the whole thing before, and partly because many others have weighed in with thoughts much better than my own. Still, last Friday I sent this editorial off to my local newspaper, responding to a piece by Robert “Mormonism is a cult” Jeffress which had appeared that morning, and today they actually ran it, though I had to cut down my essay to under 600 words, which was simply criminal. Anyway, here’s the original, longer version of the piece. Read and enjoy.) [Read more...]

Depressing Discoveries About My Libertarianism, Part 3

Welcome back to this depressing series of posts.

In Part 1, I confessed that I’m not very charitable. In Part 2, I talked about how I don’t get along with would-be/should-be political allies–other LDS libertarians. The impetus for today’s Depressing Discovery came when an overseas-coblogger recently asked for my thoughts on some of the Presidential candidates’ views, and I had to admit that I didn’t know a single thing about any of their views.

To understand why this is the case, it is important to understand that my particular flavor of libertarianism flows not just from a belief in the importance of individual liberty relative to other objectives, but also from a profound cynicism towards government, politicians, and political processes. Put simply, I don’t have a shred of faith in politicians, individually or collectively, to a) properly identify a problem, b) properly identify a solution, or c) properly apply the solution to the problem.[1] The logical outcome of this lack of faith, therefore, is a lack of interest in what politicians are saying. Since I have no confidence that anyone is going to “get it right,” I can’t be bothered to educate myself on what actually would be right, or devote any energy to supporting it. [Read more...]

Becoming a Mormon: Thinking about a Brand with Elder Ballard

I am a recent convert to “Mormonism” myself. Not too many years ago you could find me vigorously arguing on Mormon-themed blogs about the importance of avoiding the word “Mormon” as a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[1] At the time, it felt like a concession to detractors of our faith to self-identify by the nickname they derisively gave to us in the nineteenth century. Ironically, however, it was precisely our nineteenth-century ancestors in the faith who had made peace with the descriptor and good-naturedly co-opted it to describe themselves, leaving us with the lasting nickname. [Read more...]

Depressing Discoveries About My Libertarianism, Part 2

In my previous post, I confessed that I am probably not as charitable as I try to say I am, and then insinuated that you probably aren’t, either.[1] The second Depressing Discovery about my libertarianism is that I feel, politically speaking, very lonely at church. Whenever I meet other libertarians, I tend to sense that they aren’t my political kin, and I am not theirs, because the truth is, I find much of the LDS Liberty rhetoric to be kinda crazy and borderline dangerous.[2]

Although I know the text of the Book of Mormon certainly omits scads of details that would give much needed context, given his “join me or die” approach to peace, I don’t understand how a libertarian can see Captain Moroni as a political hero.

Sure, I prefer private education…but I don’t think that support for public education causes a man to lose his priesthood or grieve the heavens.[3]

(I strongly encourage you to follow that link–read the post and comments and just bask in the Cocoa Puffs. You can’t make this stuff up.) [Read more...]

Depressing Discoveries About My Libertarianism, Part 1

I have posted about 150 times here at BCC, but as I went back through the archives recently, I realized that the very first post I wrote is far and away the best one. This discovery depresses me in no small measure. One of the things I liked about it is that I let my love of free markets be seen, at least indirectly. I’ve generally shied away writing or commenting on politics since then, after discovering that most of the readers and most of my co-bloggers take a less-than-sunny view of market economics. I’ve told myself that I’m trying to avoid debates; in reality, I’ve realized just a coward. This discovery also depresses me in no small measure. In recent weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about my political ideals, and have discovered several things about myself and my beliefs–nearly all of which–you guessed it–depress me in no small measure. [Read more...]

The Mormon Conservative Anti-War Movement

[Note from Admin: Recently, while under the influence of some (allegedly) fermented root beer, a rogue BCC perma suggested that permas from M* and BCC switch places in the name of building bridges or increasing dialogue between two groups who often don't seem to play nicely with each other.  Although no one was sure if anything would come of this proposal, Geoff B. has made good on his end of the agreement.]

Geoff B is a convert to the Church who writes for Millennial Star.  http://www.millennialstar.org

For a relatively recent convert like myself, President Hinckley’s April 2003 talk right before the U.S. entered the Iraq war was very confusing.  On the one hand, it was clear to me after reading the Book of Mormon two or three times by then that the Church’s message is one of peace, non-aggression and avoiding offensive wars.  On the other, President Hinckley seemed to be justifying the Iraq invasion.

