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…]
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.”
I have twice been mistaken for a homeless person. Once was funny, the other devastating. Both happened in college. The first time, I was wandering from my dormitory to the Student Union for breakfast, when a pleasant middle-aged woman started chatting with me about the Boston area. After several minutes of gentle circumlocution that left me uncertain what she wanted, she revealed that she needed advice on where best to solicit donations (“panhandle”). I was so delighted that she had thought I was homeless and been such a pleasant companion on my walk, that I tried to take her out to breakfast (she was embarrassed despite my reassurances, so I brought her breakfast outside the Union).
The second experience was devastating. [Read more…]
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:
If the Constitution ever hangs by a thread, the Elders of Israel will save it. But how will we know for sure that it’s “hanging”? How exactly will we “save” it? When will this long-awaited day come to pass? No one knows.
This is regrettable, for we Elders of Israel are always anxious to exercise our mad saving skillz, but we know not where to do it. And unless the beneficiaries of our skills are literally “hanging by a thread,” we sure as heck aren’t interested in lifting a finger on their behalf. No, we reserve our salvific energies for episodes of high drama! Therefore, as we await the anticipated constitutional apocalypse, it’s worth considering other ways to exercise our talents.
And so I ask you: What other holy documents are literally “hanging by a thread” in these Latter Days, threatened by neglect, misinterpretation, or whatnot? To which other sacred text should we Elders of Israel direct our sustained attention, so we can ride in heroically on a White Horse to save it?
(Poll beneath the fold)
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:
I hope that Kevin Barney will forgive me for slicing the lunch meat deli-thin by using his post on tithing practices as a springboard for this related post. In my defense, I’ve been meaning to write something like this for months, but just haven’t gotten around to it until I saw a comment from reader Martin in Kevin’s thread and feared my window was closing quickly.
According to Scott Trotter, a spokesman for the Church, the LDS Church has “a long-standing policy of not profiting from alleged ill-gotten gains.” In general, this means that the Church does not knowingly accept tithing or other donations which come through unclean hands. What exactly “unclean hands” means in this context is a subject we could probably spend days talking about, but there is (likely) at least some level of common agreement about what would constitute ill-gotten gains among Latter-day Saints. For example, I doubt that many would dispute the ill-gotten nature of funds received through a bank robbery or street-mugging, and most of us would certainly be uncomfortable with the idea of building a temple, distributing welfare care, or sending humanitarian aid to disaster areas with funds that were obtained through such channels. However, those examples aren’t particularly useful to the average Mormon in the pews, since most of us are a) not bank robbers/thugs and b) most of us don’t really even know anyone who is. Thus, our chances for glaring judgmentally and wagging our fingers in disapproval at our neighbors are horribly diminished unless we expand our definition of ill-gotten gains. [Read more…]
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.
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…]
The BCC Zeitcast returns from a short summer vacation! In this episode, Scott B. is joined by DKL and a random John for a discussion of too many topics to list, including Glenn Beck, Church block programs, thinking evil of your fellow saints, chocolate, and a fractured [BLEEP]. Download this episode here or subscribe to the BCC Zeitcast in iTunes. (And don’t forget to leave a rating/review in iTunes!)
Links for your convenience:
Everyone has been talking lately about whether or not President Obama is a Muslim or a Christian, or at least talking about what other people think he is. While his beliefs may influence his actions behind the scenes, it’s my understanding that President Obama doesn’t regularly attend church anyway, on the grounds that to do so would be disruptive. This seems like a pretty good reason to me, and I understand that President Reagan didn’t attend church during his terms either.
My question is, what would a hypothetical President Romney do? Wouldn’t it be pretty disruptive if he did attend a DC ward?
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.
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…]
This guest post comes from frequent BCC reader Erich S.
An article about the LDS Church and its members appeared in the Financial Times last week. I have now received it from 5 independent sources, all LDS, and I can only assume you have either already read it or will receive it soon. While it is nice to see these kinds of articles giving us largely positive press, I believe they may also be problematic.
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…]
W V Smith returns with some thoughts about battling socio-religious entropy.
One of the difficulties Joseph Smith struggled with, both in himself and in the Church he founded was the tension between a doctrine of “opened heavens” and creating a functioning hierarchy in Mormonism. There are a lot of issues here, I’m just touching on a few.
The enthusiasm of early Mormonism had a down side: it was difficult to control in terms of the creation of a commonly held system of belief. There is an element of trust that is necessary in funding a knowledge base of doctrine. But if anyone has free access to the heavens, since the canon is not complete, how do you establish consistency? The answer has always been, you create bureaucracy! But this is easier said than done. [Read more…]
[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…]
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…]
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.
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…]
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.
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…]
After nearly a two-month hiatus, the BCC Zeitcast is back, and this time we promise to actually talk about something related to Mormonism and/or the Bloggernacle. In this episode, Scott B. and Rusty Clifton discuss the popularity of LDS Media/Political personalities, the Facebook updates of fellow Bloggernaclers, and the lack of sports-related themes in the Mormon blogging world. Also, we talk about South Park, and Rusty curses up a storm. Just kidding.
Poll below the fold.
Links for your convenience: [Read more…]
Context: Britain is in the middle of an election in which the Prime Minister position is up for grabs. It’s a big deal — heady times. I overheard the following conversation between two active, faithful Church members immediately after Elders Quorum last Sunday while visiting a friend’s ward. [Read more…]
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…]
Another of Ronan’s Rules:
If it’s not experienced by international Mormons, then it’s not essential to Mormonism.
In this episode, Scott, Steve, and Cynthia take turns revealing who is on their genocide lists, and discuss famous Mormon unibrows and the danger of urinating on downed power lines.
Links for your convenience:
1. Mitt Romney’s New Book
2. The Raymond Takashi Swenson comment.
3. A typical Raymond Takashi Swenson comment. Standard Raymond Takashi Swenson Comment (or “SRTSC”) defined here.
4. The Unibrow Bandit
5. What not to do in rural Washington.
6. Cynthia, revealing her utmost desires.
[Cross-posted to In Medias Res]
It’s a tad late for these kind of year-end awards, but it’s worth noting that Senator Harry Reid has been chosen by my former blog-residence Times and Seasons as the Mormon of the Year. This was absolutely the right decision on their part–and as T&S is choosing not to open comments on the post, let me explain why right here. [Read more…]
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.
Growing up in a reasonably conservative household in Mormon-saturated Southern Idaho, I think that my first experiences with patriotism were very similar to those of most LDS people in the area: an affection for patriotic hymns, an opinion that the Stars and Stripes was the coolest flag ever, and a general opinion that America was…the best (It never really occurred to me to define further what specifically America was the best at; just that it was “the best.”) The 4th of July represented the same things to me that it does to many other people in our country–baseball, hot dogs, fireworks, and freak-nasty pancakes with cold syrup at the stake center.