Ill-Gotten Gains & Illegal Immigration

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...]

EMAIL!

Many of you have perhaps witnessed the recent screed about email messages from a poor, confused brother at T&S, in which he decried the use of the Forward button as a tool of missionary work and gospel preaching. We at BCC Labs feel that, not only is this T&S perma misguided (as so many of them are), but that he has done significant harm to the souls of any who walk in darkness, because they know not where to find the light switch.
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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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An Appeal to Mitt Romney for Republican Leadership on the Mosque Issue

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...]

BCC Zeitcast 55: More Topics Than Usual

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:
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Friday Afternoon Hypothetical President Poll

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.[1]

My question is, what would a hypothetical President Romney do? Wouldn’t it be pretty disruptive if he did attend a DC ward?

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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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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...]

Nice to See It Published, But How Does It Affect Growth?

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.
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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...]

Revelation vs. Order

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...]

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...]

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...]

BCC Zeitcast 48: All About the Mormons

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.


Subscribe to the BCC Zeitcast in iTunes or click (here to download this episode.)

Poll below the fold.

Links for your convenience: [Read more...]

Overheard Sunday At Church

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...]

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...]

The “British Election Rule”

Another of Ronan’s Rules:

If it’s not experienced by international Mormons, then it’s not essential to Mormonism.

[Read more...]

The Illuminated Matsby, Vol. 4

Another Image of Faith and Devotion
[Read more...]

BCC Zeitcast 47: The Neverending Zeitcast

Two Zeitcasts in one week?!? Clearly, these are the last days.


Download here or subscribe to the BCC Zeitcast in the iTunes Store.

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.
[Read more...]

Harry Reid is the Mormon of the Year

[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...]

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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I Want to be Proud to be an American

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.
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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...]

BCC Zeitcast 38

Season 2 Album Artwork In which Ronan shouts at John C, and Amri confesses her love for Iowa.


MP3 can be directly downloaded here.

Reading Atlas Shrugged

I read Atlas Shrugged sitting by my son’s bedside while he recovered from pneumonia in a Viennese hospital. His treatment cost us nothing, by which I mean nothing, as we not only benefited from European Union healthcare reciprocity, but also because I was not a taxpayer at the time and so made no financial contribution to social medicine whatsoever. I imagine this makes me what Rand would call a “looter.” It certainly made reading Atlas Shrugged all the more delicious; indeed, I could hear her bones rattling in her Westchester grave as I turned each page. Note to the Ghost of Ayn Rand: for all the looters like me, the Austrian capitalist economy has done pretty well over the years.

I enjoyed some of the book. I liked Dagny Taggart rather a lot and thought that she, rather than Galt or Rearden, was the real hero of the story. Dagny was at her best when she struggled against the economic implosion caused, not by looters like me, but sociopaths like Galt. Her dogged determination to keep going was admirable; her eventual acquiescence rather sad. The scene where she rides her new train is quite exhilarating as such things go. She is also a rather sexy minx, which might explain some of the appeal to a male reader, although I shall deny it vociferously if accused of such shallowtude.

The build-up to the John Galt reveal is also pretty good. In large part I kept turning those pages in that Vienna hospital because I wanted to know “who [was] John Galt”? I also found myself attracted to Rand’s celebration of human reason as an epistemologically good thing. These are about all the positives I can muster. Mostly, particularly the latter third when the polemic really begins, Atlas Shrugged is junk. Here’s why: [Read more...]

In Defense of Passive Aggression

David Heap’s temporary BCC reign of terror continues.

But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father?

(Matthew 21:28-30)

I first learned of passive aggression from K-Lynn Paul’s article in Dialogue, “Passive Aggression and the Believer.” K-Lynn Paul’s article is excellent and, I daresay, timeless. I commend his piece to you. I do not think a lot has changed since then. [Read more...]

The fallacy of appealing to intellectualism

We hear repeatedly throughout our educations that appeals to emotion are forms of argumentative fallacy.  In many cases, they are exactly such, and the interjection of emotion obscures the underlining problem and makes it difficult to resolve productively.  However, in other cases appeals to emotion operate as (the only) viable forms of evidence.  In these cases, the interjection of emotion into an argument should not be seen as a fallacy, but as evidence needed initially to push a conversation forward.  Of course, we are familiar with the risks that come when we voice emotion, and, as a strategy, we should strongly consider looking for non-emotional forms of evidence in order to avoid these problems.  But in this post I’m not interested in the good reasons to avoid emotion.  Those are discussed enough.  I’m concerned with the often-overlooked phenomenon that occurs when emotion used as evidence is dismissed by the fallacy of appealing to intellectual tones or modes of argument. [Read more...]

Born Alive

I often disagree with the pro-life hardliners around the bloggernacle. But the relatively recent Florida infanticide in the news lately — according to the news stories I’ve seen, there is not a lot of dispute as to the facts – is something everybody should agree on.

Some readers are opposed to abortion in most or all cases, but for those who are not, the only reasonable arguments for abortion rights center around the freedom and autonomy of the mother. Once a child is delivered, there is no question. Infanticide is never acceptable.

Pro-choice progressives should be more vocal in denouncing this infanticide. It’s a shame that the pro-life crowd have been the only folks complaining about this incident. Yes, some conservative commenters are using the incident to make broader critiques of abortion. But that’s no reason why progressive pro-choicers should not be vocally denouncing the infanticide and calling for punishment of the doctor, as well as safeguards against this kind of thing happening again.

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