[Read more...]

Pluralism and Persecution in the UK

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...]

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?

[Read more...]

A Few Thoughts on the LDS Church’s New Statement on Immigration

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.

  • “As a matter of policy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discourages its members from entering any country without legal documentation, and from deliberately overstaying legal travel visas.”
  • [Read more...]

BCC Zeitcast 72: Russell Fox, Communitarianism, and What Really Matters

One of the true Fathers of Mormon blogging steps into the virtual studio for the first time, as Scott B. interviews Russell Arben Fox, a professor of political science at Friends University. Topics revolve primary around RAF’s favorite ism–Communitarianism–and the path his philosophical, political, and religious values have taken to arrive at their current state. Some discussion is also devoted to RAF’s beard.

Episode Content Guide [Read more...]

Do We Want Our Religion To Be Mainstream?

[Cross posted to In Medias Res]

This cover story in Newsweek is pretty much the only thing Mormons in my crowd have been talking about this morning. (They’ve also been talking about the other features in the package, as well as a wonderful sidebar article on Elizabeth Smart, but not as much as the main piece.) The main article, “Mormons Rock!”, written by Walter Kirn–who is a long-lapsed member of the faith himself–apparently started out as a piece on the new “The Book of Mormon” musical on Broadway, but grew from there. The editor primarily responsible for putting the package together and guiding it was Damon Linker, my old friend and frequent intellectual sparring-partner, not least when it comes to things Mormon. Here, thanks to the work of some fine other journalists, he’s developed something that might well be read as a basically innocuous puff-piece (running through some of the basics of the church’s history and current institutional culture, quoting several prominent members of the faith about how they deal with the misunderstanding and marginalization that comes along with being a minority faith), but which, to me anyway, presents a fairly challenging question, a question that might be legitimately asked to believers of any non-dominant religion: should you, as a adherent of a faith, actually want to have your “moment”? [Read more...]

Where Does It End? The Real Danger in Warren Smith’s Perspective

Dave noted yesterday at Times and Seasons the inherent incivility of journalist Warren Cole Smith’s recent dismissal in Patheos of Mormons’ eligibility for the office of President of the United States precisely because of their religion. I found Dave’s analysis cogent and important. My concern with WCS’s viewpoint runs deeper than whether he and those who share his views have simply departed from the bounds of civil discourse. [Read more...]

BCC goes to Washington

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 public@who.eop.gov with “LDS” in the subject line. [Read more...]

BCC Zeitcast 70: Two Brothers, One Constitution

Scott B. hosts the first of a two-part debate between liberal wacko John C. and his older, wiser, more conservative brother Robert. Today’s topic: The U.S. Constitution, and what YOU can (should?) do to save it.


[Read more...]

The Seeker: Bin Laden’s death elicits varied responses

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...]

On the Royal Wedding

I have before me the souvenir issue of the Daily Telegraph, awash with the colour and joy that was the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. For me, a favourite image is not the balcony kiss or that dress, iconic though they already are; rather, it is the image of the mass of people on the Mall. In all its massive yet polite reverie, this image offers a strong contrast with another scene from yesterday’s news, namely that of angry Syrians tearing down a poster of President Assad.

And so I am led to wonder: what is the secret of peaceful, consensual government? Part of it may be chronological. Where once English kings were reviled and even beheaded, the centuries have led us kindly to this happy place. The Syrian Arab Republic has existed for not much longer than Queen Elizabeth has been on the British throne. Still, the constitutional monarchy of the United Kingdom does seem to be a singular, remarkably robust thing. Let us explore what all this means. [Read more...]

The Constitution Hangs by an Umbilicus

Smart people make more money.
Smart people don’t reproduce.
High intelligence is genetic.
Dumb people make less money.
Dumb people reproduce a lot.
The rich get richer because there are less of them.
The poor get poorer because there are more of them.

Slacker Educated Mormon Men need to get married.
Gradually, smart Mormons,
(who reproduce a lot)
will take over all positions in the US Gov. requiring
high intelligence.
The constitution is saved.

Corollary. The Devil fought polygamy, not Joseph Smith.

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...]

Come Ye Poets of the Bloggernacle!

[Note: Due to the unforeseen martyrdom of Jon McNaughton's art sales in the BYU Bookstore at the hands of Teh Godless Libruls, we feel the need to eugooglize this fine art, and thus we have resurrected this thread. Haiku only, please.]

Originally posted on September 29, 2009

Art inspires art.  This art, found on the sidebar, inspired me.

I choose to respond in haiku.  You may respond as well, but we will only accept comments in haiku.  (5-7-5 for those of you who don’t remember high school English….)  Here are some thoughts to get you started: [Read more...]

Things About Which Two Reasonable People Can Disagree

A week or so ago, as the US Federal Government was on the brink of a shutdown, William Howell, a public policy professor at the University of Chicago, discussed how the factions in the US government had become so polarized in an editorial for CNN. He noted the following:

The polarization of the two major parties has consequences for a great deal more than just the contents of legislation. It fosters a broader political environment in which compromise invites ridicule, in which pragmatists are presumed to lack conviction, and in which each political faction is convinced not merely that it is right, but that those who disagree with it are stupid, evil or both.

In my line of work, I am often in the position of having to disagree with what someone is saying. The fact is, I’m paid to disagree with people (who are also being paid to disagree with me). There are at least three kinds of disagreements that I am frequently involved in. [Read more...]

Immigration Lolz

Imagine, if you would, the phrase ‘neener neener neener,’ sung to the tune of the Hallelujah Chorus…
[Read more...]

Could you qualify as a “Conscientious Objector”?

The following is a submission from Ron Madson, written on February 23, 2011, the fourth anniversary of his father’s passing as a tribute to his legacy.

My father was a WWII veteran that served in Patton’s infantry in the European theatre. It wasn’t until he was 91 years old before he told me the details of his war experiences—and I am not aware if he told anyone else. My father was the most Christ-like person I have ever known. In the fall of 2002 I sat with my father listening to the war rhetoric seeking to justify our nation’s invasion of Iraq. This man, who rarely showed emotion and spoke seldom, emotionally told me that he did not believe that there was any scripture or Christian principle that would allow us to attack another country as we did in Afghanistan and were about to do in Iraq. He was certain that in our anger, fear and pride we, like the Nephites of old, were abandoning our covenant with the Lord by being the aggressor. He was hopeful that as a people we would surely denounce these wars. Knowing his character I am certain that if he were magically young again, he would have applied for conscientious objector status as to our current wars— as he would have in Viet Nam. [Read more...]

Boggs-Doniphan Gentile of the Year Award 2010 – WINNER!

Voting is over, and the 2010 Gentile of the Year is Judge Vaughn Walker!

Judge Vaughn Walker

Judge Vaughn Walker. (Photo credit: Mike Linksvayer for WikiMedia Commons)

[Read more...]

Idaho Mormons: Handgun Justification Edition

A BCC reader writes:

“A friend up in Idaho can get a handgun IF he is able to find a quote from a modern day prophet/leader that grants/encourages/blesses such an act (in order to appease his wife). Can the bloggernacle find such a quote?”

Go forth, bloggernaclers! Let us work to arm this faithful brother! [Read more...]

Monday Mid-Day Answering the Allegations Set Before Us Poll

Yesterday, in a heated comment thread, a reader made the following statement:

Bycommonconsent.com used to be a blog that actually [had] interesting and meaningful content, since so many others have jumped the shark. Not anymore. Now it’s a [race] to the bottom between this and feministmormonhousewives.com.

Being a relative newcomer to these parts, this sort of comment–and they do appear from time to time–always make me curious: How do readers here view the path that BCC has taken? Has BCC become more thoughtful? Less so? More political? More Liberal? More Conservative? Stayed basically the same? Here is your big chance to weigh in on these extraordinarily important questions.

Please vote below, and add clarification below. [UPDATED POLL QUESTION]
[Read more...]

God does not particularly care about your civil liberties

I’ve recently been embroiled in a debate regarding the value of the thoughts of Cleon Skousen. My debate partner, citing the endorsement that President McKay gave Bro. Skousen’s work, The Naked Communist, in the Friday session of the 1959 General Conference (I’d post a direct link to the address, but the only place I can find it without loads of commentary is at scriptures.byu.edu and I can’t link directly to it there), feels that Bro. Skousen and his works should be given a modicum of respect. Not that they should be treated as scripture or anything, but things that the Brethren mention positively should be paid attention to. I, on the other hand, think Skousen was crazy and can, therefore, be safely ignored. [Read more...]

Idaho Mormons: Elk Poaching Politicians Edition

One of our All-Time Favorite politicians and made news this week.[1]

“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.”

[Read more...]

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